Google+ Followers

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Cover of The Semiotics of Animal Representations approved; book sent to press

A few days ago the final version of the cover of the forthcoming book The Semiotics of Animal Representations (see previous posts) were approved by me and fellow editor Kadri Tüür, after going some rounds with book series editors. The anthology has now been sent to press.

Afternoon session chaired at 1st code biology conference

On Thursday 22nd of May I chaired the afternoon session at the First International Conference in Code Biology in Paris (apart from half an hour where Jannie Hofmeyr kindly stepped in for me). Some 30 people attended. Speakers included Han-liang Chang, Louis Goldberg, Liz Swan, Candice Shelby, Anna Aragno and João Carlos Major.

Examiner for two master degree exams at UiO

I have agreed to be an external examiner for a master thesis, plus a master essay by another student, at the University of Oslo. The two texts will be defended in mid-June. The students will get a grade based on the written texts that are in turn adjusted after the oral exam. Both students are associated with UiO's Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas (IFIKK).

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Second code biology conference, 2015

The second international conference in code biology will take place in Jena, Germany. The conference will be organised by Peter Dittrich.

See also:
ISCB launches annual conference series - 2017 conference to be organised in Norway by me

Second steering committee meeting

Today I have participated in the second meeting of the steering committee of the Norwegian-Estonian research project Animals in changing environments: Cultural mediation and semiotic analysis. These meetings take place twice a year, and I take part as the Norwegian Project leader.

Monday, 26 May 2014

To grade 70 papers in Examen Facultatum

I have agreed to grade some 70 papers in Examen Facultatum at University of Agder's Department of Religion, philosophy and history (course code EX102) as an external examiner, along with an internal examiner. Today I picked up the exam papers. I will be responsible for a part of the exam (school exam) on the humanities which counts 2/3, whereas the other part is on philosophy of science and counts 1/3. Grading is due June 5th.

To be teacher at UiS EVU in master in pre-hospital critical care; info meeting

Some seven weeks ago I as asked to be responsible for the course in Philosophy of science and health care ethics in the master program Pre-Hospital Critical Care (PHCC), which is to be offered by the University of Stavanger's unit for continuing education, UiS EVU. I accepted - and on Monday 19th of May I attended an information meeting at UiS EVU. 

My course will in the first round be offered autumn 2015 and spring 2016, and amount to 10 credits (1/6 of a full year's credits). It will largely be modelled after the master course in Philosophy of science and ethics that I have been giving autumn 2012 and autumn 2013 at UiS' Department of health studies (as part of the department's master in health science).

The PHCC master program, which is pending approval by the UiS board in June, is initiated and initially funded by Norsk Luftambulanse [Norwegian Air Ambulance]. New students will likely be admitted every second year starting this autumn.

Meeting on this autumn's philosophy course

On Monday 19th of May I met with the teacher I am stepping in for this autumn as responsible for the course Examen Philosophicum (introductory philosophy) at University of Stavanger's Department of social studies, to go through plans and practices related to teaching including teacher-assisted seminars. The course is much like that on Department of health studies, with emphasis on ethics and philosophy of science, but with an additional focus on political and social philosophy.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Annual performance appraisal

On April 10th I met with my Head of Department at University of Stavanger's Department of Health Studies, Kari Vevatne, for the annual "medarbeidersamtale" (something akin to 'performance appraisal').

Uis debate article on oil ethics finally gaining some traction

On March 14th I published a debate article at the public debate pages of University of Stavanger entitled "Hvorfor fortier fagmiljøer ved UiS olje-etikk?" [Why do academic groups at the University of Stavanger remain silent on oil ethics?]. 

Ironically, the first reply, by Jon Skarpeid (a UiS employee), only appeared some 40 days later (!). About a week ago a second reply was posted by Per Hassel Sørensen (an R&D engineer). Sørensen writes that the University of Stavanger is ridiculed by the recent statements of Hans Borge (see criticism - in Norwegian), Head of Department at the university's Department of Petroleum Engineering. Borge basicly belives that the IPCC are fundamentally wrong and that there is no such thing as anthropogenic climate change, but has not been convincing in presenting alledged counter-facts.

