Editorial: Morphological Generation
The three papers in this issue of SEED explore a common question – morphological generation. What is the nature of the ‘form’, the ‘reasonably distinct’ unit in space and time with which we, and other forms, interact? How does it exist as itself and as a member of a collective? How does it interact with other morphologies? How do forms emerge, develop and evolve? These are basic semiosic questions.
‘The Methodology of Semiotic Morphology: An Introduction’ is a continuation of my analysis of reality, both material and conceptual, as ‘a complex network of continuous adaptive morphological formation’. By this I mean that reality exists as forms; these forms are material and/or conceptual realities. Forms are ‘information’. This means that their content exists as ‘ordered’ within normative patterns that operate within logical relations with other morphologies. In this paper, I repeat the basic axioms developed in my original paper, ‘The Sign as a WFF’, in SEED 2004, and move into the specific methodology of analyzing semiotic morphology. I consider that the sign is a logical argument made up of two premises and a conclusion; the measurements or evaluative actions in this argument use the parameters of space, time and mode. The first paper outlined the Six Relations that function within these parameters of space, time and mode. These Six Relations acknowledged that information operates within both external (actual) and internal (potential) parameters, and within both local and non-local parameters. In this paper I attempt to develop an algebraic formula for the use of these relations within the triadic morphology of the Sign.
I have defined the morphological form, the Sign, as a function made up of a triadic set of roles within an Argument: input, mediation and output. These can also be understood as minor premise, major premise and conclusion. The sign will select three of the six relations within this triadic argument. There are different types of signs, and different algebraic equations explain these differences. The most robust symbolic statement for a Sign is a quadratic equation. The quadratic equation includes a 2nd degree variable, x². This term symbolizes distributed or generalized rather than particular information. A distributed value is embedded as a ‘ground axiom of morphological formation’, within a generic population of individual instances. Such a value acts as a normative habit, a ‘symmetry-inducing pattern of formation’. Morphological realities function within both distributed and non-distributed values and I attempt to show how an algebraic analysis of the sign enables predictive understanding of reality as a complex adaptive network.
The next paper by Eugenio Andrade, ‘The
Interrelations between Genotype / Phenotype / Environment’, examines the
architecture of relations between the genotype (collective), the phenotype
(individual) and the environment, as a complex adaptive network of
informational semiosic interactions. Andrade uses the Cartesian quadrant and
the six semiosic relations developed by Taborsky (2004, and in this issue) and
outlines a model that entails seemingly opposite informational domains. The ontic and epistemic domains are shown to network intimately
together to enable bridges between ontogeny and phylogeny. Analyzing reality as
using information molded within internal as well as external parameters, and
within both local and non-local parameters, Andrade sets up an analysis of
evolution and development that is ‘informed’ rather than random. That is, he
defines individual morphological entities as ‘information processing agents’
rather than the passive results of random mutation and natural selection. This
focus on the individual as agential, i.e., as informed about its self and its
environment, and, as such, making intentional choices (defined as semiotic
choices) makes evolution and development an active and informed rather than
haphazard and accidental process. By the way, this is not promoting
‘intelligent design’, which is to say, the insertion of an ‘intelligent
Designer’ within evolution and development. Instead, this promotes the concept,
which Andrade ascribes to
Finally, Jack Maze and Roy Turkington’s paper, ‘A Study on the effect of time in plants’ examines the morphologies in clover over time. What is interesting in this paper is the effect that the innate or genetically determined compressed value [which I symbolize as x² , a second degree variable, in my paper] imposes on a plant when the plant is faced with dealing with an increase in information within a high-energy environment. The result was not a change in normative species morphology, i.e., an increase in the size of the leaves. Instead, the energy was dissipated into more diverse growth vectors. The plants, rather than increasing in size, which would be one tactic to dissipate energy into matter, increased the number of pathways through which energy might be dissipated – while retaining the basic morphology of the compressed variable – size. Therefore, the increase in energy produced local and individual rather than generic developmental novelty in grape leaves. But, the basic morphology is retained; the compressed value remains dominant over variations. So, within-group variation increases as the plant has to deal with an increased energy or informational content. It retains long term stability by retaining its long term basic morphology – and thus maintains the long term stability of its ecological environment. Rather than fluctuating in morphology with each increase/decrease in local informational input – an act which would require equal fluctuations in other-species morphologies – which acts might lead to a new morphology inhospitable to the prevailing ecological environmental norms, the species sets up short-term variations, ‘new vectors’ which are local and short-term adaptations to local environmental fluctuations.
These three papers, with the focus on morphology, present a novel approach to basic issues of evolution and development.