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http://utopianrealism.blogspot.com

2010
Blog Archive
 ▼ 2010 (217)
o ▼ December (20)
o ► November (25)
o ► October (31)
o ► September (24)
o ► August (17)
o ► July (3)
o ► June (5)
o ► May (12)
o ► April (20)
o ► March (25)
o ► February (11)
o ► January (24)

 ► 2009 (109)

 ► 2008 (41)

 ▼ December (20)
o Minding animals: Pre-Lecture Events news
o New York presentation confirmed
o MAO: First meeting carried out
o Norwegian HAS anthology: Book proposal submitted
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o Aberdeen conference on conservation conflicts


o Semiotics of Perception - issue, offprints receive...
o Mapping human impact approaching publication
o The southern wolf shot
o New Uexkull translations to be reviewed
o Oslo II - belated report
o Prospects for further wolf research?
o Existential universals - update
o SKANDULV seminar - belated 'report'
o MIA Oslo - first planning meeting
o Pictures from my field trip to Rendalen and Stor-E...
o Philosophy in antiquity exam
o Rendalen report
o 188 papers examined
o The wolf wars: Vision 2040
o References, green criminology
 ▼ November (25)
o Where is David Wood?
o Next: Examine 195- exam papers
o Teaching of antique philosophy completed
o Australia plans
o Oslo MIA event mentioned in newsletter
o Note on the Oslo MIA event
o Participation at conference to honour Peeter Torop...
o Regional media coverage - the Southern wolf
o Oslo Minding Animals event - update
o Presentation given at second zoosemiotic research ...
o Zoosemiotic grant meeting - roundtable plans
o Remaining credits - intensive course on semiotics ...
o Tartu visit, November 2010: Supervision
o Uexküllian Foray
o Abstract for the NY gathering in biosemiotics
o Abstract to Nordic semiotic conference: Perception...
o Biosemiotics special issue paginated
o Umwelt trajectories paper accepted and publication...
o Research summary
o First Norwegian wolf journal article in process
o Update on the Minding Animals event in Oslo
o Wolf chronicle
o Criminology publication - wolf hunting
o Biosemiotics special issue sent to printing
o Topic for zoosemiotic research seminar
 ▼ October (31)
o Nils Christie to comment talk on illegal wolf hunt...
o Wolf piece published today - chronicle around the ...
o Field trip to Hedmark in preparation
o Rodopi volume: Timeline; contents revision
o Nature launches climate change journal
o Field trips and research stays scheduled
o Chronicle on wolf management to appear in Ny Tid
o Philosophy in Antiquity: First class; exam plans
o Filosofisk Forum: Only next year
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o Acknowledged in Renata Sõukand's PhD thesis


o Proof-reading, indexing
o HAS anthology: Compilation of abstract book
o A not very flattering invitation
o Gatherings in Biosemiotics - NY
o Brief report from research visit/Oslo I
o Rodopi volume: The Semiotics of Animal Representat...
o Philosophy lecturer - philosophy in Antiquity
o Oslo animals
o Research visit: Oslo I
o Being an academic (3): Reporting
o State grant holder
o How is the University of Tartu ranked internationa...
o David Abram paper online
o Wolf videos - Langedrag mountain farm and wildlife...
o Pictures from Langedrag II
o Pictures from Langedrag I - wolf pics
o Participation in research project concluded
o Phenomenology paper revised
o 'The Umwelt trajectories of wolves, sheep and peop...
o Silent in Filosofisk forum
o What's the best university in Norway?
 ▼ September (24)
o Pics and videos from Langedrag
o Application for research project 2011-2016
o Summary report from Polar Zoo available online
o Acknowledged in David Abram's 'Becoming Animal: An...
o PDF, and bibliographical reference, for "Is a wolf...
o Multimodality anthology published
o Langedrag next
o "Is a wolf..." published in Humanimalia
o Formally done as research assistant
o Mapping human impact revised
o THE world ranking of universities
o Zoosemiotics abstract: Umwelt trajectories
o Philosophy pecha kucha-style
o Brief report from my visit in Estonia Sept. 5-9 (=...
o Bibliographical reference for Lotman piece
o 'Food vs. nature' declined AGAIN
o Pecha Kucha Night Oslo - record-brief history of p...
o Norwegian HAS anthology: Authors in process of bei...
o Minding Animals Pre-Conference Lectures in Oslo an...
o New research interests at Academia.edu
o Endorsing the CASSE position on economic growth
o Wolf history: Agents in hiding
o Animal agency presentation accepted
 ▼ August (17)
o Estonian-Norwegian Festschrift to appear September...
o Norwegian human-animal relations anthology in prog...
o Bibliographical references - 'Semiotics of nature'...
o Special Issue 'Semiotics of nature' published
o edu
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o About the international phenomenology congress in ...


o "Mapping human impact" to be revised
o References
o Zoosemiotics book review published
o Article for Signs
o Abstract for zoosemiotics conference in progress
o Most quoted biosemiotic works
o The Global Species published
o Arne Næss memorial piece
o Zoosemiotics conference: Updated CFP
o Chronicle on Southern wolf
o Academic news in brief X
 ▼ July (3)
o Read
o Academic news in brief IX
o Third semioethics interview approaching publicatio...
 ▼ June (5)
o Brief report from Braga
o Seagull drama (YouTube)
o Presentation at criminology seminar
o Web stats and most viewed at Scribd
o Academic news in brief VIII
 ▼ May (12)
o References to Umwelt ethics in Deely's Semiotic an...
o The only way is up (Kristiansand Zoo May 15th)
o Zoo life (Kristiansand Zoo May 15th)
o Behind the bars (Kristiansand Zoo May 15th)
o Feeding of the wolves of Kristiansand Zoo (May 15t...
o Bibliographical data for The global species
o Monkey business (Kristiansand zoo)
o Hønefoss: Research seminar; green criminology and ...
o Academic news in brief VII
o Letter to the editor on illegal bear hunt
o Steps to a semiotics of being published online
o Paper to Bergen conference/Analecta Husserliana
 ▼ April (20)
o Examiner, University of Stavanger
o Filosofisk Forum - looking back, and ahead
o Agents in hiding
o Wolf criminology
o Research assistant (+100)
o CV
o Wolf land online
o Introduction to special issue online
o Special issue "Semiotics of Perception" delayed
o Third semioethics interview finished, submitted an...
o GDP: Debate in The Economist
o Animal studies email list
o "Is a wolf..." revised and ready for publication
o Abstract: The legality and ethical legitimacy of w...
o Academic news in brief VI - Tartu/Tallinn events A...
o Minding Animals International (MAI)
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o Webpage for zoosemiotics conference (2011)


o ResearcherID profile
o Join James Hansen's email list!
o Philosophy/history of ethology workshop materializ...
 ▼ March (25)
o "Mapping human impact" considered unsuitable
o Abstract for "The global species"
o Academic news in brief V: Group dialogue, editing,...
o Academic news in brief IV: Group dialogue, network...
o Zoosemiotic research seminar April 2nd
o Bear video
o Biosemiotics
o Bear pics
o Tartu brochure online
o "We the living" accepted for presentation
o 6 more wolf videos - now up-close
o And the wolves they are a-fighting
o The king of the hill
o Wolf kisses
o Feeding the wolves of Polar Zoo
o Scary animals I met in Polar Zoo
o Wolf pics II
o Wolf pics 1
o Wolf videos
o Up North
o Semiotics of Perception progressing
o Topic for zoosemiotic seminar
o Festschrift to be published in June
o Summer Symposium on Sustainable Systems
o Town hall meeting on faith approaching
 ▼ February (11)
o Phu
o New biosemiotic webpage
o Biosemiotic collage
o Course on Polanyi
o Invitation to Sydney workshop on ethology
o Sign Systems Studies
o Visit scheduled with PolarZoo
o Call for papers: Semiotics of nature
o Mapping human impact delivered
o Global species revisited
o Philosophical consultation
 ▼ January (24)
o Society for Utopian Studies
o No Bodily phenomenology
o A couple of things
o Enlisted at doctoral school
o Lotman/Semiotics of technology
o New biosemiotic research project
o We the living - abstract to G10
o Announcement of zoosemiotics conference
o The global species
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o Animal play talk


o Bibliographical reference for animal play article
o Contribution to world phenomenology conference acc...
o Testemonial online
o Business
o Testemonial for UT brochure
o Joining the editorial board of Biosemiotics
o Contribution to the conference "Bodily Phenomenolo...
o Third semioethics interview confirmed
o Semioethics interview in Nova's semiotics antholog...
o Academic reports II
o David Abram release date(s)
o Academic reports
o Economist profiles
o The future on growth - on EconPapers

Existentialist electronica
 The Schopenhauer Experience music player

 My profile at Academia.edu
 CV (in English)
 Philosophy business [in Norwegian]

About Me

Morten Tønnessen

Kristiansand, Vest-Agder, Norway

Ph.D. student in semiotics at University of Tartu; and philosopher-for-hire. Utopist.

View my complete profile


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Brief academic CV
 1 PhD student at Department of Semiotics, University of Tartu
 2 Supervisor: Kalevi Kull (UT)
 3 Supplementary supervisor: Winfried Nöth (Universität Kassel/Catholic University of São
Paulo)
 4 Title of PhD thesis: "Umwelt Transition: Uexküllian Phenomenology. An Ecosemiotic
Analysis of Norwegian Wolf Management"
 5 Main researcher in the 2008-2010 research project "The Cultural Heritage of Environmental
Spaces. A Comparative Analysis Between Estonia and Norway" (EEA--ETF Grant EMP 54 -
participating until Sept. 30, 2010)
 6 A Principal Investigator in Timo Maran´s research project (2009-2012) "Dynamical
Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations" ( ETF/ESF 7790)
 7 Senior personnel (2010-2011) in Kalevi Kull's research project "Biosemiotic models of
semiosis" (ETF/EST 8403)
 8 Personnel in the Center of Excellence in Cultural Theory (CECT) semiotics research group
'Meaning-generation and transdisciplinary methodology of semiotic analysis of culture'
 9 Main organizer of the Tartu workshops on the semiotics/phenomenology of perception
(Feb. 2009)
 9.1 Guest-editor, with Kati Lindström, of special issue of Biosemiotics (3(3)), 'Semiotics of
Perception' (2010)
 9.2 Guest-editor, with Riin Magnus and Nelly Mäekivi, of special issue of Hortus Semioticus
(no. 6), 'Semiotics of nature' (2010)
 9.3 Member of the editorial board of the journal Biosemiotics
 9.4 Lecturer in the history of philosophy at University of Agder (UiA), autumn 2009
 9.5 Examiner (Examen Philosophicum) at University of Stavanger, 2009 - 2010
 9.6 Research assistant of the UiA research project "Multimodalitet, leseopplæring og
læremidler (MULL)", 2009-2010
 9.7 Lecturer of philosophy in Antiquity at University of Agder (UiA), autumn 2010

