The following articles are by authors who presented papers either at the 4th Gatherings in Biosemiotics Conference in Prague, July 2004 or at the 5th Gatherings in Biosemiotics in Urbino, Italy in July 2005. Each of the papers in question handles issues connected with the extension of Biosemiotic ideas, against received doctrines. In the first paper, for example, Dario Martinelli, is concerned with the extension of biosemiotic ideas from the field of ethno-musicology. The latter concerns itself with the structure of human created and performed music in many cultures of the world; he argues that this field should be extended to non-human music. Both human music and non-human music show structural similarities; this leads him to the provocative proposition that, since all cases of human music-making exhibit a considerable range of aesthetic ideas in relation to sound, so the demonstrated array of variation among each species of sound-making non-human animals also reveals the existence of an aesthetic.


The next three papers deal with alternatives to received thinking in biology and medicine. Guenther Witzany discusses how the radical revisions to evolutionary theory by Lynn Margulis Serial Endosymbiotic Theory (SET) leads him to the conclusion that there is an enormous world of communicative interactions ignored in conventional biology, and that following on from Margulis ideas, that symbiogenesis exhibits a wide range of rule-governed sign mediated interactions (or rsi) These communicative interactions are not only evident and open to descriptive evaluation but have pragmatic aspects as well. Witzany examines these pragmatic dimensions. The article by Queiroz, Emmeche and El Hani is part of a series of articles in which they are exploring how the ideas of C. S. Peirce can better explain communicative activities at the molecular dimension than can current examples of information theory. Though the latter is used throughout biology, it is a theory in which the relation of the gene to the cell is entirely absent of meaning. Their article is a ground-breaking approach which demonstrates in detail an alternative explanatory schema in molecular biology.


Finally, Neuman takes issue with current explanations of autoimmunity, in which the process of autoimmunity is described in various terms of “self” in relation to an “other” (pathogens, virus, etc). Using various semiotic ideas, drawn from such authors as Volosinov, Neuman discusses why the processes of the immune system might better be analysed in terms of “context.” The ability to act in context implies an ability to distinguish meanings. Neuman argues that because the immune system is meaningful, contextual understanding is one of its major features..