Baltic accent

Current issue

Back to the list Download the article

Signs and senses as an epistemological problem



The semiotic problem of the triad “sign – meaning – sense” is discussed as a methodolog­ical problem caused by philosophy of external realism and the representational theory of cog­nition based on it. Reification of linguistic signs, along with the erroneous view of the nature and function of language as a communication tool rather than the mode of existence of hu­mans as living (cognitive) systems, impedes scientific explanation of both language and lin­guistic signs. As an alternative, the core problem of semiotics is approached within the fra­me­work of constructivist epistemology that allows us to resolve the contradictions in the objec­tivist interpretation and explanation of sign, meaning, and sense which are viewed as emer­gent phenomena.


Blumenau, D. I., 1982. Problemy svertyvaniya nauchnoi informatsii [Problems of col­lapsing scientific information]. Moscow (in Russ.).

Bunnell, P., 2015. Dancing with ambiguity. Cybernetics & Human Knowing, 22 (4), pp. 101—112.

Chechulin, V. L., 2011. On the etymology “smysl” (sense) in Russian and Euro­pean languages. Privolzhskii nauchnyi vestnik [Privolzhsky Research Bulletin], 3, pp. 77—79 (in Russ.).

Davidson, A., 2019. Writing: the re-construction of language. Language Sciences, 72, pp. 134—149,

Deacon, T. W., 2015. Steps to a science of biosemiotics. Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism, 19 (3), pp. 293—311,

Demyankov, V. Z., 1989. Interpretatsiya, ponimanie i lingvisticheskie aspekty ikh mod­elirovaniya na EVM [Interpretation, understanding, and the linguistic aspects of their computer modelling]. Moscow (in Russ.).

Doroszewski, W., 1973. Elementy leksikologii i semiotiki [Elements of lexicology and semiotics]. Moscow (in Russ.).

Foerster, H. von, 2002. Vision, language and knowledge: The double blind. In: D. F. Schnitman and J. Schnitman, eds. New paradigms, culture, and subjectivity. Cress­kill NJ: Hampton Press, pp. 65—81.

Frege, G., 1892. Über Sinn und Bedeutung. Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philoso­phische Kritik, N. F., Bd. 100/1, pp. 25—50.

Glasersfeld, E. von, 1995. Radical constructivism: A way of knowing and learning. London: Falmer Press.

Hebb, D. O., 1949. The organization of behavior. New York: Wiley & Sons.

Keller, R., 1998. A theory of linguistic signs. Translated by K. Duenwald. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kellogg, R. T., 1994. The psychology of writing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kravchenko, A. V., 2003a. The ontology of signs as linguistic and non-linguistic en­tities: a cognitive perspective. Annual Review of Cognitive Linguistics, 1, pp. 179—191,

Kravchenko, A. V., 2003b. Sign, meaning, knowledge: An essay in the cognitive philos­ophy of language. Frankfurt a/M et al.

Kravchenko, A. V., 2007. Essential properties of language, or, why language is not a code. Language Sciences, 29 (5), pp. 650—671, 2007.01.004.

Kravchenko, A. V., 2008. Biology of cognition and linguistic analysis: From non-realist lin­guistics to a realistic language science. Frankfurt a/M et al.

Kravchenko, A. V., 2009. The experiential basis of speech and writing as different cognitive domains. Pragmatics & Cognition, 17 (3), pp. 527—548, 1075/pc.17.3.03kra.

Kravchenko, A. V., 2013. Ot yazykovogo mifa k biologicheskoi real'nosti: pereosmys­lyaya poznavatel'nye ustanovki yazykoznaniya [From the language myth to biological rea­lity: Reassessing the epistemological assumptions of linguistics]. Moscow (in Russ.).

Kravchenko, A. V., 2015. External realism and biology of cognition: the epistemo­logical turn. In: E. I. Pivovar, ed. Gumanitarnye chteniya RGGU — 2014 [The RGGU readings in the humanities — 2014]. Moscow, pp. 697—709 (in Russ.).

