Wednesday, 27 April 2011
Friday, 22 April 2011
From the morning session April 5th.
Monday, 18 April 2011
It is not clear whether I count as a regular member of the group, or rather as an associated contact.
The February workshop was an intensive, intimate three day discussion that brought together a range of guests from various disciplinary backgrounds. Growing out of a panel on ― Ethology and Continental Philosophy ― at the Minding Animals conference in Newcastle, 2009, it further developed the conversation at this border, as well as engaging with other related disciplines – including neuroscience, anthropology, sociology, film-making, Egyptology, zoömusicology and literary studies.
...Norwegian biosemiotician Morten Tønnessen illustrated his use and development of Jakob von Uexküll‘s Umwelt theory to understand contemporary wolf management....
The obvious profit so many took from the three days of discussion bodes well for future interdisciplinary collaboration and exchange at this crucial meeting point of philosophy, ethnology and ethology.
Thursday, 14 April 2011
As a member of the organizing team, I, as my colleagues, was impressed both by the good attendance and the overall quality of presentations and discussions. The whole event is proof of growing interest in a semiotic approach to animals, especially in the humanities. If there was one group we were missing, it was a larger presence of the biosemiotic community (and natural scientists). Just a handful of biosemioticians were present. Nevertheless the conference attracted more presenters and attendants than any Gathering in Biosemiotics has ever done to this date.
My roles at the conference included
* being a member of the organizing team (lead by Timo Maran)
* presenting "The Umwelt Trajectories of Wolves, Sheep and People" (April 6th, 14.30-15.00)
* chairing the roundtable "Futures of Zoosemiotics" (April 6th, 16.30-18.00)
* giving closing remarks (April 8th)
In the roundtable, Stephen Pain was not present (cf. earlier list of roundtable participants), whereas Aleksei Turovski was added. During the session Colin Allen raised a very pertinent question: Whether zoosemiotics can show to scientific results which could not have been achieved without a zoosemiotic approach. "Semiotics", he said, "has to stop talking about what it is and start talking about what it does."
Here's the topical presentation of the roundtable, as included in the abstract book:
Thomas Sebeok’s role as a founding father of zoosemiotics is unquestioned. On what points should his views be challenged? What is the proper relation of zoosemiotics to biosemiotics, and to ecosemiotics – and how does it compare with cognitive ethology and anthrozoology? Should zoosemiotics be understood as a meta-scientific discipline, as a program for ethology or the animal life sciences, or as a scientific enterprise in its own right? A general aim of semiotics of nature (biosemiotics, zoosemiotics, ecosemiotics etc.) is to help bridging the nature/culture divide and counteract the related compartmentalisation of science and scholarly studies. To what extent should human behavior be included as a study object of zoosemiotics? In particular, how are human-animal relations to be treated? What is the role of the individual subject in biology today – and tomorrow? How well is today’s zoosemiotics fitted to account for the changing global ecological reality?
Creed (from the introduction to the roundtable)
Semiotics of Animal Representations - update
Zoosemiotics email list - how to register
Zoosemiotic grant meeting
We also briefly discussed the prospects of a new grant, after the current one finishes next year. I signalled interest in taking part in such a grant, regardless of my job situation when that time comes.
Brief report from the conference Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations
The Semiotics of Animal Representations - update
Zoosemiotics email list - how to register
Tønnessen, Morten 2011. I, Wolf: The Ecology of Existence. Pp. 315-333 in Johannes Servan and Ane Faugstad Aarø (eds.): Environment, Embodiment and Gender, Bergen: Hermes TextThe publisher's presentation of the book reads like this:
Environment, Embodiment & Gender
An anthology on Man, Nature and the concepts of Nature
What can phenomenology do to clarify eco-philosophical matters? This essential question was the center of our attention during the conference ”Environment, Embodiment and Gender” hosted by the University of Bergen in 2008 in honor of the centennial of Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961). Inspired by the papers by Monika Langer, Ted Toadvine, Joanna Handerek and Kirsti Kuosa, among others, the idea of this anthology emerged and has developed from eco-phenomenology at its core, to encompass a broad range of environmental philosophy brought to life by the careful, phenomenological attention to the concrete living experience and the lifeworld. Together these essays constitute a handful of thought-provoking perspectives and ideas to ways of reforming our modern concept of nature – one of the greatest and most acute challenges of our time. Among the authors we find Charles Brown, David Abram, Gunnar Skirbekk, Claus Halberg, Fern Wickson and Svein Anders Noer Lie, and more.
