Time Horizons and Biosemiotic Adaptation: Taking Seriously Variable Temporalities in the Evolution of Possible Life Forms

Yogi H. Hendlin*, Constantijn Alexander Kusters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Semiotics occurs beyond our planet; that we can be sure of. Astrobiology requires astrosemiotics; and as life on this planet may well have arrived from an extraterrestrial source, rather than (only) endogenously, we must consider the basis for extraterrestrial semiosis. This extraterrestrial semiosis suggests that the adaptability of life is far greater than conventionally considered. Similarly, the role variable temporalities have in adapting to divergent astroecological conditions also requires reassessing Einstein's taking for granted the universality of time in the ontological extension of relativity theory. Following Bergson and Whitehead's rejection of temporal universality we focus attention on the importance of variable temporal Umwelten to understanding astrobiological but also terrestrial contexts. Especially in terms of the massive die-offs in the current anthropogenic Sixth Great Extinction, now involving aided adaptation moving plants and animals around to viable habitats to perpetuate their species, a better conception of time horizons in semiosis, adaptation, and fitting deserves investigation. If lifeforms in theory are infinitely adaptable (even across different planets), but in practice require different timespans to adapt to changing environmental conditions, then time-appropriate semiosis offers a route towards ethical space exploration, decelerating the unreflective current craze of quick space exploration and colonization. Slow space exploration—starting with stabilizing the biotic conditions on our own planet—presents a biosemiotically-informed perspective on how organisms of various complexities can fit with (drastically) new environments with different temporal needs. By looking at the variances that time embodies in our own terrestrial settings we argue that astrobiology has much to gain from considering radicalizing temporal differentiations found at home. At the very least, comparing possible temporal distinctions can assist the practice of locating blind spots resulting from our anthropocentric outlook. The implications for astrobiology of the different time horizons of various complex organisms requires rethinking and coming to terms with the more conservative rates of change possible for complex organisms, suggesting that any future space exploration might have to contend with unintuitive dimensional variations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPathways to the Origin and Evolution of Meanings in the Universe
EditorsAlexei A. Sharov, George E. Mikhailovsky
Chapter22
Pages453-470
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781119865667
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Feb 2024

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