Sunday, 26 August 2012

Call for General Meeting of Minding Animals Norway

As the chair of Minding Animals Norway, about a week ago I wrote the call of the board for this year's General Meeting, which will take place in Oslo September 22nd in connection with the first Animal ethics conference (Dyreetikkonferansen, September 21st) and this year's Minding Animals Norway research seminar (September 22nd). The whole call is available in Norwegian in my Norwegian language blog Utopisk Realisme.

Planning day at UiS

Thursday August 9th I took part in a planning day at the University of Stavanger with the two lecturers in nursing that I cooperate with this autumn semester in the teacher-assisted group work in Examen Philosophicum (introductory philosophy, here for nursing students). Altogether there will be 12 x 45 minutes (occurring at 5 dates) of such group work, and the 210 or so students will be divided into 24 groups.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Conference presentation PPTs available in

I have uploaded the following recent conference presentation Powerpoint files to my profile at - all presented in Tartu this July:

Philosophy lecture at UiS I

On Monday 20th of August I gave the first lecture in Examen Philosophicum (introductory philosophy) this autumn semester (at University of Stavanger's Department of Health Studies), with some 150 nursing students present. I lectured for 4 x 45 minutes.

The topics were:
  1. What is philosophy? Views on Man ("menneskesyn" in Norwegian). What does it mean to act like a nurse?
  2. About the arrangements in Ex.phil.
  3. What is science? What does it mean to think like a nurse?
  4. Announcement of exam questions

September 12th: Founding meeting of International Society for the Study of Interactivity, Language and Cognition (ISSILC)

On September 12th at 6.30 pm, during the 1st International Conference on Interactivity, Language and Cognition (CILC - Odense, Denmark September 12-14 - see full programme here), a founding meeting of the International Society for the Study of Interactivity, Language and Cognition (ISSILC) will be held. The last few weeks I have been in correspondence with Sune Steffensen, Stephen Cowley and Paul Thibault concerning the new learned society's constitution, providing other constitutions as examples and giving input and feedback regarding the ISSILC's draft constitution, which will be treated at the founding meeting/General Assembly of ISSILC. 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

CILC talk scheduled for September 13th

My upcoming talk "Beyond the anthropocentric (aka linguistic) mistake: Languaging as if nature mattered", to be presented at the 1st International Conference on Interactivity, Language and Cognition (CILC) (Odense - Denmark, September 12-14), has been scheduled for Thursday September 13th at 16.15-16.45, as part of the session "Human interactivity in a natural world: Lessons from animals, genes and biosemiosis". The conference is hosted by the University of Southern Denmark.

The full program is available here.

UiS profile page updated

I have updated my profile page at the website of the University of Stavanger by adding a few links and revising the overview of my competence and research interests.

Deputy member of the board of University of Stavanger

Since August 1st I've been a deputy member of the board of the University of Stavanger, representing temporary staff (here is a list in Norwegian of all board members - English page has not been updated). I will be in this position until July 31st 2013.

Changes made by hand at Leigo farmstead

The picture below shows me at Leigo farmstead, Estonia, during the 12th Gathering in Biosemiotics, while I take notes in the margins and make changes by hand in the draft constitution of the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies (ISBS). Most of my suggestions were eventually implemented. The photo was taken by Sara Cannizzaro. Her photoblog is called Strange Love.

See also:

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Academia papers on Jakob von Uexküll

Here's a link to papers on Jakob von Uexküll. The 18 papers listed include 5 of my own doing:

  • "Outline of an Uexküllian bio-ontology"
  • "Umwelt ethics" (57 views)
  • "Umwelt-Forskning Og Ontologi: Skisse Av En Bio-Ontologi Basert På Jakob Von Uexkülls Umwelt-Lære" (my Norwegian language master thesis)
  • "Steps to a semiotics of being" (69 views)
  • "Umwelt transitions: Uexküll and environmental change"

Semester opening and more at University of Stavanger

Tuesday August 14th I was present in the audience in Tjodhallen during the official semester opening at the University of Stavanger. The program included speeches by rector Marit Boyesen, mayor of Stavanger Christine Sagen, and others, stand up, and musical performances. The main speech was given by Ketil Solvik-Olsen, a member of parliament who is also the deputy Chair of Norway's right-wing party Fremskrittspartiet (The progress party). Incidentally Solvik-Olsen referred to Stavanger's role as the Norwegian "oil capital", and suggested that he was sure there were "philosophers in the room who would think that simply praising the oil industry [or something to that effect] was very cynical." Sic.

After the opening ceremony I proceeded to a master degree meeting at the Department of Health Studies, where the agenda concerned the soon-to-come opening of the master program for 1st year students, and the inflow of students.

Fun fact

Monday, 6 August 2012

Program for Norwegian animal ethics conference launched

The Norwegian "Dyreetikkonferansen" (The animal ethics conference), which is being organised for the first time this year - with the topic "The animal behind the food and the human behind the consumer" - has today launched its program. I am one of the three persons in the team of organisers, representing Minding Animals Norway.

