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Special Issue "Cybersemiotics—Integration of the informational and semiotic paradigms of cognition and communication"

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A special issue of Entropy (ISSN 1099-4300).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2009)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Søren Brier

Department of International Studies of Culture and Communication, CBS, Dalgas Have 15, DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

A common view among information theorists is that information - integrated with entropy in some way - is a basic structure of the world. Computation is the process of the dynamic change of information. In order for anything to exist for an individual, she must get information on it by means of perception or by re-organization of the existing information into new patterns. This cybernetic-computational-informational view is based on a universal and un-embodied conception of information and computation, which is the deep foundation of “the information processing paradigm”, which is vital for most versions of cognitive science and its latest developments into brain function and linguistic research. Taken to its full metaphysical scope this paradigm views the universe as a computer, humans as dynamic systems producing and guided by a computationally functioning brain and sees language as a sort of culturally developed program for social information processing. What seems to be lacking is knowledge of the nature and role of embodied first person experience, qualia, meaning and signification in the evolution and development of cognition and language communication among self-conscious social beings and formed by the grammatical structure and dynamics of language and mentality. For this we need to enlarge the picture by for instance superimposing and integrating an even broader foundation such as Charles Sanders Peirce’s pragmatic semiotics in its modern development as a biosemiotics. Here the sign as triadic semeiosis is the central process of reality. In Cybersemiotics: Why Information is not enough, Toronto University Press, 2008, Søren Brier offers probably the first attempt to integrate information science and semiotics under the heading Cybersemiotics. We look for you critical and constructive contribution in this area.

Søren Brier
Guest Editor

Selected works:

Brier, S. (1992): “Information and Consciousness: A Critique of the Mechanistic foundation of the Concept of Information” in Cybernetics & Human Knowing, Vol.1, no. 2/3, pp 71- 94. http://www.imprint.co.uk/C&HK/vol1/v1-23sbr.htm

Brier, S. (1993): “A Cybernetic and Semiotic View on a Galilean Theory of Psychology “, Cybernetics Human Knowing Vol. 2 no. 2 1993, http://www.imprint.co.uk/C&HK/vol2/v2-2sbr.htm

Brier, S. (1995): “Cyber-Semiotics: On autopoiesis, code-duality and sign games in bio-semiotics” in Cybernetics & Human Knowing, Vol. 3, no. 1. http://www.imprint.co.uk/C&HK/vol3/v3-1sbr.htm

Brier, S. (2003/2002): “Luhmann Semiotized” p. 13 -23 J. of Sociocybernetics 2003/2002 3 (2) http://www.unizar.es/sociocybernetics/Journal/JoS3-2.pdf

Brier, S. (2003): “Information seen as part of the development of living intelligence: the five leveled Cybersemiotic framework for FIS”. Entropy: 2003, 5, 88-99. http://www.mdpi.org/entropy/papers/e5020088.pdf

Brier, S. (2003): “The Cybersemiotic model of communication: An evolutionary view on the threshold between semiosis and informational exchange.” TripleC 1(1): 71-94.

Brier, S (2004) Cybersemiotics and the problems of the information-processing paradigm as a candidate for a unified science of information behind library information science, Library Trends Wntr, 2004 , http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1387/is_3_52/ai_n6080408

Brier, S. (2006): “The foundation of LIS in information science and semiotics”, Libreas: Library Ideas 1 http://www.ib.hu-berlin.de/~libreas/libreas_neu/ausgabe4/pdf/001bri.pdf

Brier, S. (2008) Cybersemiotics: Why Information is Not Enough, Toronto University Press, 2008. Google book: http://books.google.dk/books?id=Ueiv9cRR9OQC&pg=PP1&dq=Cybersemiotics:+Why+information+is+not+enough#v=onepage&q=&f=false

Brier, S. (2008b): “A Paradigm for Biosemiotics”, Signs 2008, pp. 30-81.

