By Edwina Taborsky, co-editor SEED


This is the second issue of Volume I of the SEED journal. In keeping with the goals of SEE, we are presenting research on the dynamics of codification within a number of disciplines. The papers in this issue focus on evolution, examined within several disciplines, but always approaching evolution as a dynamic process rather than a random and adversarial action.

Torkild Thellefsen of Copenhagen, Denmark deals with the evolution of the sign as a process of transformation or realization of the ‘natural’, understood as the category of qualitative Firstness, into discrete human signs within the category of reactionary Secondness, via the mediate category of Thirdness understood as culture. Importantly, Nature includes an evolutionary potential that ‘gives rise to the evolution of man’. We are thus operating within a dynamic set of relations where the qualitative becomes the quantitative by means of a mediation process of abstraction. We then move on to a botanical case study example of an evolutionary dynamics within the paper by Jack Maze, Kathleen Robson, Satindranath Banerjee and Alan Vyse, who are variously involved with botanical research in British Columbia, Canada. Their paper explores the relationship between energy flow and emergence, and concludes that emergence operates in the “realm of events explained by natural laws, i.e., it is inevitable.” That is, evolution introduces emergent or new discrete properties and this action, which accepts freedom as a natural force, is not random or accidental but a vital property of energy dynamics. The next paper, by Guiseppe Vitiello of Salerno, Italy, considers the architecture of energy dynamics in the brain. It does not use semiosic terminology but the dynamics of memory can be understood within a semiosic architecture as the mediate process of abstraction. The brain is understood to operate as mind, that is, as a cognizing process, within a dynamic interaction between its subjective or individual mode (Secondness) and its double (Thirdness). This recalls Aristotle's concept of similarity, of the passive intellect as a mirror of the active intellect, of knowledge as a mirror of the intelligible actual. However, the relation between the two is not one of classification, i.e., "a set of objects comprising all that stand to one another in a special relation of similarity" but is instead dynamic, as "a set of objects comprising all that stand to one another in a group of connected relations" (Peirce CP: 4.5). We can thus refer the process of The Double, which provides knowledge of a system, back to the first paper by Thellefsen and its consideration of long-term memory in culture and to the second paper by Maze et al, with their consideration of the dynamical relation between emergence and memory. The fourth paper, by Czeslaw Mesjasz of Krakow, Poland, considers that the communal, that is, a society, has the capacity to map its environment and itself within an exploratory and self-referential abstract mode. This mode, that long term dynamic knowledge, will enable a society to constructively evolve in a manner akin to the self-organization of the biological realm; that is, within natural laws that set up a dialogue between freedom and constraint, and to conclude this dialogue within a constructive adaptation. The fifth paper in this issue is by Guido Ipsen of Kassel, Germany. This paper analyzes the nature of that vital third process of mediation as a dynamic and evolving process of abstraction within the evolution of a culture. It explores media systems, not as machine technologies or mechanical carriers of information, but as themselves dynamic and evolving properties of the semiosic expansion of a culture.

All papers in this issue explore evolution, not as a random accident but as a dynamic, forward-looking and pragmatic process, and an action based on establishing relations of dialogue and reflexion between modes of experience and thought.

The next issues of SEED will be devoted to publishing articles from the SEE II Conference that took place at the University of Toronto, October 6, 7, 8 of 2001, dealing with the Integration of Information Processing.


December 2001