 My info in the Estonian Research Information System

Upcoming academic events


 6th European Society for Environmental History (ESEH) conference (Turku, 28 June - 2 July,
2011)
 Gatherings in biosemiotics 11 (New York, June 21-26, 2011)
 Minding Animals - Utrecht Pre-Conference Lecture - Oslo - October 14-15, 2011)
 Minding Animals 2 (Utrecht, July 1-7, 2012)
 Seventh Conference of the Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies (May 6-8, 2011)
 The course ´Semiotics and phenomenology´ (Department of Semiotics, University of Tartu,
spring 2011)
 Workshop: The History, Philosophy and Future of Ethology (Sydney, Australia, February 19-
21, 2011)
 Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations (Tartu, April 4-8, 2011)
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Past events
 Semiotics of Perception - special issue of BIOSEMIOTICS (vol. 3, no. 3 - December 2010)
 Kriminalpolitisk seminar (Oslo, November 11th)
 SI of Hortus Semioticus 'Semiotics of nature'
 The 60th International Congress of Phenomenology (Bergen, Aug. 10-13, 2010)
 Gatherings in Biosemiotics 10 (Braga, Portugal, June 22-27, 2010)
 52nd research seminar of the Scandinavian Research Council for Criminology: Globalization
in criminology (Hønefoss, May 10-12, 2010)
 Spatiality, memory and visualisation of culture/nature relationships: theoretical aspects
(Tallinn, October 22-24th 2009)
 10th World Congress in Semiotics (Spain, September 22-26, 2009)
 First World Congress on Environmental History (Copenhagen, August 4-8th 2009)
 Gatherings in Biosemiotics 9 (Prague, June 30th - July 4th 2009)
 Climate change: Global Risks, Challanges and Decisions (Copenhagen, March 2009)
 Workshop: The Ecology of Perception. Landscapes in Culture and Nature (2009)
 Workshop: Animal Minds (2009)
 What's wrong with nature? (2008)

Some related academic links


 Center of Excellence in Cultural Theory
 Conference: Zoosemiotics and animal representations
 Department of Semiotics (Tartu Ülikool)
 Dynamical zoosemiotics and animal representations (project)
 Homepage of David Rothenberg
 International Association for Environmental Philosophy (IAEP)
 International society for biosemiotic studies
 Jakob von Uexküll Centre (Tartu)
 Minding Animals International
 The Nordic Society for Phenomenology
 The UiA project "Multimodalitet, leseopplæring og læremidler"

Current research fields


 Biosemiotics and zoosemiotics
 Climate change
 Deep ecology (as developed by Arne Næss)
 Domestication
 Ecophilosophy and ecosemiotics
 Environmental ethics, semioethics
 Environmental history
 Environmentalism, activism
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 Epistemology
 Ontology
 Phenomenology (especially eco-)
 Philosophy of science (especially biology)
 Semiotic economy
 Wolf ecology and wildlife management

Further academic interests


 Demography
 Economy (especially historical, and future)
 Existentialism
 Political philosophy
 Semiotic threshold
 Technology studies
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Thursday, 23 December 2010


Minding animals: Pre-Lecture Events news
I have just received the second Minding Animals pre-conference events bulletin.

The first two events have now taken place - in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and in Sydney, Australia.
More info at the Pre-conference events page of MAI. No less than 30 cities are mentioned in the
second bulletin as potential event locations.
/

The Oslo event (now scheduled for October 14-15, 2011 and enveloping one and a half day of
program) is mentioned in the following fashion:

Oslo, Norway, 14 October, 2011


A one day conference examining human relationships with equines and canines:
Shared Worlds

I am further involved in what is now presented as the Fifth Event:


/
Fifth Event: Workshop, Sydney, Australia, 19 to 21 February, 2011
The History, Philosophy and Future of Ethology
/
The fifth event is an ISL-HCA funded International Collaborative Workshop with international
speakers including:
Dominique Lestel (ENS, France)
· Brett Buchanan (Laurentian, Canada)
· Gary Steiner (Bucknell, USA)
· Jeffrey Bussolini (CUNY, USA)
· Morten Tønnessen (Tartu, Estonia)

There will also be a number of local speakers and participants. It is a small but intensive
interdisciplinary workshop at the borders of animal behaviour science, the ecological humanities and
Continental philosophy, under the auspices of the Macquarie University Animals and Society Working
Group within the Centre for Research on Social Inclusion. Though space is limited, if you are working
in the history and philosophy of ethology and would like to participate, please contact Matthew
Chrulew at: mchrulew@gmail.com
/

Please note that a public lecture is also being planned; details of which may also be obtained by
contacting Matthew.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:15 0 comments


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Labels: Minding Animals, Minding Animals International, Sydney

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


New York presentation confirmed
My abstract ´Integrated biological individualism and the primacy of the individual level of biological
organization´ has been accepted as basis for a presentation at the 11th Gathering in biosemiotics, to
take place in New York June 22-26.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:38 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiotics, Gatherings in biosemiotics, integrated biological individualism, New York

Monday, 20 December 2010


MAO: First meeting carried out
The first, virtual meeting of the organizers of the Minding Animals Prelecture event in Oslo (MAO)
next year was carried out Thursday December 16th (I took part from Rio de Janeiro, where I am for a
month around Christmas). 2 and a half hour of chat...

-
Kristian Bjørkdahl is not joining us after all, but have in stead suggested Martin Lee Mueller, also of
Centre for Development and the Environment, who now has joined our organizing team (eco-
phenomenological, deep ecological master thesis, 2008: Symphony of Silences: A Journey Through a
Multicentric World).
-
The MAO event will now for sure span over 2 days, October 14-15, 2011. The task for the participants
for Saturday October 15th will be to work out and compose a manifesto on the relationship between
academia and activism with regard to human-animal relations.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:24 0 comments

Labels: academia and activism, Centre for Development and the Environment, deep ecology, eco-
phenomenology, HAS manifesto, manifesto, MAO, Minding Animals, multicentrism, Oslo, Rio de
Janeiro

Norwegian HAS anthology: Book proposal submitted


The book proposal for our Norwegian Human-Animal Studies anthology work-titled ´Der natur møter
kultur: Mennesket og andre dyr´ has been submitted to Gyldendal Dokumentar, and is currently
pending feedback. Meanwhile, Svenn Arne Lie has withdrawn from the book project and Aksel
Nærstad is joining us.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:18 0 comments

Labels: Anthology, Der natur møter kultur, Gyldendal Dokumentar, HAS


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Aberdeen conference on conservation conflicts


The conference Conservation Conflicts: Strategies for coping with a changing world (ACES 2011) will
take place in Aberdeen, Scotland, August 22-24 2010. Looks really interesting. A call for papers is due
January 16th. The design of the conference, which is organized by the Aberdeen Centre for
Environmental Sustainability, is interdisciplinary and spans over both natural and social sciences.

Five themes are included:

1. Understanding conflicts

2. Case studies in species conflicts

3. Case studies in protected area conflicts

4. Case studies in land use/ecosystem services conflicts

5. Approaches to managing conflicts

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:00 0 comments

Labels: Aberdeen, ACES, conferences, conflict studies, conservation, environmental change,


sustainability, wildlife conservation

Saturday, 11 December 2010


Semiotics of Perception - issue, offprints received
A few days ago I received the special issue of Biosemiotics Semiotics of Perception, for which I am a
guest editor along with Kati Lindström, in the mail.

And today I received the offprints of my single-authored articles in that issue, "Wolf land" and "Steps
to a semiotics of being". The latter in particular means a lot to me.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:57 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiotics, editing, editorship, offprints, Semiotics of perception, Steps to a semiotics of


being, Wolf land

Mapping human impact approaching publication


I have received my article "Mapping human impact: Expanding horizons - Interdisciplinary
integration", an outcome of the second CECT autumn seminar, for checking of language editing and
technical editing. This is due early January at the latest.

The proceedings will appear next spring.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:51 0 comments

Labels: CECT, editing, mapping human impact, proceedings, Umwelt mapping


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The southern wolf shot


A few days ago the Southern wolf that I have previously posted about here in Utopian Realism - and
commented in the Norwegian regional daily Fædrelandsvennen (and written a chronicle about in the
same newspaper) - was shot dead in Lyngdal municipality in the region of Vest-Agder, according to
media reports.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:47 0 comments

Labels: Fædrelandsvennen, Norway, Norwegian wolf management, Southern wolf, wolf hunting

New Uexkull translations to be reviewed

Around the time of my visit to Tartu the last week of November I received the news that a new
translation of Jakob von Uexküll has just been published:

A FORAY INTO THE WORLDS OF ANIMALS AND HUMANS, with A Theory of Meaning
By Jakob von Uexküll
Translated by Joseph D. O'Neil
Introduction by Dorion Sagan
Afterword by Geoffrey Winthrop Young
University of Minnesota Press | 280 pages | 2010

The book is published as volume 12 of the Posthumanities series.

It is neither the first nor the last time these texts are translated, but it will be interesting to compare
it with both the originals (Bedeutungslehre and Streifzüge durch die Umwelten von Tieren und
Menschen) and the other existing translation of each text.

I have now scheduled with my supervisor Kalevi Kull that I will, as an assignment for the doctoral
seminar of autumn 2010, carry out a review of the translation (whether for publication or not).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:36 0 comments


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Labels: Bedeutungslehre, Jakob von Uexküll, posthumanities, Streifzüge, translations, Umwelt theory

Oslo II - belated report


November 11th I gave my talk 'Ulovlig jakt på ulv' (Illegal wolf hunting) in Kriminalpolitisk seminar in
Oslo (University of Oslo), cf. preliminary posts. About an hour - followed by remarks by professor
emeritus Nils Christie, and general discussion. There were perhaps 30 people in the audience, and
the discussion was engaged and lively, not least since Christie positioned himself - at least initially - as
somewhat 'anti-wolf'. He interpreted the 'wolf wars' as a social (i.e. human-human) conflict, and
sided with the weak part, which he took to be rural wolf antagonists. Interestingly, Christie accepted
my portrayal of the wolf as a symbol for other rural and agricultural hardships - but we disagree on
whether or not it makes any sense to 'give the wolf antagonists this victory' (getting rid of the wolf).
In my analysis, it wouldn't change the underlying frustration with current developments, and so
would be a shallow solution in the sense of Arne Næss' deep ecology; in Christies, "they deserve it".
We agreed, however, on the topic of illegal wolf hunting, that it would be a good sign, and further
the public debate on wolf management, if those who partake in poaching of wolves could step
forward and admit to, and defend, what they do.

In addition to giving the abovementioned presentation, I


* met with eco-criminologists Ragnhild Sollund and Guri Larsen concerning our human-animal
relations anthology in-progress
* spent some time at Gentle Actions, meeting with David Rothenberg, David Abram and Per Ingvar
Haukeland
* met my colleague in edutainment François Sibbald (our conference concept ARC (Authority - role -
communication) - is in progress and scheduled for release early next summer).

I was, that time around, in Oslo Nov. 10-12.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:17 0 comments

Labels: 2011, Arne Næss, criminology, deep ecology, green criminology, HAS, illegal hunting,
Kriminalpolitisk seminar, Nils Christie, Oslo, philosophical comedy, philosophy business, the wolf as
symbol

Prospects for further wolf research?


As mentioned previously I am involved in an application for a 2011-2016 research project on
Environmental semiotics, based at University of Tartu's Department of Semiotics. The last few weeks
I have pondered about what I could do, if it proves successful (and if my role as a researcher is
confirmed).

There's plenty of meaningful work to be done - including, on the travel scene, visits to destinations in
Norway, Sweden, Estonia and beyond (Yellowstone, Wolf park, Alaska, Canada, Russia).

So far I have been working with wolves (some of them being more cooperative than others) since
2006.
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Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:09 0 comments

Labels: Alaska, Canada, Department of semiotics, environmental semiotics, Estonia, Norway, Russia,
Sweden, Tartu semiotics, University of Tartu, wolf studies, Yellowstone

Existential universals - update


Transcending Signs - Essays around Eero Tarasti's existential semiotics is in progress. My contribution,
"Existential universals - biosemiosis and existential semiosis", is now pending re-submission OR
revision, depending on my decision. This is due January 15th.

The editors of the book, to be published by Mouton de Gruyter, are Paul Forsell and Rick Littlefield.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:01 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiosis, Eero Tarasti, existential semiosis, existential semiotics, Existential universals,
Transcending Signs

SKANDULV seminar - belated 'report'


In mid-November I was planning to go to Trondheim for a research stay, but got the chance to
partake in the annual research seminar of SKANDULV, the Scandinavian wolf project, so I went there
instead (Nov. 15-18). The seminar took place at Strömsbergs säteri & konferens close to Västerås, an
hour's drive from Stockholm.

