Sense and Self-Referentiality in Living Beings


This contribution investigates the idea that an act of signification can be understood in terms of the self-referentiality that is typical of the biological organization. The capacity of a living being to interpret and appreciate its own environment can be understood as being grounded in its ability to perform self-referential experiences. We may call this the living being’s capacity of sense. In any act that generates sense, it is possible to distinguish a process of signification from its outcome, but such a distinction between logical levels inevitably demands an external observer’s point of view. Hence, the concept of ‘subjectivity’ can be defined in terms of an absence of such distinction between logical levels. This absence is considered pivotal both for the self-referential organization of the living and for the generation of sense. A case example from the field of psychotherapy is added to illustrate the distinction as well as the non-distinction between logical levels of description.

DOI: 10.1007/s12304-008-9035-z

Cite this paper

@article{Goudsmit2008SenseAS, title={Sense and Self-Referentiality in Living Beings}, author={Arno L. Goudsmit}, journal={Biosemiotics}, year={2008}, volume={2}, pages={39-46} }