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Spaces, Domains, and Meaning

Essays in Cognitive Semiotics

Per Aage Brandt

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Semiosis and Catastrophes

René Thom’s Semiotic Heritage

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Wolfgang Wildgen and Per Aage Brandt

The French mathematician René Thom (Fields medal 1958) died in 2002. In this volume his contributions to biology, semiotics and linguistics are discussed by a group of scholars who have continued his work and have shaped the new paradigm of dynamic semiotics and linguistics. Thom’s heritage is full of revolutionary ideas and deep insights which stem from a rich intuition and a sharp awareness of the current state of the sciences, including their potentials and risks. The contributions to this volume are elaborations of papers given at a colloquium at the International Center for Semiotics and Linguistics of the University of Urbino (Italy), in 2005.
The central concern of this volume is semiogenesis, i.e. the evolution and differentiation of meaningful («pregnant») forms in the field of symbolic systems – from bio-communication to language and cultural forms like music, art, architecture or urban forms. The basic questions are: How are meanings created and further differentiated? Where do they come from? What kind of forces drive their unfolding? How can complex cultural forms be understood based on simple morphodynamic principles?
Applications concern the perception of forms by animals and humans, the categorization of forms e.g. in a lexicon, and predication or other complex symbolic behaviors which show up in grammar or in cultural artifacts like the unfolding of urban centers.
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Edited by Per Aage Brandt, Wolfgang Wildgen and Barend van Heusden

European Semiotics originated from an initiative launched by a group of researchers in Semiotics from Denmark, Germany, Spain, France and Italy and was inspired by innovative impulses given by René Thom and his «semiophysics». The goal of the series is to provide a broad European forum for those interested in semiotic research focusing on semiotic dynamics and combining cultural, linguistic and cognitive perspectives.
This approach, which has its origins in Phenomenology, Gestalt Theory, Philosophy of Culture and Structuralism, views semiosis primarily as a cognitive process, which underlies and structures human culture. Semiotics is therefore considered to be the discipline suited par excellence to bridge the gap between the realms of the Cognitive Sciences and the Sciences of Culture.
The series publishes monographs, collected papers and conference proceedings of a high scholarly standard. Languages of publication are mainly English and French.