At the seminar, I gave a talk entitled 'En økosemiotisk analyse av norsk ulveforvaltning' (An
ecosemiotic analysis of Norwegian wolf management). I also got the chance to meet a lot of wolf
ethologists whose work I had previously only read, not heard presented in person.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:49 0 comments

Labels: ecosemiotics, Norwegian wolf management, Scandinavian wolf management, SKANDULV,


Stockholm, Strömsberg, Sveden, Västerås

MIA Oslo - first planning meeting


The individual organizers of the Oslo Minding Animals pre-conference event now counts four: Rhys
Evans, me, green criminologist Rune Ellefsen and Kristian Bjørkdahl (PhD project: The dog and the
hog and a world of difference: Pragmatism and human-animal relations).

We'll have our first, virtual planning meeting next week.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:42 0 comments

Labels: 2011, dogs, hogs, human-animal relations, Minding Animals, Oslo


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Pictures from my field trip to Rendalen and Stor-Elvdal

The book store at Koppang, Stor-Elvdal - "read about handicapped Emilie and her dramatic fight for
survival in the wilderness of Østerdalen".
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Koppangtunet hotel, Stor-Elvdal.

Rendalen municipality house (Bergset, Rendalen).

The public library at Koppang, Stor-Elvdal.


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Rendalen (Åkrestrømmen).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:32 0 comments

Labels: animal representations, handicapped moose, Hedmark, Norwegian wolf management,


Rendalen, Stor-Elvdal, survival

Philosophy in antiquity exam


This Monday I prepared the exam questions for this year's exam in Philosophy in antiquity at the
University of Agder. The exam takes place Monday 13th.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:26 0 comments

Labels: Antikkens filosofi, exam, Philosophy in Antiquity, University of Agder

Rendalen report
I have not yet reported from my field trip to Rendalen municipality in the Norwegian region of
Hedmark, cf. post on plans (but the visit has already triggered both reflection and academic
production, cf. my article 'Visjon 2040' and my research seminar presentation on the nature view and
worldview of people in Rendalen).

The trip took place October 28 - November 2nd. The most important work carried out consisted in
conducting 8 interviews, with:

• RENDALEN municipality

• Major

• Head of section for planning and business

• Consultant, agrigulture
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• STOR-ELVDAL municipality

• Head of section for planning and business

• Head of RENDALEN REN (reindeer)

• Sheep farmer (and NGO representative), Rendalen

• Former sheep farmer couple, Rendalen

• State licenced wolf hunter, Stor-Elvdal

In Rendalen, I was particularly pleased to hear about ROSAREN, a project designed to look into the
potential for local business dependent on, or not in conflict with, the presence of big carnivores
including wolves.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:14 0 comments

Labels: field trip, Hedmark, interviews, Norwegian wolf management, PhD studies, Rendalen,
ROSAREN, The cultural semiotic of wolves and sheep

188 papers examined


This morning I finished examining 188 exam papers for the University of Stavanger, in the subject
Examen Philosophicum (Ex.Phil - introductory philosophy) - cf. previous post. Last year this time of
year I examined 155+11=166 papers, this year it was 179+9 (home exam papers + school exam
papers), all together 22 more (all in all a pile of about half a meter).

The topic was the knowledge theories of Aristotle, Descartes and Hume, and their potential
applicability in nursing.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:10 0 comments

Labels: Aristotle, Descartes, Ex.phil., Examen philosophicum, Hume, University of Stavanger

The wolf wars: Vision 2040


The article-in-the-making I referred to a month ago, "Visjon 2040: Fra overlagt rovdrift til Utopi
Buane" was finished, as a first draft at least, December 3rd (30.000 characters). Samtiden, the
Norwegian general journal, once again responded quickly. They welcome a second, revised version of
the text. If the revision goes according to plan (to be submitted early January), the article can
hopefully be published in issue 2 or 3 of 2011.

Contents
* En hybrid forteller
* De to Norger
* Rendalen og verden
* Konspirasjon og kunnskap
20

* To natursyn
* Nederlagets symboler
* Levende bygder - på trygd
* Sannheten om sau og ulv
* Fra status quo til hva nå?
* Ikke mer skjebnetro!
* Rasjonelt og rasjonelt, fru Blom
* Rikdommens paradokser
* Norge 2040 (Utopi Buane)

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:52 0 comments

Labels: Buane, Rendalen, Samtiden, Utopia, Visjon 2040, wolf wars, wolves and sheep

References, green criminology


My article The legality and ethical legitimacy of wolf hunting in Scandinavia is mentioned as one out
of six articles in 'øko-global kriminologi' (eco-global criminology) from a NsFK research seminar report
on the Nordic eco-global criminology site.

The latest Nordic green criminology newsletter, administered by Rune Ellefsen, mentions these six
articles indirectly and also the Oslo Minding Animals event to take place October 14th, 2011.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:23 0 comments

Labels: criminology, eco-global criminology, green criminology, illegal hunting, Minding Animals,
Scandinavian wolf management, wolf hunting

Monday, 29 November 2010


Where is David Wood?
Some time back i answered to a call for contributions to eco-phenomenologist David C. Wood's new
chronopod, to be placed in the Amazones - but I have not heard from him since.

Reported missing:
* My song "Herfra til ingensteder" [From here to nowhere]
* Its lyrics
* My song "Alene (på en stein i mørket)" [Alone (on a stone in the dark)]
* Its lyrics
* An original illustration of my own making - of a 'global ontological map'

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:41 0 comments

Labels: Amazones, chronopod, David Wood, eco-phenomenology, ecoart, Ontological map, the
Schopenhauer Experience
21

Next: Examine 195- exam papers


A day or two from now I will start examining a number of exam papers in introductory philosophy for
the University of Stavanger. I have been told there are 195 students registered all in all, a bit more
then last year. They met for a school exam - or delivered their home exam - November 26th, three
days ago.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:36 0 comments

Labels: Ex.phil., examiner, introductory philosophy, University of Stavanger

Teaching of antique philosophy completed


November 18th I taught the sixth and last class of philosophy in antiquity at the University of Agder.
A 'sluttevaluering' (final evaluation, by the students) was carried out the same day.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:32 0 comments

Labels: Antikkens filosofi, Philosophy in Antiquity, philosophy lecturer, teaching, University of Agder

Australia plans
The title of my talk at the international collaborative workshop on the history and philosophy of
ethology, to take place in Sydney February 19-21, will be "Bad dog: An Uexküllian Analysis of
Norwegian Wolf Management". 45 min.

I have arranged flight tickets - will be leaving Europe February 15th and return March 4th (in
Australia February 17th - March 3rd). The workshop organizers provide me with accommodation in
Sydney for February 17-22, the remaining 9 days I intend to spend in the Blue Mountains, working on
completing my thesis.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:26 0 comments

Labels: 2011, Australia, Bad dog, Blue Mountains, Ethology, Norwegian wolf management, PhD
thesis, philosophy of ethology, Sydney, Uexküll

Oslo MIA event mentioned in newsletter


Minding Animals International has issued its first newsletter before the 2012 Utrecht conference
(MAC2 Newsletter 1). The Oslo Pre-lecture event is therein officially listed as one of the events taking
place in October 2011, along with related events in New York, Rennes, Uppsala, London (twice),
Christchurch, and Utrecht.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:21 0 comments

Labels: 2011, 2012, Minding Animals International, pre-conference events, Utrecht

Note on the Oslo MIA event


I am mentioning the October 2011 Oslo Minding Animals Pre-lecture Conference event with irregular
intervals. As for the roundtable on the shared worlds of people and wolves, I will be its facilitator
(and Rhys Evans for the one on people and horses).
22

Following the coordinating efforts of MIA's convenor Rod Bennison, we have agreed to move the
event from the originally planned October 25th, 2011, to Friday October 14th.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:16 0 comments

Labels: Minding Animals, Minding Animals International, Oslo, pre-conference events, roundtable,
shared worlds

Participation at conference to honour Peeter Torop


November 26-27 I was present at the international conference Culture in Mediation: Total
Translation, Complementary Perspectives, which was arranged here in Tartu at the occasion of
professor Peeter Torop's 60-year birthday. Present were also a number of outstanding semiotic
names. For my own part it was not least an opportunity to meet Dinda Gorlée for the very first time,
and Winfried Nöth for the second time (first time in Europe).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:11 0 comments

Labels: Dinda L. Gorlée, Peeter Torop, semiotics, Winfried Nöth

Regional media coverage - the Southern wolf


Tuesday November 23rd I was featured in the regional Norwegian newspaper Fædrelandsvennen
under the heading "Vil gi ulven plass i Agder" [Wants to give the wolf space in Agder]. Whole page,
including excerpts from the daily's online debate and a comment from Helge Fossen, a NGO
representative.

The journalist Tarald Reinholt Aas generously allowed me to publish the uncut version of the
interview text in my Norwegian language blog Utopisk Realisme. There I have further posted a reply
to Helge Fossen ("Hva er en sau verdt?" [How much is a sheep worth?]).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:04 0 comments

Labels: Agder, Fædrelandsvennen, interview, media, Norwegian wolf management, Southern wolf

Oslo Minding Animals event - update


The University of Tartu's Department of Semiotics by Dynamical Zoosemiotics and Animal
Representations, a research project where I partake, has become an affiliated institution for the
upcoming Minding Animals Pre-Conference Lecture Oslo event.

Eco-criminologist Rune Ellefsen joins the organizing team.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:58 0 comments

Labels: Department of semiotics, Dynamical zoosemiotics and animal representations, Minding


Animals International, Oslo, University of Tartu
23

Presentation given at second zoosemiotic research seminar


Today at 10.30-11 I presented 'The nature view and worldview of people in Rendalen municipality in
the region of Hedmark', based on my field trip(s) this autumn, in the 2nd Research Seminar of
Dynamical Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations.

There were five other talks - by my colleagues Timo Maran, Jelena Grigorjeva, Kadri Tüür, Silver
Rattasepp and Nelly Mäekivi.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:54 0 comments

Labels: Dynamical zoosemiotics and animal representations, Hedmark, nature view, Norwegian wolf
management, Rendalen

Zoosemiotic grant meeting - roundtable plans


Today after the research seminar in Dynamical Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations, we had a
grant meeting, the six of us. Next spring's conference naturally topped the agenda. We agreed on
what responsibility each one of us will have, and I was asked to lead a roundtable scheduled for April
6th, 2011 (preliminary at 16.30-18.00), with the topic 'Futures of Zoosemiotics'. I will have to come
up with names for the roundtable, and prepare a set of questions for discussion.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:49 0 comments

Labels: Dynamical zoosemiotics and animal representations, Futures of Zoosemiotics, grant meeting,
roundtable, Zoosemiotics and Animal representations

Remaining credits - intensive course on semiotics and phenomenology


During this last year of my PhD studies, I have to get the credits I am still missing. Concrete
assignments are now about to be given to me. Will involve some reading, an unknown, plus a
presentation of my thesis work in the Department's doctoral seminar next spring.

And: I will be giving an intensive course next term, perhaps in March, worktitled "Semiotics and
phenomenology". This is to get required credits in Teaching Practice. Details will follow. Readings will
include Peirce, Uexküll, Husserl and Merleau-Ponty.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:44 0 comments

Labels: applied semiotics, assignments, credits, phenomenology, semiotic phenomenology, teaching,


Uexküllian phenomenology

Tartu visit, November 2010: Supervision


It is the last day of my latest visit to Tartu, which envelops 23-30 November. I am satisfied and tired.
The visit pretty much started out with a 3-4 hour supervision session with my supervisor Kalevi Kull.
We discussed my tentative notions of integration vs. segregation (vs. assimilation) as competing
management models... And he criticised my notion of the 'independent' vs. 'dependent' viability of
wildlife populations on the grounds that it reproduces the nature/culture distinction. Useful
discussion.

