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Monday, 30 November 2009

Conference of the Nordic Society for Phenomenology, 2010

I have submitted the following...

Contribution to the 8th annual conference of
(Nordisk Selskab for Fænomenologi)
under the general theme
to be arranged at Södertörn University College
in Stockholm, April 22-24, 2010
Individual presentation
by Morten Tønnessen
Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics, University of Tartu
Vindmøllegangen 1, 4631 Kristiansand, NORWAY
Kuu 39-64, 50 104 Tartu, ESTONIA
Academic homepage:
Suggested title:
Semiotics of Being and Uexküllian Phenomenology
German-Baltic biologist Jakob von Uexküll (1864-1944) did not regard himself as a phenomenologist. Neither did he conceive of himself as a semiotician. Nevertheless, his Umwelt terminology has of late been utilized and further developed within the framework of semiotics and various other disciplines - and, as I will argue, essential points in his work can fruitfully be taken to represent a distinctive Uexküllian phenomenology, characterized not least by an assumption of the (in the realm of life) universal existence of a genuine first person perspective, i.e., of experienced worlds.

In the course of the presentation, I will briefly relate Uexküllian phenomenology to
a) Immanuel Kant (1724-1804),
b) the eco-existentialism of Peter Wessel Zapffe (1899-1990)
c) eco-phenomenology (including David Abram and Ted Toadvine),
d) and semiotics of nature (biosemiotics, ecosemiotics, zoosemiotics)

Friday, 20 November 2009

Contribution on Lotman to Norwegian-Estonian Festschrift

I have agreed to contribute with a short (2 pp) article to the planned Festschrift of the Norwegian-Estonian Association (Norsk-Estisk Forening), at the occasion of its 25 year anniversary. My article will be written in Norwegian, and deal with the (pretty recent) history of Tartu semiotics, with special emphasis on Juri Lotman and his connection to Norway (not least the 1986 conference in Bergen, where - for the first and last time - Thomas Sebeok met Juri Lotman).

This short article should be finished by December 20th. The Festschrift will be published in 2010, at the occasion of the independence day of the Republic of Estonia (February 24th).

New colleagues

Two more researchers have joined the research project "The Cultural Heritage of Environmental Spaces. A Comparative Analysis Between Estonia and Norway" (the first replacing Peder Anker as the Norwegian collaborator in a study of Estonian peat bogs etc.), in which I take part with my Ph.D. work as a "main researcher". First, Finn Arne Jørgensen, NTNU, who's involved in environmental history (and trying to establish a Norwegian network within that field). I met him at the first world congress of environmental history in Copenhagen in August. Second, Renata Sõukand - who happens to be one of the contributors to the special issue of Biosemiotics for which I am one of two guest-editors ('Semiotics of perception').

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Titles - books I would like to have written (or read)

Some of these are good titles (others contain but one word of special interest). Others are good, or reputed, authors, or concern topics that interest me. Most of them will never be read by me. Some, perhaps, will – maybe even be influential in my thinking. Time will (perhaps) tell.

Ahonen, Pertti. 1989. The meaning of money: Comparing a Peircean and Saussurean perspective. In Kevelson, R., ed., 13-29.

Albone, Eric S. 1984. Mammalian Semiochemistry. Chichester: Wiley.

Anderson, Myrdene & Floyd Merrell, eds. 1991. On Semiotic Modeling. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Aschenberg, Heidi. 1978. Phänomenologische Philosophie und Sprache. Tübingen: Narr.

Balat, Michel & Janice Deledalle-Rhodes, eds. 1992. Signs of Humanity. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Bär, Eugen 1981. Die Zeichenlehre von Thomas A. Sebeok. In Krampen, M., et al., eds., 281-321.

Barnlund, Dean 1981. Toward an ecology of communication. In Mott, C. W. & J. H. Weakland, eds., 87-126.

Baudrillard, Jean. 1972. Pour une critique de l’économie politique du signe. Paris: Gallimard. – Port. s.d. Para uma crítica da economia política do signo. Lisboa: Martins Fontes.

———. 1976. L’échange symbolique et la mort. Paris: Gallimard.

Beck, Cave. 1657. The Universal Character, by Which All the Nations in the World May Understand One Another’s Conceptions. London.

Bentley, Arthur F. 1947. The new “semiotic”. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 8.1: 107-31.