Profile at Research Gate

A few weeks ago I registered at ResearchGate. See my profile here.

There is much more material at my Academia.edu profile (currently 27 papers, 48 talks).

By following me either place you can get notified when I add new info.

Czech-Norwegian grant scheme delayed

Today the announcement of the results of the Czech-Norwegian research programme was supposed to be made. However, a new timetable for the programme has been announced. Expected announcement of the results of the call is now July 15th.

I have applied as the prospective Norwegian Project leader (University of Stavanger) in cooperation with Anton Markoš, Head of department at Department of philosophy and history of science at Charles University, Prague (Project Promoter), and Dan Faltýnek at Palacký University, Olomouc (Czech project Partner), with the project "Living beings as sign systems in evolution and development".

See also:

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Joint guest commentary on petroleum research linked to in Gassnova newsletter

Our joint guest commetary "Heller forskning for klimaomstilling" [Rather research for climate restructuring] (online version), published in the Norwegian regional daily Stavanger Aftenblad April 29th, was linked to in Gassnova's (a state enterprise tasked with developing CCS solutions) newsletter, which gives an overview of each week's "most important news on Carbon Capture and Storage", of April 30th (distributed by email, also available online).

See also:

Reference for second statistician's guide to utopia article

This is the bibliographical reference for my contribution to the Festscrift to professors in criminology Kjersti Ericsson, Cecilie Høigård and Guri Larsen, which was launched in late February:
Tønnessen, Morten 2014. Statistikerens guide til utopia II: En demografisk analyse av øko-visjoner om befolkningsnedgang i det tredje årtusen [The statistician's guide to utopia II: A demographic analysis of eco-visions of population decline in the third milennium]. In the Festschrift Motmæle: En antologi til Kjersti Ericsson, Cecilie Høigård og Guri Larsen [Speaking out: An anthology for Kjersti Ericsson, Cecilie Høigård and Guri Larsen] (eds Heidi Mork Lomell and Liv Finstad), p. 435–453. Oslo: Novus forlag.
See also:

Monday, 12 May 2014

Joint guest commentary on petroleum research linked to in environmental NGO tweets

The version of our joint chronicle on petroleum research (see post on the Energi og klima version) published in the regional daily Stavanger Aftenblad, as a guest commentary (see paper and online version), was linked to via various tweets, including in tweets by the leaders of two national environmental NGOs, namely Truls Gulowsen (Greenpeace Norway) and Nina Jensen (WWF Norway). Gulowsen wrote that the text raises "very good questions on climate, ethics and research" (my translation).

See also:

44 tweets including from MPs linking to joint chronicle on petroleum research

There was some activity on Twitter in response to our joint chronicle "Forskning for klimavennlig omstilling" [Research for climate-friendly restructuring], published in the online magazine Energi og Klima. As of today there seems to be 44 tweets linking to the chronicle as published there. This includes supportive tweets from two members of parliament, Rasmus Hansson (the Green Party of Norway, MDG) and Alf Holmelid (the Socialist Left Party, SV), as well as Beate Sjåfjell, head of Concerned Scientists Norway (where I am a member).

See also:

To chair session at first code biology conference

I have agreed to chair the afternoon session May 22nd at the upcoming 1st International Conference in Code Biology (Paris, France, May 21-23, 2014) (see program here, abstract book here), at 15 to 18.30

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Joint guest commentary on petroleum research published in Stavanger Aftenblad

The joint chronicle  "Forskning for klimavennlig omstilling" [Research for climate-friendly restructuring], written by Peter Haugan and Gunnar Kvåle (University of Bergen), Kristoffer Rypdal (University of Tromsø), myself (University of Stavanger), Arne Johan Vetlesen (University of Oslo) and Steinar Westin [Norwegian University of Technology and Science, NTNU] was, in a shorter version and retitled "Forskning for klimaomstilling" [Research for climate restructuring] (paper version) and "Heller forskning for klimaomstilling" [Rather research for climate restructuring] (online version), published in the Norwegian regional daily Stavanger Aftenblad April 29th, as a guest commentary (alongside the editorial).

