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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

4 more hours of teaching - halfway through

Today I have taught for 4 hours - 2 x 2 hours teacher-assisted seminar.

I am now halfway in this autumn's teaching. Next week there is a break from teaching.

Monday, 29 September 2014

6 hours of teaching

Today I have taught for 6 hours - 2 hours of lecturing (topic: justice) and 2 x 2 hours of teacher-assisted seminar - at University of Stavanger's Department of social studies.

Program for climate debate on Tou Scene launched

Tou Scene in Stavanger, Norway, has launched the program for "Grunnlovsjubileet: Debatt oljeavhengighet og klimakrise" [Constitutional jubilee: Debate on oil dependency and climate crisis], which will take place October 14th, with me as one of the panelists (see also Facebook event page). The debate starts at 19.30.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Session "Learning and development" chaired

Today I have chaired the session "Learning and development" at the ongoing First Conference of the International Association for Cognitive Semiotics (Lund, Sweden, September 25-27th). The session involved papers by Tobias Fredlund (with Cedric Linder and John Airey), Elin Westlund and Sara Lenninger. Some 10-17 people attended.

Group picture from 12th world congress of semiotics

Here's the group picture from the 12th world congress of semiotics (New Bulgarian University - Sofia, Bulgaria, September 16-20th 2014) (follow the first link for a zoomable version).  I'm at the back to the left.


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

"The ghosts in our machine" shown by MA Norway and sociological film club

On September 16th Minding Animals Norway co-arranged screening of the movie "The ghost in our machine" (2013) with Sosiologisk filmklubb, based at University of Oslo - see Facebook event page. Attendance was good, I hear. Rune Ellefsen introduced the movie.

2nd meeting of local organising committee of "Animals in the Anthropocene" conference held

Yesterday the local organising committee of the conference "Animals in the Anthropocene - Human-animal relations in a changing semiosphere" (UiS, Stavanger, September 17-19th 2015) had its second meeting, via Skype. Among other things we appointed members of the conference's Scientific Advisory Committee, which will evaluate session proposals and abstracts.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Three first Norwegian Animal Ethics Conferences listed at MAI webpage

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference (2012, 2013, 2014) are listed at a subpage of the webpage of Minding Animals International, listing previous Partner Events internationally. The Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference is co-founded and co-organised by Minding Animals Norway. I have been in the organising team all the way so far.

Minding Animals 3 deadline now September 30th

The deadline for Minding Animals Conference 3, to be held in Delhi, India, January 13-20th 2015, has been extended for a second time, to September 30th.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Three meetings attended

Today I have participated at three meetings at University of Stavanger's Department of social studies. Two of them were related to my course coordinator role for bachelor thesis in child welfare, the third involved planning a personnel trip abroad.

2 hours of teaching

Today I have lectured at University of Stavanger's Department of social studies, in the course Examen Philosophicum. The topic today was liberty.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Roundtable discussion "Perspectives in biosemiotics" held in Sofia

On Friday September 19th I co-chaired the roundtable discussion "Perspectives on biosemiotics" at the 12th world congress of semiotics (Sofia, Bulgaria, September 16-20), with Timo Maran and Kalevi Kull. Each of us gave brief introductory remarks, which were followed by general discussion. Some 15 people were present. The roundtable followed and summarised papers presented in the sessions "New trends in bio-/zoo-/ecosemiotics" (convened by Timo, Kalevi and Frederik Stjernfelt) and "Biosemiotic ethics" (cf. programme) earlier the same day.

Session "Biosemiotic ethics" held in Sofia

On Friday September 19th I chaired the session "Biosemiotic ethics" at the 12th world congress of semiotics (Sofia, Bulgaria, September 16-20), which featured a paper by me, one by John Deely and one by Panagiotis Xouplidis (cf. programme). Up to 20-something people were present.

"Introducing biosemiotic ethics" presented in Sofia

On Friday September 19th I presented my paper "Introducing biosemiotic ethics" at the 12th world congress of semiotics (Sofia, Bulgaria, September 16-20), in the session "Biosemiotic ethics". Some 20 people were present.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Complete mess at IASS Executive Committee meeting - Paul Cobley new President, Kristian Bankov new Secretary General

Yesterday the Executive Committee of the International Association for Semiotic Studies (IASS-AIS) had its meeting to elect a new IASS board (all executive positions). The meeting took place during the 12th world congress of semiotics (Sofia, Bulgaria, September 16-20), and was attended by 50-60 Executive Committee members. I represented both Norway (along with Drude von der Fehr) and the Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies (NASS), and voted on behalf of both.