Kravchenko, A. V., 2016. The epistemological trap of language. Vestnik Tomskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Filologiya [Tomsk State University Journal of Philology], 3 (41), pp. 14—26, (in Russ.).

Kravchenko, A. V., 2020. A critique of Barbieri’s code biology. Constructivist Foun­dations, 15 (2), pp. 122—134.

Kravchenko, A. V., 2021. Approaching linguistic semiosis biologically: implica­tions for human evolution. Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio, 15 (2), pp. 139—158,

Kravchenko, A. V., 2021. What is wrong with linguistics as a science. In: K. S. Kar­danova-Birukova, ed. Metodologiya sovremennogo yazykoznaniya — 3 [Con­temporary linguistic methodology — 3]. Moscow, pp. 163—176 (in Russ.).

Kravchenko, A. V., 2022. The ecological paradigm in linguistic research: a shift in epistemological assumptions. In: A. P. Skovorodnikov and G. A. Kopnina, eds. Ling­voekologiya: problemy i puti ikh resheniya [Linguaecology: problems and their pos­sible resolution]. Krasnoyarsk, pp. 10—27 (in Russ.).

Linell, P., 2005. The written language bias in linguistics: Its nature, origins and trans­for­mations. London; New York: Routledge.

Linell, P., 2013. Two views on the nature of language: formal linguistics (with its written language bias) vs dialogical linguistics. In: A. V. Kravchenko, ed. Kognitivnaya dinamika v yazykovykh vzaimodeistviyakh (Studia linguistica cognitiva 3) [Cognitive dy­na­mics in linguistic interactions]. Moscow, pp. 41—57 (in Russ.).

Maturana, H. R. and Varela, F. J., 1987. The tree of knowledge: The biological roots of hu­man understanding. Boston MA: Shambhala.

Maturana, H. R., 1970. Biology of cognition. BCL Report # 9.0. University of Illi­nois, Urbana.

Maturana, H. R., 1988. Ontology of observing: The biological foundations of self-consciousness and of the physical domain of existence. In: R. E. Donaldson, ed. Texts in cybernetic theory: An in-depth exploration of the thought of Humberto R. Maturana, Wil­liam T. Powers, and Ernst von Glasersfeld. Felton, CA: American Society for Cyberne­tics, pp. 1—54.

Maturana, H. R., Mpodozis, J. and Letelier, J. C., 1995. Brain, language, and the origin of human mental functions. Biological Research, 28, pp. 15—26.

Maturana, H. R., 1978. Biology of language: The epistemology of reality. In: G. Miller and E. Lenneberg, eds. Psychology and biology of language and thought. New York: Academic Press, pp. 28—62.

Morehouse, R. E., 2012. Beginning interpretive inquiry: A step-by-step approach to re­search and evaluation. London and New York: Routledge.

Morris, C. W., 1938. Foundations of the theory of signs. In: O. Neurath, R. Carnap and C. W. Morris, eds. International encyclopedia of unified science. Vol. 1, Part 2. Chica­go: The University of Chicago Press, pp. 1—59.

Ogden, C. K. and Richards, I. A., 1923. The meaning of meaning: A study of the influ­ence of language upon thought and of the science of symbolism. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.

Putnam, Η., 1983. Realism and reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Searle, J. R., 1998. Mind, language and society: Philosophy in the real world. New York: Basic Books.

Shchedrovitsky, G. P., 2004. Signs and activity. Center for Technologies in the Hu­manities. Available at: [Accessed 1 March 2023] (in Russ.).

Simsky, A. D., Kravchenko, A. V. and Druzhinin, A. S., 2021. Action-thoughts and the genesis of time in linguistic semiosis. Slovo. ru: Baltic accent, 12 (2), pp. 7—28, 10.5922/2225-5346-2021-2-1 (in Russ.).

Staver, J. R., 2012. Constructivism and realism: Dueling paradigms. In: B. J. Fra­ser, K. Tobin and C. J. McRobbie, eds. Second international handbook of science education. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 1017—1028.

Yartseva, V. N., ed., 1990. Lingvisticheskii entsiklopedicheskii slovar' [Linguistic En­cyclopedic Dictionary]. Moscow (in Russ.).