Thursday, 22 September 2011

Travel plans: Stavanger and Klepp, October 3-5

As detailed in the previous post I have been assigned to teach introductory philosophy at the University of Stavanger next spring, in a 25 % position. That is one of two reasons why I will October 3rd-5th be visiting Stavanger and nearby Klepp. The other reason relates to Rhys Evans of Klepp's The Norwegian University College for Agriculture and Rural Development (Høgskulen for landbruk og bygdenæringar), with whom Rune Ellefsen and I are organizing the October 14-15 Shared World seminar in Oslo (see also the website of Minding Animals International).

I will arrive in Stavanger Monday October 3rd in the morning, and meet with the scholar academically responsible for University of Stavanger's web-based bacholor degree in nursing plus the staff philosopher that day. The next day, Tuesday October 4th, I will meet with the head of department at Department of health studies, and then move on to Klepp and the Norwegian University College for Agriculture and Rural Development, where I will work and discuss with Rhys that afternoon and the next morning, partly in preparation of the Shared Worlds seminar.

Assigned to teach introductory philosophy at University of Stavanger

Ten days ago or so I was assigned to teach introductory philosophy at the University of Stavanger next Spring, in a 25 % position (which includes examining). The course code is BSNEXP-1, which refers to the Examen Philosophicum for students in a web-based bachelor degree in nursing (my group of students is the class of 2011-2015). The course sorts under Department of health studies (Institutt for helsefag) at Faculty of Social Science (Samfunnsvitskapleg fakultet), where I will for the third year in a row be an examiner this November/December.

Today I talked with the scholar who is academically responsible for this bachelor, and agreed to dates for student gatherings at UiS: January 18-19 (week 3), February 8-9 (week 6), February 29-March 1 (week 9) and March 21-22 (week 12). I also said I will be present in person at all these gatherings. Additionally there will be web-based learning.

Ten days ago I was further asked preliminary whether I would be interested in working full time as a substitute philosophy lecturer next autumn, if the chance arises, to which I said yes. If this materializes I will be commuting between Kristiansand, where I reside, and Stavanger, perhaps two days a week.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Minding Animals Norway formally registered as NGO

Minding Animals Norge has now been registered as an NGO in Norway's Brønnøysundregistrene (Enhetsregisteret). Organisasjonsnummer: 997 336 216.

I am a founding member and a member of the board along with Rune Ellefsen and Rhys Evans. The first general meeting of MAN will take place in Oslo October 15h, at the closure of our Shared Worlds seminar (see our Facebook page here).

See also the webpage of Minding Animals International.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Podcast of causerie on sin of sloth

The second last Friday, September 9th, I read a monologue, or causerie, on the sin of sloth as part of the closing event of this year's Christianssand Protestfestival, an annual tradition for some ten years now where authors and discussants meet up for public events and debate. Some 100 people were present at the cardinal sin event, which involved a series of 7 monologues.

A podcast of the event can be found (and downloaded) here (7 cardinal sins in ONE package!).

Joining Concerned Scientists Norway

I have become a member of Concerned Scientists Norway. In order to become a member one must be a "scientific employee" and support the manifesto of Concerned Scientists Norway, which is concerned with climate change and other environmental issues.

The slogan of CSN is "researchers for a sustainable development". Their manifesto stresses the importance of interdisciplinarity, and states that such a "interdisciplinary perspective, which will address the various causes of the [ecological] crisis, and seek to go to the root of the problems, will involve criticism of aspects of our economic and social system."

See also the webpage of the US' Union of Concerned Scientists.

Update on Arne Næss celebration

The work of the committee preparing the celebration of the 100th year anniversary of the birth of Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss, "Arne i 100", is progressing. As I wrote in a post almost a month ago, we had a founding meeting August 25. However, following some complications and correspondence back and forth, in which I was involved, it was only a few days back that we received the confirmation that Arne i 100 has been accepted and registered as a non-profit NGO. The objective of the NGO, in its shortest form, is to "videreføre den filosofiske arven etter Arne Næss", namely to "carry on the philosophical legacy of Arne Naess".