See also:

Joint debate article on petroleum research published in Nordlys

The joint chronicle  "Forskning for klimavennlig omstilling" [Research for climate-friendly restructuring], written by Peter Haugan and Gunnar Kvåle (University of Bergen), Kristoffer Rypdal (University of Tromsø), myself (University of Stavanger), Arne Johan Vetlesen (University of Oslo) and Steinar Westin [Norwegian University of Technology and Science, NTNU] was, in a shorter version, published in the Norwegian regional daily Nordlys April 16th - see here.

See also:

Short version of joint chronicle on petroleum research posted in Utopisk Realisme

A short version of the chronicle "Forskning for klimavennlig omstilling" [Research for climate-friendly restructuring], which was co-written by six researchers including me, altogether representing five Norwegian universities, has been posted in my Norwegian-language blog Utopisk Realisme.

See also:

Joint chronicle on petroleum research published in Energi og klima

April 11th a chronicle co-written by six researchers including me was published in the online magazine Energi og klima [Energy and climate], published by Norsk klimastiftelse. The chronicle was titled "Forskning for klimavennlig omstilling" [Research for climate-friendly restructuring]. In the chronicle Peter Haugan and Gunnar Kvåle (University of Bergen), Kristoffer Rypdal (University of Tromsø), myself (University of Stavanger), Arne Johan Vetlesen (University of Oslo) and Steinar Westin [Norwegian University of Technology and Science, NTNU] argue that petroleum research is problematic in ethical terms and that energy research should be aligned with necessary climate change policies.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Descartes paper accepted for presentation at 14th Gathering in biosemiotics (London)

Today I got to know that my paper "Descartes’ dualisms and the epistemology of biosemiotics" has been accepted for presentation at the 14th gathering in biosemiotics, which will take place in London June 30th - July 4th.

Abstract for London gathering in biosemiotics: "Descartes’ dualisms and the epistemology of biosemiotics"

In mid-March I composed and submitted the abstract below to the 14th Gathering in Biosemiotics (London June 30 - July 4).

***

Descartes’ dualisms and the epistemology of biosemiotics
By Morten Tønnessen
Associate professor in philosophy at University of Stavanger’s Department of health studies

René Descartes (1596–1650) has been reckoned as a primary antagonist of biosemiotics ever since Friedrich Salomon Rothschild introduced his seminal 1962 paper with the following statement (p. 774):
The concept of the symbol shows the way to overcome René Descartes’ partition of man into the self as res cogitans and the body as res extensa. In the symbol psychological meaning and physical sign appear as a unit.
What is referred to here, and has repeatedly been referred to in later biosemiotic literature, is Descartes’ infamous substance dualism, which is often associated with the mind–body problem, a problem Descartes can be said to have introduced in the modern age. While substance dualism is an instance of ontological dualism, Descartes’ position, which was so important to the establishment and growth of modern science, also implied epistemological dualism, i.e. the view that the (in Cartesian sense human) subject and the objects perceived by it are radically different. In simplified terms, this perspective can be characterized as implying that the knowing subject stands “outside”, or is independent of, the world which it comes to know about.

In contrast, phenomenology (in its non-Cartesian versions) and hermeneutics have maintained that the knowing subject is always a part of the world that it navigates in and attempts to understand. This perspective is also central to Jakob von Uexküll’s Umwelt theory, and to Uexküllian phenomenology (Tønnessen 2011), a version of phenomenology derived from Uexküll’s work and characterized by the assumption of the universal existence (in the realm of life) of a genuine first person perspective, i.e., of experienced worlds. A living being and its phenomenal world is a unity, and the two can only be understood in tandem.

“Knowing”, as Kalevi Kull (2009: 81) has argued, “is a distinctive feature of living systems.” Animals know – plants know – even microorganisms know (not to mention distributed knowing in various composite systems). It is the task of biology to study and describe what they know, and how they know what they know. This implies the ontological finding that all living beings are knowing creatures, and the related epistemological observation that in order to get to know as much as possible about the world at large (the natural world included), we must base much of our human knowledge on getting acquainted with what non-humans know. In consequence, biology, and perhaps zoology in particular, is key to contributing to overall human knowledge. This perspective is very unlike that of Descartes, which was that animals are machine-like and bereft of any true intelligence or rationality.

