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From a Dynamical to a Semiotic Account of Emergence:

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Collier offers a physicalist account of emergence that I welcome. Emergence is, thus explained as a property of non-Hamiltonian, non-Holonomic physical systems and can be detected by its non computability. Emergence constitutes a necessary and sufficient condition for the emergence of living systems or agents that process information and generate the corresponding informative records. By distinguishing between analog and digital information processing, I will show that analog information processing corresponds to a physical property of radical non-Hamiltonian, non-Holonomic systems that are responsible for emergence in general terms, but also more specifically to living systems that process digital information. In the way from dynamics to semiosis an intermediary model of physical systems that process both analog and digital information is needed. In consequence a contrast between Collier's Physical Information Systems (PIS) and Zurek's Information Gathering and Using Systems (IGUS) will be advanced in order to show that the latter best accounts for the origin of semiosis for it implicitly assumes that information from the environment can be recorded by means of structural adjustments that create the conditions for the appearance and selection of digital informative records. These systems fulfill the properties of a Peircean sign because they are dynamical systems that serve as a medium for the transmission of form. Thence individuation, autonomy and teleology are best understood as the outcome of information processing, made possible by dynamics.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Biology, Universidad Nacional de Colombia ., Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2008


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