Integrating Biosemiotics and Biohermeneutics in the Quest for Ecological Civilization as a Practical Utopia



Biosemiotics, Hermeneutics, Utopia, Ecological civilization, Semiosphere, Paul Ricoeur, Ernst Bloch, Cornelius Castoriadis, Imagination, Social Imaginary, Russell Jacoby


‘Ecological civilization’ has been put forward as a utopia, as this notion has been defended by Ernst Bloch and Paul Ricoeur. It is a vision of the future that puts into question that which presently exists, revealing its contingency while offering an inspiring image of the future that can mobilize people to create this future. Ecological civilization is a vision based on ecological thinking, seeing all life as interdependent communities of communities. Humanity’s place in nature is redefined as participating in communities, both human and non-human, including the global ecosystem. From this perspective, the end of life in both ethics and politics should be to augment life through augmenting the conditions for life, that is, through ‘ecopoiesis’ or ‘home-making’. What is involved in this has been clarified by work in biosemiotics and biohermeneutics where life is identified with semiosis, the production and interpretation of signs. Advancing biosemiotics and biohermeneutics, I will argue that living processes can be understood as proto-narratives organizing living processes to advance the conditions for life. They are inchoate in Ricoeur’s sense because they are not reflectively formulated as such but are being lived out. Developing our understanding of the world involves understanding these inter-related proto-narratives, including the proto-narrative that has operated in the creation of the biosphere and semiosphere, and recognizing the potential of human culture as part of this semiosphere to make explicit and re-emplot these proto-narratives. Most importantly, it is to make explicit and further develop the proto-narrative of the global ecosystem to augment the conditions for life. This will involve articulating a new grand narrative of not only humanity but of terrestrial life, orienting human communities at all levels to create and sustain a global ecological civilization.

Author Biography

Arran Gare, Swinburne University


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How to Cite

Gare, A. (2022). Integrating Biosemiotics and Biohermeneutics in the Quest for Ecological Civilization as a Practical Utopia. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 18(2), 22–47. Retrieved from