[Fis] Welcome back Terry

Christophe Menant Christophe.Menant at hotmail.fr
Wed Apr 27 22:32:52 CEST 2022

 Dear Terry,
Good to hear from you. Looks like your recovery is progressing well and you can now be back with us on the FIS forum.
Perhaps you could tell when you will be in a position to answer the points addressed during our discussion about your paper “How Molecules became Signs”.
The perspectives you introduce are interesting. It is part of FIS investigations to look at questions relative to information and meaning in matter => life => consciousness => …
You may remember my two posts relative to your paper. Copied here-under.
Your answers should lead to a better understanding of your paper.
Thanks in advance
Feb 23 2022 post
Thanks Terry for spending some time with us on your interesting paper “how Molecules became Signs”.
Your approach on signs covers the evolution from abiotic components (molecules) to living organisms. You start at molecule level where you introduce the concepts of constraint, information and interpretation, and you look at the end of the paper at “the emergence of progressively higher levels of interpretive competence” where “semiotic constraint is progressively transferred from molecules to cells to tissues to body structure”.
While writing about signs you do not tell much about their meaningful aspect. Peirce has written a lot about the Interpretant. And, as Semioticians have noted ,“Peirce defined the Interpretant as “something created in the mind of the Interpreter”, the Interpretant being Peirce’s term for the meaning of a sign” [Noth 1990].
Don’t you feel it could be interesting to explicit a bit more in your approach the concept of “meaning” ? The word “meaning” is more understandable than “Interpretant” and it can be used rather simply for living entities (https://philpapers.org/rec/MENITA-7<https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fphilpapers.org%2Frec%2FMENITA-7&data=04%7C01%7C%7C1be7858341364a569a3e08d9f69d21bb%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637811977021815344%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000&sdata=0aQUf2up6iS5MfrSBXZPkyaMlxpqqEUnAoTGz4MhqFc%3D&reserved=0>).
Could you let us know your thoughts on this?
March 12 2022 post
Dear Terry,
In addition to my Feb 23 post I would appreciate some information on parts of your paper I may not have understood that well.
Regarding the concept of information, you consider that information in a pragmatic-functional sense can be understood in terms of molecular evolution.
This brings to consider that “information” is present in an a-biotic or pre-biotic world (a purely molecular world). Such pre-biotic world has existed before the emergence of life in our universe. But can we talk of information and meaning, of signs, in such a world? How should they be understood in a purely material world devoid of living entities?
As said, it would be nice if you could clarify these points by making available definitions for information, meaning and sign in such an a-biotic world. This would allow a better understanding of your starting point.
Also, I do not see that well using the Peircean term of “Interpretant” for an inert world. We know that the Interpretant (the meaning) needs an Interpreter (the meaning generator). So introducing Interpretants in your paper also brings to introduce Interpreters in an inert world. Your sentence “In Peircean terms, this amounts to asking what sort of molecular system is competent to produce the Interpretants” is equivalent to: “what sort of molecular system is competent to generate meanings”. I’m not sure that meaning generation by a molecular system in a purely material and inert world can be clearly understood by today science or philosophy. And I do not remember Peirce theory of sign being about inert matter. Could you tel us more about your position on these subject?
Thanks again for your time

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