The Need of the Autopoietic Cybernetics for Biosemiotics to become Embodied

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


Peirce’s semiotics primarily works with the dynamics of self-organized triadic sign processes. Though an important point in biosemiotics is that the body is not mechanically but communicatively organized, Peircean semiotics in itself does not explain the organizational closure of embodiment and its creation of individuals and their interpretative ability. That is done much better through the bio-cybernetics concepts of autopoiesis developed in second order cybernetics by Maturana and Varela. Here cybernetic feedback loops help the body closing its organization and thereby defending it vital organization against the disruption by foreign objective information attempt to perturbate the body. The embodied individual only reacts to disturbances through structural couplings, which they understand as a sort of organizational readiness in the embodied organism to react constructively to perturbation from the outside in a way that is supporting their own survival. Only through this closure can a sign be a difference that makes that difference, which Bateson argue is necessary for something to become information for an organism. This is also clear from Von Uexk ll’s funktionskreis, where circular causation is vital in order to bring for the signs interpretant (merkmale) to arise. Maturana and Varela have no conception of signs and semiosis, as their theory lacks a phenomenological and hermeneutical basis. But they explicitly reject the cognitive view of cognition as the nervous system picking up information from the environment and the conceptualization of the cognitive processes in the brain as information processing. Though neither they nor Bateson have a semiotic theory of meaning, it is the bio-cybernetics theory of autopoiesis and structural coupling that makes the interpretation of disturbances as meaningful signs possible.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event13th IASS-AIS World Congress of Semiotics IASS: CROSS-INTER-MULTI-TRANS - Kaunas University of Technology, Kaunas, Lithuania
Duration: 26 Jun 201730 Jun 2017
Conference number: 13


Conference13th IASS-AIS World Congress of Semiotics IASS
LocationKaunas University of Technology


  • Cybersemiotics
  • Cybernetics
  • Biosemiotics
  • Autopoiesis
  • Embodiment

Cite this