The Qur'anic Semio-Ethics of Nature
Keywords:semiotics, sign, nature, signification, ayah, Qur'an, Saussure, arbitrary, communication, language, culture
This article goes behind the semiotic stereotypes of western representations of nature and language, to track and discuss discursive limitations in an attempt to place these semiotic concepts within their Qur’anic paradigmatic context. A cursory literature review of Western semiotics suggests systematic bias towards conventional signs, at the cost of naturally occurring ones. Drawing on the work of U. Eco, J. Deely, J. Hoffmeyer and other prominent semioticians, as well as the Qur’an as a ‘semiotician’s paradise par excellence’, I examine a more comprehensive notion of sign and its relevance as a potential epistemological bridge between nature and culture, between internal phenomenological realities and the external world. My argument is that even at this postmodern, advanced stage of semiotics as a more comprehensive and inclusive study field, the downplaying of the semiotics of nature and its communication value continues to run as a subtext of the process of secularisation. Thus, the ethical and religious meta-representations that come with nature are likely to be neglected, with further ecological implications. All these findings seem to suggest that there is a need to reconsider and review these matters in a much more comprehensive way, given that reflection on the natural signs is one of the major themes in the Qur’an, alongside the reoccurring message that the only way to attain true belief in the Creator is to think through signs.