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Life Sciences | LAWS, LANGUAGE and LIFE - Howard Pattee’s classic papers on the physics of symbols with contemporary


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

Series: Biosemiotics, Vol. 7

Pattee, Howard Hunt, Rączaszek-Leonardi, Joanna

2013, XVI, 336 p.

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  • It is a unique collection of Pattee’s papers on foundational principles relating physics, life, and informational symbol systems
  • It establishes the necessity of symbolic constraints on physical laws for life and evolution
  • It is an approach to reconciling the information processing (symbolic) and dynamic models of cognition

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.

Content Level » Graduate

Keywords » Epistemology - Evolution - Language - Origin of Life - Physics of Symbols

Related subjects » Cognitive Psychology - History & Philosophical Foundations of Physics - Life Sciences - Philosophy - Systems Biology and Bioinformatics

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