Signs of Meaning in the Universe

Signs of Meaning in the Universe

Jesper Hoffmeyer
Translated by Barbara J. Haveland
Distribution: World
Publication date: 2/1/1997
Format: cloth 176 pages, 15 figures
5.5 x 8.5
ISBN: 978-0-253-33233-2
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From reviews for the bestselling Danish edition:

“ . . . dashing and idiomatic language that is a pleasure to read.” —Berlingske Tidende

“ . . . an appetizer and eye opener . . . Hoffmeyer is a modernistic pioneer in the wide open spaces of the natural sciences . . . ” —Politiken

“ . . . extremely well written and interesting manifesto for a bioanthropology . . . ” —Inf.

“It should be read by anyone who likes to be wiser and at the same time to be challenged in his habitual conception of the relations between culture and nature.” —Weekend Avisen

On this tour of the universe of signs, Jesper Hoffmeyer travels back to the Big Bang, visits the tiniest places deep within cells, and ends his journey with us—complex organisms capable of speech and reason. What propels this journey is Hoffmeyer’s attempt to discover how nature could come to mean something to someone—by telling the story of how cells, tissue, organs, plants, animals, even entire ecosystems communicate by signs and signals.

Author Bio

JESPER HOFFMEYER is Professor in the Biosemiotics Group at the Institute of Molecular Biology at the University of Copenhagen. He has published six books in Danish on social and philosophical aspects of biology and is a regular contributor to leading Danish newspapers. He has been the editor of two major Danish magazines on science, technxnd society, and is presently a member of the board for The Centre for Ethics and Law, University of Copenhagen.

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Table of Contents


1. Signifying

On lumps in nothingness, on “not”
2. Forgetting

On history and codes: the dialectic of oblivion
3. Repeating

On Nature‘s tendency to acquire habits
4. Inventing

On life and self-reference, on subjectivity
5. Opening Up

On the sensory universe of creatures: the liberation of the semiosphere
6. Defining

The mobile brain: the language of cells
7. Connecting

On the triadic ascendance of dualism
8. Sharing

On language: existential bioanthropology
9. Uniting

Consciousness: the bodily governor within the brain
10. Healing

On ethics: reuniting two stories in one body-mind