Interactivism and enactivism spring from some similar insights and intuitions. There are, however, some arguably significant divergences, and I will explore a few of the important similarities and differences. Topics addressed include the basic notions of how cognition and mind emerge in living systems; how growth, learning, development, and adaptation can be modeled within the basic frameworks; and how phenomenological investigations can be taken into account and their phenomena modeled.
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). Relevance: The paper suggests an agency-based approach to biosemiotics. This approach is related to the interactivism of Mark Bickhard.
Vehkavaara T. & Sharov A. (2017) Constructive aspects of biosemiotics. Biosemiotics 10(2): 145–156. https://cepa.info/8012
Excerpt: Biosemiotics appears intrinsically related to constructive approaches in its sister disciplines, such as second order cybernetics, autopoiesis, constructivism, enactivism, and interactivism. This connection widens the scientific significance of biosemiotics as an integrating theoretical approach by providing a fruitful way to base semiotic concepts naturalistically but non-reductively. For biosemiotics, sign relations and meanings are components of reality, not just metaphors as it is often viewed in biology or cybernetics. Biosemiotics recognizes also the creative role of agency in knowledge construction, but avoids the agnostic attitude towards reality that is so common in radical constructivism. Biosemiotics assumes that semiotic scaffolds represented by heredity, phenotype, and behavior, both enable and limit (partially) the capacity of organisms to represent the reality in cognitive structures. Moreover, these scaffolds can be shared (partially) between communicating organisms, enabling meaningful transfer of knowledge. Thus, we see biosemiotics as a potential mediating field in the integration of semiotic and constructive approaches to agency and life.