The department is vivid as ever with two classes of international master students...
24

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:37 0 comments

Labels: supervision, Tartu, Tartu semiotics, wildlife management models

Uexküllian Foray
It was only yesterday that I discovered that a new translation of Uexküll has been published by
University of Minnesota Press, in the Posthumanities series (volume 12). The book is entitled A Foray
into the Worlds of Animals and Humans - with A Theory of Meaning, and envelops - surprise surprise
- Streifzüge plus Bedeutungslehre. I am looking forward to check out the translation (which has been
carried out by Joseph D. O'Neil).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:31 0 comments

Labels: Bedeutungslehre, Jakob von Uexküll, posthumanities, Streifzüge, Theory of meaning

Sunday, 28 November 2010


Abstract for the NY gathering in biosemiotics
I have completed and submitted an abstract for the 11th international gathering in biosemiotics,
which will for the first time take place outside Europe - in New York, June 21-26 2011.

Integrated biological individualism and the primacy of the individual level of biological
organization

Morten Tønnessen, Department of Semiotics – University of Tartu

In ‘Umwelt Transitions: Uexküll and Environmental Change’ (Biosemiotics 2.2) I introduced the notion
of integrated biological individualism, according to which the individual, or more precisely
organismic, level should occupy the centre—the middle ground—of methodology in the life sciences,
at the crossroad where the somatic realm encounters the ecological one. The term was then included
in a broader programmatic treatment in ‘Steps to a Semiotics of Being’ (Biosemiotics 3.3). From the
standpoint of the individual, or organism, we can describe how an individual organism is constituted
as a biological body, as well as how nature as a global ecological system is constituted by individual
organisms and their interrelations. Nature, then, is a body of bodies (the ultimate superorganism);
and any individual self is by its nature a social self – through its interrelation with others, a self is
always bigger than itself.

In this paper I will expand upon the notion of integrated biological individualism by relating it more
explicitly to the suggested primacy of the individual level of biological organization. As Anton Markoš
remarks (Readers of the Book of Life: Contextualizing Developmental Evolutionary Biology (2002): 29),
life “proceeds synchronously on innumerable space, time, and organizational levels. Nothing on any
single level can reveal its essence”. Yet, it remains that a biological science with no concern for, or
interest in, the living themselves (qua living beings – at the level of the individual) would be deeply
problematic. There is no doubt that the ‘genetic turn’ in biology has been successful in terms of
scientific understanding, but the new microscopic realm that has opened up to us has simultaneously
25

induced us to neglect the ‘life-size’ realm. What future can we envision for the critical task of Umwelt
mapping?

After a general introduction to this topic matter I will introduce an original, tentatively all-inclusive
model of various levels of biosemiosis. According to this model there are six levels of biosemiosis,
falling under three broader categories.

CATEGORIES // PRIMARY REALM // PRIMARY FIELD OF SEMIOTICS OF NATURE

SUB-PERCEPTUAL SEMIOSIS = MICROSCOPIC SEMIOSIS // Somatic // Biosemiotics

Intra-cellular semiosis

Inter-cellular semiosis

PERCEPTUAL SEMIOSIS = ORGANISMIC SEMIOSIS // Social // Zoosemiotics

Intra-organismic semiosis

Inter-organismic semiosis*

Extra-organismic semiosis

SUPER-PERCEPTUAL SEMIOSIS = MACROSCOPIC SEMIOSIS // Ecological // Ecosemiotics

Super-organismic semiosis*

* social proper, in the sense of involving several individuals

The tripartite model is relevant for simple and complex life forms alike (though in the case of very
simple – non-social – creatures it collapses into a two-category model). As it demonstrates,
perception is at the core of biosemiosis, even though not all biosemiosis is perceptual, and even
though perception constitutes but one level (or layer) of biosemiosis. The standing of perception is
intimately tied to the standing of the individual. With such an overall model of biosemiosis, the
individual organism (and its lifeworld) is methodologically placed at the center of biological research.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:45 0 comments

Labels: abstract, Biosemiosis, conferences, Gatherings in biosemiotics, genetic turn, integrated


biological individualism, methodology of the life sciences, New York, semiosis, sociality, theoretical
biology

Abstract to Nordic semiotic conference: Perception and the levels of biosemiosis


I have just completed and submitted the following abstract, for the Seventh Conference of the Nordic
Association for Semiotic Studies (NASS) (with the thematic title "Towards Cognitive Semiotics. A
semiotic perspective on cognition - A cognitive perspective on semiotics") - to take place in Lund,
Sweden, May 6-8 2011:
26

Perception and the levels of biosemiosis

Morten Tønnessen, Department of Semiotics – University of Tartu

This paper will dwell on the presentation of an original, tentatively all-inclusive model of various
levels of biosemiosis, aiming at a treatment first and foremost of perception. According to this model
there are six levels of biosemiosis, falling under three broader categories.

CATEGORIES // PRIMARY REALM

SUB-PERCEPTUAL (MICROSCOPIC) SEMIOSIS // Somatic

Intra-cellular semiosis

Inter-cellular semiosis

PERCEPTUAL (INDIVIDUAL) SEMIOSIS // Social

Intra-organismic semiosis

Inter-organismic semiosis*

Extra-organismic semiosis

SUPER-PERCEPTUAL (MACROSCOPIC) SEMIOSIS // Ecological

Super-organismic semiosis*

* social proper, in the sense of involving several individuals

The tripartite model is relevant for simple and complex life forms alike (though in the case of very
simple – non-social – creatures it collapses into a two-category model). As it demonstrates,
perception is at the core of biosemiosis, even though not all biosemiosis is perceptual, and even
though perception is but one level (or layer) of biosemiosis. The standing of perception is tied to the
standing of the individual. With such a model of biosemiosis, the individual organism (and its
lifeworld) is methodologically placed at the center of biological research.

Such a perception-oriented model of biosemiosis has implications for cultural studies as well. Applied
on humans, it evokes a perspective in which the human mind, or soul – as Plato and Aristotle would
have it, but in a radically different sense – partakes in three realms. Perceptual semiosis (which is
‘social’ in the primal sense of being related to the active navigating of an individual) is grounded in
somatic semiosis, and interacting with a yet higher (more complex) level, namely that of
superorganisms – e.g., society, or an animal population. It is on this highest, more-than-individual
level that society’s often indiscernible yet absolutely principal influence on how individual members
of society carry out their lives is to be located.
27

According to the abovementioned tripartite model of the levels of biosemiosis, cells and organisms
(individuals, where applicable) are the primary substances of the biological world, though there are
also larger wholes. It may perhaps shed new light on the notions of endosemiosis and exosemiosis,
which is usually conceived of as semiosis that is internal and external to the body respectively. In our
tripartite model, the boundary between ‘the outer’ and ‘the inner’ is in flux depending on the level of
biosemiosis considered. It is thus possible to argue that endo- and exo-semiosis occurs both at the
somatic level and the social level, and that in a global ecological perspective all semiosis is ultimately
endosemiosis.

This comprehensive model will be supplemented by a simple model of the interrelations of the sign-
relation phenomena of signification, communication and representation in a conceptualized Umwelt.
Depending on whether the dominant cognitive processing (if dominated it be) is of a significational,
communicational or representational nature, some people will perceive in a way that is dominantly
based on immediate (unmediated) perception, social perception (included herein extremist
autocommunicative perception) or symbolic perception – though most well-functioning individuals
are more balanced.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:19 0 comments

Labels: abstract, Biosemiotics, cognitive semiotics, conferences, endosemiosis, exosemiosis, levels of


biosemiosis, Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies (NASS), perception

Friday, 19 November 2010


Biosemiotics special issue paginated
The special issue of Biosemiotics "Semiotics of perception" (= Biosemiotics 3.3) is very soon to appear
in print, and has now been paginated. Subscribers (individual as well as institutional) can now access
the articles in paginated form online - and until November 30th non-subscribers can get trial free
access. Altogether the 10 contributions of the special volume has been paginated as pp. 257-392 of
volume 3 (136 pages).

Contents:

257-261 Kati LINDSTRÖM and Morten TØNNESSEN: Introduction to the Special Issue Semiotics of
Perception: Being in the World of the Living - Semiotic Perspectives

263-275 David ABRAM: The Discourse of the Birds

277-287 Wendy WHEELER: Delectable Creatures and the Fundamental Reality of Metaphor:
Biosemiotics and Animal Mind

289-297 Morten TØNNESSEN: Wolf Land

299-313 Renata SÕUKAND and Raivo KALLE: Plant as Object within Herbal Landscape: Different Kinds
28

of Perception

315-329 Timo MARAN: Why Was Thomas A. Sebeok Not a Cognitive Ethologist? From "Animal Mind"
to "Semiotic Self"

331-345 Ane FAUGSTAD AARØ: Merleau-Ponty's Concept of Nature and the Ontology of Flesh

347-357 Kalevi KULL: Ecosystems are Made of Semiosic Bonds: Consortia, Umwelten, Biophony and
Ecological Codes

359-373 Kati LINDSTRÖM: Autocommunication and Perceptual Markers in Landscape: Japanese


Examples

375-393 Morten TØNNESSEN: Steps to a Semiotics of Being

In this issue I have co-edited 136 pages, written 27 pages on my own and co-written 5 pages
(altogether taken part in the writing of 32 pages).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:51 0 comments

Labels: Being in the world of the living, Biosemiotics, editorship, Semiotics of perception, special
issue, Steps to a semiotics of being, Wolf land

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


Umwelt trajectories paper accepted and publication thereof invited
My paper "The Umwelt trajectories of wolves, sheep and people" (cf. previous posts) has been
formally accepted for presentation at the conference Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations
(Tartu, April 2011), and invited for inclusion in the related special issue of Semiotica on zoosemiotics,
which is to appear in the autumn of 2012. As for the latter, a full-length text is due by May 20th
2011.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:23 0 comments

Labels: conferences, Semiotica, Tartu conference, Umwelt, Umwelt trajectory, wolves and sheep,
Zoosemiotics and Animal representations

Research summary
A few days ago I wrote a 1-2p summary of my sub-project partaking in the research project The
Cultural Heritage of Environmental Spaces. It will appear as published eventually.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:14 0 comments

Labels: cultural heritage, Reports, research project


29

First Norwegian wolf journal article in process


I have described an idea for an article on Norwegian wolf conservation and agricultural policies for
the editor of Samtiden, Norway's biggest general academic journal (dedicated to matters of politics,
literature and society). Getting the response that it might be of interest for them, I have started
writing it, and given it the preliminary title "Visjon 2040: Fra rovdrift til Utopi Buane" [Vision 2040:
From /untranslatable/ to Utopia Buane]. I hope to finish a first draft this weekend.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:07 0 comments

Labels: agriculture, future of agriculture, Norwegian wolf management, rural policies, Samtiden,
Visjon 2040, wolf conservation

Update on the Minding Animals event in Oslo


Plans for the Oslo event in the Utrecht pre-conference lecture series of Minding Animals
International is progressing. Today I talked by phone for the first time with Rhys Evans of the Equine
Research Network and The Norwegian University College for Agriculture and Rural Development. The
two are us are for now the only members of the organizing team. We are currently writing a memo
with some initial decision points concerning the one-day event, which will take place Tuesday
October 25th 2011 and involve plenary speeches, round table discussions (on human-horse and
human-wolf relations) and group work. The overall theme for the event will be "shared worlds".

In the meantime, Minding Animals International has gone public with a list of cities where pre-
conference events are being planned or considered.

Minding Animals International is proud to announce that several events are being planned before
the next Minding Animals Conference.

Events are at various stages of development, and workshops, lectures, exhibitions or seminars in at
least Abu Dhabi, Brisbane, Cape Town, Christchurch, Delhi, London (x2), New York, Oslo, Rennes,
San Francisco, Sydney (x2), Wollongong, Uppsala and Utrecht, are now being considered.

