Self-Organization and Peirce’s Notion of Communication and Semiosis

Self-Organization and Peirce’s Notion of Communication and Semiosis

João Queiroz (Federal University of Juiz de Fora, Brazil) and Angelo Loula (State University of Feira de Santana, Brazil)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/ijsss.2011070104
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Semiosis can be described as an emergent self-organizing process in a complex system of distributed sign users interacting locally and mutually affecting each other. Contextually grounded, semiosis is characterized as a pattern that emerges through the cooperation between agents in a communication act, which concerns an utterer, a sign, and an interpreter. Some implications of this approach are explored in the context of Artificial Life experimental protocols. To model communication as a self-organized process, the authors create a scenario to investigate a potentially self-organizing dynamic of communication, via local interactions. According to the results, a systemic process (symbol-based communication) emerges as a global pattern (a common repertoire of signs) from local interactions, without any external or central control.
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Semiosis And Process

A number of investigators maintain that meaning process (semiosis), and its metaphysical counterpart, must be considered in terms of complex emergent, self-organizing adaptive systems (Port, 2009, 2002; Galantucci & Steels, 2008; Bickhard, 2007; Steels, 2003, 2000; Wagner et al., 2003; Christiansen & Kirby, 2003; Cangelosi & Turner, 2002; MacLennan, 2001; Vogt, 2002; Jung & Zelinsky, 2000; Briscoe, 1998; Merrell, 1997; Keller, 1994; Hutchins & Hazlehurst, 1995; Rosenthal, 1994). As Kelso (1995, p. 1) argues, ‘symbols, like the whirlpools in a river, may evince relatively stable patterns or structures that persist for a certain lapse of time, but actually they are neither static nor atemporal’. In this light, we have theoretically and empirically explored diverse consequences of complex system simulation and modeling in terms of Peirce’s semiosis as process (Loula et al., 2004, 2010a, 2010b; Queiroz & Merrell, 2009; Ribeiro et al., 2007; Gomes et al., 2007; Queiroz & Merrell, 2006; Queiroz & El-Hani, 2006a, 2006b).

Peirce, as a process thinker, was representative of a philosophical tendency that treats processes as being more fundamental than substantive metaphysic based on fixed ontological categories (Rescher, 1996). According to his later pragmatic approach, semiosis is an interpreter-dependent process that cannot be dissociated from the notion of a situated (and actively distributed) communicational agent (Bergman, 2009; Short, 2007, 1981; Pietarinen, 2006; Queiroz & Merrell, 2006). This does not mean that semiosis is entirely dependent of the interpreter (Bergman, 2009). It is an interpreter-dependent process in the sense that it triadically connects sign, object, and an effect on the interpreter (interpretant). The object is a form (habit, regularity, or a ‘pattern of constraints’) embodied as a constraining factor for interpretative behavior – a logically ‘would be’ fact of response (Hulswitt, 2001). The notion of semiosis as a form communicated from object to interpreter through mediation of a sign allows us to conceive meaning, and meaning change, in a processual (non-substantive) way, as a constraining factor of possible patterns of interpretative behavior through habit and change of habit.

“… a Sign may be defined as a Medium for the communication of a Form. [...]. As a medium, the Sign is essentially in a triadic relation, to its Object which determines it, and to its Interpretant which it determines [...]. That which is communicated from the Object through the Sign to the Interpretant is a Form; that is to say, it is nothing like an existent, but is a power, is the fact that something would happen under certain conditions” (Peirce, 1967, 1998).

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