In conclusion I will refer to the common critique of Cartesian dualism found in health science in general and nursing science in particular. In doing this I will discuss to what extent biosemiotics does or should share a (w)holistic view of humanity, and of nature. In one version, such a view of humanity implies that human life has four dimensions, namely a physical, a psychological, a social and a spiritual dimension (and a reductionist view typically amounts to acknowledging only the physical dimension).

References
Kull, Kalevi (2009). Biosemiotics: To know, what life knows. Cybernetics and Human Knowing 16(3/4): 81–88.
Rothschild, Friedrich Salomon (1962). “Laws of symbolic mediation in the dynamics of self and personality”. Annals of New York Academy of Sciences 96: 774–784.
Tønnessen, Morten (2011). Umwelt Transition and Uexküllian Phenomenology – An Ecosemiotic Analysis of Norwegian Wolf Management (= Dissertationes Semioticae Universitatis Tartuensis 16). Doctoral dissertation. Tartu: Tartu University Press. Introduction available online.

4th newsletter of Minding Animals Norway composed and distributed

Yesterday evening I composed and distributed the 4th issue of the newsletter of Minding Animals Norway (5 pp.) to its ca. 50 paying members.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

2013: 3rd most-publishing scholar at Department of health studies, #8 at faculty

Final results show that in 2013 I was the 3rd most-publishing scholar at University of Stavanger's Department of health studies, with 3,13 publication points. This also made me the 8th most-publishing scholar, by the same measure, at the university's Faculty of Social Sciences.

My publication points accounted for 8% of those of Department of Health Studies, 2,5% of those of Faculty of Social Sciences, and 0,7% of the publication points of University of Stavanger in 2013.

See also:

Contemplating English-language version of climate change book

For quite a few years I have been gathering material for a Norwegian-language book entitled Utslippsfrie nye verden? [Emission-free new world?], which will  provide critical perspectives on the techno-fix Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). I am now contemplating writing an English-language version as well, insh Allah.

Prospective research collaboration on ethics of shale oil

While in Tartu last week I discussed a prospective research project application on the ethics etc. of shale oil production with a good colleague. I am interested in being involved as a researcher in this prospective project. An application is expected 2015.

The Semiotics of Animal Representations presented at Framing nature conference

On Tuesday 29th of April Kadri Tüür and I briefly (5 minutes combined) presented our forthcoming edited collection The Semiotics of Animal Representations (Rodopi) at the conference "Framing nature: Signs, Stories and Ecologies of Meaning" (Tartu, April 29 - May 3) during "Postgraduate reception, poster session and book exhibition". 

Some 50 people attended. Discount flyers from Rodopi were distributed at this occasion and throughout the conference.

Paper on mentions of animals in political programs presented in Tartu

On Saturday last week, May 3rd, I presented my paper "Animals Qua Sentient Beings vs. Animals Qua Resources: A Critical Reading of the Mentions of Animals in Norwegian Political Party Programs" at the Framing nature conference in Tartu (April 29 - May 3 2014). Comments on my paper focused on possible elaborations of the methodology applied.

My paper appeared in the session "Philosophy and ethics", which was chaired by Forrest Clingerman and also included presentations by Jonathan Beever and Silver Rattasepp. The session was attended by some 50 people.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

October 2011: "The cultural semiotic of wolves and sheep" presented at zoosemiotics research seminar

On Tuesday October 25th 2011 (at 2-6pm) I attended the 3rd research seminar of the research grant "Dynamical zoosemiotics and animal representations" in Tartu, Estonia, at the University of Tartu's Department of semiotics. I presented my paper "The cultural semiotic of wolves and sheep".