Price 30 $ / 198,- NOK
Growth, global species articles offered by Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica on The global species
The article explores the historical process of globalisation by assessing the planet's colonisation by the proliferation of species. A established global "colonial organism" means the installation of an ecological empire, organized with Homo Sapiens as the ruling class with crop species, pets, and livestock enjoying positions of privilege. The landscape has been altered to accommodate the proliferation of different species, making the geographical spread of life forms much easier and on a global scale.
I did get some useful feedback - though my chronic habit of constructing new words is not to everyone's taste (but hey, that's exactly what Peirce did, to mention but one inspiring neologizing figure).
For those registered to the course, a 1000 word compulsory course paper is due April 20th.
Sunday, 10 April 2011
As we have embarked upon our half-millennial path to a truly sustainable society, debate still lingers as to whether or not a new civilization has begun, or is but in preparation. Arne Næss, for one, looked forward to the 22nd century, by which time the three great challenges of the 21st century (the ecological crisis, poverty, and overcoming war) would have been solved. How did it all play out? How did we reveal, resist and defeat the self-fulfilling prognoses of growth-trapped society?
Morten Tønnessen 2011. The Semioethics Interviews III: John Deely: Human Understanding in the Age of Global Awareness. Pp171-189 in Steven C. Hamel (ed.): Semiotics: Theory and Applications, New York: Nova Science Publishers.
The organizing committee is headed by Arne Næss' widow, Kit-Fai Næss, and consists of around 10 people.
What does "blindness with regard to meaning", as Jakob von Uexküll wrote about, mean today?
Do animals exist?
What is ethics in an age of extinction?
What is the role of science as we enter the sixth mass extinction in Earth history?
And how much does extinction matter, in a world of increasing global wealth, and longer human life expectancy than ever before?
By year 1700 10 % of our planet's land surface was used for producing food for humans. Today 1/3 is.
What is natural in a time of global anthropogenic environmental change?
What is a wild animal on a tamed planet?
What is a native animal in a time of climate change, seasonal shifts and enduring migration?
What is semiotics in a time of semiotic crisis? I think that globalization can be expressed as correlated trends of diversification and depletion of semiotic diversity. How do we preserve semiotic diversity?
Like Sartre, I believe that the human is a being that defines itself.
Unlike Sartre, I do not believe that others are hell.
I believe the question of the human is an empirical question.
I believe that what kind of creatures we will turn out to be is still an open question.
I believe that Man has not yet been defined.
I believe the past is still a living memory.
I believe in the reality of absence and meaninglessness in animal lives.
I believe in the reality of Umwelt, and semiosphere.
I believe authenticity and dignity is at stake, today, as always perhaps.
I believe the Anthropocene will one day end.
I believe history is not over.
I believe science has just begun.
I believe there are words that have not been spoken, thoughts that have not been thought, theories that have never been theorized (some of which are utter nonsense).
I believe there are worlds that have not been seen by any human eyes - some that one day will, others that never will.
I believe there is a time, and place, when the lines of history converge.
Email address: zoosemiotics [at] lists.ut.ee
To register, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "SUBscribe zoosemiotics [your name]" written in the subject field and nothing in the body of the message.
The email list will be moderated by Timo Maran.
Saturday, 9 April 2011
Judging by the names in the program, I am not sure whether there are other Norwegians coming to present than me (Dinda Gorlée is presenting, though, and she has a link to Norway). An embarassing fact.
Each respondent is asked to name up to 15 universities in four rounds, all within their own subject area (in my case philosophy): 1) the best universities regionally (in my case in Western Europe) in teaching, 2) the best universities regionally in research, 3) the best universities in teaching globally, and 4) the best universities in research globally. The reputational survey is the second stage of Thomson Reuters' process eventually resulting in Times Higher Education World University Rankings, preceding institutional data collection.
Thomson Reuters have now, I see, compiled a Top 100 World Reputation Ranking, based on last year's survey involving me and 13,387 other respondents. Six universities stand out: Harvard, MIT, University of Cambridge, University of California Berkeley, Stanford University and University of Oxford.
Here's a link to a list of all higher education institutions covered by the survey (and here to all in Western Europe).
See also What's the best university in Norway? and THE world ranking of universities.
Friday, 1 April 2011
Their Gmail Motion was launched today.
Note the date.
Imagine that Arne Naess and Gregory Bateson sat down together, each with his favorite tipple, to discuss their unique approaches to understanding human and non-human communication. Imagine that you were able to eavesdrop on their chat. What did you hear?