Biosemiotics, politics and Th.A. Sebeok’s move from linguistics to semiotics

Cannizzaro, Sara and Cobley, Paul (2015) Biosemiotics, politics and Th.A. Sebeok’s move from linguistics to semiotics. In: Biosemiotic Perspectives on Language and Linguistic. Velmezova, Ekaterina and Kull, Kalevi and Cowley, Stephen J., eds. Biosemiotics, 13 . Springer, pp. 207-222. ISBN 9783319206622

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Abstract

This paper will focus on the political implications for the language sciences of Sebeok’s move from linguistics to a global semiotic perspective, a move that ultimately resulted in biosemiotics. The paper will seek to make more explicit the political bearing of a biosemiotic perspective in the language sciences and the human sciences in general. In particular, it will discuss the definition of language inherent in Sebeok’s project and the fundamental re-drawing of the grounds of linguistic debate heralded by Sebeok’s embrace of the concept of modelling. Thus far, the political co-ordinates of the biosemiotic project have not really been made explicit. This paper will therefore seek to outline
1. how biosemiotics enables us to reconfigure our understanding of the role of language in culture;
2. how exaptation is central to the evolution of language and communication, rather than adaptation;
3. how communication is the key issue in biosphere, rather than language, not just because communication includes language but because the language sciences often refer to language as if it were mere “chatter”, “tropes” and “figures of speech”;
4. how biosemiotics, despite its seeming “neutrality” arising from its transdisciplinarity, is thoroughly political;
5. how the failure to see the implications of the move from linguistics to semiotics arises from the fact that biosemiotics is devoid of old style politics, which is based on representation (devoid of experience) and “construction of [everything] in discourse” (which is grounded in linguistics, not communication study).
In contrast to the post-“linguistic turn” idea that the world is “constructed in discourse”, we will argue that biosemiotics entails a reconfiguration of the polis and, in particular, offers the chance to completely reconceptualise ideology.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Media > English Language and Literature
Item ID: 20007
Notes on copyright: This is an accepted manuscript version of a chapter published in Biosemiotic Perspectives on Language and Linguistic. The final authenticated version is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-20663-9_11
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Paul Cobley
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2016 13:04
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2018 07:06
URI: http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/20007

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