The First Pre-conference Event is an expert meeting scheduled for Utrecht on 29 and 30 November,
2010, followed by a Second Event in Sydney on 3 December, 2010, a public lecture by Professor Marc
Bekoff.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:06 0 comments

Labels: animal studies, horses, Marc Bekoff, Minding Animals International, Nordic HAS, Oslo, pre-
conference events, shared worlds, Utrecht, Wolves

Sunday, 7 November 2010


Wolf chronicle
The chronicle I have previously referred to as "Hvem er villest i landet her? - Et ulveliv" [Who's the
wildest in the country here? - A wolf's life]" has been published in the weekly newsmagazine Ny Tid
under the title "Når villdyret overvåkes" [loosely: When wild animals are monitored]. It is
accompanied by an illustration (drawing) by Firuz Kutal. Full reference:
30

Morten Tønnessen 2010. Når villdyret overvåkes. Ny Tid no. 39 2010 (November 5-11), p32-34.

Note that I have listed three corrections (one is rather a precisation) in my Norwegian language blog
Utopisk Realisme, concerning the use of ear-tags/chips in management, the practice of captures, and
a statement by the major of Rendalen.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 02:03 0 comments

Labels: chronicles, Norwegian wolf management, Ny Tid, wolf conservation, wolf ecology

Thursday, 4 November 2010


Criminology publication - wolf hunting
I have just found out that my article "The legality and ethical legitimacy of wolf hunting in
Scandinavia" has just been published in the Research seminar report 52 (pp 65-72) of the
Scandinavian Council for Criminology. Publication date is (approximately) October.

The paper is the revised outcome of my presentation at Hønefoss in May.

It is one of six papers in the section "Økologisk kriminalitet" (Ecological crime), along with papers by
Guri Larsen, Sigurd S. Dybing, Rune Ellefsen, Nicolay B. Johansen ("The problem with green
criminology") and Per-Anders Svärd.

Contents:
* Intro
* From extermination campaigns to coservation policies
* Perception and symbolism
* Hunting ethics
* Concluding observations

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:21 0 comments

Labels: criminology, green criminology, research seminar, Scandinavian wolf management, wolf
hunting

Biosemiotics special issue sent to printing


I have just been informed by Springer and Editor-in-Chief Marcello Barbieri that the special issue
'Semiotics of Perception', guest-edited by Kati Lindström and myself, has been sent to print. It will
appear in December, as no. 3(3).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:25 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiotics, Semiotics of perception, special issue, special issues

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


31

Topic for zoosemiotic research seminar


The regular research seminar of the research project Dynamical Zoosemiotics and Animal
Representations will this autumn take place November 29th. The title of my 20m presentation, I have
just settled, will be "The nature view and worldview of people in Rendalen municipality in the region
of Hedmark".

In other words, I will be presenting some observations from my field trip to Rendalen/Stor-Elvdal,
which concludes today.

This time the seminar will be for members of the research team only.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 02:27 0 comments

Labels: Dynamical zoosemiotics and animal representations, Hedmark, Norwegian wolf management,
Rendalen, research seminar, wolves and sheep, zoosemiotics

Friday, 29 October 2010


Nils Christie to comment talk on illegal wolf hunting
The details for my forthcoming talk Ulovlig jakt på ulv [Illegal wolf hunting], in the lecture series
Kriminalpolitisk seminar (at Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law, the University of Oslo),
have now been settled. Notably, it has been decided that professor emeritus Nils Christie (select
bibliography in wapedia) will be the "commentator" making comments following my talk.

The talk will take place November 11th at 14.15-16.00 in room 770, Domus Nova. For thematic
details, cf. the link under the title.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:10 0 comments

Labels: eco-criminology, illegal hunting, Kriminalpolitisk seminar, Nils Christie, Norwegian wolf
management, wolf ecology, wolf hunting

Wednesday, 27 October 2010


Wolf piece published today - chronicle around the corner
My letter to the editor "Ulv, ulv!" [Wolf! Wolf!] was published today in the Norwegian national daily
Aftenposten, in response to the daily's frontpage story this Monday. A full-text version of the text
appears in my Norwegian-language blog Utopisk Realisme.

What's more, yesterday I finished my invited chronicle "Hvem er villest i landet her? - Et ulveliv"
[Who's the wildest in the country here? - A wolf's life] for the weekly news magazine Ny Tid. This is
the most thourough account I've given on wolf management so far in Norwegian. The chronicle,
which is in part based on my article in Humanimalia, will appear this Friday.

Contents:
32

* Intro
* Ulvetider [Wolf times]
* Sky, men skutt [Shy, but shot]
* Menneskelige gjenstander i ulvens verden [Human artifacts in the wolf's world]
* Ulven og dens følgesvenner [The wolf and its /companions/]
* Om rovviltforvaltningens fremtid [On the future of wildlife/carnivore management]

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 02:33 1 comments

Labels: Aftenposten, chronicles, Humanimalia, Is a wolf..., letter to the editor, Norwegian wolf
management, Ny Tid, wildness

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


Field trip to Hedmark in preparation
My field trip to Rendalen, the one municipality in Norway where the wolf/sheep conflict has been
the fiercest in political terms, is in preparation. Being the largest municipality in Southern Norway
("only" 600 km away) - more than 3.000 square kilometres, and populated by only 2.000 or so
(people, that is) - planning how to get around from place to place has been a challenge. I've ended up
arranging accommodation at three locations (including one in neighbouring Stor-Elvdal municipality):
* Rendalen Øiseth Hotell (Åkrestrømmen, Rendalen)
* Romenstad hytte- og gardsferie (Unset, Rendalen)
* Koppangtunet hotell (Koppang, Stor-Elvdal)

In addition to these three locations, I'll also be visiting Øvre Rendal/Bergset (Rendalen) and Evenstad
(Stor-Elvdal). In other words I'll be visiting one region (Hedmark) - two municipalities - five villages.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:22 0 comments

Labels: field trip, Hedmark, Norwegian wolf management, Rendalen, Stor-Elvdal

Monday, 25 October 2010


Rodopi volume: Timeline; contents revision
Today I've agreed, in communication with fellow editor Kadri Tüür, on a tiny revision of the list of
contributors to be invited (one person added) to our planned volume The Semiotics of Animal
Representations (cf. previous posts). Invitations will appear in the acceptance letter to the
conference Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations. The estimated length as for now is 240 pages,
counting 15 chapters plus introduction.

We've also agreed on a timeline, or schedule, for our editorial work, with tasks and deadlines
organized in 15 points. We expect to submit the formal book proposal at some point in December.
Full-length papers should be submitted by May 31st, 2011, and revised, final papers by September
30th, 2011. Expected completion of the manuscript (after a round or two of proof-reading) is
preliminary set to January 15th, 2012. We expect to submit the formal book proposal at some point
in December. The whole process will last up to 2 years.
33

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:51 0 comments

Labels: animal studies, editing, editorship, Rodopi, The Semiotics of Animal Representations,
timeline, Zoosemiotics and Animal representations

Nature launches climate change journal


The journal Nature Climate Change has announced a CFP inviting academic submissions. They aim at
becoming the world's leading climate change journal. Unlike Nature, their "mother journal", Nature
Climate Change welcomes academic articles from the social sciences as well as natural science.

Scholars and others can apply for a free subscription (electronic or paper).

The first issue of the new Nature journal will be published next April.
Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:16 0 comments

Labels: 2011, climate change, journal, Nature

Sunday, 24 October 2010


Field trips and research stays scheduled
This week I have arranged tickets for all remaining field trips and research visits that I have been
planning. These are:

FIELD TRIP: Hedmark (Rendalen + Stor-Elvdal municipalities), October 29th - November 2nd
RESEARCH VISIT: Oslo II, November 10th-12th
RESEARCH VISIT: Trondheim, November 15th-17th

I was hoping to visit Namsskogan Familiepark (the fourth place in Norway that houses captive
wolves) as well, but unfortunately there is no time for it, - since it was not included in my original
plans, it cannot be made a priority right now.

Even with "only" these three remaining trips (on top of my 7-day visit to Tartu late November), I will
spend approximately 60 hours on trains and train stations the next 5-6 weeks, and travel
approximately 1200 + 700 + 1600 = 3500 km (plus 2800 km Kristiansand-Oslo-Tallinn-Tartu and back,
a total of 6300 km, which pretty exactly corresponds to the distance from here on Earth's surface to
its center).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:04 0 comments

Labels: captive wolves, Earth, field trip, Hedmark, Namsskogan familiepark, Oslo, research visit,
Trondheim

Chronicle on wolf management to appear in Ny Tid


A couple of days ago I was invited by acting debate editor Kim Bredesen to write a chronicle for the
Norwegian weekly news magazine Ny Tid. I have agreed to submit a long chronicle (up to 13.000
characters) on Norwegian wolf management by Tuesday.
34

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:33 0 comments

Labels: chronicles, Norway, Norwegian wolf management, Ny Tid, popularizing texts

Philosophy in Antiquity: First class; exam plans


My first class in the seminar Philosophy in Antiquity (Antikkens filosofi) at the University of Agder
took place this last Thursday, over 3 hours. I signed a contract (on hour basis) the same day, covering
6 times 3 hours of teaching (October 21st - November 18th). I have further scheduled that I will
develop the exam questions, and be the main (= the "internal") examiner [sensor] for the course. The
exam will take place on December 13th - the same day as I will be leaving for Brazil for Christmas (the
exam papers will be sent to Rio de Janeiro by door-to-door delivery).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:25 0 comments

Labels: exam, examiner, philosophy, Philosophy in Antiquity, philosophy lecturer, University of Agder

Filosofisk Forum: Only next year


I have now had the chance to meet with both of the (other) senior members of Filosofisk Forum (cf.
previous posts). It is already late in the semester, and we all have full schedules at the moment (for
my part no less after I was asked to teach Philosophy in Antiquity). We have therefore agreed to
postpone activities until next year.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:18 0 comments

Labels: Antikkens filosofi, Filosofisk forum, Kristiansand, Philosophy in Antiquity, University of Agder

Acknowledged in Renata Sõukand's PhD thesis


I am mentioned in the acknowledgements of fellow PhD student Renata Sõukand's PhD thesis Herbal
Landscape (introduction available in PDF format here). P. 40:

I would like to express my heartful thanks:


- to all my colleagues at the Estonian Literary Museum [...] as well as to all my fellow doctoral
students and colleagues at the Department of Semiotics and specially to Peeter Torop, Silvi Salupere,
Kaie Kotov, Ester Võsu, Riste Keskpaik, Kati Lindström and Morten Tønnessen for their
encouragement and fruitful discussions.

"Plant as Object within Herbal Landscape: Different Kinds of Perception", which is being published as
part of Biosemiotics' special issue Semiotics of Perception (for which I am a guest editor along with
Kati Lindström), constitutes part of the dissertation (publication III out of I-VI).

Herbal Landscape will appear as Dissertationes Semioticae Universitatis Tartuensis 14.