Some in our group has met with Arne Hjeltnes, who will host the anniversary event January 27th 2012 in the university aula of the University of Oslo. Further names have been confirmed, and we have secured some more funding from public and private sources (the latter includes the Norwegian Ministry of Environment). We are also developing plans for marking 2011-2012 as a "Arne Næss year", though most of our focus has thusfar been on the anniversary event on the day 100 years after Arne's birth.

Academic travel plans

This weekend I have arranged tickets for two academic trips the coming months:

* Tartu: October 23-26 [in Oslo 22-23] (to stand before the doctoral committee, and to participate in zoosemiotic research seminar)

* Hamar: October 30 - November 1 (for conference on predators and grazing animals)

I will further be going to Uppsala in October, and to Tartu once again in December (for defense of doctoral degree).

(We have also booked tickets for a holiday - Kristiansand-Bodø and back by train (1526 km each way, says Google Maps), November 3-6)

New work rules

While I revised my doctoral work this weekend with regard to what to submit as PhD dissertation, I also reworked my work habits.

As the two next figures show, I have worked long work weeks since 2009 (the last diagram displays the work hours so far in 2011 week by week).

The trouble with such long work weeks is, for one thing, that one risks blurring the difference between work and free time, if work is omnipotent. After having pressured myself lately, I have now introduced two new principles so as to self-disciplinize myself (and become a better husband):
1) At least one full day without work (as in duty) each week!
2) As a rule no work after 6 pm!

Selection of articles for my doctoral thesis

1. MT 2009. Umwelt Transitions: Uexküll and Environmental Change. Biosemiotics 2 (1): 47-64.

2. MT 2009. Steps to a Semiotics of Being. Biosemiotics 3.3: 375-392 (online version, published April 30, 2010: DOI: 10.1007/s12304-010-9074-0).

3. MT 2011. Semiotics of Being and Uexküllian Phenomenology. Pp. 327-340 (chapter 27) in Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka (ed.): Phenomenology/Ontopoiesis Retrieving Geo-Cosmic Horizons of Antiquity (= Analecta Husserliana CX/110).

4. MT 2011. Mapping Human Impact – Expanding Horizons: Interdisciplinary Integration. Pp. 93-106 in Tiina Peil (ed.): The Space of Culture - the Place of Nature in Estonia and Beyond (= Approaches to Cultural Theory vol. 1). Tartu: Tartu University Press.

5. MT 2010. The Global Species. New formations: a journal of culture/theory/politics 69 (Special Issue guest-edited by Ashley Dawson, Imperial Ecologies): 98-110. Featured as additional content in Encyclopaedia Britannica (

6. MT 2010. Wolf Land. Biosemiotics 3.3: 289-297 (online version, published April 23, 2010: DOI: 10.1007/s12304-010-9077-x).

7. MT 2011: I, Wolf: The Ecology of Existence. Pp. 315-333 in Johannes Servan and Ane Faugstad Aarø (eds.): Environment, Embodiment and Gender. Bergen: Hermes Text.

See also: Update on my doctoral dissertation (and more)

Update on my doctoral dissertation (and more)

A week ago or so I posted "Revised contents for my doctoral dissertation". Since then, however, more specifically last Thursday, I was convinced by my supervisor Kalevi Kull to submit a collection of articles (with an original introduction), instead of a monograph. Crucially, however, I will still complete the monograph which summarizes, addresses and further develops the theme of my doctoral studies, and aim at having it published by an international academic publisher, hopefully as soon as the autumn of 2012. This way I can stick to defending my thesis and attaining my doctoral degree just before Christmas, and simultaneously work thoroughly and without haste with the results in form of a monograph.

Minding Animals Bulletin no. 7

The seventh Bulletin of Minding Animals International was distributed the last few days. At 20 pages, it details a number of upcoming pre-conference lecture events, and more (such as a call for people to convene lunchtime roundtables at the Utrecht conference in 2012). It also envelops a wolf poster presented here in Utopian Realism advertising for the Oslo "Shared Worlds" event October 14-15, and a flyer for the Uppsala event October 17-18.

