Friday, 28 January 2011

Most read (about) 2010

Most read 2010
1. Arne Næss (no. 5 in 2009)
2. Michael Polanyi
3. John Deely (no. 1 in 2009)

Most read about 2010
1. Aristotle (no. 1 in 2009)
2. Michael Polanyi
3. Plato (no. 5 in 2009)
4. Jakob von Uexküll (no. 6 in 2009)
5. Augustine (no. 10 in 2009)

Cf. the post 2010: Work hours; readings.

Utopian Realism 2010

I have just compiled a PDF document containing all 217 blog posts in Utopian Realism from 2010 (144 pages). Available for reading and/or download at Scribd.

See also Utopian Realism 2009 (102 posts, 99 pages).

Thursday, 27 January 2011

New texts in Scribd

Is a wolf wild as long as it does not know that it is being thoroughly handled? 8pp

The bio-translator - interview with biosemiotician Kalevi Kull 27pp

Bad dog - An Uexküllian analysis of Norwegian wolf management 1p

The Umwelt trajectories of wolves, sheep and people 1p

Program Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations 6pp

Program of Tartu zoosemiotics conference

The program of the 4-8 April 2011 conference Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations, to be arranged in Tartu, Estonia, has now been released. You'll find an overview on the conference website - full program in PDF here.

My own roles, apart from being part of the organizing team:
* Giving the presentation "The Umwelt trajectories of wolves, sheep and people", Wednesday April 6th.
14.30 – 16.30
Session: Perspectives in zoosemiotics II
Felice Cimatti, Marco Mazzeo. Uexküll’s heritage: do human animals live in an Umwelt?
Morten Tønnessen. The Umwelt trajectories of wolves, sheep and people.
Katya Mandoki. Performative acts among animals? Considering zoo-pragmatics
Mara Woods. An affective model of perception-action.
* Chair of the roundtable "Futures of Zoosemiotics", Wednesday April 6th at 17.00-18.30.

Further roundtables:
- Thursday April 7th: "Zoo as a semiotic environment", chair: Nils Lindahl Elliot
- Friday April 8th: "Animals and ecocriticism", chair: Wendy Wheeler

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Web stats and most viewed at Scribd

Webstats, all-time (change since June 9th 2010)
1. Utopisk Realisme 18.502 (+4.495)
2. Utopian Realism 7.306 (+2.946)
3. SemioPhenomenon 3.225 (+252)
4. The Schopenhauer Experience 563 (+145)

Scribd - in English
1. (1) The statistician's guide to Utopia: The future of growth 1.531 (+442) No. 2
2. (6) Curriculum Vitae of Morten Tønnessen [May 1st 2010] 1,086 reads (+753) No. 1
3. (2) Steps to a semiotics of being (ppt) 795 (+228) No. 4
4. (3) Utopian Realism 2009 723 (+249) No. 3
5. (4) Umwelt transition: Uexküllian phenomenology (research plan) 585 (+204) No. 5
6. (5) Semio (poster) 484 (+106)
7. (7) Environmental problems in light of Gabriel Marcel's distinction problem/mystery 390 (+84)
8. (8) POSTER The nature view held by environmentalists 364 (+84)
9. (9) ABSTRACT The nature view held by environmentalists 363 (+110)
10. (10) Signs grow, but should they? 298 (+80)
11. (11) Reversing the brain drain 260 (+69)
12. (12) The nature view held by environmentalists 255 (+92)
13. (13) 'Tell me, where is morality bred?' (The semioethics interviews 1) 233 (+93)

Scribd - in Norwegian
1. (2) Utopisk Realisme 2009 1.260 (+488) No. 1
2. (1) Historieløst om klima 1.086 (+233) No. 4
3. (3) Om fluer og filosofi (intervju med Arne Næss) 1.077 (+404) No. 2
4. (4) Hvem har ansvaret for volden? 735 (+94)
5. (5) Burlesk vitenskapsparodi 647 (+228) No. 5
6. (6) Tidsvitne (omslag) 638 (+261) No. 3
7. (7) 20 års moratorium mot oljeleting 519 (+214)
8. (8) Preludium til romanen HUFF 422 (+127)
9. (9) Europa i overgangsalderen 318 (+80)
10. (11) Svart bok 1998 301 (+93)
11. (10) Jakob von Uexküll og øyets verden 292 (+68)

Scribd - in Estonian
Must naine Tartus 596 (+151)