Renata has had Kalevi Kull as supervisor, as do I. Almo Farina (Urbino) and Myrdene Anderson
(Purdue) will serve as opponents at the defense of the thesis November 9th.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:30 0 comments


35

Labels: dissertation, Dissertationes Semioticae, Herbal Landscape, PhD thesis, Renata Sõukand, Tartu
semiotics, University of Tartu

Proof-reading, indexing
A week or two ago I spent 20 hours or so proof-reading and compiling an index for the forthcoming
book Begynneropplæring i en sammensatt tekstkultur [approximately "Initial education in a complex
textual culture"], which is written (mostly) by Elise Seip Tønnessen and Magnhild Vollan and about to
be published by Høyskoleforlaget. This work was related to my engagement as a research assistant
for a research project on multimodality, cf. previous posts.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:11 0 comments

Labels: Høyskoleforlaget, MULL, Multimodality, research assistant

HAS anthology: Compilation of abstract book


Latest news from my ongoing editorial work with a Norwegian language Human-Animal Studies (HAS)
anthology (latest post here): We originally asked for abstracts from all contributors by October 15th.
This deadline will be extended until November 10th. For now we have received abstracts from
around half of the planned chapters. Some of these may need revision. We are currently
reconsidering what publishing house to contact first. I will probably meet with fellow editors Guri
Larsen and Ragnhild Sollund in Oslo November 11th.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:02 0 comments

Labels: animal studies, Anthology, HAS, human-animal relations

A not very flattering invitation


Five days ago I apparently received two email invitations to contribute to two different anthologies.
One of these were from Nova Science Publishers, to whom I've already submitted a book chapter
upon invitation (on semioethics, cf. previous posts). "We have learned about your published work on
environmental change", the invite read (earlier: "... on semiotics"). The worktitle this time is
Environmental Change: Climate, Energy and Ecosystems. A fitting theme for me, by all means - but at
the moment I have no suitable texts thought out (and a full schedule). See also Nova's page for the
forthcoming Semiotics: Theory and Applications.

The other invite was from InTech, and signed by a Niksa Mandic. The book in question has the
worktitle Globalization. "You are invited to participate in this book project based on your paper
"Steps to a Semiotics of Being"...", I am told in the otherwise standardized email. Again, the theme is
relevant for me. But while Nova doesn't charge its authors (unless they choose to make use of extra
services/functions - open access included), InTech has the courage to ask for 590 Euro from each
author. With up to 50 contributors per volume, it is pretty clear that their business model is not so
much based on selling books as on profiting on complimenting scholars by inviting them to publish.
They present themselves as an open access publisher, but their claim that each of their chapters are
downloaded 1.000 times a month does not appear to be legitimate, if you check with their latest
online publications.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:30 1 comments


36

Labels: academic publishers, academic publishing, globalization, InTech, Nova Science Publishers,
publishing houses, semioethics, Semiotics: Theory and applications

Monday, 18 October 2010


Gatherings in Biosemiotics - NY
The 11th Gathering in Biosemiotics will take place in New York late next June, hosted by the Dactyl
Foundation for the Arts and Humanities (and Tori Alexander). The call for papers concludes already
November 30th.

This will be the first of these gatherings to take place in the US (2001-2010 all conferences took place
in Europe - see here for a list of venues).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 03:39 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiotics, conferences, Dactyl Foundation, Gatherings in biosemiotics

Saturday, 16 October 2010


Brief report from research visit/Oslo I
Earlier this week, Mon 11 - Wed 13, I conducted my first research visit to Oslo (cf. recent plans).
Activities included:

* meeting with wolf-socializer Runar Næss


* meeting with statistician Espen Søbye
* research at the library of Statistics Norway, the National Library of Norway and the library of the
Norwegian parliament

In the process I gathered quite a lot of more or less historical material on Norwegian wolf legislation
etc., some of it dating back to 1845. Both encounters as well proved to be very informative.
Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:14 0 comments

Labels: Norwegian wolf management, Oslo, research visit, Scandinavian wolf management

Rodopi volume: The Semiotics of Animal Representations


Together with co-editor Kadri Tüür (and editor of the planned Semiotica special issue Timo Maran)
I've started working with the Rodopi volume (to appear in the their series Nature, Culture and
Literature) of selected proceedings from the April 2011 conference Zoosemiotics and Animal
Representations. We've made a preliminary selection of contributors to invite, based on the 80+
abstracts we received for the conference. Invitations will likely be sent in late October.

We've also come up with a work title for the book: The Semiotics of Animal Representations.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:07 0 comments

Labels: Nature Culture and Literature, Rodopi, The Semiotics of Animal Representations,
Zoosemiotics and Animal representations
37

Philosophy lecturer - philosophy in Antiquity


Today I was asked to step in as a philosophy lecturer at the University of Agder, as responsible for the
second half of their course "Antikkens filosofi" (Philosophy in Antiquity). I will start teaching this next
Thursday - when week 42-46 has passed I'll have given five 3-hour classes (15 hours of teaching,
seminar-style).

The topic matter of these classes/seminars will be the following three texts:
* Plato's The Republic - book 1 (Norwegian: Staten)
* Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (Norwegian: Den nikomakiske etikk)
* Augustine's On free choice of the will [De libero arbitrio] (Norwegian: Om den frie vilje)

The course represents 1/6 of UiA's one-year study in philosophy.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:44 1 comments

Labels: Antikkens filosofi, Aristotle, Augustine, Philosophy in Antiquity, philosophy lecturer, Plato,
University of Agder

Saturday, 9 October 2010


Oslo animals

Apropos Oslo - popularly called "Tigerstaden" (City of the tiger) - here's the tiger statue at
Jernbarnetorvet (the railway square), photographed in the cosy Northern winter.
38

And here's the symbol of the state - the lion - in front of Stortinget, the Norwegian parliament. The
parliament is routinely referred to as "Løvebakken" (loosely: Hill of the lion).

I expect to touch upon these exotic Norwegian creatures either in "The Cultural Semiotic of Wolves
and Sheep" or "The Symbolic Construction of the Big Bad Wolf in Contemporary Scandinavia" (see
Article for Signs).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:18 0 comments

Labels: lion, Løvebakken, Oslo, Oslo animals, the big bad wolf, The cultural semiotic of wolves and
sheep, The symbolic construction, tiger, Tigerstaden

Research visit: Oslo I


Monday to Wednesday October 11th-13th I'll conduct my first comprehensive research visit to Oslo
(not counting my first brief visit in this respect to the National Library in May).

Plans for the 3-day visit include:


* research in the library of Statistics Norway
* research in the National Library of Norway
* and not least a meeting with Runar Næss (the man behind Animal Zoolution) - who is of great
interest to me due to (a) his experience with socializing wolves and (b) his role as the founder of the
pro-wolf activist organization/network Alpha-gruppen.

At a second research visit to Oslo, in November, I intend to meet with a number of relevant scholars
and researchers.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:03 0 comments

Labels: Alpha-gruppen, Animal Zoolution, national library, Oslo, research visit, Runar Næss, Statistics
Norway, wolf studies
39

Being an academic (3): Reporting


Being an academic is much like writing a well-structured article in a tradtional way: (1) First you tell
what you're about to do, (2) then you do it, (3) and finally you tell what you just did.

Apropos (3): The last 10 days I've written two reports - the last quarterly report partaking in the
research project "The Cultural Heritage of Environmental Spaces" (4pp), and an interim report
partaking in the research project "Dynamical Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations".

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:57 0 comments

Labels: being an academic, cultural heritage, Dynamical zoosemiotics and animal representations,
Reports, research project

State grant holder


I have been informed that the University of Tartu has decided that I am (as a PhD student at
Department of Semiotics) to receive an Estonian state grant from October to December. The state
grant is 6.000 Estonian Kroons (EEK) per month - approximately 3.100 NOK or 384 Euro.

The grant has not been given before because thus far I've received a monthly stipend partaking in the
research project "The Cultural heritage of Environmental Spaces" (where my participation ended in
September). If successful, an application for a new research project, "Environmental Semiotics:
Theory and Applications in Changing Culture and Environment" would imply me being an
'Extraordinary researcher' with full work-load starting January 2011.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:45 0 comments

Labels: cultural heritage, Department of semiotics, environmental semiotics, research project, state
grant, University of Tartu

Friday, 8 October 2010


How is the University of Tartu ranked internationally?
I recently posted on what's the best university in Norway. Now what about my own university,
Estonia's University of Tartu? Unlike in Norway's case, there's absolutely no doubt what's the best
university in Estonia. But how does it rank internationally?
/
Last year it was included for the first time in Times Higher Education - QS World University Rankings,
as one of 600 universities (out of a total of 12.000 or so globally), cf. University of Tartu ranked
among world's leading universities (and World-Class Education). The precise ranking was 501.-600.
This year it's 551.-600. (note that the QS and THE have split - the latter ranking is of QS only). This
year's Top 500 is listed and presented here.
/
With that ranking, the University of Tartu is places clearly below the University of Oslo (Top 200),
where I took my master in philosophy, but (as far as I know) clearly above the University of Agder,
where I have been research assistant/advisor, and the University of Stavanger, where I am an
examiner.
40

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:14 0 comments

Labels: University of Agder, University of Oslo, University of Stavanger, University of Tartu, world
ranking

David Abram paper online


David Abram's 'The discourse of the birds' is now available on the webpage of the journal
Biosemiotics (full access for subscribers only - alternatively, you can pay 34 Euro to get access to the
electronic article. Cheapest subscription rate is 35 Euro, for members of International Society for
Biosemiotic Studies). The article is a slightly altered version of a book chapter from Abram's new
book Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology, which is currently the bestselling book at Amazon
within 'phenomenology' and 'epistemology'.

Abstract:

Modern humans spend much of their time deploying a very rarefied form of intelligence,
manipulating abstract symbols while their muscled body is mostly inert. Other animals, in a constant
and largely unmediated relation with their earthly surroundings, think with the whole of their bodies.
This kind of distributed sentience, this intelligence in the limbs, is especially keen in the case of birds
of flight. Unlike most creatures of the ground, who must traverse an opaque surface of only two-plus
dimensions as we make our way through the world, a soaring bird continually adjusts minute muscles
in its wings to navigate an omnidimensional plenum of currents and interference patterns that alter
from moment to moment. Flight itself may usefully be considered as a kind of thinking—as a sort of
gliding within the mind. Moreover, since birds are commonly the most mobile inhabitants of any
woodland, able to fly over and scan numerous events occurring on the ground, their varied
utterances provide a crucial source of information for many other animals. This paper, written as a
philosophic essay, explores avian cognition from a phenomenological standpoint. It then reflects
upon the vocalizations of birds—noting the major role that such avian calls, cries, and songs have
played in the development of human culture.

Keywords

Phenomenology — Cognition — Birds — Flight — Avian language — Interspecies communication —


Animal intelligence

Abram's article is part of the special issue 'Semiotics of Perception', which I am guest-editing along
with Kati Lindström. The print edition is due for publication in December, as Biosemiotics 3(3). All
papers in the special issue are somehow connected to the Feb. 2009 Phenomenology meets
Semiotics (where Culture meets Nature) events in Tartu, Estonia.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 02:24 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiotics, David Abram, eco-phenomenology, Semiotics of perception, Tartu workshops

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


41

Wolf videos - Langedrag mountain farm and wildlife park


Uploaded to YouTube, MrMortenTonnessen's channel:
The importance of being close to Tuva
Fighting over food

Uploaded previously, from Langedrag:


Socialized wolves at Langedrag meet kindergarten kids
Walking with Mr. Wolf

Cf. also Wolf videos (from Polar Zoo).


42

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:33 0 comments

Labels: Langedrag, Langedrag mountain farm and wildlife park, wolf imagery, wolv videos

Pictures from Langedrag II

30km from the wolf enclosures, in the village of Nesbyen, I saw this poster advertising for a sheepy
event.
43

Langedrag - the mountain farm (close to the cafeteria).

Say no more.
44

Close to the ulvegård - "The wolves at Langedrag".

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:26 0 comments


Labels: captive animals, captive wolves, Langedrag, mountain farm, Nes, wild boar

Pictures from Langedrag I - wolf pics

The socialized pack, represented by two of them. Animal caretakers approaching...


45

Enjoying human company.

"Ulvegård" = literally: wolf farm


46

Waiting for the 'shy' wolves, inside the ulvegård.

Snow in September - 1.000 meters above sea level.