Bernard-Donals, Michael F. 1994. Mikhail Bakhtin Between Phenomenology and Marxism. Cambridge: Univ. Press.

Bierman, Arthur K. 1962. That there are no iconic signs. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 23: 243-49.

Bonner, John Tyler. 1980. The Evolution of Culture in Animals. Princeton: Univ. Press.

Borsche, Tilman & Werner Stegmaier, eds. 1992. Zur Philosophie des Zeichens. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Böttner, Margueritte. 1980. Zeichensysteme der Tiere: Ein Versuch angewandter Semiotik. Stuttgart: Diss. Phil.

Bouissac, Paul. 1989. What is a human? Ecological semiotics and the new animism. Semiotica 77: 497-516.

Bright, Michael. 1984. Animal Language. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press.

Brown, Jerram L. & Gordon H. Orians. 1970. Spacing patterns in mobile animals. Annual Review of Ecological Systems 1: 239-62.

Buczyńska-Garewicz, Hanna. 1984. The degenerate sign. In Borbé, T., ed., vol. 1, 43-50.

Bunn, James H. 1981. The Dimensionality of Signs, Tools, and Models. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

Burkhardt, Dietrich, et al., eds. 1966. Signale der Tierwelt. München: Moos.

Busnel, René-Guy & André Classe. 1976. Whistled Languages. Berlin: Springer.

Carnap, Rudolf. (1928) 1961. Der logische Aufbau der Welt. Hamburg: Meiner.

Carterette, Edward C. & Morton P. Friedman, eds. 1976. Handbook of Perception. New York: Academic Press.

Castañeda, Hector-Neri. 1990. Indicators: The semiotics of experience. In Jacobi, K. & H. Pape, 57-93.

Cheney, Dorothy & Robert M. Seyfarth. 1982. Recognition of individuals within and between groups of free-ranging vervet monkeys. American Zoologist 22: 519-529.

Classen, Constance, David Howes & Anthony Synnott. 1994. Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell. London: Routledge.

Coker, Wilson. 1972. Music and Meaning. New York: Free Press.

Colapietro, Vincent M. 1989. Peirce’s Approach to the Self. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press.

Costadeau, Alphonse. (1717) 1983. Traité des signes, vol. 1, ed. Le Guern-Forel, O. Bern: Lang.

Crystal, David 1980. Introduction to Language Pathology. London: Arnold.

Dascal, Marcelo. 1978. La sémiologie de Leibniz. Paris: Aubier-Montaigne.

Davidson, Donald 1978. What metaphors mean. Critical Inquiry 5: 31-47.

Dawkins, Richard & John R. Krebs. 1978. Animal signals: Information or manipulation. In Krebs, J. R. & N. B. Davies, eds., 282-309.

Deely, John N. 1974. The two approaches to language... Jean Poinsot’s semiotic. The Thomist 38: 856-907.

Dirven, René. 1993. Metonymy and metaphor. Leuvense Bijdragen 82: 1-28.

Dressler, Wolfgang U. 1989. Semiotische Parameter einer textlinguistischen Natürlichkeitstheorie. Wien: Österr. Akad. der Wiss. (=Ö. A. d. W., Phil.-Hist. Kl., Sitzungsber., vol. 529).

Dutz, Klaus D. 1985. Historiographia Semioticae (= papmaks 18). Münster: MAkS.

Ebert, Theodor. 1987. The origin of the Stoic theory of signs in Sextus Empiricus. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 5: 83-126.

Eco, Umberto 1984b. Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

———. 1985a. How culture conditions the colors we see. In Blonsky, M., ed., 157-75.

———. 1986. Travels in Hyperreality. New York: Harcourt.

Eimermacher, Karl, comp. 1974. Arbeiten sowjetischer Semiotiker der Moskauer und Tartuer Schule (Auswahlbibliographie). Kronberg: Scriptor.

Ekman, Paul, ed. 1973. Darwin and Facial Expression. New York: Academic Press.

Emanuele, Pietro. 1982. Präsemiotik und Semiotik in Heidegger. Semiosis 25/26: 140-44.

Fill, Alwin. 1993. Ökolinguistik. Tübingen: Narr.

Finlay, Marike. 1988. The Romantic Irony of Semiotics: Friedrich Schlegel and the Crisis of Representation. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Fleischer, Michael. 1987. Hund und Mensch: Eine semiotische Analyse ihrer Kommunikation. Tübingen: Stauffenburg.