Scribd - totals
Total reads: 16.345 (+5.183)
Uploads: 28 (+3)
Followers: 18 (+1)

Biosemiotics - most downloaded

The journal Biosemiotics has for a while now been exceptionally accessible for free downloads. These are the 5 most downloaded articles the last 90 days:

What is an Animal?Pain, Stephen


Introduction to the Special Issue Semiotics of Perception Being in the World of the Living—Semiotic PerspectivesLindström, Kati,Tønnessen, Morten


Steps to a Semiotics of BeingTønnessen, Morten


Ecosystems are Made of Semiosic Bonds: Consortia, Umwelten, Biophony and Ecological CodesKull, Kalevi


Autocommunication and Perceptual Markers in Landscape: Japanese ExamplesLindström, Kati

Pain's "What is an Animal" - a book review from 2009 - tops the list the last 30 days (when the 'Semiotics of Perception' intro was downloaded 60 times, at no. 2) and the last 7 days as well. On the two most recent lists (last 30/7 days), Marcello Barbieri's "Three Types of Semiosis", also from 2009, comes in as no. 3/2.

Abstract to Sydney ethology workshop

Bad dog: An Uexküllian analysis of Norwegian Wolf Management

Morten Tønnessen

The title of my PhD project is “Umwelt transition: Uexküllian phenomenology – An ecosemiotic analysis of Norwegian wolf management”. The starting point for my research is the Umwelt theory of Jakob von Uexküll (1864-1944), which I interpret as a genuine theory of phenomenology. Core notions of phenomenology – ‘subjectivity’, ‘autonomy’ and ‘intentionality’ included – therefore have to be understood in a more-than-human sense.

What is “subjective biology” today? In my work, the concept of Umwelt transition represents an Uexküllian notion of environmental change. This might be revisionist, since Uexküll himself envisioned a harmonious nature in balance. While I find it necessary to revise Uexküll on this point, on other points, I hold, it suffices to apply his theory. One example is his notion of Berufsumwelten (the Umwelten of professions), a subcategory of human Umwelten – in my work I depict e.g. the Berufsumwelt of Norwegian sheep farmers. On yet other points, Uexküll’s theory needs clarification. Two important precisations (conceptual clarifications): an Umwelt is organism-specific, rather than species-specific; and must be taken to refer to an existential realm/”inner states”. Umwelt theory also needs to be developed. Focusing on universally applicable Umwelt terminology, I introduce various notions of aggregate Umwelten (Umwelt trajectories, total Umwelten and common-Umwelten), the concept of existential universals, and a distinction between communal being and distinctive being.

The time frame of my case study is 1845-2010. It thus spans both historical extermination campaigns and the current management regime aiming at conservation. I conceptualize the formal and the informal human interaction with/intervention in wolf ecology, and the wolves’ response. To what extent is the wolf a favored species, in practice? By contextualizing such a question, I pinpoint characteristics of the semiotics of the ecological crisis. One assumption is that humankind’s domestication of animals and plants can be taken as archetypical for our attempted planet-scale taming of the wild. My analysis is conducted by way of an Umwelt mapping of the lifeworlds of wolves, sheep and people, with emphasis on historical Umwelt transitions. In the process I present maps of the ontological niches of these three creatures.

In Scandinavia, in part invasive monitoring justifies questions such as this one: Is a wolf wild as long as it does not know that it is being thoroughly handled? My field trips to Polar Zoo and Langedrag Nature Park and Mountain Farm suggest that socialized wolves come in many forms. What is it like to be a wolf? And what is it like to be a dog?

Preliminary conclusions:

1. The Scandinavian wolf/sheep strife is largely a symbolic construction (cultural analysis is key).

2. Ecological and cultural developments have basically decoupled (there is, in other words, a cultural drift towards pure symbolicity).

3. The long-term goal of wildlife management should be to restore its independent viability. One success criterion: to minimize anthropogenic mortality.

4. My case study demonstrates that Umwelt theory is applicable in a modern ecological setting, but in need of updating and further development.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Bibliography of environmental thought

I have joined the Online Bibliography of Environmental Thought (OBET) as a contributor.

The bibliography is funded by the International Society for Environmental Ethics, and includes all bibliographical references related to these six journals (plus references added separately):
* Environmental Ethics
* Ethics and the Environment
* Environmental Values
* Ethics, Place, and Environment
* Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
* Environmental Philosophy

There are currently only 10 contributing members - more are needed.

