Integrating Biosemiotics and Biohermeneutics in the Quest for Ecological Civilization as a Practical Utopia
Keywords: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.
Adams, Richard Newbold. 1975. Energy & Structure: A Theory of Social Power. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Adams, Suzi (ed.). 2017. Ricoeur and Castoriadis in Discussion: On Human Creation, Historical Novelty, and the Social Imaginary. London: Rowman & Littlefield.
Barbieri, Marcello. 2008. ‘Life is Semiosis: The Biosemiotic View of Nature’, Cosmos and History, 4(1): 29-51.
Bloch, Ernst. 2000. The Spirit of Utopia, . Trans. Anthony A. Nassar, Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Blum, William. 2014. America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy. London: Zed Books.
Daly, Herman E. & John B. Cobb Jr. 1994. For the Common Good. 2nd ed. Boston: Beacon Press.
Deacon, Terrence W. 1997. The Symbolic Species: The co-evolution of language and the brain. New York: Norton.
Depew, David J. and Bruce H. Weber. 1996. Darwinism Evolving: Systems Dynamics and the Genealogy of Natural Selection. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Engels, Friedrich. 1978. ‘Socialism, Utopian and Scientific’. In: Robert C. Tucker (ed.), The Marx-Engels Reader, pp.683-715. New York: W.W. Norton & Company,
Favareau, Donald. 2010. ‘Introduction: An Evolutionary History of Biosemiotics’. In: Donald Favareau (ed.). Essential Readings in Biosemiotics: Anthology and Commentary. Dordrecht: Springer, pp.1-80.
Gare, Arran. 2002. ‘Human Ecology and Public Policy: Overcoming the Hegemony of Economics’, Democracy and Nature, 8(1): 131-141.
Gare, Arran. 2010. ‘Toward an Ecological Civilization: The Science, Ethics, and Politics of Eco-Poiesis’, Process Studies, 39(1): 5-38.
Gare, Arran. 2014. ‘Speculative Naturalism: A Manifesto’, Cosmos & History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 10(2): 300-323.
Gare, Arran. 2017a. ‘Chreods, Homeorhesis and Biofields: Find the Right Path for Science through Daoism’, Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, Issue 131, December: 61-91.
Gare, Arran. 2017b. The Philosophical Foundations of Ecological Civilization: A Manifesto for the Future. London: Routledge.
Gare, Arran. 2019a. ‘Biosemiosis and Causation: Defending Biosemiotics Through Rosen’s Theoretical Biology, or, Integrating Biosemiotics and Anticipatory Systems Theory’. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 15(1): 31-90.
Gare, Arran. 2019b. ‘The Ecosocialist Roots of Ecological Civilization’, Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, 32(1): 37-55.
Gare, Arran. 2020. ‘Semiosis and Information: Meeting the Challenge of Information Science to Post-Reductionist Biosemiotics’, Biosemiotics, 13(3): 327-346.
Gare, Arran. 2021. ‘Against Posthumanism: Posthumanism as the World-Vision of House Slaves’, Borderless Philosophy, 4: 1-56.
Gare, Arran. 2022. ‘Life Processes as Proto-Narratives: Integrating Theoretical Biology and Biosemiotics Through Biohermeneutics’, Cosmos & History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 18(1): 210-251.
Higgins, Winton & Geoff Dow. 2013. Politics Against Pessimism: social democratic possibilities since Ernst Wigforss. Berne: Peter Lang.
Hoffmeyer, Jesper. 1993. Signs of Meaning in the Universe. Trans. Barbara J. Haveland, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Hudson, Michael. 2022. The Destiny of Civilization : Finance Capitalism, Industrial Capitalism or Socialism. Islet Verlag.
Jacoby, Russell. 1981. Dialectic of Defeat : Contours of Western Marxism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Jacoby, Russell. 1999. The End of Utopia: Politics and Culture in an Age of Apathy. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Johnson, Mark. 1987. The Body in the Mind: the Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Johnson, Mark. 2007. The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Kauffman, Stuart and Arran Gare, 2015. ‘Beyond Descartes and Newton: Recovering life and humanity’, Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, 119: 219-244.