Fraasen, Bas C. van. 1985. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Time and Space. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

Garvin, Harry R., ed. 1976. Phenomenology, Structuralism, Semiology (= Bucknell Review, April 1976). Lewisburg: Bucknell Univ. Press.

Gibson, James J. 1966. The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems. Boston: Mifflin.

———. 1979. The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston: Mifflin.

Glidden, David. 1983. Skeptic semiotics. Phronesis 28: 213-55.

Harrison, P. A. 1983. Behaving Brazilian: A Comparison of Brazilian and North Anmerican Social Behavior. Rowley: Newbury House.

Havelock, Eric A. 1963. Preface to Plato. Oxford: Blackwell.

Holenstein, Elmar. 1975. Roman Jakobsons phänomenologischer Strukturalismus. Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp. – Port. 1978. Introdução ao pensamento de Roman Jakobson. Rio de Janeiro: J. Zahar.

Jones, Roger S. 1982. Physics as Metaphor. New York: Meridian.

Kalinowski, Georges. 1985. Sémiotique et philosophie. Paris, Amsterdam: Hadès-Benjamins.

Katz, David. (1925) 1969. Der Aufbau der Tastwelt. Darmstadt: Wiss. Buchgesellschaft.

Kelemen, János 1991. Kant’s semiotics. In Sebeok, T. A. & J. Umiker-Sebeok, eds., 201-18.

Kiefer, Georg R. 1970. Zur Semiotisierung der Umwelt. Stuttgart: Diss. Phil.

Klaus, Georg. (1963) 1973. Semiotik und Erkenntnistheorie. München: Fink:

Klinck, Dennis. 1993. The semiotics of money. In Kevelson, R., ed., 229-250.

Koch, Walter A. 1986c. Philosophie der Philologie und Semiotik. Literatur und Welt: Versuche zur Interdisziplinarität der Philologie. Bochum: Brockmeyer.

———. 1989. The Well of Tears: A Biosemiotic Essay on the Roots of Horror, Comic, and Pathos. Bochum: Brockmeyer.

———. 1991b. Language in the Upper Pleistocene. Bochum: Brockmeyer.

———. 1992. Ecogenesis und echogenesis. In Sebeok, T. A. & J. Umiker-Sebeok, eds., 171-211.

Koch, Walter A., ed. 1982. Semiogenesis. Frankfurt/Main: Lang.

———. 1990d. Semiotics in the Individual Sciences. 2 vols. Bochum: Brockmeyer.

———. 1990f. Wissenschaftstheorie und Semiotik. Bochum: Brockmeyer.

Komar, Gerhard 1991. Geldzeichen. Zeitschrift für Semiotik 13: 345-365.

Krampen, Martin, et al., eds. 1981. Die Welt als Zeichen: Klassiker der modernen Semiotik. Berlin: Severin & Siedler.

Kruse, Felicia 1990. Nature and semiosis. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 26.2: 211-224.

Lakoff, George & Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

Lanigan, Richard L. 1977. Speech Act Phenomenology. The Hague: Nijhoff.

Larsen, Hanne Hartvig, et al., eds. 1991. Marketing and Semiotics. Copenhagen: Handelshøjskolen Forlag.

Lewis, Philip E. 1974. Revolutionary semiotics. Diacritics 4 (Fall): 28-32.

Lindgren, J. Ralph. 1993. The emergence of signs: The seminal convention of money. In Kevelson, R., ed., 283-297.

Manning, Peter K. 1987. Semiotics and Fieldwork. Newbury Park: Sage.

Meier-Oeser, Stephan 1997a. Die Spur des Zeichens: Das Zeichen und seine Funktion in der Philosophie des Mittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Merrell, Floyd 1996. Signs Grow: Semiosis and Life Processes. Toronto: Univ. Press.

Mick, David G. 1999. A global review of semiotic consumer research (= Working Paper, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Business).

Montagu, Ashley. 1971. Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

Oehler, Klaus, ed. 1984. Zeichen und Realität. 3 vols. Tübingen: Stauffenburg.

Pittenger, Robert E., Charles F. Hockett & John J. Danehy. 1960. The First Five Minutes. Ithaca, N.Y.: P. Martineau.