Guest-login is also possible.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Growth, global species articles offered by Encyclopædia Britannica

I see that Encyclopædia Britannica is offering access to my articles The global species and The statistician's guide to Utopia: The future of growth as "additional content". In order to access the full-text PDF one has to become a Britannica Online Premium Member. According to the info given, such membership gives access to 300.000 magazine articles - mine two included.

In a content note, Encyclopædia Britannica says about each article that it "has not been reviewed by the editors of Encyclopædia Britannica."

Where is this content from?

Journals and periodicals are supplied by EBSCO Information Services. These articles appear as they did in the original publication, often as a PDF scan of the original document, and have not been reviewed or altered by the editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. Depending on the publication, the original author may have been stating facts or opinions.

Why is this content at Britannica?

Britannica Online offers a variety of content in addition to the Encyclopædia Britannica. This additional content is from high quality sources and provides a valuable service for our users, but visitors are reminded to consider the sources when conducting research. Items from Encyclopædia Britannica are written by Nobel laureates, historians, curators, professors, and other notable experts and checked by our editors to ensure balanced, global perspectives.

'Umwelt ethics' referred to in Integral ecology book

I have just found out that my 2003 article 'Umwelt ethics' is referred to in the book Integral ecology: Uniting multiple perspectives on the natural world by Sean Esbjörn-Hargens and Michael E. Zimmerman (Boston 2009: Integral Books/Shambhala Publications).

My article is mentioned in a note (p. 567):
For an interesting article that links umwelt theory with the deep ecology platform, see Tonnessen, “Umwelt ethics.”

In the literature list, Umwelt ethics is listed p. 758.

The book further appears to include a number of references to Umwelt theory and biosemiotics, the latter of which is said (p. 633) to be "a strong candidate for becoming an Integral science."

Friday, 21 January 2011

Bio-/zoosemiotic proposals for ASLE-UK conference welcome

There is a call for papers for the 2011 postgraduate conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment UK (London Sept 9-10), entitled "Emergent critical environments: Where next for ecology and the humanities?". "Biosemiotics and zoosemiotics" is mentioned in the list of "possible paper topics". Deadline is March 31st - also for panel or roundtable proposals.

I quote:

Individual papers should be no longer than 20 minutes. Please send a 250 word abstract and a brief biography (maximum 150 words) to Sam Solnick, Deborah Lilley and Kate Parry – emergentenvironments [at] by 31 March 2011. Proposals for panels (3 speakers) and roundtables are also welcome: please send a 200 word summary of the rationale for the panel or roundtable, in addition to individual abstracts. Please send further enquiries to the above email address.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

2010: Work hours; readings

Being the number-prone nerd that I am, I regularly count (and classify) my work hours, and what I read in an academic context.

Work hours
While a normal Norwegian work year is approximately 1650 hours, I worked 2833 hours in 2009 (172%) and a record 3029 hours in 2010 (184% - + 196 hours). In 2010, I classified 67,8% of these work hours as 'Academic work', 12,6% as 'Writing' and 19,7% as 'Other work' , which includes my attempts to commercialize my competence as a philosopher (I will spare you for the details - finer categories).

I took note of reading 8.918 pages in 2009, and 9,392 pages in 2010 (+474), altogether 18.310 pages 2009-10. Readings in the second half of 2010 represented 275 authors ('written by') and 240 thinkers ('written about'). Top ten for the latter:
1. Aristotle
2. Plato
3. Trotskij
4. Augustine
5. Jakob von Uexküll
6. Socrates
7. Kalevi Kull
8. Marx
9. Husserl
10. John Deely

Sydney workshop approaching

Some time back I received a 4-page Ethology workshop summary from organizer Matthew Chrulew. The workshop, “The History, Philosophy and Future of Ethology”, an International Collaborative Workshop, is to be arranged February 19-21. Abstracts are due January 25th. An edited volume is planned. "Bad dog: An Uexküllian analysis of Norwegian wolf management" is thus after all likelyhood set to materialize not only as a talk, but further in writing.

