Howard Pattee’s classic papers on the physics of symbols with contemporary commentary

  • Howard Hunt Pattee
  • Joanna Rączaszek-Leonardi

Part of the Biosemiotics book series (BSEM, volume 7)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Commentary and History—H.H. Pattee

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Howard Hunt Pattee
      Pages 3-30
  3. The Pattee Papers in Chronological Order

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 31-31
    2. Howard Hunt Pattee
      Pages 55-67
    3. Howard Hunt Pattee
      Pages 69-79
    4. Howard Hunt Pattee
      Pages 81-89
    5. Howard Hunt Pattee
      Pages 155-163
    6. Howard Hunt Pattee
      Pages 227-243
    7. Howard Hunt Pattee
      Pages 261-274
  4. Afterword - Joanna Rączaszek-Leonardi

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 293-293
    2. Joanna Rączaszek-Leonardi
      Pages 295-333

About this book


The present volume provides Pattee’s in-depth treatment of the physical basis of symbolic functions. Understanding the physical preconditions for the origin of symbols is essential at all levels, from the origin of life to the measurement problem of physics. The entire field of biosemiotics depends on understanding the physical nature of structures that can have a symbolic function.

The importance of Pattee’s work lies not only in its clarification of biosemiotics’ scientific bases, but also by relating symbols to dynamics it becomes relevant to cognitive science, which today acknowledges the importance of embodied cognition in a physical and social environment. Pattee’s views forge links between dynamical, continuous processes and symbolic thought that create a basis for a viable third way­combining the purely symbolic, computational models of cognition and purely dynamic, non-representationalist models. It is a step toward showing the unfeasibility of reductionism, achieved without proposing non-material entities.

Howard Pattee is still an active, publishing, scientist; however his early fundamental, now classic, papers are difficult to access. They are not present in large databases, nor reprinted in other widely accessible journals or books. The book aims at making those papers available for a wider public with contemporary Introduction by the Author and Afterword by Joanna Rączaszek-Leonardi, which link the original papers to current discourse in biosemiotics and the cognitive sciences.


Epistemology Evolution Language Origin of Life Physics of Symbols

Authors and affiliations

  • Howard Hunt Pattee
    • 1
  • Joanna Rączaszek-Leonardi
    • 2
  1. 1.WilliamstownUSA
  2. 2.WarsawPoland

Bibliographic information

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