Brier, S. (2008). A Peircean Panentheist Scientific Mysticism. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies; vol. 27, p. 20-45 http://www.transpersonalstudies.org/ImagesRepository/ijts/Downloads/A%20Peircean%20Panentheist%20Scientific%20Mysticism.pdf

Keywords

  • cybersemiotics
  • informatics and computational philosophy
  • signification and biosemiotics
  • C.S. Peirce's semiotic philosophy
  • semiotic machines
  • new transdisciplinary frames of cognition and communication

Related Special Issue

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Open AccessArticle Bioentropy, Aesthetics and Meta-dualism: The Transdisciplinary Ecology of Gregory Bateson
Entropy 2010, 12(12), 2359-2385; doi:10.3390/e12122359
Received: 12 October 2010 / Revised: 26 October 2010 / Accepted: 29 October 2010 / Published: 26 November 2010
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Abstract
In this paper I am going to be dealing with Gregory Bateson, a theorist who is one of the founders of cybernetics, an acknowledged precursor of Biosemiotics, and in all respects highly transdisciplinary. Until his entry into cybernetics Bateson was an anthropologist [...] Read more.
In this paper I am going to be dealing with Gregory Bateson, a theorist who is one of the founders of cybernetics, an acknowledged precursor of Biosemiotics, and in all respects highly transdisciplinary. Until his entry into cybernetics Bateson was an anthropologist and like anthropologists of his day, accepted a semantic approach to meaning through the classic work of Ogden and Richards and their thought-word-meaning triangle. Ogden and Richards developed their semantic triangle from Peirce, but effectively turned the Peircian semiotic triad into a pentad of addressors and addressees, to which Bateson added context and reflexivity through feedback loops. The emergence of cybernetics and information theory in the 1940s increased the salience of the notion of feedback yet, he argued, information theory had truncated the notion of meaning. Bateson’s discussion of the logical categories of learning and communication distinguished the difference between and ‘sign’ and ‘signal’. Cybernetic signaling was a form of zero‑learning; living systems were interpretative and engaged in several logical types of learning. Twenty years later he took up similar sorts of issues with regard to the new science of ecology which had framed systemic ‘entropy’ solely in thermodynamic terms and ignored communication and learning in living systems. His concept of Bioentropy is presented in section two of this paper as is its association with redundancy. Bioentropy, in turn, led to his offering an entirely new definition of information: “the difference that makes a difference.” The definition could apply to both human and non-human communication patterns, since some forms of animal communication could not undertake logical typing. Finally, he believed that his own systemic approach was insufficient for meta-dualism. He promoted the idea of an ecological aesthetics which needed to be sufficiently objective to deal with the many disruptions in its own recursive relations, yet subjective and self-reflexive in the manner of a creative epistemology. ‘Rigor’ and ‘imagination’ became Bateson’s meta-logical types and aesthetics his meta-dualism. He drew his inspiration from the aesthetics of R.G. Collingwood. By mediating scientific rigor with Collingwood’s ‘imaginary’ Bateson brought about his own conception of mediated ‘thirdness’—different from C.S. Peirce—but one which brought cultural ‘mind’ more closely into association with ‘the mind of nature’. Full article
Open AccessArticle Cybersemiotics and Human Modelling
Entropy 2010, 12(9), 2045-2066; doi:10.3390/e12092045
Received: 4 August 2010 / Accepted: 5 September 2010 / Published: 10 September 2010
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (229 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Cybersemiotics, in forging a new philosophy of science, addresses the failure of all disciplines to recognize and adequately account for qualia and motivation, interrogates the status of ‘knowing’ contra the computational information-processing paradigm, and explores the role of the observer in knowing. [...] Read more.
Cybersemiotics, in forging a new philosophy of science, addresses the failure of all disciplines to recognize and adequately account for qualia and motivation, interrogates the status of ‘knowing’ contra the computational information-processing paradigm, and explores the role of the observer in knowing. The present article discusses these key features of cybersemiotics and, in particular, their consequences for biosemiotics (to which cybersemiotics is a contributor). It argues that the constructivist basis of ‘languaging’ in the cybersemiotic project presents a potential impediment. It suggests that although ‘language’ is clearly in question in conceptualizing ‘knowing’ and ‘observing’, the main issue for cybersemiotics has to do with the more general process of ‘modelling’ that features in biosemiotics. Whilst the future of research in the sphere of biosemiotics will be enhanced by a greater understanding of ‘observership’, the article argues that aspects of the relationship of constructivism and realism will need to be made clear, and that the tools for this are available closer to cybersemiotics’ home in general semiotics. Full article
