Central to the attempt to develop a biosemiotics has been the discussion of what it means to be scientific. In Marcello Barbieri's latest argument for leaving Peircean biosemiotics and creating an alternative code-biology the definition of what it means to be scientific plays a major role. For Barbieri “scientific knowledge is obtained by building machine-like models of what we observe in nature”. Barbieri interestingly claims that – in combination with the empirical and experimental basis – mechanism is virtually equivalent to the scientific method. The consequences of this statement seem to be that the optimal type of knowledge science can produce about living system is to model them as machines. But the explicit goal of a Peircean semiotically based biosemiotics is (also) to model living systems as cognitive and communicative systems working on the basis of meaning and signification. These two concepts are not part of the mechanistic models of natural science today, not even of cognitive science. Barbieri tries to solve this problem by introducing a new concept of biological meaning that is separate from the Peircean biosemiotics and then add Peirce's semiotics on top. This article argues why this view is inconsistent on the grounds that Peirce's semiotic paradigm only gives meaning in its pragmaticist conception of a fallibilist view of science, which again is intrinsic connected to its non-mechanistic metaphysics of Tychism, Synechism and Agapism. The core of the biosemiotic enterprise is to establish another type of trans- and interdisciplinary wissenschaft than the received view of “science”.

Publication information

Original languageEnglish
JournalProgress in Biophysics & Molecular Biology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)576-587
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2015

ID: 44276954