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Thursday, 31 July 2008

´Umwelt transition - Uexküll and environmental change´

Just finished the second, after all likelihood final draft of ´Umwelt transition. Uexküll and environmental change´. 28 pages manuscript.

Abstract

What role does environmental change play within Jakob von Uexküll's thought? And what role can it play, within a up-to-date Uexküllian framework? Admittedly, in hindsight it appears that the Umwelt theory suffers from its reliance on Uexküll's false premise that the environment (including its mixture of species) is generally stable. In this article, the Umwelt theory of Uexküll is reviewed in light of modern findings related to environmental change, especially from macroevolution and anthropology. Uexküll's thought is interpreted as a distinctive theory of phenomenology - an 'Uexküllian phenomenology', characterized by an assumption of the (in the realm of life) universal existence of a genuine first person perspective, i.e., of experienced worlds. It is suggested that acknowledging this distinctiveness is critical for eco-phenomenology as well as for biosemiotics; the latter of which can only thus thrive as a true 'semiotics of being', rather than a mere 'semiotics of functioning'. The ecological crisis is interpreted as an ontological crisis with historical roots in humankind's domestication of animals and plants, which can be taken as archetypical for our attempted planet-scale taming of the wild. In addition to domestication, a 'semiotics of economy', or 'semiotic economy', treating the economy as an interface between culture and nature, is suggested as a prioritized subject for bio- and eco-semiotic research. Furthermore, the importance of 'Umwelt mapping', i.e., the drawing of a relational map of nature, for conservation efforts is stressed.

PART I

TOWARD A PHENOMENOLOGY OF ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE
From 'the balance of nature' to 'environmental change'
On the forms of life
On the niche of life
Uexküllian phenomenology - a 'semiotics of being'

PART II

NOTES TOWARD A NATURAL HISTORY OF THE PHENOMENAL WORLD
The virtuality of contemporary life
The ontological crisis
The wild and the tame
The aftermath

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