Open AccessArticle Cybersemiotics: An Evolutionary World View Going Beyond Entropy and Information into the Question of Meaning
Entropy 2010, 12(8), 1902-1920; doi:10.3390/e12081902
Received: 31 May 2010 / Accepted: 27 July 2010 / Published: 9 August 2010
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (277 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
What makes Cybersemiotics different from other approaches attempting to produce a transdisciplinary theory of information, cognition and communication is its absolute naturalism, which forces us to view life, consciousness and cultural meaning all as a part of nature and evolution. It thus [...] Read more.
What makes Cybersemiotics different from other approaches attempting to produce a transdisciplinary theory of information, cognition and communication is its absolute naturalism, which forces us to view life, consciousness and cultural meaning all as a part of nature and evolution. It thus opposes a number of orthodoxies: 1. The physico-chemical scientific paradigm based on third person objective empirical knowledge and mathematical theory, but with no conceptions of experiental life, meaning and first person embodied consciousness and therefore meaningful linguistic intersubjectivity; 2. The biological and natural historical science approach understood as the combination of genetic evolutionary theory with an ecological and thermodynamic view based on the evolution of experiental living systems as the ground fact and engaged in a search for empirical truth, yet doing so without a theory of meaning and first person embodied consciousness and thereby linguistic meaningful intersubjectivity; 3. The linguistic-cultural-social structuralist constructivism that sees all knowledge as constructions of meaning produced by the intersubjective web of language, cultural mentality and power, but with no concept of empirical truth, life, evolution, ecology and a very weak concept of subjective embodied first person consciousness even while taking conscious intersubjective communication and knowledge processes as the basic fact to study (the linguistic turn); 4. Any approach which takes the qualitative distinction between subject and object as the ground fact, on which all meaningful knowledge is based, considering all result of the sciences including linguistics and embodiment of consciousness as secondary knowledge, as opposed to a phenomenological (Husserl) or actually phaneroscopic (Peirce) first person point of view considering conscious meaningful experiences in advance of the subject/object distinction. The phaneroscopic semiotics includes an intersubjective base as Peirce considers all knowledge as intersubjectively produced through signs and view emotions and qualia as Firstness. The integrative transdisciplinary synthesis of Cybersemiotics starts by accepting two major, but not fully explanatory, and very different transdisciplinary paradigms: 1. The second order cybernetic and autopoietic approach united in Luhmann’s triple autopoietic system theory of social communication; 2. The Peircean phaneroscopic, triadic, pragmaticistic, evolutionary, semiotic approach to meaning, which has led to modern biosemiotics, based in a phenomenological intersubjective world of partly self-organizing triadic sign processes in an experiental meaningful world. The two are integrated by inserting the modern development of information theory and self-organizing emergent chemico-biological phenomena as an aspect of a general semiotic evolution in the Peircean framework. This creates the Cybersemiotic framework, where evolutionary experiental and intersubjective sign processes become the ground reality, on which our conceptions of ourselves, action, meaning and the word are built. None of the results from exact science, biology, humanities or social sciences are considered more fundamental than the others. They contribute on an equal footing to our intersubjective semiotics knowing process of ourselves and the world Full article
Open AccessArticle Functional Information: Towards Synthesis of Biosemiotics and Cybernetics
Entropy 2010, 12(5), 1050-1070; doi:10.3390/e12051050
Received: 10 March 2010 / Revised: 6 April 2010 / Accepted: 21 April 2010 / Published: 27 April 2010
Cited by 15 | PDF Full-text (183 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Biosemiotics and cybernetics are closely related, yet they are separated by the boundary between life and non-life: biosemiotics is focused on living organisms, whereas cybernetics is applied mostly to non-living artificial devices. However, both classes of systems are agents that perform functions [...] Read more.
