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Research The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG) Research Onderzoeksprojecten Semiotic evolution and cultural dynamics

Workshop 2 - Bremen, 2006

Meta-representation and (self-) consciousness ( Bremen , 27-29 september 2006)

For reasons of a natural and continuous (i.e. Darwinian) evolution, representations must have emerged via self-organization from non-representational systems (found in physics, chemistry and biology). Major steps may have been the evolution of molecules, macromolecules, life, and finally cultural and symbolic systems. For this reason representations and signs are parts of a huge, possibly branching “ladder of beings” (cf. the corresponding medieval notion).

Our basic purpose is to bridge the gap between self-organization in non-living systems, biological systems (up to larger brain creatures like primates and man) and symbolic cultures (producing language and art).

Three groups of semioticians from Groningen, Michigan / Aarhus and Bremen and some contributors from the natural sciences will try to explore the possibilities of such an endeavour and to contribute to its advance. In the realm of linguistics and semiotics, the topic of “meta-representation and consciousness” lies at the heart of the upgrading in behavioral and symbolic systems and should be considered more specifically.

Images representing images, language about language and language-use, thoughts about thoughts – meta-representation is a fascinating theme within such diverse areas of research as philosophy, literature, theology, anthropology, neuroscience, psychology and linguistics. Questions relating to meta-representation regard 1) the evolution of representation from animals to humans: could meta-representation be the characterizing quality of human representation?; 2) the evolution of culture: can the evolution of culture be analyzed in terms of a growing and / or changing place of meta-representation?; 3) the problem of consciousness and self-consciousness: is meta-representation an necessary and sufficient condition for (self-)consciousness?; 4) the theory of mind: how does the theory of mind relate to theories of meta-representation?; 5) mimesis and art: is art a form of meta-representation? How do different forms of meta-representation relate to each other (such as art, ideology, science) as well as to other forms of culture?; 6) meta-representation and language: does meta-representation allow for recursive structures in language?

The workshop aims at contributing to the furthering of our insight into the interrelationship between nature, semiosis, meta-representation and (self) consciousness, and into the place of meta-representation in semiotic evolution.

Laatst gewijzigd:05 juli 2018 11:03