3 - World semiosis and the evolution of meaning  pp. 169-250

World semiosis and the evolution of meaning

By Robert S. Corrington

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The structures of world semiosis are the most pervasive in the various universes available to human probing. The concept of “world” to be used here refers, somewhat elliptically, to any and all worlds or universes that are or could be encountered in any way. No one world or type of world takes priority, such as the world of astrophysics, the world of qualitative immediacy, or the world of formal possibility. Further, the concept of “world” refers to any worldly structure that may forever be beyond the reach of sign-using organisms like ourselves. The concept of ‘worldhood” (Weltheit), as partially developed by Heidegger, refers to the sheer availability of worlds to the human process on the most generic level. Worlds have content while worldhood does not. Worldhood is the sheer availability and unavailability of semiotic worlds to and for the self.

Meaning is rarely a static structure and is subject to its own forms of evolution, both in terms of its emergence through thermodynamic time and in terms of its unfolding within particular orders in particular respects. On the deepest levels, the evolution of meaning is correlated to the betweenness structures that house the spirit of interpretation within certain rare and fragile orders of interaction. While ecstatic naturalism denies that there is a final meaning, or that meanings progress in a linear fashion, it remains committed to the view that the worlds we encounter all have meaning in some respect, no matter how tenuous or how at variance with our wishes. The dialectic of plenitude and emptiness permeates all semiotic worlds, and serves to sustain their innumerable unfoldings and mysteries. The meanings encountered in sacred folds represent the most intense and “evolved” of the meanings available to the human process.