Introduction and Overview
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My own personal oddyssey from physics to semiotics may have unconsciously suggested to me that the evolution of complex systems, including living ones, may have followed a similar path.
Two biases in our traditions make it harder for us to see HOW:
we see physics as described mainly in terms of the continuum (e.g. origins of the calculus)
we see semiotics as described mainly in terms of discrete contrasting categories (e.g. linguistics)
But physics now provides for quanta and bifurcations, and various other ways to make the transition between continuous and discontinuous/discrete aspects of material dynamics; and my own research in multimedia semiotics shows that language is not typical: there is a second semiotics of meaning by degree.
This textweb develops arguments for the possibility that having both conventional, i.e. discrete-typological, and this second topological semiotics can help us bridge the gap between physics and the infodynamics of biological and social systems.
I have developed the later stages of this argument with examples from the area of bio-semiotics, both because it presents these issues in particularly interesting ways, and because of the themes of the WESS 1998 conference. But my ignorance of biology is a serious handicap in elaborating properly on the details; please help me improve the analysis.