CFP: Languages, languaging and biosemiotics (ed. Stephen J. Cowley)

Submission deadline: May 31, 2020

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all for papers - Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio

Vol. 15, N. 2/2021: “Languages, languaging and biosemiotics”

Edited by Stephen J. Cowley, University of Southern Denmark

Deadline abstract: 31.05.2020

Deadline full paper: 31.01.2021

This special issue of RIFL links biosemiotics to languaging or activity in which wordings play a part. In Peircean terms, languaging is, at once, iconic, indexical and –in overlapping senses –symbolic. The unlikely hypothesis of a brain-based language ‘faculty’ is challenged by a model that invokes life-mind-languaging continuity. Languaging evolves as whole-body activity links affect, repeatable phonetic gestures, mimesis and norm-based ways of concerting action. In the special issue the heterogeneity of vocally managed action is traced to how humans mesh embodiment, writing and, today, the use of digital systems. By hypothesis, languaging evolved.

As a family resemblance concept, languaging links action, ways of using vocal and gestural activity, affect, technology and practices. While reliant on coordination within and between bodies, humans also use computers that rely on ‘named languages’ whose patternings are anchored by a history of writing.  Viewing languaging as continuous with life and mind thus raises major issues about nature, humans and evolution. These include:

  • How did cognitive practices evolve such that primates developed ‘linguistic’ activity that is, at once, affective, instrumental, normative and mimetic?
  • How did wordings link with phonetic repeatables, come to be rendered in writing, and, later, used to transform both the human world and, more slowly, the wider bio-ecology?
  • How did writing systems and social institutions open up symbolic models and, by extension, the construction and maintenance of named languages?
  • How does belief in named languages – and their extension into writing and digitalized data systems – bear on the enabling constraints of human agency?

Empirical and theoretical work on life-mind-languaging continuity draws on, critiques, and extends (Peircean) biosemiotics. First, living communities draw on overlapping evolutionary processes that are surely also manifest in languaging. Second, just as metabolism uses codes, languaging uses notations and computer systems: ‘languages’ are thus evolving biosocial ensembles. Third, these historically sensitive ensembles may use the simplex tricks found in all living systems.  Fourth, human infants self-fabricate as ‘observers’ by using situations to act pre-reflectively and, in the second year, to step into local languaging by making use of repeatable phonetic gestures.

Abstracts of up to 400 words are invited by 31st May 2020. We seek papers that critically pursue arguments based on the thesis that languaging evolved. While our core framing is biosemiotic, our aim is to establish a view of life-mind-languaging continuity that can challenge organism-centred models.

Full paper submissions may be in English or Italian, and should include an abstract of no more than 250 words (in English) and 5 keywords (also in English). Submissions must be fully anonymised and prepared for blind review. RIFL provides a Word template for the preparation of the manuscript [Download:]. The author’s name, the institutional affiliation and the paper’s title must be placed in a separate file. Manuscripts must be sent as Microsoft Word file (.doc or .rtf) to:

We particularly encourage contributions from underrepresented groups in philosophy.

Invited contributors: [Alexander Kravchenko (Irkutsk State University, Russia); Paul Thibault (University of Agder, Norway); Charles Lassiter, Gonzaga University, USA; Jana Svorcova, Charles University, Czechia]

Instructions for authors:

Max length:
40000 characters (including spaces) for articles (including the references) and reviews;
20000 characters (including spaces) for interviews;
10000 characters (including spaces) for specific paper review.


Deadline abstract (up to 400 words): 31st May 2020

Abstract notification of acceptance: 30 June 2020

Deadline full paper: 31 December: 31st January 2021

Issue publication: December 2021

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