Paul Cobley was elected the new IASS President. He got my support after announcing a sensible, reform-oriented electoral program. Kristian Bankov was unanimously elected new Secretary General, after Massimo Leone withdrew his candidature. Both are elected for the period 2014-2019.

Like the IASS General Assembly held the day before, the meeting of the Executive Committee was unfortunately characterised by a selective and random approach to rule-following. I was embarassed at both occasions. At the General Assembly no proper financial report was presented, for instance - and the electoral procedure was a mess, and far from transparent. At the meeting of the Executive Committee, the Committe first decided with a clear majority that after two consecutive mandates, an elected official is not eligible for any position for the next 5-year period. Then, an hour or so later, a majority of the very same Committee elected Susan Petrilli as one of five Vice-Presidents (if only for 2 years), even though she was ineligible for any position according to the decision just made by 80% of those present. In other words: The Executive Committee voted on whether or not to follow its own rules, and a clear majority voted not to follow them.

A bit later two Treasurers (plus one Vice-Treasurer) were elected, since by mistake too many names had been put forward, and the Committee did not want to choose between them.

Adding to the unprofessional mess, at both occasions, was the fact that even though English, French and Spanish are all official languages of the IASS-AIS, at several points voting took place after the members had been informed e.g. just in French. At these instances half the audience did not know what was going on.

All this is funny at best, tragic at worst. The IASS is in desperate need of some simple professionalism.

IASS General Assembly - elected Norway, NASS representative despite Pago's resistance

The International Association for Semiotic Studies (IASS-AIS) held its General Assembly - the first since 2009 - two days ago, Wednesday September 17th, during the 12th world congress of semiotics (Sofia, Bulgaria, September 16-20).

After much ado, I was elected representative for Norway (along with Drude von der Fehr) and for the Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies (NASS) (along with Luis Emilio Bruni) in the IASS Executive Committee. The problems was due to the fact that the IASS Secretary General, José María Paz Pago, did not want to allow me and Drude to be nominated, despite the fact that no information whatsoever had been communicated in advance on how nominations should be made. Luckily the Assembly accepted the nominations even so. Just ahead of the meeting I had gathered a number of endorsements.

But Pago was not quite done. When the election itself took place, he read the name of the former Norwegian representative (John Ole Askedal), who was not there, instead of my name, and the President of IASS, Eero Tarasti, had to intervene by saying my name. I was appalled by Pago's attitude.

The election is for the period 2014-2019.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Reelected chair of Minding Animals Norway

At the Annual Meeting of Minding Animals Norway in Oslo on September 5th I was reelected as chair of Minding Animals Norway. Ida Knutsen was elected Webmaster, and Gunnar Kornberg member of the board.

The statutes was simultaneously changed so that board members are from now on just elected for 1-year periods, not 2-year periods.

Printed program for 12th world congress of semiotics

Here at the ongoing 12th world congress of semiotics, at New Bulgarian University, Sofia, I have received the printed program of the congress. The printed program incudes not only the session Biosemiotic ethics and my talk there "Introducing biosemiotic ethics", but furthermore the roundtable "Perspectives in biosemiotics", which is to be chaired by Timo Maran, Kalevi Kull and myself. All taking place tomorrow.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

UiS profile page updated

My profile page at University of Stavanger has been updated with my current office number and phone number.

Staff meeting attended; member of work group planning personell trip abroad

Today I have attended the personell gathering/meeting at University of Stavanger's Department of social studies

I volunteered to be a member of a work group that will plan a 2-day personell seminar/gathering abroad which will take place next Spring.

4 more hours of teaching

Today I have been teaching for 4 hours (2 x 2 hours of teacher-assisted seminar) in Examen Philosophicum at University of Stavanger's Department of social studies. This completes this week's 10 hours of teaching.

Monday, 15 September 2014

To grade exam papers for UiA

This autumn I will likely be grading some papers in Examen Philosophicum for University of Agder's Department of Religion, Philosophy and History.

6 more consecutive hours of teaching

Today I have, for the second time this autumn, taught for 6 consecutive hours - 2 hours lecture (this week on contract theory - political philosophy), followed by 2 x 2 hours teacher-assisted seminars (half course in academic writing, half work with multiple choice questions), at University of Stavanger's Department of social studies.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Work title and publication year of Studies in Environmental Humanities volume

The book volume which is to be published in Rodopi's series "Studies in Environmental Humanities", where I will contribute with a chapter work-titled "A Critical Reading of the Mentions of Animals in Political Party Programs", has the work title "Framing Nature". The book will be published in 2016 (not 2015 as I was previously informed).