The program includes these contributors (researchers marked with an *, politicians with **, activists with ***):

  • Grethe Fossli**
  • Svenn Arne Lie*
  • Svein Flåtten**
  • Yngve Ekern
  • Andreas Viestad
  • Runar Døving*
  • Per Olaf Lundteigen**
  • Geir Grosberg
  • Ole Fjetland
  • Johnny Ødegård
  • Arild Hermstad***
  • Live Kleveland***
  • Cecilie Mejdell*
* r

Friday, 3 August 2012

New ISBS constitution and board: About the election drama

Yesterday I posted "New ISBS constitution and board: About a backroom deal", and here, as promised yesterday, comes "New ISBS constitution and board: About the election drama". See also the documents on the pages of the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies (ISBS), namely a brief report from the General Assemby of the ISBS held on July 20 in Tartu, Estonia (under the 12th gathering in biosemiotics) and the new ISBS constitution.

This piece of paper was prepared, but not submitted anywhere, since our alternative proposal for members of the board was presented orally and all names proposed written on the black board in the auditorium where the General Assembly took place. All three of us - Gerald Ostdiek, Joachim de Beule and me, were up there. It was Gerald who got the idea a couple of hours earlier - that we should propose a new board consisting only of 'younger' scholars, given that arguably the true strength of a group of learned people depends on their ability to transfer power to a new generation. Generational transitions, in other words, and how smooth they are, are a measure of organisational success. The background in ISBS' case was also that all of the few who had been involved in recent conflicts were of the elder generation (including founders of the field of biosemiotics). During dinner that day (July 20th) I decided to support Gerald's idea, and the two of us made the list shown above. Straight before the General Assembly Joachim joined forces with us.

We were first of all motivated by the fact that the old board would only allow full lists of candidates, not individual nominations. Individual nominations would by far be preferable. But without that option, we thought the General Assembly should at the very least be given a choice, so that we could have a proper election, rather than just rubber-stamping the pre-made proposal of the board (which, notably, was only made public at the General Assemby). All this secrecy did not benefit anyone - and certainly not the members' trust in the board.

As can be read in Sara Cannizzaro's report from the General Assembly, the board's proposal ("List A") won with 37 votes, versus 12 votes for our "List B" and 10 blank votes. This implies that the board's proposal got 63% of the votes, our proposal 20% and that 17% voted blank.

Were we disappointed? Perhaps a bit silent at first. Given that Anton Markoš came out against our proposal (we had hoped for his support, since he had talked about the need for new people), as did Timo Maran (anything else would have been disloyal, given that he was nominated as Vice-President by the old board), and that only Marcello Barbieri of the biggest names explicitly supported us, we could not have expected many more votes than we got. But then, towards the end of the General Assembly and after the meeting, we all realised how the mood in the room had changed, after half an hour of presentation and discussion of our alternative nominations (where, notably, seven out of eleven people were in both proposals). To the better, for sure. So we thought our primary objectives had been achieved: To give people a proper election, to make the ISBS a little more democratic, and not least to give discontent a chance to be uttered and made visible.

Mentions and questions at 12th gathering in biosemiotics

At the 12th gathering in biosemiotics (Tartu, July 17-21) I/my work was mentioned or alluded to at the following occasions:
  • in Stephen Cowley's presentation (July 18) "Interactivity: Origins and consequences"
  • in Nelly Mäekivi's presentation (July 19) "Communication in zoos and communicative zoo"
  • under closing remarks (July 21), when Luis Emilio Bruni commented on behalf of the Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies, where I am the Secretary and he the President
I asked questions under two presentations:
  • Nelly Mäekivi's presentation (July 19) "Communication in zoos and communicative zoo"
  • Daniel Mayer's presentation (July 20) "Hymenomorphism", which I found to be beautiful
See also:

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Tartu drawings, July 2012

New ISBS constitution and board: About a backroom deal

The International Society for Biosemiotic Studies (ISBS) has now uploaded its new constitution and a brief report from its first ever General Meeting, held in Tartu, Estonia, on July 20th. Since I played a role with regard to both the new statutes and at the General Meeting, here's a brief report from my side.

A draft of the constitution (the old board's proposal) was distributed on July 18th, the day after the 12th gathering in biosemiotics started. It had several flaws. I wrote to Jesper Hoffmeyer, the president of the ISBS, and Kalevi Kull of Tartu, about my concerns, and also talked with Sara Cannizzaro, who acted as the ISBS' Vice-president after Don Favareau stepped down. We agreed that Jesper, Sara and I should meet informally to see whether we could sort things out ahead of the General Meeting, and so we did, on the afternoon of July 18th (at Leigo farmstead). After half an hour's talk we agreed that Jesper would go through my concerns point by point and see what he could change.

On the morning of the day after, on the 19th, I received a revised draft where only one or none substantial change had been made. I then replied that I would raise my concerns at the General Meeting after all. Later that afternoon Kalevi, my former supervisor, came over during dinner to negotiate. Practically all my suggestions had now been incorporated into the board's constitution draft, and I gladly approved of it. The changes made due to this included (in addition to making a few points clearer or more accurate):
 - that the board's annual report is to be presented to members, not just the board itself - at an annual General Meeting (and indeed that annual General Meetings will be held)
 - that a rule stipulating that members at elections "will give a vite 'for' or 'against' each candidate" was dropped (a rule I feared would trigger conflict) in favour of the more common positive/blank voting
 - that the constitution may only be changed at General Meetings, not by the board

I am happy I thus contributed to making the ISBS a little more democratic and transparent. But as the decision-making process described above illustrates, this learned society still has some way to go in terms of being inclusive (there were complaints at the General Meeting about the board's attempts to avoid discussion, and the decision that no substantial changes to the constitution could be proposed at the General Meeting).