The Forbidden Signs

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    While the field of semiotics has been active since it was started by Peirce, it appears like the last decade has been especially productive with a number of important new concepts being developed within the biosemiotics community. The novel concept of the Semiotic scaffold by Hoffmeyer is an important addition that offers insight into the hardware requirements for bio-semiosis. As any type of semiosis must be dependent upon Semiotic scaffolds, I recently argued that the process of semiosis has to be divided into two separate processes of sign establishment and sign interpretation, and that misalignment between the two processes result in faulty sign interpretation and over-signification. Such faulty signs were forbidden in the sign classification system of Peirce, so I defined them as forbidden signs. Here I present an analysis of the forbidden sign categories with examples from Occult semiotics. I also show that biological semiosis offers examples of forbidden signs, where the faulty interpretation of signs may lead to decimation of whole evolutionary lines of organisms. A new concept of Evolutionary memory which is applicable to both human and biological semiosis is explained as the combination of two processes; one leading to diversity generation within semiotic scaffolds followed by a second process of decimation of faulty signs during selection in specific learning environments. The analysis suggests that forbidden signs are always used as early stages in the iterative sign establishment process during semiosis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)467-483
    Number of pages17
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Peirce
    • Semiotic Scaffold
    • Evolutionary Memory
    • Decimation
    • Sign Establishment
    • Bacteria


    Dive into the research topics of 'The Forbidden Signs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this