The Age of Biosemiotics

  • Paul Cobley
Part of the Biosemiotics book series (BSEM, volume 15)


This chapter seeks to provide a sense of the literature of biosemiotics and to offer some orientation regarding some of the main issues that arise in this volume. With respect to the first of these two aims, it is no longer possible to write an extensive overview in the way that it might have been even just a few years ago. Not only has the literature of biosemiotics grown with contemporary publications, including those in the flagship journal, Biosemiotics; the literature has also grown with reference to work published in the past which is being recognized as absolutely germane to the biosemiotic project. The obvious example is the work of von Uexküll, among those who died before biosemiotics came to its present-day fruition; but there is also a great deal of work in cognitive science and in systems theory as well as in science in general that biosemiotic writings continue to invoke. With the publication of the Semiotica special issue on von Uexküll in 2001a (see also Barbieri 2002) and Barbieri’s collection, Introduction to Biosemiotics: The New Biological Synthesis in 2007a, the question has been raised as to whether biosemiotics has ‘come of age’. Arguably, by the time of the first annual ‘Gatherings in Biosemiotics’ conference in 2000 biosemiotics was already mature, as evidenced by the following key volumes which had built on the works of proto-semioticians such as von Baer and von Uexküll and early biosemioticians such as Prodi:


Cultural Analysis Sign Configuration Interpretive Process Symbolic Reference Incomplete Nature 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Cobley
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Distinguished Visiting Professor, School of Foreign Languages and CulturesNanjing Normal UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.President of the International Association for Semiotic Studies; and Professor in Language and Media, School of Media and Performing ArtsMiddlesex UniversityLondonUK

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