See also: Flyer for the Uppsala event "Zoo-ethnographies"

Flyer for the Uppsala event "Zoo-ethnographies"

Web site: Zoo-ethnographies

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Revised contents for my doctoral dissertation

Below is the revised table of contents for my doctoral dissertation Umwelt Transition: Uexküllian Phenomenology - An Ecosemiotic Analysis of Norwegian Wolf Management, on which I have been working intensely for the last few weeks. This compares with the contents as previously outlined in Semi-detailed table of contents (posted in March). That outline, however, presented only two of the three levels of numbering used previously. All in all I had some 660 subdivisions. Now I have 117. Much more manageable, but still so inter-disciplinary as to be really challenging, and of incredibly wide scope, if I dare say so myself.

Detailed table of contents

Contents at a glance

Detailed table of contents



Chapter 1 Making Sense of Nature

§1. Introduction

§2. Toward a phenomenology of environmental change

§3. From self to world

§4. The notion of integrated biological individualism

§5. On the levels of biosemiosis

§6. Earth - the natural (and absolute) setting for the human condition

§7 Husserl’s notion of the Lebenswelt

§8 The notion of Uexküllian phenomenology

§9 The notion of semiotics of being

§10 Research questions

§11 Methodology

§12. The Umwelt theory of Jakob von Uexküll

§13. Uexküll’s visual representations

§14. Uexküll’s metaphors: Bubble, web, melody

§15. How 'partner' is to be interpreted (whether social companions in general are to be included)

§16. How 'food' is to be interpreted (whether resources in general are to be included)

§17. On the forms of life

§18. Ontological and epistemological outlook

§19. An anecdote on the role of fiction in the natural sciences

§20. Implications for the scientific enterprise at large

§21. Uexküllian thought after Uexküll

§22. Problems in contemporary ethological approaches to nature

§23. Problems in contemporary semiotic approaches to nature

§24. Changing views on a changing nature

§25. The topic of change

§26. On the current ecological situation

§27. Umwelt typology – systematic outline

§28. What is subjective biology today?

Chapter 2 Uexküllian Phenomenology

§29. Introduction: Uexküll and phenomenology

§30. On the notion of phenomenology

§31. The phenomenology of Charles Sanders Peirce

§32. Remarks on contemporary eco-phenomenology

§33. Semiotics and phenomenology

§34. Introducing a universal, twofold notion of self: The explicit and the implicit self

§35. Problems of phenomenology

§36. Problems of ontology

§37. Existential universals

§38. Communal being and distinctive being

§39. On the forms of existence

§40. The notion of swarm Umwelten

§41. Development of a typology of Umwelt transitions

§42. Modern Umwelten

§43. The search image in social life

§44. Further theoretical developments

§45. Playful Umwelten

Chapter 3 The Semiotics of the Ecological Crisis

§46. Introduction: The trajectory of a crisis

§47. Fragment of a metalogue: On the transition from naïve animal to semiotic animal

§48. Semiosis and crisis

§49. On matters of diversity and extinction

§50. The semiotics of domestication and related phenomena

§51. Anthropocene studies: The global species

§52. Favoured vs. unfavoured species – a hypothesis

§53. On matters of ethics and economy

§54. Ecological alienation

§55. Developing the perspective of Umwelt alignment

§56. Simplified management models for human-animal relations: Integration, segregation (assimilation)

§57. The long-term goal for wildlife management: Independent viability?

§58. Characteristic developments in the modern era

§59. Current developments

Chapter 4 Umwelt Mapping

§60. Introduction: On mapping semiosis at the level of the organism, and higher levels

§61. On matters of quality and quantity

§62. The notion of semiotic causation

§63. Mapping human Umwelten

§64. Mapping human impact

§65. Distinguishing between formal and informal human impact

§66. Mapping status as (un)favoured

§67. First examples of ontological maps

§68. Introducing a tripartite model of the human Umwelt

§69. Methodological challenges

§70. Developing the notion of relational Umwelt maps

§71. Developing the notion of phenomenal fields

§72. Further models and visual representations

Chapter 5 Case study: Norwegian Wolf Management

§73. Introduction: Prelude to the Norwegian wolf wars

§74. Field trips

§75. Preliminary remarks on wolf hunting

§76. Remarks on Arne Næss’ philosophy of wolf management

§77. The cultural semiotic of wolves and sheep

§78. Contextual encircling of the topic matter of the case study

§79. Geographical treatment

§80. The situation for Norwegian sheep farmers and agriculture

§81. The symbolic construction of the Big Bad Wolf in contemporary Scandinavia

§82. Conflict areas in current wolf management

§83. Controversial questions in the current debate

§84. Conspiracy theories

§85. On matters of democracy, empowerment and knowledge regimes

§86. Management strategies

§87. Management methods

§88. On matters of legality

§89. Historical exposition – the era of extermination campaigns

§90. Historical exposition – the era of conservation efforts

§91. Contemporary exposition (2006-2011)

