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Brain, Mind and the Signifying Body An Ecosocial Semiotic Theory by Paul J. Thibault, M. A. K. Halliday

Brain, Mind and the Signifying Body An Ecosocial Semiotic Theory


Part of the Open Linguistics S. Series


Brain, Mind and the Signifying Body An Ecosocial Semiotic Theory by Paul J. Thibault, M. A. K. Halliday

Brain, Mind and the Signifying Body is an exploration of a multimodal theory of cognitive science. Using linguistic theories first developed by Saussure and more latterly by M. A. K. Halliday, Paul Thibault analyses how social and biological systems interact to produce meaning. This fascinating study will be of interest to undergraduates and academics researching cognitive linguistics and advanced semiotics. The book engages with the current dialogue between the human and life sciences to ask questions about the relationship between the physical, biological aspects of a human being, and the sociocultural framework in which a human being exists. Paul J. Thibault argues that we need to understand both the semiotic, discursive nature of meaning making, and the physical context in which this activity takes place. The two are inseparable, and hence the only way we can understand our subjective experience of our environment and our perceptions of our inner states of mind is by giving equal weight to both frameworks. This 'ecosocial semiotic' theory engages with linguistics, semiotics, activity theory, biology and psychology. In so doing, the book produces a new way of looking at how a human being makes sense of his or her environment, but also how this environment shapes such meanings.


mention- Book News Inc./ August 2007 Paul Thibault develops a densely theoretical discussion of cognitive and ecosocial components of semiotics that could be viewed as a cognitive science perspective on work undertaken in modern times from Charles Sanders Peirce to Roland Barthes. Published in Continuum's wide-ranging Open Linguistics Series, Brain, Mind, and the Signifying Body is linguistic in the looser sense insofar as Thibault's interest is in self-organizing, complex semiotic systems but has language (in its broadest sense) as its basis. Yet, Thibault adds a biological/ ecological focus to this investigation because, as he contends, language in all of its facets is intrinsic to our biological make-up (281-282)...Citing work by Wilson (1998) and others, Thibault argues that 'recent developments in the theory of complex dynamic open systems show the importance of developing a theory of social semiosis in which the socio-cultural and the biological domains of inquiry are brought into a new dialogue with each other...'In his 'Preface
he notes that it is crucial for semiotics to develop a perspective that takes into account collectively crucial consideration of social interaction, environmental factors, and the body in order to emphasize facets of semiosis that have been seen as immaterial by virtue of their very materiality

...By disregarding the more conventional perspective of ostensibly logical impact, Thibault arguably creates a decidedly different view of semiotic systems here. Drawing upon Togeby (2000) and making good on Halliday's contention in his Foreword, Thibault observes that we need to develop a new discourse for talking and thinking about the ways in which brain, body, and ecosocial semiotic environment are embedded in and are functioning participants in higher-scalar systems that link all three components in complex, hierarchically organized and non-linear interactions across the many levels of relations and space-time scales that are involved (17)...Given the f

About the Author

Paul J. Thibault is Professor in Linguistics and Media Communication, Agder University College, Kristiansand, Norway. Professor M. A. K. Halliday (b. 1925) was Foundation Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sydney until his retirement and has taught as a Visiting Professor around the world. As a self-styled 'generalist' he has published in many branches of linguistics.

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Book Info

Publication date

17th September 2006


Paul J. Thibault, M. A. K. Halliday

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Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


364 pages


Semantics, discourse analysis, etc



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