Three Levels of Semiosis: Three Kinds of Kinds

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This paper presents a second-order semiotic framework for ontological levels, which is based on the structure of semiosis in a more fundamental way than other existing approaches to semiotic levels. Building on the key semiotic concept of representation, three levels are posited: (1) non- or proto-semiotic processes, without representation, such as physical or causal processes, (2) semiotic processes, with representation, such as the processes of life and cognition, and (3) second-order semiotic processes, with representation of representation, such as self-conscious and self-reflexive communicative processes. This semiotic framework for ontological levels is compared with recent discussions of different ontological kinds of kinds such as indifferent and interactive kinds. This leads to the distinction between not two, but three kinds of kinds: indifferent, adaptive and reflexive kinds, of which the last two hitherto have not been clearly distinguished.
TidsskriftCybernetics & Human Knowing - A Journal of Second Order Cybernetics, Autopoiesis and Cyber-Semiotics
Sider (fra-til)23-38
Antal sider16
StatusUdgivet - 2016


  • natural kinds, biosemiotics, second-order cybernetics, ontological levels, constructivist, Peirce

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