Kearney, R. 1984. Dialogues with Contemporary Continental Thinkers. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Klein, Naomi. 1999. No Logo. New York, N.Y.: Picador.
Kovel, Joel. 2007. The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World? London: Zed Books.
Kull, Kalevi. 2009. ‘Vegetative, Animal, and Cultural Semiosis: The Semiotic Threshold Zones’, Cognitive Semiotics, 4: 8-27.
Kull, Kalevi. 2010. ‘Ecosystems are Made of Semiotic Bonds: Consortia, Umwelten, Biophony and Ecological Codes’, Biosemiotics, 3: 347-357.
Lacková, Ludmila and Dan Faltynek, 2021. ‘The lower threshold as a unifying principle between Code Biology and Biosemiotics’, BioSystems, 210, 2021: 1-8.
Li, Minqi. 2016. China and the 21st Century Crisis. London: Pluto Press.
Lovelock. J.E. Gaia: A New look at Life on Earth. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mannheim, Karl. 1953 . Ideology and Utopia. Trans. Louis Wirth and Edward Shils. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Margulis, Lynn and Dorian Sagan. 2000. What is Life? Berkeley: University of California Press.
Markoš, Anton and Švorcová, Jana. 2019. Epigenetic Processes and the Evolution of Life. Boca Ranton: CRC Press.
McCoy, Alfred W. 2017. In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power. Chicago: Haymarket Books.
Moore, Jason W. 2015. ‘Introduction: Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism’. In: Jason W. Moore ed. Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism. Oakland, CA: Kairos.
Polak, Fred. 1973. The Image of the Future. Trans. and abridged by Elise Boulding, San Francisco: Josey-Bass.
Popov, Igor. 2018. Orthogenesis versus Darwinism. Trans. Natalia Lentsman. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
Ricoeur, Paul. 1984. Time and Narrative, Volume I. Trans. Kathleen McLaughlin and David Pellauer, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Ricoeur, Paul. 1986. Lectures on Ideology and Utopia. George H. Taylor, ed. New York: Columbia University Press.
Ricoeur, Paul. 1996. ‘Reflections on the New Ethos of Europe’. In: Richard Kearney ed. The Hermeneutics of Action. London: Sage: 3-39.
Robinson, William L. A Theory of Global Capitalism: Production, Class, and State in a Transnational World. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.
Rosen, Robert. 1999. Essays on Life Itself. New York: Columbia University Press.
Sebeok, Thomas A. & Jean Umiker-Sebeok eds. 1992. Biosemiotics: The Semiotic Web. 1991. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Shiva, Vandana. 2005. Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability and Peace. Cambridge: South End Press.
Spash, Clive L. 2015. Routledge Handbook of Ecological Economics. London: Routledge.
Robinson, William I. 2020. The Global Police State. London: Pluto Press.
Taylor, George H. 1986. ‘Editor’s Introduction’. In: Paul Ricoeur, Lectures on Ideology and Utopia: ix-xxxvii.
Thompson, Peter. 2013. ‘Introduction: The Privatization of Hope and the Crisis of Negation’. In: The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia. ed. Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek. Durham: Duke University Press.
Turchin, Peter 2016.. Ultrasociety. Chaplin: Connecticut: Beresta Books.
Tyler, Colin. 2012. Civil Society, Capitalism and the State. Part 2 of The Liberal Socialism of Thomas Hill Green. La Vergne: Imprint Academic.
Ulanowicz, Robert E. 1997. Ecology: The Ascendent Perspective. New York: Columbia University Press.
Ulanowicz, Robert E. 2009. A Third Window: Natural Life beyond Newton and Darwin. West Conschohocken: Templeton Foundation Press.
Vatn, Arild. 2005. Institutions and the Environment. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2022 Arran Gare
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.