Virtual issue on honor of Jesper Hoffmeyer
5 weeks ago
UTOPISM. *** In the long run, nothing else is realistic. *** Welcome to the English language blog of Morten Tønnessen, Professor of philosophy at University of Stavanger's Department of Social Studies.
A good way to introduce the approach of the diffuse discontinuities as an alternative to the hiatus model is to discuss how the mentioned authors (Scheler, Gehlen, Plessner, Cassirer, and Langer) interpret the thought of Jakob von Uexküll. With impressive regularity, all of them present as the main Uexküllian concept the strict tie between the effector system (action) and the receptor system (perception) that characterises all animal organisation, but not the human life form. In other words, they make of Uexküll champion of the hiatus model [...]
The direct reading of Uexküll’s writings and the interpretation of his work given by Thomas Sebeok (Sebeok 1979, 2001), von Uexküll (1981), and many other recent scholars (Hoffmeyer 1996; Kull 1998, 2001, 2010; Deely 2004; Rüting 2004; Barbieri 2007; Magnus 2008; Tønnessen 2009, 2014, 2016; Favareau 2010; Petrilli and Ponzio 2002; Farina and Pieretti 2014; Salthe 2014; Kleisner 2015; Maran 2016) tell us another story. In Uexküll’s thought, the constitution of the Umwelt is a transcendental process through which the animal organism transforms the stimuli impinging from the outer reality in perceptive and operative signs (on the validity of this interpretation of the Umwelt concept for all levels of animal life see Brentari 2015: 89-95, 107-115); the interaction of both kinds of signs does not at all follow a mechanical immediacy, but is, instead, a sort of subject-mediated tuning of action and perception.
This issue presents the rapidly growing field of biosemiotic ethics. In the past two decades, biosemioticians have began to tease out the ethical implications of biosemiotics. The foundational argument is that if semiosis is a morally-relevant capacity, and if all living systems are semiotic, then biosemiosis can serve as the basis for justifying the attribution of moral status to humans, to animals and plants, and even to ecosystems. Biosemiotic ethics opens the road towards a perspective that connects ecological thinking with ethical perspectives.