Purpose – This paper aims to formulate a hypothesis for the origin and position of binarism within human meaning systems. Specifically, binarism exists ineluctably as a living system's impetus toward life over death, and then – at the symbolic level within human meaning systems – as a device by which humans more efficiently dissipate the solar‐energetic gradient. Design/methodology/approach – Organisms composing terrestrial ecosystems acquire and degrade solar energy or its derivatives, thereby reducing the thermal gradient impressed on Earth by the Sun. Kay and Schneider call this “the thermodynamic imperative of the restated second law for open systems.” This paper connects the “thermodynamic imperative” to aspects of human meaning systems and pushes Serres' notion regarding homeostasis and the origin of communication one step further to consider such an origin in terms of a binarism born of solar‐energetic gradient dissipation. Findings – It is hypothesized that the human homoiotherm extends the ineluctable binarism of life over death for all living systems to a symbolic level – as a first, or local, “energetic order” – which serves as a foundational device of human meaning systems; humans efficiently use this binary device to produce entropy and maintain homeostasis within individual organisms and comprehensive ecosystems; and human language, and ultimately the entirety of human meaning systems, emerges from the dissipation of the solar‐energetic gradient. Originality/value – Modern Western philosophical concepts related to binarism – i.e. Kantian and Hegelian dialectics – are not associated with ecological imperatives. The present hypothesis proposes the co‐existence of both a fundamental binarism (i.e. impetus of life over death) and more complex symbolic differentials (in a Leibnizian/Deleuzian sense) as necessary for the emergence of complex human meaning systems in consonance with thermodynamic and ecological imperatives.
Kybernetes – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 4, 2013
Keywords: Language; Consciousness; Epistemology; Ecology; Information theory; Homeostasis; Origin of binarism; Human meaning systems; Theory of meaning; Ecology of meaning
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