Multi-Level Semiosis: a Paradigm of Emergent Innovation

Luis Emilio Bruni, Franco Giorgi

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In this introductory article to the special issue on Multi-level semiosis we attempt to stage the background for qualifying the notion of “multi-levelness” when considering communication processes and semiosis in all life forms, i.e. from the cellular to the organismic level. While structures are organized hierarchically, communication processes require a kind of processual organization that may be better described as being heterarchical. Theoretically, the challenge arises in the temporal domain, that is, in the developmental and evolutionary dimension of dynamic semiotic processes. We discuss the importance of this fundamental difference in order to explain how levels, domains and orders of magnitude, on one hand, and synchronic and diachronic processes, on the other, contribute to the overall organization of every living being. To account for such multi-level organization, semiotic freedom is assumed to be a scalar property that endows living systems at different levels and domains with the capacity to ponder selectively the overall structural coherence and functional compatibility of their heterarchical processing, which is increasingly less conditioned by the underlying molecular determinism.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)307-318
Publication statusPublished - 2016


Bibliographical note

Volume 9, issue 3 Special Issue


  • Multi-level
  • Semiosis
  • Hierarchy
  • Heterarchy
  • Domain
  • biological processes
  • cognitive processes

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