See also:

To chair session "Learning and development" at IACS conference

I have agreed to chair the session ”Learning and development” at the upcoming First Conference of the International Association for Cognitive Semiotics (IACS) (Lund, Sweden, September 25-27). The session will be held on Friday September 26th at 13.30-15.00.

See full programme.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Abstract: "Animal agency in politics and eco-existentialism"

Today I have composed the abstract rendered below, for the 2nd research seminar of the Norwegian-Estonian research project "Animals in changing environments: Cultural mediation and semiotic analysis", which will take place at University of Stavanger Friday October 24th.

***
Animal agency in politics and eco-existentialism 
Morten Tønnessen 
Associate professor in philosophy at Department of social studies & Department of health studies, University of Stavanger, Norway  
What is animal agency? And how are various notions of animal agency explicitly or implicitly presented in different kinds of texts? 
In this presentation I will start out by summarizing a survey conducted in the biosemiotic community on the notions of ‘agent’ and ‘agency’ (Tønnessen, forthcoming), with regard to animal agency. I will also briefly outline the semiotics of animal representations as a field of study (Tønnessen and Tüür 2014). 
Next I will share observations made in my analysis of mentions of animals in Norwegian political party programs for the parliamentary period 2013–2017 (Tønnessen 2013). One of the findings is that animals are in these documents predominantly described in terms of economic resources, not as sentient beings endowed with subjective experience. Even though animal welfare is now addressed by several (particularly small) parties, even most of the parties that are the most positive to improving animal welfare speak of animals in very anthropocentric, reductionistic manners whenever animal welfare is not the topic. 
I will furthermore analyse the essay “The Last Messiah” (1993 [1933]), written by the Norwegian eco-existentialist and mountaineer Peter Wessel Zapffe (1899–1990), with the notion of animal and animal agency in mind. For Zapffe, human compassion with suffering animals is central. But unlike in the case of human beings, he claims, the suffering of animals is limited to their own, more or less immediate, suffering. Likewise animals too feel anxiety, but only human beings can “fear life itself”, or fear their own being. Even though human beings are unique in some respects, including when it comes to relating to death, I will argue that many animals too are in some situations aware that they are mortals. 
Acknowledgement 
This work has been carried out thanks to the support of the research project Animals in Changing Environments: Cultural Mediation and Semiotic Analysis (EEA Norway Grants/Norway Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 under project contract no. EMP151).  
References 
Tønnessen, Morten 2013. Analyse av partiprogrammer for 2013–2017 – utført for Dyreetikkonferansen 2013 [Analysis of political party programs for 2013–2017 – conducted for the Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference 2013]. Oslo 2013: Dyreetikkonferansen. Available online via Dyreetikkonferansen.no, ResearchGate (DOI: 10.13140/2.1.3693.1203), Academia.edu, Scribd. 21 pp. 
Tønnessen, Morten, forthcoming. The biosemiotic glossary project: Agent, agency. Forthcoming in Biosemiotics 8(1) (April 2014). 
Tønnessen, Morten and Kadri Tüür 2014. The semiotics of animal representations: Introduction. In Kadri Tüür and Morten Tønnessen (eds), The Semiotics of Animal Representations (Nature, Culture and Literature 10), Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, p. 7–30.  
Zappfe, Peter Wessel 1993 [1933]. The last Messiah [Den sidste Messias, 1933]. Translated by Sigmund Kvaløy and Peter Reed. In Peter Reed and David Rothenberg (eds): Wisdom in the Open Air: The Nor­wegian Roots of Deep Ecology, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, p. 4052.

IACS Abstract book

The abstract book of the upcoming First Conference of the International Association for Cognitive Semiotics (IACS) (Lund, Sweden, September 25-27) has been published online in PDF version

The abstract for my talk "Will the agents of nature please rise: What is agency?" is on p. 161-162. I am further mentioned p. 10 (programme), p. 228 (index), p. 232 (list of participants) and p. 235 (list of members of Scientific committee).

Thursday, 11 September 2014

"What is agency?" paper scheduled for presentation September 27th

My talk "Will the agents of nature please rise: What is agency?", to be given at the upcoming The First Conference of the International Association for Cognitive Semiotics (IACS) (Lund, Sweden, September 25-27), has (quite a while ago) been scheduled for presentation Saturday September 27th at 12.00-12.30. My presentation has been placed within the session "Comparative cognition".