Pogorzelski, H. A. & W. J. Ryan. 1982. Foundations of Semiological Theory of Numbers. Orono: Univ. of Maine Press.

Presnell, Michael. 1983. Sign, Image, and Desire: Semiotic Phenomenology and the Film Image. Ann Arbor: Univ. Microfilms Int.

Preziosi, Donald. 1979b. The Semiotics of the Built Environment. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

Reis, Carlos. 1993. Towards a Semiotics of Ideology. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Romeo, Luigi. 1979d. Ecce Homo: A Lexicon of Man. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Rosenthal, Sandra B. 1998. Phenomenological semiotics. In Posner, R., et al., eds., vol. 2, 2096-2112.

Salthe, Stanley. 1998. Naturalizing semiotics. Semiotica 120: 381-394.

Santaella, Lucia. 1996c. Semiosphere: The growth of signs. Semiotica 109: 173-186.

Schiff, William & Emerson Foulke, eds. 1982. Tactual Perception: A Sourcebook. Cambridge: Univ. Press.

Simmel, Georg. (1900) 1922. Philosophie des Geldes. München: Duncker & Humblot.

Tembrock, Günter. 1971. Biokommunikation. 2 vols. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag.

Thom, René. (1988) 1990. Esquisse d’une sémiophysique. – Ingl. 1990. Semiophysics: A Sketch. Redwood City, Cal.: Addision-Wesley.

Thompson, Michael. 1979. Rubbish Theory. Oxford: Univ. Press.

Trampe, Wilhelm. 1990. Ökologische Linguistik. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.

Trevarthen, Colwyn. 1994. Infant semiosis. In Nöth, W., ed., 219-252.

Valsiner, Jaan & Jüri Allik. 1982. General semiotic capabilities of the higher primates. In Key, M. R., ed., 245-57.

Vincent Ferrer. (ca. 1400) 1977. Tractatus de suppositionibus. Ed. Trentman, J. A. Stuttgart: Frommann.

Walther, Fritz R. 1984. Communication and Expression in Hooved Mammals. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

Wescott, Roger W. 1984. Semiogenesis and paleogenesis. Semiotica 48: 181-85.

Yaguello, Marina. 1991. Lunatic Lovers of Language: Imaginary Languages and their Inventors. London: Athlone.

Zarcadoolas, Christina. 1983. How to Do Things with Linguistics, Semiotics, Speech Acts, and Phenomenology. Ph. D. Thesis, Brown Univ. Ann Arbor: Univ. Microfilms Int.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Course work on Uexküll - meetings at UiA - the philosophy business

I'm following the course "Readings of Juri Lotman and Jakob von Uexküll", and the first half, considering the work of Uexküll, has now finished. A couple of days ago I submitted the (first) term paper, "An Uexküllian Theory of Evolution?" (7 pp). I have further - since I literarily take the course as a reading course, from a distance - submitted 6 c3 pp papers with Q&As, covering the reading material.
“Uexküll and evolution” for many sounds like a topic that spells out a contradiction in terms. That, I believe, does not necessarily have to be the case. Whereas some biosemioticians (e.g. Stjernfelt 2001) have asserted that Uexküll was anti-evolution, others (e.g. Salthe 2001; Kull 2004) have concluded that he was anti-Darwinian, but not hostile to the idea of evolution as such. Here I must agree with the latter group, as I hope will shine through in the rest of this exposition. And not only do I think Uexküll was not anti-evolution (though, as I explain in Tønnessen 2009, he was programmatically not historically-minded) – more than that; I believe that an Uexküllian perspective might actually prove to be enriching within the field of evolutionary theory. There’s proof that Uexküll did not only have negative, but also positive, thought about evolution in his dictum (1928: 198) that “each new appearing functional cycle verifies [the appearance of] a new animal species” (my translation).
Meanwhile, the committee for the UiA Philosophy Forum has held its first meeting (this Monday).

So has - today - UiA's "Fagfilosofisk seksjon" (Academic philosophical section), consisting of the philosophers at Department of religion, philosophy and history. The topic, which has been discussed at one previous meeting as well and will be discussed further at the institute level in December, concerns establishing new (more advanced) courses in philosophy as part of a revised bachelor degree (which is today a bachelor in religion). One day, some say, we might offer a master in philosophy. That would truly be of great value for the philosophy milieu at UiA, and its attraction for students and scholars alike. Today only a one-year studium is offered (apart from the broader introductory course, Examen Philosophicum).

