Neurosemiotics Across Species

This paper (Tønnessen, forthcoming) depicts neurosemiotics across species by applying a biosemiotic perspective that builds on the Umwelt theory of Jakob von Uexküll. To understand the Umwelt of sentient organisms, we must understand neurosemiotic aspects of their experience and behaviour. The paper also examines fundamental issues in neurosemiotics, such as the nature of the neural code, and whether the neural code can be understood as a semiotic concept. Connections are made between a proper understanding of the neural code and the neurosemiotics that is implicit in the Umwelt theory. A further discussion concerns how different forms of neurosemiotic agency relates to organisms´ capacity for relating to objects, understood as discernable, unified wholes. This sheds light on neurosemiotic aspects of subjectivity across species. A final discussion addresses anthropocentrism in behavioral neuroscience, which is to some extent unavoidable given our necessarily human perspective in neurosemiotic studies.

Tønnessen, Morten, forthcoming. ‘Neurosemiotics across species’, Routledge Handbook of Neurosemiotics, eds. Adolfo García and Agustin Ibanez, Routledge.

Morten Tønnessen

Department of Social Studies, University of Stavanger

professor of philosophy at the University of Stavanger. He is the President of the Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies, and has served as Editor-in-Chief of Biosemiotics (2013–2020). His Ph.D. thesis “Umwelt transition and Uexküllian phenomenology: An ecosemiotic analysis of Norwegian wolf management” was defended at the University of Tartu (2011). Academic (b)log: 

Umwelt theory
neural codes
subjective experience
neurosemiotic agency