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Friday, 28 May 2010

References to Umwelt ethics in Deely's Semiotic animal

Yesterday I received by post John Deely's new book Semiotic animal: A postmodern definition of "human being" transcending patriarchy and feminism (St. Augustine's Press, 2010), where he refers to my 2003 article Umwelt ethics. In connection with one of the two mentions of that article, the Norwegian philosophers Jon Wetlesen and Arne Johan Vetlesen are referred to as well.
While Umwelt ethics is referenced in the historically layered references - p. 148 - a quote is represented on p. 107, and a further issue discussed pp. 108-109. The quote starts out the final chapter of the book, 'The Ethical Entailment of Semiotic Animal, or the Need to Develop a Semioethics'.

"Modern man" can indeed be said to have been "the animal that does not want to be an animal" [1. Tønnessen 2003: 287], that did not admit to its animality (at least not in its fullness, if at all), preferring [Nöth 2001: 283] "a Cartesian dualism between culture and nature which has opposed humans to the rest of the natural world for centuries". Of course, modern man to the end adhered to the illusion that "man" is a sufficiently comprehensive linguistic expression to designate the human species of animal as a whole, male or female!

Pp. 108-109:

The modern treatment of ethics [...] that is to say, the ethical discourse to which we have become accustomed, especially in the wake of the pathological "linguistic turn" within the Analytic tradition - requires its own transformative assimilation to befit the postmodern context. Nor is the point de depart for this assimilation of philosophy's past (not only modernity! but the middle Latin and Greek ages as well) far to seek. It must surely be in the development of Hoffmeyer's distinction, taken up by Tønnessen,[4] between "moral subject" and "moral agent", which at once enables and requires the postmodern thinker to extend the notion of a "right to moral consideration" on the part of moral agents beyond the realm of human interactions within culture to include the larger biosphere presupposed to [the] very existence and healthy development of (as Sebeok put it) "that miniscule segment of nature" modern thought has tended to "grandly compartmentalize as culture."

Footnote (pp. 108-109):
4. Hoffmeyer 1993: 152-176, esp. 164-166 (= 151-153 in the 1995 reprint) "Biosemiotics and the Question of Moral Subjects"; see further Tønnessen 2003, passim. Tønnessen's expressed reservations concerning Hoffmeyer's foundation, however (2003: 284n2), speaks rather in Hoffmeyer's favor than toward the narrower ethical purview that Tønnessen proposes. Both Hoffmeyer and Tønnessen draw in this discussion from Jon Wetlesen 1993. The point seems to be one coming into general recognition. Thus Arne Johan Vetlesen (1994: 3), announcing that he restricts "discussion of 'morality' to what obtains - or fails to obtain - between human subjects", yet asks the reader to "note that this does not imply that I hold only humans to have a moral standing". In the semioethic view - that is, a view of ethics stringently derived from semiosis itself precisely as involving the human - morality cannot be restricted only to what obtains or not between human subjects, but concerns also the actions and impact of human subjects upon the environment itself, both physical, biological, social, and cultural.

The only way is up (Kristiansand Zoo May 15th)

Zoo life (Kristiansand Zoo May 15th)

Behind the bars (Kristiansand Zoo May 15th)

Feeding of the wolves of Kristiansand Zoo (May 15th)

Friday, 21 May 2010

Bibliographical data for The global species

My article The global species (abstract here) is nearing publication in the British journal New Formations. I have just done proof reading. The article will appear in no. 69, pp98-110.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Hønefoss: Research seminar; green criminology and anthology on speciesism

I am on my way back from Hønefoss, not too far from Oslo, where I have spent 2-3 days at the 52nd research seminar of the Nordic Council for Criminology. Really nice. I am surprised how many common interests there were.
My paper "The legality and ethical legitimacy of wolf hunting in Scandinavia" was presented yesterday at 11.30-12 in a group session, with an audience of 20-25 people (almost half of all attendents). It was well received - though the paper presented before and after sparked more debate, due to their defense, vs. critique, of 'green criminology'/'eco-global criminology' as such.
Encountering green criminology for the first time, it strikes med how similar it is to other fields of 'green' this or that. It is really interesting to recognize ethical stands, rhetorical figures etc (here: 'crime' - if not 'justice' - applied in a metaphorical sense) that I am already well familiar with. From a critical point of view, I see there are statements made in green criminology that are based more in political stands than in academic analysis. Solid norms for such analysis, and for how crossdisciplinary findings can be integrated, would be of great value.
All papers presented at the research seminar - mine included - will be published in form of an online report at some point following submittance in mid-June.
I have made several contacts - among them criminologists Ragnhild Sollund (editor of Global harms: Ecological crime and speciesism) and Guri Larsen. Stepping out of the bus taking us back to Oslo, we agreed that the three of us will co-edit a Norwegian language anthology on speciesism and related issues.
Oh! I should also mention that yesterday, during the festive, 4-hour dinner, the three of us took part in a remake of Little Red Riding Hood - with me figuring as the wolf, Guri as the grandmother ("Eat me, I'm a green criminologist" Eat me, eat me, please!") and Ragnhild as Little Red Riding Hood ("Are you still hungry? Would you like to eat some more people? There's a kindergarten down the street, and a senior home in the neighbourhood...").