Roundtable discussion "Perspectives in biosemiotics" to be held in Sofia

At the upcoming 12th world congress of semiotics (Sofia, Bulgaria, September 16-20), a roundtable discussion titled "Perspectives in biosemiotics" has been scheduled on Friday September 19th from 6 pm. to 7 pm. The roundtable, which aims to sum up and discuss papers presented in the sessions "New trends in bio-/zoo-/ecosemiotics" and "Biosemiotic ethics", held the same day, will be chaired by Timo Maran, Kalevi Kull and me. Cf. the updated detailed program for the congress.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

English UiS website on university board updated

The English language website of University of Stavanger has been updated with recent information on board members. I am listed as 2nd deputy representative for temporarily employed education and research staff.

New phone number

My new phone number at work (University of Stavanger's Department of social studies) is (+47) 5183 4149.

Note that I work from my home office Wednesday to Friday this autumn.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Monday, 8 September 2014

Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference on fish welfare featured in Nationen commentary

21st of August the Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference (Dyreetikkonferansen) on fish welfare was featured in a 1-page commentary in the Norwegian daily newspaper Nationen, which is known as the farmers' newspaper. The commentary, by Michael Brøndbo, was entitled "Fisken og dens følelsesliv" (The fish and its emotional life).

2 hours of teaching - normative ethics

Today I have been lecturing for 2 hours in the course Examen Philosophicum at University of Stavanger's Department of social studies. The topic of this lecture, the third this autumn, was normative ethics.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Radio interview on animal experience of mortality aired; podcast

Today NRK P2's weekly radio program Verdibørsen aired, featuring a 15 minute interview with me on animal experience of mortality. Podcast is available.

In the interview I make reference to Peter Wessel Zapffe and Michael Polanyi.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Minding Animals board meeting in Oslo attended

Yesterday I participated in Minding Animals Norway's board meeting in central Oslo. On the agenda was among other things preparations for the annual meeting.

Interview on animal awareness of death to appear on NRK P2's Verdibørsen

Yesterday I met with NRK P2s Aase Cathrine Myrtveit to be interviewed for this week's "Verdibørsen". The topic of the 15 minute long radio interview was animal awareness of death. I was interviewed in my capacity as Chair of Minding Animals Norway and Associate professor in philosophy at University of Stavanger.

The program will be sent this Saturday, and then again on Sunday.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Exact time of annual meeting of Minding Animals Norway

The annual meeting of Minding Animals Norway has been scheduled for 12.00 at Friday September 5th. It will take place at the same location as the 4th research seminar of Minding Animals (Blindern campus, Oslo), which takes place earlier the same day.

Eco-existentialist talk on animal death scheduled for presentation September 5th in Oslo

My paper "Øko-eksistensialisme og dyrs dødelighet: Et forsvar for et mer inkluderende begrep om dødelighet" [Eco-existentialism and the mortality of animals: A defence of a more inclusive notion of mortality] (see full abstract in Norwegian) has been scheduled for presentation at the 4th research seminar of Minding Animals Norway, which will take place on the Blindern campus of University of Oslo on Friday September 5th. My presentation will take place at 10.00-10.45.

The theme of the research seminar, which also features an hour of open discussion, is "Dyrene og døden" (Animals and death).

Agency review article rescheduled to Biosemiotics #1/2015

My review article "The biosemiotic glossary project: Agent, Agency" (see previous posts) will appear in Biosemiotics no. 1/2015 (April 2015), not no. 3/2014 (December 2014) as previously planned. This is due to the overall coherence of each of these two issues.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

4 hours of teaching

Today I have taught for 4 hours - 2 x 2 hours teacher-assisted seminars (half course in academic writing, half work with multiple choice questions), at University of Stavanger's Department of social studies. This completes my second week of teaching this term.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Press release from Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference addresses double standards concerning fish

Here, on the homepage of the Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference, is this year's press release, "Dyreetikkonferansen tar opp dobbeltmoral om fisk" [the Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference addresses double standards concerning fish]. The press release, which was posted online a day or so before the conference (which took place in Trondheim August 20th), features some statements by me as Chair of Minding Animals Norway as well as statements from Tore Kristiansen and Kristian Bjørkdahl.

6 hours of teaching

Today I have taught for 6 consecutive hours - 2 hours lecture (on what a human being is), followed by 2 x 2 hours teacher-assisted seminars (half course in academic writing, half work with multiple choice questions), at University of Stavanger's Department of social studies.