Cf. also:

Pics and videos from Langedrag

And the wolves they are a-fighting (Polar Zoo)


47

Scary animals I met in Polar Zoo

Wolf videos (Polar Zoo)

Wolf kisses (Polar Zoo)

Wolf pics I (Polar Zoo)

Wolf pics II (Polar Zoo)

Bear pics (Polar Zoo)

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:48 0 comments

Labels: captive wolves, Langedrag, wolf imagery, zoo animals

Participation in research project concluded


Since 2008 I've been a main researcher in the 2008-2010 research project "The Cultural Heritage of
Environmental Spaces. A Comparative Analysis Between Estonia and Norway" (EEA--ETF Grant EMP
54). My participation ended September 30 (the project as such concludes at the end of the year).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:45 0 comments

Labels: cultural heritage, environmental space, research project, researcher

Phenomenology paper revised


A week ago or so I revised and expanded my paper 'Semiotics of Being and Uexküllian
Phenomenology', to be considered for publication in Analecta Husserliana as part of the proceedings
of the 60th international congress of Phenomenology, arranged in Bergen in August. A section
"Concluding remarks" has been added. The expansions are in part reflected in the first part of this
addition to the abstract (I also respond to some criticism):

I will further make a few remarks on the partial resemblance between Uexküllian
phenomenology and Tymieniecka‘s ‗phenomenology of life‘, and its difference from the
‗phaneroscopy‘ of Peirce.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:33 0 comments

Labels: Analecta Husserliana, Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, eco-phenomenology, Peirce, Phaneroscopy,


phenomenology of life, semiotics of being, Uexküllian phenomenology

'The Umwelt trajectories of wolves, sheep and people' to be published


My paper 'The Umwelt trajectories of wolves, sheep and people', which will be presented at the April
2011 zoosemiotics conference in Tartu, will likely be published in the special issue of Semiotica on
zoosemiotics which is to be published the autumn of 2012.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:28 0 comments

Labels: 2012, Semiotica, Umwent trajectory, wolves and sheep, zoosemiotics, Zoosemiotics and
Animal representations
48

Silent in Filosofisk forum


Since the autumn semester started six weeks ago or so, I've tried to schedule a first autumn meeting
with the other members of Filosofisk Forum, Kristiansand. So far not successfully.

This spring Filosofisk Forum had a number of events.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:23 0 comments

Labels: Filosofisk forum, Kristiansand, University of Agder

What's the best university in Norway?


Some time back I wrote about the Times Higher Education world ranking of universities. At first only
one Norwegian university - the University of Bergen - made it to the top 200-list, but the University
of Oslo has later been places as no. 186 (see 'Editor's note' at the end of the ranking), which
schockingly places them only as Norway's second-best university (on other rankings, such as the
Shanghai ranking, UiO remains Norways highest ranked university).

This peculiar little story envelops in my Norwegian language blog, Utopisk Realisme ("Hvilket er
Norges beste universitet?").

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 03:05 0 comments

Labels: Norway, Norwegian universities, THE, Times Higher Education, top universities, University of
Bergen, University of Oslo, world ranking

Thursday, 30 September 2010


Pics and videos from Langedrag
I am in the process of making available pics and videos from Langedrag mountain farm and wildlife
park. Unfortunately I've encountered some technical problems, not least due to poorly-functioning,
low-performance Blogspot (essa porra não functiona...). Pics, therefore, will have to wait for a little.

Videos are in the process of being uploaded to You Tube (MrMortenTonnessen's channel).

Walking with Mr. Wolf

Socialized wolves at Langedrag meet kindergarten kids

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 03:36 0 comments

Labels: animal videos, captive animals, captive wolves, Langedrag, Norway, pics, pictures, wolf
conservation, wolf ecology
49

Application for research project 2011-2016


I am involved in an application for the prospective research project "Environmental Semiotics: Theory
and applications in changing culture and environment". Timo Maran is the project's Principal
Investigator and head. Through the project, which would span over the years 2011-2016 (until I'm
40...), I would have a research position (full work load), with the title 'Extraordinary researcher'.
Other scholars involved include Jelena Grigorjeva, Kati Lindström, Riin Magnus, Ene-Reet Soovik,
Renata Sõukand and Kadri Tüür.

If the application proves successful, it will imply that I establish ties to the University of Tartu for the
years after I have completed my PhD (beyond my obligations partaking in the research project
Dynamical Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations, until 2012).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 03:00 3 comments

Labels: 2011, 2016, ecosemiotics, environmental semiotics, extraordinary researcher, research


project, semiotics of nature, Tartu semiotics

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


Summary report from Polar Zoo available online
Last week I finished my summary report after my field trip (in March) to Polar Zoo in Bardufoss,
Northern Norway (cf. previous posts, including pictures and links to videos). The 23pp work paper
has now been uploaded to Scribd.

Contents:

1. Factual questions (and questions to the human caretakers)

2. The wolves' interaction among themselves

3. The confinement

4. The wolves and other animals

5. Wolf senses

6. The wolves and their caretakers

7. The wolves and the visitors to the zoo

8. The wolves and me

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:33 0 comments

Labels: captive wolves, field trip, Polar Zoo, summary report, wolf ecology, work paper, zoo animals,
zoological garden
50

Acknowledged in David Abram's 'Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology'

Today I received my copy of David Abram's long awaited Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology. At
Amazon it has now climbed to no. 2.801 of the millions of books on offer - it is right now ranked as
no. 1 in 'Phenomenology', no. 3 in 'Epistemology' and no. 7 in 'Ecology'.

I am honored to be mentioned in the book's "Acknowledgments" (p. 312). Excerpt:

A couple of warm dialogues with physicist Brian Swimme helped hone certain reflections, as did
conversations with a broad range of luminous souls, among them Jay Griffiths, Kalevi Kull, Wendell
Berry, David Cayley, Patrick Curry, Donna House, Omar Zubaedi, Georg Glazner, Eva Simms, Tom Jay,
Will Adams, Niel Thiese, Morten Tonnessen, Stefan Lang-Gilliatt, Maya Ward, Jan van Boekel,
Deborah Bird Rose, Ed Casey, Bill Plotkin, Keren Abrams, Steve Talbott, Craig Holdrege, Eileen Crist,
the late and much missed Briagn Goodwin, Peter Adams, Chris Wells, Jennifer Sahn, Jon Young, Peter
Manchester, and Arthur Zajonc.

Other Norwegians mentioned: Arne Naess, Per Ingvar Haukeland and Per Espen Stoknes.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:54 0 comments

Labels: An Earthly Cosmology, animal behaviour, Arne Næss, Becoming animal, David Abram, eco-
phenomenology

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


PDF, and bibliographical reference, for "Is a wolf..."
September 16th I posted that Humanimalia vol. 2, no. 1 was published. At that point no PDFs were
on site. Now, however, they are - including for my contribution "Is a wolf wild as long as it does not
know it is being thoroughly managed?" (which has been given the short-title "Is a wolf wild as long as
it does not know it is managed?").

Bibliographical reference:
51

Morten Tønnessen 2010. "Is a wolf wild as long as it does not know it is being thoroughly managed?"
Humanimalia - a journal of human/animal interface studies 2(1): 1-8.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 23:16 2 comments

Labels: Humanimalia, Is a wolf..., Norwegian wolf management, wolf conservation, wolf ecology

Multimodality anthology published

The anthology Sammensatte tekster: Barns tekstpraksis [Complex texts: Children's text practice] is
being published as we speak. I have assisted the editor and the contributors with proof-reading, by
composing index etc.

/
Here's a presentation at the page of the publishing house, here the table of contents. In the book my
assistance is credited on page 7, in the preface.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:17 0 comments

Labels: Anthology, MULL, Multimodality, sammensatte tekster, University of Agder

Monday, 20 September 2010


Langedrag next
New field trip, September 22-25: To Langedrag mountain farm and wildlifepark - 500 km by train + 30
km by car, on the way back 30 km by bike + 500 km by train.

Langedrag has two enclosures with captive wolves - one socialized and another 'wild'. Unlike with
Polar Zoo, where I visited in March, at Langedrag visitors are taken into the confinement of the
shyest gang, not the most socialized one. The terms, however, appear to have another meaning than
in Polar Zoo, where the shy couple did not receive visits and would not have approached people like
they appear to do at Langedrag.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:45 0 comments

Labels: captive wolves, field trip, Langedrag, Polar Zoo


52

Thursday, 16 September 2010


"Is a wolf..." published in Humanimalia
My article "Is a wolf wild as long as it does not know that it is being thoroughly handled?" has been
published today in the American online journal Humanimalia, published at DePauw University. Issue
3 (volume 2, number 1 - Fall 2010) includes two further Nordic contributions (book reviews by Helena
Pedersen - Malmö - and Tora Holmberg, Uppsala).

Abstract:

The topic of wildness is a matter of ongoing debate in the wildlife management community.
In this essay it is related to questions of shyness and actual human interference (especially on
the management side). The well-documented case of the Scandinavian wolf population
suggests that shyness is not a sufficient criterion for wildness. For all the wolf knows, it is still
a wild animal – and it still behaves like one. But are we justified in claiming that a (more or
less) free-ranging wolf is truly wild, simply because it does not know that it is being
thoroughly managed? The article introduces this theme and the case at hand, covering wolf
mortality, human artifacts in the life-world of wolves, and captures. The long-term goal of
wildlife conservation, the author proposes, should be to restore the independent viability of
wildlife. Wildness, in short, has to go beyond appearances. In a closing note, Arne Næss‘
philosophy of wolf policies is critically evaluated.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:32 0 comments

Labels: animal studies, Arne Næss, Depauw university, Humanimalia, Is a wolf..., knowing wolves,
knowledge, Norwegian wolf management, Scandinavian wolf management, wildness

Formally done as research assistant


My engagement as a research assistent (advisor) for the Norwegian research project "Multimodality,
literacy and learning" (MULL), at University of Agder, has formally expired as of September 15th.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:16 0 comments

Labels: MULL, Multimodality, research assistant, UiA, University of Agder

Mapping human impact revised


53

Some hours ago I finished revising my article "Mapping human impact: Expanding horizons -
Interdisciplinary integration", cf. previous posts, for the forthcoming CECT II proceedings. In the
process I have added approximately 1.000 words (but removed 4 figures).

Outline:

Intro

Qualities and quantities

Ecological footprint and ontological niche: Two complementary approaches

Development of ontological maps

On interpreting numerical data qualitatively

Abstract:

At a general level, the recurring topic of this article is the opposition and complementarity of
qualitative and quantitative aspects of empirical data. In particular, an attempt is made to
develop means to qualify quantitative data. More particularly, however, the aim of the current
text is to investigate the extent of human impact in nature in contemporary times – or more
precisely to evaluate proposed representations thereof. The theoretical perspective stems from
ecosemiotics and biosemiotics, with special emphasis on a phenomenological reading of
Jakob von Uexküll.

An important component of this contribution consists of a discussion of the merits and


shortcomings of two methodologies – the ecological footprint (a common tool in policy-
making) and the ontological niche (the author's own coinage based on the theory of
ecosemiotics). One of the main objectives of the developers of the ecological footprint
concept was to make the general public and policy-makers aware of excessive resource use.
While that is estimable in its right context, the author proposes that the ontological niche
concept can complement the ecological footprint notion by covering aspects of the
environmental problématique which for conceptual reasons the former cannot cover.
Overcoming the ecological crisis requires awareness of the global dimension and the resource
situation, but also of the personal, experiential aspects of our current predicament – our
personal involvement in humankind‘s material engagement in the ecosystems. The texture of
reality is what is ultimately at stake here, and the ontological niche notion is introduced so as
to emphasize our embedded, rather than detached, position in the world of the living.