Friday, 7 May 2010

Academic news in brief VII

1. The last couple of weeks I have conducted two work papers (6-8pp) reviewing The tacit dimension and chapters of a forthcoming Polanyi-reader, as course work in the course "The philosophy of Michael Polanyi", which I am taking as a reading course. I have established contact with Phil Mullins, who has - along with my course teacher Walter Gulick - suggested Polanyi's article "Sense-giving and sense-reading" as a link to my interests. A further three work papers on Polanyi's work are in process.
2. Yesterday I finally finished reworking and rewriting my article 'I, wolf: The ecology of existence', with revisions prompted by the critique of David Abram and others. To appear in an anthology this year.

Judging by appearances, this article is divided into five parts – under the headings ‘The politics of wolves and sheep’, ‘Estranged, endangered, extinct’, ‘Human beings qua living beings – distinctive being vs. communal being’, ‘Man is not a sign’ and ‘In search of the wolf’s perspective’. But the reader could rightfully claim that but two topics are to be identified in the matrix of this text: The nature of the wolf, and the nature of man.3 These two topics are methodologically problematic for two different reasons: Man’s nature because we are the topic to be investigated, and can thus not judge it without bias; the wolf’s nature because we are not wolves and can thus not know firsthand what it is like to be a wolf.

3. My paper 'The legality and ethical legitimacy of wolf hunting in Scandinavia' has been scheduled for presentation in group 1 (one out of three in 'green criminology'), at 12.30, Tuesday May 11th at the 52nd research seminar of the Scandinavian Reseach Council for Criminology.

4. Two days ago, Wednesday May 5th, I went back and forth to Oslo in one day, and spent a couple of hours researching at the National Library (Nasjonalbiblioteket) in the process, logged in through their license for using LovData, a Norwegian database of laws and regulations.

5. Yesterday I was interviewed in the regional daily newspaper Fædrelandsvennen, in connection with three readings I will be doing today and tomorrow. Will be published tomorrow.

6. One of the readings is philosophical and will take place in a fair trade-shop in Kristiansand, as part of the event Kulturnatta. My theme: 'Frigjøring' [liberation] - May 8th happens to be both the day of liberation (WW2) and the international fair trade-day.

7. Meanwhile, we, the guest editors of Hortos Semioticus' special issue Semiotics of Nature, have been receiving full-length papers from contributors.

Letter to the editor on illegal bear hunt

April 17th I had a letter to the editor published in the Norwegian daily Nationen, entitled "Sivil ulydighet?" (Civil disobedience?), in response to Norwegian sheep farmers' public statements threatening to hunt bears illegally if they are not allowed to do so legally. Full text in my Norwegian language blog, Utopisk Realisme.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Steps to a semiotics of being published online

My article 'Steps to a semiotics of being' has been published online (April 30th), as part of the special issue of Biosemiotics 'Semiotics of perception'.
There's a 1p free preview for all - the full article is available after login only.
From Self to World
The Value of Nature
Umwelt Terminology
Concluding Remarks on Umwelt Mapping
Another article from the special issue that is now online is Wendy Wheeler's Delectable creatures and the fundamental reality of metaphor: Biosemiotics and animal mind.

Paper to Bergen conference/Analecta Husserliana

Yesterday I finished the full-length paper for my forthcoming presentation at the 60th international congress of phenomenology (Bergen, August 10-13), entitled 'Semiotics of being and Uexküllian phenomenology' - 20pp. Like the other papers, it will be considered for publication in Analecta Husserliana.
Uexküllian phenomenology
Eco-existentialism, eco-phenomenology, and semiotics of
  • a) The eco-existentialism of Peter Wessel Zapffe
  • b) The eco-phenomenology of David Abram and Ted
  • c) Semiotics of nature (biosemiotics, ecosemiotics,