Mind in Universe: On the Origin, Evolution, and Distribution of Intelligent Life in Space

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


This chapter discusses the question of mind in space. It aims to lay the ground for an emerging research field, astrocognition, studying the origin, evolution, and distribution of intelligence in the universe. The first section concerns terrestrial intelligence, the cognitive phenomena involved in human search for extraterrestrial life and intelligence. Intelligence could be explained as a cognitive flexibility, an ability to adjust to changes in the physical and socio-cultural environment. Three cognitive functions are particularly prominent in the history of astrobiology: perception, conceptualization, and analogy. Next section deals with extraterrestrial intelligence, the evolution of intelligence in outer space. The bio-cultural coevolution of cognition explains the emergence of advanced cognitive skills. An indispensable requisite for the evolution of intelligence, sociability, communication, and advanced technology is intersubjectivity. An intelligent being that has developed advanced technology would likely have a complex social system, complex communication, and a high degree of distributed cognition. The final section discusses terrestrial-extraterrestrial interaction and whether two distinct creatures could be able to understand each other. Cognitive semiotics is a key to understanding the semiosis involved in astrobiology and astrocognition, such as biosignatures and interstellar communication.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Communication Studies
  • History of Ideas
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Astrobiology
EditorsVera M. Kolb
Place of PublicationBoca Raton FL
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781315159966
ISBN (Print)9781351661102
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch