Towards a holo-semiotic framework for the evolution of language

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The chapter develops the view that a global semiotic lens spanning biology and culture (thus covering the phenomenal and emergent processes of life generally) is a particularly vital frame for inquiry into the origin and evolution of language. It is further suggested that such inquiry, in its turn, could prove to be the single most important area of study to the work of transcending long-standing dichotomies between biological and cultural studies, and of affirming the perspectival salience of a semiotic theory of life. With respect to this view, a “holo-semiotic” framework (with roots in the global semiotic tradition of Thomas Sebeok) is developed wherein the object of the origin of language is approached and located within a semiotic coevolutionary complex of physio-anatomical force-relations (kinesio-/eco-semiotic) whereby a capacity for symbolical insight (anthroposemiotic) could phenomenally emerge out of biological impulse (bio-/zoo-semiotic). Based in the logic of a holo-semiotic model of language evolution, it will be argued that evolutionary semiotic processes hinge crucially on the inherent role that mimesis (as a principle function of semiosis and primary mode of information transmission) plays in both culture and biology—in its social imitative sense and in its biological replicative and adaptive senses.

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Numanities - Arts and Humanities in Progress

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