Biosemiotics and cybernetics are closely related, yet they are separated by the boundary between life and non-life: biosemiotics is focused on living organisms, whereas cybernetics is applied mostly to non-living artificial devices. However, both classes of systems are agents that perform functions necessary for reaching their goals. I propose to shift the focus of biosemiotics from living organisms to agents in general, which all belong to a pragmasphere or functional universe. Agents should be considered in the context of their hierarchy and origin because their semiosis can be inherited or induced by higher-level agents. To preserve and disseminate their functions, agents use functional information - a set of signs that encode and control their functions. It includes stable memory signs, transient messengers, and natural signs. The origin and evolution of functional information is discussed in terms of transitions between vegetative, animal, and social levels of semiosis, defined by Kull. Vegetative semiosis differs substantially from higher levels of semiosis, because signs are recognized and interpreted via direct code-based matching and are not associated with ideal representations of objects. Thus, I consider a separate classification of signs at the vegetative level that includes proto-icons, proto-indexes, and proto-symbols. Animal and social semiosis are based on classification, and modeling of objects, which represent the knowledge of agents about their body (Innenwelt) and environment (Umwelt). Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Cybersemiotics and Info-Computationalist Research Programmes as Platforms for Knowledge Production in Organisms and Machines
Entropy 2010, 12(4), 878-901; doi:10.3390/e12040878
Received: 23 February 2010 / Revised: 1 April 2010 / Accepted: 12 April 2010 / Published: 13 April 2010
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (102 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Both Cybersemiotics and Info-computationalist research programmes represent attempts to unify understanding of information, knowledge and communication. The first one takes into account phenomenological aspects of signification which are insisting on the human experience "from within". The second adopts solely the view "from [...] Read more.
Both Cybersemiotics and Info-computationalist research programmes represent attempts to unify understanding of information, knowledge and communication. The first one takes into account phenomenological aspects of signification which are insisting on the human experience "from within". The second adopts solely the view "from the outside" based on scientific practice, with an observing agent generating inter-subjective knowledge in a research community. The process of knowledge production, embodied into networks of cognizing agents interacting with the environment and developing through evolution is studied on different levels of abstraction in both frames of reference. In order to develop scientifically tractable models of evolution of intelligence in informational structures from pre-biotic/chemical to living networked intelligent organisms, including the implementation of those models in artificial agents, a basic level language of Info-Computationalism has shown to be suitable. There are however contexts in which we deal with complex informational structures essentially dependent on human first person knowledge where high level language such as Cybersemiotics is the appropriate tool for conceptualization and communication. Two research projects are presented in order to exemplify the interplay of info-computational and higher-order approaches: The Blue Brain Project where the brain is modeled as info-computational system, a simulation in silico of a biological brain function, and Biosemiotics research on genes, information, and semiosis in which the process of semiosis is understood in info-computational terms. The article analyzes differences and convergences of Cybersemiotics and Info-computationalist approaches which by placing focus on distinct levels of organization, help elucidate processes of knowledge production in intelligent agents. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Antithesis of Entropy: Biosemiotic Communication from Genetics to Human Language with Special Emphasis on the Immune Systems
Entropy 2010, 12(4), 631-705; doi:10.3390/e12040631
Received: 12 January 2010 / Revised: 9 March 2010 / Accepted: 24 March 2010 / Published: 31 March 2010
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (2564 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Entropy can be defined as the antithesis of well-formed true reports that agree with each other and with the material facts accessible through the experience of one or more competent observers. The abstract convergence (strictly formal, logical agreement) of true narrative representations [...] Read more.