Meanwhile ... I have finished (yesterday) a catalogue, or leaflet (4 pp), presenting the paid services offered by my one-man company, SPØR FILOSOFEN (Ask the philosopher) - ranging from lectures and courses via writing and editing to consultancy activities. You'll find it on Scribd.

And thus the world advances...

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Committee for UiA Philosophy Forum

The committee for the University of Agder Philosophy Forum (styringsgruppa for Filosofisk Forum) now seems to be in place, counting the following members:
Håvard Løkke
Olav Andreas Opedal
Hege Stensland
Morten Tønnessen
Ralph Henk Vaags
The first meeting of the committee is likely to be arranged this Monday. The first Forum in this round will likely take place in January.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Philosophy in Stavanger (siddisfilosofi)

This term - starting November 27th or so - I will take part in the marking at Examen Philosophicum at the University of Stavanger (the university of the town where I was born, on the West coast of Norway), as an external examiner. Written exam is the genre, 3,000 words the approximate length of the apparently 160 exam papers.

I am thus for the moment connected to no less than three universities - University of Stavanger (as an external examiner), University of Agder (as a lecturer, research assistant, and involved in philosophy forums) and University of Tartu (as a Ph.D. student, and participant in research projects etc.).

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Philosophy in Kristiansand

Today I met with Ralph Henk Vaags at UiA. We have agreed to restart 'Filosofisk fagforum' [Forum for academic philosophy], as well as 'Filosofisk forskerforum' [Philosophical research forum] at the University of Agder (in both cases it's the first time I'm partaking). For now the plan for the former is to arrange monthly 2-hrs seminars next spring. The two of us expect to form the responsible committee, along with a student representative.

Independently of these activities, the town of Kristiansand also features a near-monthly 'philosophical café', Kristiansand Filosofikafé, dating back to 2001.

Not bad for a mid-size Norwegian town whose biggest celebrity is a chimpanzee called Julius (who happens to be one of the town's best painters, as well).

"An ageing giant" - Arne Næss in memory

I have just come across the newsletter wherein my brief text "An ageing giant" appears (p13).

Volume 20, No. 2 Spring/Summer 2009
Morten Tønnessen, Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics, University of Tartu, Estonia:
An Ageing Giant
It is hard to summarize what Arne Næss has meant to me—first of all because he has been so decisive in forming me as a practicing philosopher. For years I had difficulties seeing where, at all, I would disagree with him (a problem I have now to some extent overcome). I was early on inspired by his interpretation of Gandhi’s political ethics—that’s how I made the leap from activist to student of philosophy. As is the case for so many Norwegians, it was his work that introduced me to philosophy. A course in deep ecology at Åkerøya in Norway in the late 1990s was central in giving me a more solid basis for eco-philosophical reasoning (a couple years later Knut Olav Fossestøl, another course participant, and I founded the “Eco-philosophical colloquium” at the University of Oslo). By then Arne was already a familiar face for me as a philosophy student—30 years after he retired as professor, he was still around offering public lectures. In 2001 and 2003, I arranged public events with him myself. By 2003, however, it was clear that this brilliant mind struggled to remain intellectually alert and coherent. A request to partake in a proposal (concerning the Norwegian Petro-fund) from the Green Party of Norway, for which I was the national secretary at the time, was therefore revoked.

I interviewed him a couple of times. After the Åkerøya seminar I sent him my first booklong philosophical manuscript, Dialog. He had agreed to comment it, but now I got it returned, with an exact explanation: “372 pages!” I never knew whether to call him Arne or Næss. Despite having met him around a dozen times, he never appeared—with certainty—to recognize me (I wish he had). Today I have the fortune of being in contact with some of his closest colleagues at the eco-scene. The last time I was in contact with him (through Kit-Fai) was in 2006, when I was conducting a survey of attitudes in the Norwegian environmentalist establishment—partly inspired by his own little survey on attitudes to nature among Norwegian bureaucrats and others carried out a generation or so earlier. As I heard the news of his death, I pondered home to our house in Magé, Brazil, where we were at the time, and stepped into our outdoor swimming pool, as the day darkened. A couple of bats joined me. I retreated to a corner, offering the two nocturnal creatures (ecological!) space enough to rejoice undisturbed in their playful bath.