[This blog post is part of my backlog catch-up]

October 2011: Table at restaurant Volga reserved for PhD defence dinner

Around the end of October 2011 I reserved a table for 5-10 persons at restaurant Volga in Tartu, Estonia, at the occasion of my PhD defence (see thesis introduction) December 15th the same year. This is were I was to (and indeed did) celebrate my PhD, with the family members accompanying me, my supervisor Kalevi Kull and my opponents Jesper Hoffmeyer and Dominique Lestél.

[This blog post is part of my backlog catch-up]

October 2011: PhD defence trip arranged

Around the end of October 2011 I arranged my visit to Tartu, Estonia, December 14-16 at the occasion of the defence of my PhD thesis "Umwelt transition and Uexküllian phenomenology: An ecosemiotic analysis of Norwegian wolf management" which was to take place (and did indeed take place) December 15th that year. I would go with my parents, my wife and my aunt Marte.

[This blog post is part of my backlog catch-up]

Ocotober 2011: PhD thesis presented at council meeting

In the afternoon of Monday 24th 2011 I presented findings of my PhD thesis "Umwelt transition and Uexküllian phenomenology: An ecosemiotic analysis of Norwegian wolf management" at a council meeting at University of Tartu's Department of semiotics (or more specifically - as far as I recall and understand - the Council of Institute for Philosophy and Semiotics), in Jakobi 2, Tartu, Estonia. This was a 20 minute Powerpoint presentation. The council decided to accept my thesis for defence.

[This blog post is part of my backlog catch-up]

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Final program for Framing nature conference

Here is the final version of the program for the Framing nature conference which took place in Tartu last week.

Code biology abstract book

"Codes and interpretation in perception" scheduled for presentation May 23rd (Paris)

My paper "Codes and interpretation in perception" has been scheduled for presentation at First International Conference in Code Biology (Paris May 21-23) on Friday May 23rd at 12.00-12.30.

Full programme (presenter last name and time) here.

See also:

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Biosemiotic ethics session placed in Theoretical semiotics; Semiotics in the interdisciplinary context

The session "Biosemiotic ethics", which I am organising at the upcoming World congress of semiotics (Sofia, Bulgaria, September 16-20), has by now been placed within two program categories, namely "Theoretical semiotics" as well as "Semiotics in the interdisciplinary context". See also the program in terms of all the current prospective sessions. Prospective contributors to the Biosemiotic ethics session can send an abstract straight to me (for instructions, see the session abstract).

See also:

Session on bio-/ecosemiotics chaired

Earlier today I chaired the session "Bio/Ecosemiotics: Signs of Life II" at the ongoing Framing nature (conference (Tartu April 29-May 3). Tim Ireland ("Leveraging nature") and Yogi Hale Hendlin ("Multiplicity and Welt") presented, and slightly above a dozen people attended.

Member of NIES

Friday, 2 May 2014

Election lost

I lost the election of representative for temporarily employed education and research staff with a big margin, winning only 6 votes out of 54. Kristian Thorsen was reelected, Clemens Furnes was reelected as 1st deputy representative and I as 2nd deputy representative for the period 2014-2015 (Autumn to Spring).

See results here.

See also:

National Committee for Research Ethics still considering research ethics of petroleum research

Norway's National Committee for Research Ethics in Science and Technology (NENT) decided on a much anticipated meeting Monday this week (April 28th) that their treatment of research ethics in the context of petroleum research will continue until June, when they will hold an extraordinary meeting to conclude on the subject. A statement will appear in mid-June.

I have been one of the researchers raising this debate. Due to my blog backlog I have not yet posted news on most of my activities (a chronicle by me and one co-written, a few interviews, etc.) in this context, but I hope to do so soon.

To be chair at Framing nature conference

I have, some weeks ago, agreed to be the chair of a session on the ongoing Framing nature conference (Tartu April 29-May 3), "Bio/Ecosemiotics: Signs of Life II", which will take place tomorrow, Saturday May 3rd at 9.30-11.00.

To be external examiner for UiO master thesis

I have agreed to be external examiner (one of two examiners) for a master thesis on eco-feminism at the University of Oslo. A grade will be given to the thesis, and then adjusted following an oral exam.