Entropy can be defined as the antithesis of well-formed true reports that agree with each other and with the material facts accessible through the experience of one or more competent observers. The abstract convergence (strictly formal, logical agreement) of true narrative representations (TNRs)—ordinary valid reports of facts of experience—makes them formally more complete than fictions, errors, lies, and nonsense. A limit of absolute entropy is theoretically reached if all resemblance to a TNR is lost. As argued here, TNRs—formally defined along the lines of Peirce's exact logic—provide the necessary foundation for functional human languages and for biosemiotic systems. The theoretical concepts of pragmatic mapping—the fitting of a TNR to whatever facts it represents—and the constructive cycle of abstraction that enables a child to discover the systems underlying such mappings are introduced and illustrated from child development and then shown to apply to the human neuroarchitecture, genetics, fetal development, and our immune systems. It is also argued that biological disorders and disease conditions logically must involve corrupted (damaged, undeveloped, or otherwise incomplete) representations at one or many levels. Full article
Open AccessArticle Information and Signs: The Language of Images
Entropy 2010, 12(3), 528-553; doi:10.3390/e12030528
Received: 30 November 2009 / Revised: 25 February 2010 / Accepted: 1 March 2010 / Published: 12 March 2010
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Abstract
Since time immemorial, philosophers and scientists were searching for a “machine code” of the so-called Mentalese language capable of processing information at the pre-verbal, pre-expressive level. In this paper I suggest that human languages are only secondary to the system of primitive [...] Read more.
Since time immemorial, philosophers and scientists were searching for a “machine code” of the so-called Mentalese language capable of processing information at the pre-verbal, pre-expressive level. In this paper I suggest that human languages are only secondary to the system of primitive extra-linguistic signs which are hardwired in humans and serve as tools for understanding selves and others; and creating meanings for the multiplicity of experiences. The combinatorial semantics of the Mentalese may find its unorthodox expression in the semiotic system of Tarot images, the latter serving as the ”keys” to the encoded proto-mental information. The paper uses some works in systems theory by Erich Jantsch and Erwin Laszlo and relates Tarot images to the archetypes of the field of collective unconscious posited by Carl Jung. Our subconscious beliefs, hopes, fears and desires, of which we may be unaware at the subjective level, do have an objective compositional structure that may be laid down in front of our eyes in the format of pictorial semiotics representing the universe of affects, thoughts, and actions. Constructing imaginative narratives based on the expressive “language” of Tarot images enables us to anticipate possible consequences and consider a range of future options. The thesis advanced in this paper is also supported by the concept of informational universe of contemporary cosmology. Full article
Open AccessArticle From Talking Heads to Communicating Bodies: Cybersemiotics and Total Communication
Entropy 2010, 12(3), 390-419; doi:10.3390/e12030390
Received: 31 December 2009 / Revised: 1 February 2010 / Accepted: 1 March 2010 / Published: 5 March 2010
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (2031 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Current linguistics is biased towards considering as object of scientific study only verbal language, i.e., ordinary language whose basic entities are words, sentences, and texts. By having this focus, the crucial non-verbal semiotic contributions from acts of bodily communication are left [...] Read more.
Current linguistics is biased towards considering as object of scientific study only verbal language, i.e., ordinary language whose basic entities are words, sentences, and texts. By having this focus, the crucial non-verbal semiotic contributions from acts of bodily communication are left out of consideration. On the face of it, this is a strange situation, because, phenomenologically, when observing a communicating dyad, what appears to the senses is a multimodal semiotic display–the interactants produce acts of total communication, the linguistic part of which has in fact to be disentangled from the integral semiotic behavior. That a human being should in the first place be conceptualized as a ‘talking head’, rather than a ‘communicating body’, stems from at least four historically interrelated fountains: ancient Greek philosophy with its emphasis on logos as meaning both rational mind and verbal language/speech as well as with its rejection of rhetoric (including body language); Cartesian dualistic rationalism where the body was the animal, mechanistic