§92. Field trip interviews

§93. Summary of findings: The Umwelt of captive wolves in general and socialised wolves in particular

§94. Summary of findings: The nature view and worldview of people in Rendalen

§95. Mapping of the Umwelt of wolves in Norway

§96. Mapping of the Umwelt of sheep and other relevant animals in Norway

§97. Mapping of the Umwelt of selected groups of Norwegians

§98. Analysis: The wolf and other symbols

§99. Analysis of Norwegian wolf ecology in terms of the semiotic niche and ontological niche concepts

§100. Analysis: Matters of management philosophy, and further analysis

§101. To what extent are wolves a favoured species in contemporary Norway?

§102. To what extent are sheep a favoured species in contemporary Norway?

§103. Analysis: Umwelt transitions

§104. Future perspectives: Deep and shallow solutions

§105. Umwelt futurology: Three Umwelt scenarios

Chapter 6 Umwelt Transition

§106. Introduction: Theoretical findings

§107. To what extent can the case study findings be generalized?

§108. In search of the wolf’s perspective

§109. Evaluation of theoretical assumptions

§110. Evaluation of the methodology of Umwelt mapping

§111. On further methodological development

§112. Umwelt transition and animal migration

§113. On Umwelt transitions as habitual

§114. On recolonization as a habitual Umwelt transition

§115. On further theoretical development

§116. Towards an ethics of semiotics of being

§117. On the prospects of Umwelt futurology

Update on the Oslo Minding Animals seminar "Shared Worlds"

Update on the Oslo Minding Animals seminar "Shared Worlds":

1) Confirmed participants in the roundtable on wolf/human relations: Runar Næss, Antonio Poleo, Ketil Skogen. Lynda Birke is among the confirmed participants in the roundtable on horse/human relations.

2) This weekend we sent our application to register Minding Animals Norway as an NGO, with me, Rune Ellefsen and Rhys Evans as (founding members and) board members. In the process we have agreed on a founding document with initial regulations (regulations are up for revision on the concluding open meeting at the end of the Shared Worlds seminar).

3) We have agreed to have books/flyers on display from Brill Academic Publishers, which publishes the journal Society and Animals and the book series ‘Human - Animals Studies’, and from Elli Radinger, editor of the German Wolf Magazin and author of several books on wolves.

4) The number of registered participants is increasing - to register, simply send your details to

See also the latest notifications in Utopian Realism:
Poster series for the Shared Worlds seminar
Minding Animals Norway to be established
Fourth Oslo minding Animalsspeaker confirmed: Liv Emma Thorsen
"Shared Worlds" funded; third plenary speaker confirmed; NGO to be registered

Two performances at Christianssand Protestfestival

This past week I have made two performances at Christianssand Protestfestival.

First, Monday September 5th I hosted/chaired a debate on civil disobedience (and Henry David Thoreau's book on that and other matters) between social anthropologist Thomas Hylland Eriksen and activist etc. Pål Steigan. A podcast is available here (sound only).

Second, Friday September 9th I gave a monologue on the sin of sloth ("latskap" in Norwegian) as part of the event "The seven cardinal sins", along with philosophers Nina Karin Monsen and Jackie Bergman and others. Eddi Eidsvåg hosted the event, The Vollenares offered a mini concert. Podcast (sound plus image) will be available soon.

Talk at predator conference scheduled

As mentioned in June I am scheduled for giving a talk at this year's Den nasjonale konferansen om rovvilt, beitedyr og samfunn [The national conference on predators, grazing livestock and society] (Hamar, Norway, Oct. 31 - Nov. 1).

By now the organizer has released a full program. My talk "Offisiell og 'uoffisiell' rovviltforvaltning i Norge sett med et humanøkologisk blikk - Hva er motivene og handlingene?" [Official and "unofficial" predator management in Norway, as seen in a human ecology perspective - What are the motives and actions?] has been scheduled for November 1st at 13.55-14.35.