This is the third volume in Floyd Merrell's trilogy on semiotics focusing on Peirce's categories of Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness. In this book the author argues that there are passageways linking the social sciences with the physical sciences, and signs with life processes. This is not a study of the semiotics of life, but rather of semiosis as a living process. Merrell attempts to articulate the links between thought that is rooted in that which can be quantified and thought that resists quantification, namely that of the consciousness. As he writes in his preface, he is intent on `fusing the customary distinctions between life and non-life, mind and matter, self and other, appearance (fiction) and "reality," ... to reveal the everything that is is a sign.' In order to accomplish this goal, Peirce's terciary concept of the sign is crucial.
Merrell begins by asking `What are signs that they may take on life-like processes, and what is life that it may know the sign processes that brought it - themselves - into existence?' In order to answer this question he examines semiotic theory, philosophical discourse, the life sciences, the mathematical sciences, and literary theory. He offers an original reading of Peirce's thought along with that of Prigogine and of many others. Following Sebeok, Merrell reminds us that `any and all investigation of nature and of the nature of signs and life must ultimately be semiotic in nature.'