part of a human being, unworthy for the Geisteswissenschaften; Saussure’s formal structuralism with its defocusing of the individual’s performance, parole, and its high focus on societal langue; and Chomskyan linguistics with its neglect of actual, also bodily, performance, and its total focus on an ideal mental grammatical computational competence. With the recent philosophy (‘in the flesh’) of the ‘embodied mind’, time has now come for integrating the (linguistic) head with the (other part of the communicating) body and seeing communication as total communication of the whole body. This means that the communicating mind is no longer restricted to its ‘rational’ aspects but has to be conceived full-scale as integrating also all kinds of ‘irrational’ factors, like emotions and motivations. Another, no less important, implication of the above is that an individual’s ‘language faculty’ is to be understood rather as a faculty of total communication–verbal and non-verbal semiotic behavior is an integrated, multi-modal whole of total communication performed by whole human organisms. Cybersemiotics offers itself here as the meta-theoretical, transdisciplinary framework within which this new paradigm of total communication can be developed. Full article
Open AccessArticle Rehabilitating Information
Entropy 2010, 12(2), 164-196; doi:10.3390/e12020164
Received: 21 December 2009 / Revised: 26 January 2010 / Accepted: 28 January 2010 / Published: 3 February 2010
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (134 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Correction | Supplementary Files
Abstract
In an early paper on logic, C.S. Peirce defined a concept of ‘information’ very different from the later conceptions which gave rise to ‘information science’, and indirectly to current problems such as an overload of ‘useless information’. A study of further developments [...] Read more.
In an early paper on logic, C.S. Peirce defined a concept of ‘information’ very different from the later conceptions which gave rise to ‘information science’, and indirectly to current problems such as an overload of ‘useless information’. A study of further developments in Peircean semiotics, and in related conceptual frameworks including the cybernetics of Bateson and the cybersemiotics of Brier, reveals deep relations between Peirce's concept of information and the irreducibly triadic nature of signs. Since all sciences, indeed all cognition and communication, are semiotic processes, the core semiotic principle implicit in the Peircean concept may clarify how our uses of language and other symbolic media can actually inform–and thus transform–the way we humans inhabit the biosphere. Full article
Open AccessArticle Explaining Change in Language: A Cybersemiotic Perspective
Entropy 2009, 11(4), 1055-1072; doi:10.3390/e11041055
Received: 14 October 2009 / Accepted: 2 December 2009 / Published: 11 December 2009
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (484 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
One of the greatest conundrums in semiotics and linguistics is explaining why change occurs in communication systems. The descriptive apparatus of how change occurs has been developed in great detail since at least the nineteenth century, but a viable explanatory framework of [...] Read more.
One of the greatest conundrums in semiotics and linguistics is explaining why change occurs in communication systems. The descriptive apparatus of how change occurs has been developed in great detail since at least the nineteenth century, but a viable explanatory framework of why it occurs in the first place still seems to be clouded in vagueness. So far, only the so-called Principle of Least Effort has come forward to provide a suggestive psychobiological framework for understanding change in communication codes such as language. Extensive work in using this model has shown many fascinating things about language structure and how it evolves. However, the many findings need an integrative framework for shedding light on any generalities implicit in them. This paper argues that a new approach to the study of codes, called cybersemiotics, can be used to great advantage for assessing theoretical frameworks and notions such as the Principle of Least Effort. Amalgamating cybernetic and biosemiotic notions, this new science provides analysts with valuable insights on the raison d’être of phenomena such as linguistic change. Full article

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Open AccessCorrection Fuhrman, G. Rehabilitating Information. Entropy, 2010, 12, 164-196
Entropy 2010, 12(3), 326; doi:10.3390/e12030326
Received: 1 March 2010 / Published: 2 March 2010
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Abstract The author would like to change the phrase “the financial ‘meltdown’ of 1908” into “the financial ‘meltdown’ of 2008” on page 190 of the article. [...] Full article

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