Without autonomy (operational closure) there is no original meaning; there is only the derivative meaning attributed to certain processes by an outside observer. (Thompson and Stapleton, 2010, p. 28).Thompson, E., and Stapleton, M. (2010). Making sense of sense-making. Topoi, 28, 23-30.
We need, then, some characterization of a system's natural functions. More particularly, since we are concerned with the function a system of natural signs might have, we are looking for what a sign is supposed to meann where the "supposed to" is cashed out in terms of the function of that sign (or sign system) in the organism's own cognitive economy. We want to know how the dog represents the contents of the luggage--what (if anything) the smell of the box meansf to it.Dretske, F. (1986). Misrepresentation. Reprinted in Alvin Goldman (ed.), Reading in cognitive science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (1993).