Excerpts of the summary:
The reflexive and critical reflection of the history and philosophy of ethology bears an obvious relationship to its object, the practice of the science of animal behaviour itself; and the latter relies on such historical and philosophical reflections for its own self-understanding and development. But as Buchanan (2008) and others have shown, Continental philosophy has its own debt to the early ethological work of Jakob von Uexküll (1957) and others that has yet to be fully understood (Deleuze & Guattari 1987, Merleau-Ponty 2003). While phenomenology has traditionally focussed solely on human experience, a critique of such anthropocentrism in favour of immanence and biological continuity opens pathways for distinctive empirical, qualitative descriptions of interspecies forms of life (Abram, 1996; Bussolini 2000; Lawlor 2006). Meanwhile, the field of biosemiotics or zoosemiotics, following the work of Thomas A. Sebeok (1972, 2000), Uexküll and others, has its own set of tools and questions, rarely considered by other science and humanities genres, with which to approach the questions of animal life (Tønnessen, 2010).
Our historical moment is one that combines, on the one hand, the breaking down of barriers between the human and the nonhuman, and on the other, the intensification of our anthropocentric use of animal bodies. It is in this context that what is called “the question of the animal” has become an important question in the humanities. Yet while an insistence on animal subjectivity is foundational for much of this discourse, there is a continuing poverty of truly interdisciplinary work that questions how such subjectivity is imagined and comprehended. This workshop will bring together scholars who work in and among disciplines such as philosophy, anthropology, sociology, ethology, neurobiology, science studies, literature, biblical studies, Egyptology, film and music. It will allow local researchers the opportunity to participate in a discussion with distinguished international visitors. It will provide a space for interdisciplinary discussion at the cutting edge of the history and philosophy of ethology, and related fields of animal philosophy and ethics. An edited volume arising from these conversations is planned.

Programme. The workshop will be held in the Centre for Research on Social Inclusion at Macquarie University in Sydney. It will be held over three days, from Saturday-Monday 19th-21st February, 2011. The workshop is funded by the ISL-HCA programme, with additional funding provided by the Centre for Research on Social Inclusion. International speakers are Dominique Lestel (ENS, France), Brett Buchanan (Laurentian, Canada), Gary Steiner (Bucknell, USA), Jeffrey Bussolini (CUNY, USA), Morten Tønnessen (Tartu, Estonia). International guests will speak for 45 minutes, local participants for 25-30 minutes. There will be extended question periods as well as opportunities for group discussion. Please notify of attendance and forward final paper titles and 500 word abstracts by Tuesday 25th January.
As mentioned in the quoted text, the workshop is funded by (ISL-HCA), meaning the International Science Linkages: Humanities and Arts Programme of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. The ethology workshop was one of 13 international colloborative workshops to get funding in 2010.

Academic reporting

A couple of days ago I finished my annual report to the research project Dynamical Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations - 8 pp, including a page or two on plans and wishes for 2011.

Stats (2010):
* 8 scientific articles published
* 2 edited collections (special issues of academic journals) published
* 5 presentations at international events
* 3 presentations in Estonian arrangements
* 7 field trips/research visits in Norway
* 6 popularizing works published (5 of which in Norwegian newspapers)

'I, wolf' proof-read

Two-three days ago I proof-read the language-edited version of my article "I, wolf: The ecology of existence", which is to appear in the soon-to-be-published anthology Environment, Embodiment and History edited by Johannes Servan and Ane Faugstad Aarø, with contributions from David Abram, Niel Evernden and others.

Philosophical practice/human-animal relations - MAO update

Taken from my page at, where you find an overview of my upcoming talks etc:
Philosophical Practice: Questioning of Rhys Evans on his honest, deeply held beliefs and intuitions on human-animal relations
This session will partake in the „Position Note‟ workshop of The Oslo Minding Animals Pre-Conference Lecture event (Saturday October 15th). I am the philosophical practioner/facilitator/questioner of the session.

On Rhys Evans:

This was scheduled on our second planning meeting for the Oslo event, held January 6th. Other news: We're considering a film/art event October 14th in the evening. Planning meetings will from now on be on regular times, the first Thursday every month. Since the meeting, both Rod Bennison and Tora Holmberg have confirmed their participation as invited speakers.

See also last update on the Minding Animals pre-conference lecture events, from late December.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Mapping human impact proofread and ready to go

Today I have proof-read my article "Mapping human impact: Expanding horizons - Interdisciplinary integration", and accepted a number of stilistic changes suggested by the technical editor/language editor of the CECT II proceedings. In the process I have further given titles to the three figures involved:
Figure 1. Ontological map of humankind’s traditional relationship to animal species
Figure 2. Ontological map of some of the author's significant relationships.
Figure 3. Sketch of global ontological map, centred on the human species.