A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans: with A Theory of Meaning (Posthumanities)
Jakob von Uexküll
meaningless object and makes it thereby into a subject-related carrier of meaning in each respective environment. Since every action begins with the production of a perception mark and ends with the impression of an effect mark on the same carrier of meaning, one can speak of a functional cycle, which connects the carrier of meaning with the subject. The functional cycles t h a t are most important according to their meaning and are found in most environments are the cycles of the medium, of
when the curbstone, without changing, gives up its meaning as an element of the path in order to transform itself into a projectile when the mood of the subject "human being" changes and impresses a different meaning upon the stone. The puzzling behavior of young grey geese, reported by [Konrad] Lorenz, also consists in imprinting meaning. The grey gosling imprints—as Lorenz puts it—as its "mother companion" the first living being it sees upon hatching and follows t h a t creature permanently.
Foreword 44 Introduction 53 Environment Spaces 63 The Farthest Plane 70 Perception Time 73 Simple Environments 79 Form and Movement as Perception Marks 86 Goal and Plan 92 Perception Image and Effect Image 98 The Familiar Path 103 Home and Territory 108 The Companion H3 Search Image and Search Tone 119 Magical Environments 126 The Same Subject as Object in Different Environments 133 Conclusion A THEORY OF MEANING 139 Carriers of Meaning 146 Environment and
was himself Uexkullian in the berth he gave to the inner worlds of animals. 35 Both Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals and his The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex discussed the inner worlds of organisms, some, such as choices by females in selecting mates whose traits would thereby persist, affecting evolution. Should not Uexkull's insights, such as his emphasis t h a t we perceive things like bells not only in terms of their colors and sounds but most
cosmically random. Uexkull's Umwelt music might strike the modern listener as quaint or romantic but it reminds us to see life in terms of wholeness, perception, and purpose. Far from being impeded by the development of complex systems, our activities along with those of other complex systems expand the natural end-directed processes of energy to be used up and spread implicit in the second law. Life has also hit upon many ways to moderate its use of available energy, which has allowed it to last