Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Naturalizing Phenomenology

My most recent project has been a French translation on French semiotics and phenomenology. The author, akin to my own project, seeks the "naturalization" of phenomenology, which is not to say the reduction of conscious phenomena to physical nature, but of establishing the continuity of nature and mind. Below I reproduce some choice passage explicating Peircean natural semiotics.

Living organisms are teleological semiotic machines
"...in Peirce the opposition between the non-semiotic and semiotic does not duplicate that between natural and cultural. Peirce can as a result have natural “minds” acting as final causes. To some extent, all function attached to a structure is semiotic and may serve as an interpretant. For example, the complex physical-chemical reactions constitutive of the metabolism of a biological organism are “semiotic” in this sense. In virtue of the constitutive links between structure and function, the living is a natural semiotic machine.
    Peirce thus reformulated, both semiotically and naturalistically, the question of the genesis and evolution of the complexity of forms and natural structures. In his attempt to understand the enigma of the diversification and growing complexification of organized beings, he revived in his own way the problem of morphogenic entelechies. He elucidated a new kind of critique of teleological judgment, entelechies, and the “internal purpose” as self-interpreting natural signs."

Peircean "semiotics," or the more widely known moniker "biosemiotics," is the study of existential relations that is capable of handling a processional account of time. It is absolutely basic to most work in pragmatism, yet is not well known or understood, and is probably part of the reason pragmatist metaphysics seems so bizarre to neophytes. Cultural semiotics and semantics are founded on natural signifiers? Nature is self-interpreting? Teleology as "purposefulness without purpose" (Kant) within nature itself (not Kant) and the same with entelechies (not your Momma's Aristotle)?

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