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Friday, 3 October 2008

Two new journal articles

My original article ´Umwelt Transition´ has been split in two, revised parts: ´Umwelt Transition: Uexküll and Environmental Change´ (submitted to Biosemiotics) and ´Notes toward a natural history of the phenomenal world´ (submitted to Journal of Environmental Philosophy).

The abstract (and motto) for the latter reads:

Notes toward a natural history of the phenomenal world

From the contemporary perspective of global warming and rapid environmental change, it seems obvious that there is something wrong with nature, for which human activity is to blame. Tracing the origin of the ecological crisis, it appears that this very idea is at the root of the problem – since, all through the ages, we have been ‘improving’ and taming nature as if there was something wrong with it from the very beginning.

Programme text; the seminar What’s wrong with nature?[1]


In this article, the Umwelt theory of Jakob von Uexküll (1864-1944) is reviewed in light of modern findings related to environmental change – especially from macroevolution and anthropology – and related to eco-phenomenology. Uexküll’s thought is understood 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. 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.

Keywords Anthropology, domestication, economy, eco-phenomenology, ecosemiotics, natural history, tame/wild, Umwelt

[1] ‚What’s wrong with nature? An interdisciplinary seminar investigating human perceptions of nature and environmental change‘. Arranged in Tartu, January 25-26th, 2008, by The Jakob von Uexküll Center (Estonian Naturalists Society) in cooperation with Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics, University of Tartu. Programme text by Riste Keskpaik and Morten Tønnessen.

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