Why Do We Need Signs in Biology?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Abstract The current chapter addresses a fundamental question: Why are there sign-mediated interactions in living systems? According to Polanyi, biological hierarchies are constituted through boundary conditions. I argue that signs, or more accurately the processes of signification, function as these boundary conditions. Moreover, based on general insights from the physics of computation, I argue that the organism cannot be computed directly from the DNA without the loss of critical information. In this context, signs as boundary conditions mediate the biological construction in a way that prevents the loss of information and destabilization of the DNA.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTowards a Semiotic Biology
Subtitle of host publicationLife is the Action of Signs
EditorsClaus Emmeche, Kalevi kull
PublisherImperial College Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)978-1-84816-687-5
StatePublished - 2011


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