I am about to finish 6 hours straight of Ex.Phil. teaching - for the fourth Monday this autumn. The topic for today´s lecture (followed by two seminars) was normative ethics.
Monday, 15 October 2018
Friday, 12 October 2018
My keynote speech at the conference “Semiotics of hybrid natures: Anthropogenic ecosystems, multimodalities, transformed umwelts” (Tartu, Estonia November 8-10th 2018), "Current Human Ecology in Light of Umwelt Theory", has been scheduled for presentation Friday November 9th at 12.30-14.00.
An interview with Ingvil Hellstrand and myself aired this Spring titled "Muligheten av Mars" (The opportunity of Mars). It was aired again, in a new program setting, yesterday, now titled "Er Mars menneskets siste mulighet?" (Is Mars humanity´s last chance?). Jostein Gjertsen was program host at both occasions. Altogether this is the third time the interview aired, since it was aired a second time in Spring as part of the program´s weekend summary.
Today I have been in NRK Rogaland´s radio studio taking part in a discussion about the establishment of a new gene bank for wild salmon, and fish farming sector´s responsibility for animal welfare and the environment, with program host Karen Frivik, Øyvind Håbrekke (the think tank Skaperkraft) and Lisa Bergan (corporate affairs director in Cermaq, one of the world´s biggest producers of farmed salmon).
Thursday, 11 October 2018
Today I had this autumn´s seventh writing day, writing some 1.400 words, most of which for the Biosemiotics editorial "Phenomenology and biosemiotics", but also some for "Human development, inequality and social risks in Latin America and the Nordic countries" and, marginally, "Wasted growth - Case study: The American nightmare". I had some 6-7 hours.
Wednesday, 10 October 2018
I have made plans for a writing trip to Copenhagen December 20-23rd. I will likely focus on revising "The epistemology of biosemiotics".
Here´s the Facebook event for Dyreetikkonferansen 2018, "Hvor like er mennesker og dyr?" (the Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference 2018, "How similar are humans and animals?"). For the seventh year, I am one of the organizers, now representing both Council for animal ethics and Minding Animals Norway.
I am contemplating applying, next autumn, for research leave at University of Stavanger for 12 months Autumn 2020 - Spring 2021, probably to write my long planned monograph Being and Sign.
Tuesday, 9 October 2018
Yesterday I attended, for the first time, Norway´s National academic council for philosophy and history of ideas (Nasjonalt fagråd for filosofi og idéhistorie), as University of Stavanger´s representative. The meeting took place in Kristiansand, at University of Agder. Something like 7-8 institutions all over Norway were represented. This meeting happens only once a year, and is responsible for proposing classification of journals and publishing houses at level 1 and 2 in the Norwegian publication point system, among other things.
Friday, 5 October 2018
Today I have entered University of Stavanger´s web publishing tool, CorePublish, for the first time for a couple of years or so, and uploaded a popular science summary of field work (in Norwegian) carried out as part of the research project "Animals in changing environments" (to Norwegian-version website only), specifically as part of the subproject "Representations (both Problematic and Romanticizing) of Large Mammals, especially Wolves".
Thursday, 4 October 2018
Today I had this autumn´s sixth writing day so far, with 7 hours devoted to focused academic writing. I added to the Biosemiotics editorial "Phenomenology and biosemiotics" and my article "Human development, inequality and social risks in Latin-America and the Nordic countries", and marginally to "Wasted growth: Case study - the American nightmare". Altogether I wrote some 1.700 words of text.
Wednesday, 3 October 2018
Below is my revised abstract for the forthcoming conference "Semiotics of hybrid natures: Anthropogenic ecosystems, multi modalities, transformed umwelten" (Tartu November 8-10th), where I will give a keynote lecture.
Current human ecology in light of Umwelt theory
Associate professor of philosophy, University of Stavanger
Umwelt theory is an expression of von Uexküll´s subjective biologyand as such it is usually applied in analysis of individual animals. However, Umwelt theory is fundamentally relational, and therefore also suitable for analysis of more complex wholes. Furthermore, depending on the level of generalization, Umwelt theory is also suitable for analysis of behavioral and experiential dynamics at a group level. A significant methodological advantage of Umwelt theory is that it is applicable with regard to both human and non-human experience and action within one of the same framework.
In our age, which many have come to call «the Anthropocene», the human species dominates many ecosystems, and has established a manifold of tightly controlled production systems and resource streams involving or affecting living creatures in both in-door and outdoor environments. In the Anthropocene discourse, the debate rages as to what level of human control is appropriate.
Big picture-notions and planetary perspectives are important, but so is the subjective animal perspective that von Uexküll emphasized. To what extent can these be combined? In this presentation, I will explore to what extent ecosemiotics can be applied in analysis of global human ecology. I will do this by portraying the human species as a global speciesthat gives rise to multiple ecologies built around our presence. I will further discuss climate change in its relation to changing patterns of biodiversity and animal behavior.
One can hardly overestimate the effect the human species has even on wildlife, both wittingly and unwittingly. Towards many species, we behave like an unsustainable super-predator, and we reserve a lot of land for our affiliated species. We furthermore affect the experience and behaviour of animals by causing environmental changes in land, water and air, by influencing prey densities and the occurrence of natural enemies, etc.
In the course of this presentation, I will apply notions such as Umwelt transition, Umwelt trajectory, Umwelt aggregate, andUmwelt alignment, in an attempt to outline some of the most important characteristics of contemporary human ecology. To understand our changing relations to living beings and nature, we must be aware of the different forms relations can take on e.g. for wild, liminal and domesticated animals.
To avoid getting lost in the semiosphere, I will anchor some of my analysis in a case study of human–animal relations in Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve in the Central Amazonas. This is a seasonal floodplain forest area surrounded by rivers in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. I will investigate human–human and human–animal interaction in the reserve, with a main focus on indigenous communities and their relations to two primate species, namely the red howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus) and the black-headed squirrel monkey (Saimiri vanzolinii).
Morten Tønnessen (born 1976) is Associate professor of philosophy at University of Stavanger´s Department of social studies. He has worked with Umwelt theory since his Master degree (University of Oslo 2002), and conducted his doctoral studies at University of Tartu (2011). Tønnessen has published extensively within biosemiotics and human-animal studies, and is currently President of the Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies and Main Editor-in-Chief of Biosemiotics. Academic (b)log: http://UtopianRealism.blogspot.com.
I have been informed that the committee that will consider my application for promotion to professor of philosophy has now formally been appointed. Their recommendation is due January 3rd 2019.
Today I have attended a Skype meeting involving an advisor from the Research Council of Norway (plus two advisors from University of Stavanger) where I was advised on CV, track record and application writing in relation to my forthcoming ERC Consolidator Grant application, due in February.
Tuesday, 2 October 2018
The English language stylesheet of Zeitschrift for Semiotik features two references to my research, based as examples.
Excerpt - example of block citation (pt. 3.7):
While there is no consensus on the terms “agent” and “agency”, most biosemioticians appear to agree that core attributes of an agent include goal- directedness, self-governed activity, processing of semiosis and choice of action (Tønnessen 2015: 139–140).
Excerpt - example of translated journal article (p.t. 5.2):
Uexküll, Jakob von (1917). Darwin und die englische Moral. Deutsche Rundschau 173, 215–242. English translation by Morten Tønnessen as: Uexküll, Jakob von (2013). Darwin and the English morality. Biosemiotics 6, 3, 449–471.