The French mathematician René Thom (Fields medal 1958) died in 2002. In
this volume his contributions to biology, semiotics and linguistics are
discussed by a group of scholars who have continued his work and have
shaped the new paradigm of dynamic semiotics and linguistics. Thom's
heritage is full of revolutionary ideas and deep insights which stem from a
rich intuition and a sharp awareness of the current state of the sciences,
including their potentials and risks. The contributions to this volume are
elaborations of papers given at a colloquium at the International Center for
Semiotics and Linguistics of the University of Urbino (Italy), in 2005.
The central concern of this volume is semiogenesis, i.e. the evolution and
differentiation of meaningful («pregnant») forms in the field of symbolic
systems - from bio-communication to language and cultural forms like music,
art, architecture or urban forms. The basic questions are: How are meanings
created and further differentiated? Where do they come from? What kind of
forces drive their unfolding? How can complex cultural forms be understood
based on simple morphodynamic principles?
Applications concern the perception of forms by animals and humans, the
categorization of forms e.g. in a lexicon, and predication or other complex
symbolic behaviors which show up in grammar or in cultural artifacts like the
unfolding of urban centers.
Contents: Wolfgang Wildgen: Introduction - Marc Chaperon: Catastrophes. A
testimony - Svend Østergaard: René Thom: The Recognition of Forms. An
Apologia for Realism - Peer F. Bundgaard/Frederik Stjernfelt: René Thom's
Semiotics and Its Sources - Wolfgang Wildgen: Thom's Theory of « Saillance
» and « Prégnance » and Modern Evolutionary Linguistics - Isabel Marcos:
Urban Universals - Ángel López-García: Catastrophes: What are we talking
about? - Jean Petitot : « Le hiatus entre le logique et le morphologique ».
Prédication et Perception - Per Aage Brandt : René Thom - Prégnances et
catastrophes. Pour une phénoménologie sémio-cognitive.
Wolfgang Wildgen (*1944) received his Ph.D. in Linguistics 1977 and
completed his Habilitation in General Linguistics 1981. In the same year, he
was appointed Professor of General and German Linguistics at the University
of Bremen (emeritus since 2009).
Per Aage Brandt (*1944) holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics (1971). In 1987 he was
appointed Docteur d'Etat of the Université de Sorbonne, Paris, in Semio-
linguistics. In 1975 he became Professor at the University of Aarhus; and
since 2005, he has been Professor of Cognitive Science and Modern
Languages at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland.