Publication 8044

Salthe S. N. (2001) Theoretical biology as an anticipatory text: The relevance of Uexküll to current issues in evolutionary systems. Semiotica 134(1/4): 359–380. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/8044
Excerpt: I have recently realized that several of the ideas I have been working with since the early 1980s might have been derived in part from Uexküll’s Theoretical Biology (1926). So this work can be viewed in retrospect as a seminal text in evolutionary systems discourse. This text shows early indications of, at least, internalist discourse, scalar and speci®cation hierarchy theories, semiotics, systems science, the information/dynamics dichotomy, developmentalism, as well as the social construction of knowledge. In this article I will be concerned mostly with relating Uexküll’s concerns to internalist discourse (e.g., Matsuno 1989; Kampis and Roessler 1990). In this regard, I will make a Peircean semiotic interpretation of Uexküll’s central theory of function cycles. Then I will try to relate what appears today to be the major sign of Uexküll’s work – the Umwelt – to externalist concepts in ecology. Finally, I will take up the implications of Uexküll’s work for the social construction of knowledge.

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