The age of gene-centrism and mechanism is slowly passing. In its place, the biological sciences increasingly recognise that life isn’t simply a genetically determined programme but is centrally a matter of information and communication systems nested in larger communicative systems. The latter include both internal and external, and natural and cultural, environments. But ‘information’ is an under-unanalysed term in relation to living systems. Accordingly, a new interdiscipline, biosemiotics, has grown up to study the ontology of sign relations in biological, aesthetic and technological ecologies. From the Greek bios for life and semeion for sign, biosemiotics is the study of these intertwined natural and cultural sign systems of the living. Expecting the Earth draws on the semiotic philosophy of the American scientist and logician Charles Sanders Peirce, the semiotic ethology of Jakob von Uexkull’s Umwelt Theory, Gregory Bateson’s cybernetic ecology of mind, Jesper Hoffmeyer’s development of biosemiotics, and briefly upon philosophical precursors such as Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari and Gilbert Simondon, as well as the growth of ecological developmental biology more widely. In this book, Wendy Wheeler formulates a history and theory of biosemiotic and proto-biosemiotic thinking in order to open up new possibilities of contemporary social, philosophical, aesthetic and technological engagement. This is essential reading for those interested in these groundbreaking new developments, and is relevant to the environmental humanities, social ecology and the life sciences more generally
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