Der modus vivendi inter-organismischer semiotischer Milieus

Keywords: animal communication, signal, pheromone, primatology, primate, symbiosis, interspecies communication, semiosphere, biosemiosis, biosemiotic ethics, ecosystem, ecosemiosis


Biosemiotics postulates that signaling between organisms is a complex process that can often occur across multiple channels simultaneously. Olfactory pheromonal cues, aural vocalizations, and visual movements and patterns, for example, often all transmit important elements of the overall message intended or conveyed. It is also well known that some species’ conspecific communications are “eavesdropped” by other species (such as primates reacting to birds suddenly taking flight as signaling a potential approaching mutual predator), even if the original signal was not directed at the interspecific. Purposeful interspecific signaling is common, however, such as hares signaling their presence to foxes when they feel reasonably secure in order to avoid an energy-consuming hunt, or plants using volatile organic compounds to signal that certain prey insects are feeding on the plant to other insects which feed on the prey insects and may free the plant from them. Intentional and unintentional symbiotic semiosis results from many generations of interaction between the involved species, creating grooves in the semiosphere where organisms’ overlapping Umwelten open the possibility for ethical action. Due to the more constricted semiotic bandwidth interspecies communication touches upon, I postulate that interspecies semiosis is more scripted by generational meaning-inscription, and that such signaling is less improvisational than conspecific signaling. While western ethics traditionally esteems ethical events to the degree that they are voluntary, nonhuman interspecies ethics urges considering plural ethical frameworks, based upon species-specific and interspecific semiotic understandings. For many organisms, the fact that their signaling relies more on genetic than spontaneous dispositions does not necessarily indicate that instances of their convivial cohabitation are less valid ethically, however, than more flexible semiotic interactions.