The basic motion in this text is that from self to world. Exemplifying what the ontological
niche amounts to, the author provides ontological maps ranging from the social relations of
one individual to a rough sketch of the global ecological situation. In a concluding section the
general problem of interpreting numerical data qualitatively is approached by way of three
54

steps: (1) Determining existence status, (2) Determining the character of the relation and (3)
Translating numerical data to characterizing terms.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:49 0 comments

Labels: CECT, ecological footprint, global environmental data, mapping human impact, Ontological
map, Ontological niche, Umwelt, Umwelt mapping

THE world ranking of universities


This year I am one of the many who have voted (upon invitation) as part of the Times Higher
Education (THE)'s annual ranking of the world's top 200 universities. The ranking has just been
published. These are the universities I have collaborators at, and/or have visited, and/or have
academic contacts at (the University of Oslo is so far not ranked, due to lacking info - and I am sure I
am leaving out some):

6. University of Cambridge, UK (visited)

17. University of Toronto, Canada (contact)

34. National university of Singapore, Singapore (contact)

89. Lund university, Sweden (contact)

102. University of Helsinki, Finland (visited, contact)

106. Purdue university, USA (contact)

115. National Taiwan university, Taiwan (contact)

135. University of Bergen, Norway (visited, contact, collaborator)

147. Uppsala university, Sweden (contact, collaborator)

167. Aarhus university, Denmark (contact)

170. University of Groningen, Netherlands (visited)

177. University of Copenhagen, Denmark (visited, contact)

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:48 0 comments

Labels: THE, Times Higher Education, universities, world ranking

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


55

Zoosemiotics abstract: Umwelt trajectories


I have just finished my abstract for the forthcoming zoosemiotics conference.

Morten Tønnessen

The Umwelt trajectories of wolves, sheep and people

Abstract for the conference ZOOSEMIOTICS AND ANIMAL REPRESENTATIONS

This paper contributes to developing Umwelt terminology, and simultaneously offers an


analysis of past and current interrelations of wolves, sheep and people, thus providing an
application of the notation suggested.

The starting point for the author‘s terminology is the concept of an Umwelt transition, which
is in effect an Uexküllian notion of environmental change. An Umwelt transition can be
defined as a lasting, systematic change within the life cycle of a being, considered from an
ontogenetic (individual), phylogenetic (population-, species-) or cultural perspective, from
one typical appearance of its Umwelt (i.e., organism-specific phenomenal world) to another.
An Umwelt trajectory, the author proposes, can be characterized as the course through
evolutionary (and cultural) time taken by the Umwelt of a creature, as defined by its changing
relations with the Umwelten of other creatures. Thus defined it represents an evolutionary and
mass equivalent of Jakob von Uexküll‘s notion of the Umwelt-tunnel of a single individual
creature.

As we can see, the Umwelt trajectory of a creature is the historical path of its perceptual and
behavioral dispositions considered from an ecological and phenomenological point of view.
As such, it is intimately tied to this creature‘s ontological niche, i.e. the set of contrapuntal
relations that a being takes part in at a given point of natural history. Like the Umwelt tunnel
and the ontological niche, the Umwelt trajectory of a creature can be regarded as a
specification of the Umwelt concept which situates it in terms of temporal perspective.

Taken as a whole the Umwelten of wolves, sheep and people represent an Umwelt triad of
sorts, given that they have been and remain intertwined and codependent. This triple Umwelt
is telling of both ecological and cultural developments. In cultural terms, hardly any animals
are as loaded with symbolic value as the wolf and the sheep. And the shared importance is no
coincidence, as the symbolism of the two animals has developed in explicit opposition to each
other. Altogether the wolf-sheep duet, the human-sheep duet and the human-wolf duet – to
speak with Uexküll – constitute a highly coordinated triple duet in the great symphony of
nature.

The most enlivening aspect of this narrative concerns the semiotic and phenomenological
interplay that takes place amid wolves, sheep and people. While the most relevant long-term
process of change varies from creature to creature – evolution for wolves, breeding for sheep
and cultural development for people (all of which represent broad categories of Umwelt
transitions) – there are several common factors at play as well. In this paper, the author will
touch upon a) the geographical range and overlap, (b) the sensory range and overlap, and c)
the functional range and overlap of wolves, sheep and people. The most crucial arena for
semiotic interplay (and thus semiotic causation) is that of functional interrelations,
particularly with regard to companionship and enmity. In our current ecological situation,
where the human species has emerged as a global species in charge of an ecological empire
56

wherein the sheep, among other species, has been given a privileged position, even the wolf
has entered into a dependency relation with our kind. For better or worse, our Umwelt
trajectories have (once again) aligned.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:02 0 comments

Labels: evolution, semiotic causation, semiotic interplay, Umwelt terminology, Umwelt trajectory,
wolves and sheep, zoosemiotics, Zoosemiotics and Animal representations

Philosophy pecha kucha-style

I've uploaded a video of my pecha kucha-presentation of 'The history of philosophy in 1-2-3' to


YouTube (parental warning: Norwegian language).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:10 0 comments

Labels: history of philosophy, Pecha kucha, SPØR FILOSOFEN

Monday, 13 September 2010


Brief report from my visit in Estonia Sept. 5-9 (= Academic news in brief XI)
1. On Monday 6th of September I met for the first time with the Estonian wolf ethologist Ilmar
Rootsi, with Nelly Mäekivi as mediator. Me and Rootsi (72) agreed to co-write an academic article on
man-eating and rabid wolves in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Estonia. The article will have a
perspective of at least 200 years of history. Fellow ecosemiotician Silver Rattasepp later agreed to
partake in making the article happen, stepping in for Nelly as mediator. He will be credited as a co-
author.

:)

2. For a week or so, I pondered upon contributing to the third Center of Excellence in Cultural Theory
conference, which is due in late October, with a joint poster presentation on wolves. Prospective
cooperators were too busy, however.

:)

3. Tuesday 7th I met with my supervisor Kalevi Kull. We agreed on a time schedule for my thesis work
this last year of my PhD studies. A full thesis (monograph) is to be completed by April 1st, 2011, and
revised following comments by pre-reviewers by May 20th, at which point I'll formally apply for a
57

doctoral degree. The defense will take place approximately September 30th, 2011, at Tartu's
Department of Semiotics.

:)

4. The same day I met the Italian PhD student Davide Weible, who studies a topic not so different
from mine (phenomenology + biology).

:)

5. On Wednesday 8th I met briefly with the Estonian folklorist Merili Metsvahi, who specializes on
Estonian werewolves.

:)

6. An important task during this visit was to move our things from the apartment we have been
renting up until August 15th, in Kuu street. Me and my wife left the country with 66 kg of luggage,
after having sent 25 kg by post.

:)

7. Around the conclusion of the trip I arranged tickets for my next visit to Tartu, which will take place
November 23rd-30th.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:28 0 comments

Labels: Academic news in brief, CECT, doctoral defense, Estonia, Ilmar Rootsi, Tartu semiotics, thesis,
University of Tartu

Bibliographical reference for Lotman piece


Here's the bibliographical reference for 'Da Lotman og semiotikken kom til Norge' [When Lotman and
semiotics came to Norway], which I got to see in print for the first time last Monday:

Dinda L. Gorlée and Morten Tønnessen 2010. "Da Lotman og semiotikken kom til Norge".
Pp 258-259 in Turid Farbregd and Øyvind Rangøy (Eds.): Estland og Norge i fortid og nåtid -
Norsk-estisk forening 25 år. Oslo: Norsk-estisk forening.

The article includes a picture (in Dinda Gorlée's ownership) from Sebeok and Lotman's encounter in
Bergen in 1986.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:16 0 comments

Labels: Bergen 1986, Dinda L. Gorlée, Festschrift, Lotman, Norsk-estisk forening, Thomas Sebeok

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:16 0 comments

Labels: Bergen, Dinda L. Gorlée, Festschrift, Lotman, Norway, Sebeok


58

'Food vs. nature' declined AGAIN


My text 'Food vs. nature: How human taste has shaped nature as we know it', which was first
submitted to and rejected by a special issue of Politics and Culture on food sovereignty, has now
been declined also by The Trumpeter: Journal of Ecosophy, after a 16 month+ review process.

Most of the content has already been published elsewhere.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:07 0 comments

Labels: declined, Food vs. nature, human taste

Pecha Kucha Night Oslo - record-brief history of philosophy

Last Thursday I presented "The history of philosophy in 1-2-3" At Pecha Kucha Night Oslo, vol. 15, for
an audience of perhaps 400, as part of my commercial project Spør Filosofen (Ask The Philosopher -
which is also on Facebook).

Pecha Kucha is a format for very consice Powerpoint-style presentations - 20 slides are presented,
they shift automatically, and you only have 20 seconds to talk about each one (for more info, see
here).

I have uploaded some pictures from other presentations that same evening in my Norwegian blog
Utopisk Realisme, and am in the process of uploading a video of my own 6 min 40 sec performance
to Youtube.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:46 0 comments

Labels: Examen philosophicum, history of philosophy, Oslo, Pecha kucha, philosophy business,
philosophy-for-hire, SPØR FILOSOFEN
59

Norwegian HAS anthology: Authors in process of being confirmed


The human-animal relations anthology I will be editing with eco-criminologists Guri Larsen and
Ragnhild Sollund is in the process of scheduling participation with invited contributors. Last Thursday
I met with political scientist Svenn Arne Lie in Oslo. Hopefully both he and environmental historian
Finn Arne Jørgensen will confirm their participation.

Conservation scientist Tormod V. Burkey has confirmed his participation. So has professor in biology
Dag Hessen, who will co-write a chapter with me on what is unique about humans and what we have
in common with other creatures. My further contributions will entail two chapters written solely by
me (one on carnivore wildness and the other on man as a global species) and two introductory
chapters co-written with my two fellow editors.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:03 0 comments

Labels: animal studies, Anthology, global species, HAS, human-animal relations

Minding Animals Pre-Conference Lectures in Oslo and Sydney


The last few days I have been in contact with Minding Animals International's convenor Rod
Bennison (Newcastle, Australia) and others discussing the possibility of a Pre-Conference Lecture
event in Oslo at some point towards the end of 2011. The initiative is Rhys Evans'. He has just started
working for the Norwegian University College for Agriculture and Rural Development (Høgskolen for
landbruk og bygdenæringer - HLB) in South-Western Norway. I am also likely to attend a Pre-
Conference Lecture event in Uppsala, Sweden, around the same time. MAI and The Nordic Animal
Studies Network will be the broader networks auspicing the events. Further details follow...

I am further a candidate for giving a lecture at the Pre-Conference Lecture event which will take
place in Sydney, February 19th 2011, in connection with the workshop on the history and philosophy
of ethology. For all these occasions, cf. the MAI webpage soon.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:57 0 comments

Labels: animal studies, Minding Animals, Minding Animals International, Oslo, Sydney, The Nordic
Animal Studies Network, Uppsala

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


New research interests at Academia.edu
I have registered 35 research interests in Academia.edu.

Four of these I had to create:


Anthropocene studies
Ecosemiotics
Semiotic economy
Zoosemiotics
60

Feel free to join me!

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:15 0 comments

Labels: academia.edu, anthropocene, Anthropocene studies, ecosemiotics, semiotic economy,


zoosemiotics

Sunday, 5 September 2010


Endorsing the CASSE position on economic growth
I have just signed the CASSE (Center for the advancement of the steady state economy) position on
economic growth, as the 6000th or so person who has done so since the statement was launched in
2004. Among the other individuals who have signed the position you'll find Jane Goodall, David
Mech, Vandana Shiva and E.O. Wilson (full list here).

Whereas:
1) Economic growth, as defined in standard economics textbooks, is an increase in the
production and consumption of goods and services, and;

2) Economic growth occurs when there is an increase in the multiplied product of population
and per capita consumption, and;

3) The global economy grows as an integrated whole consisting of agricultural, extractive,


manufacturing, and services sectors that require physical inputs and produce wastes, and;

4) Economic growth is often and generally indicated by increasing real gross domestic
product (GDP) or real gross national product (GNP), and;

5) Economic growth has been a primary, perennial goal of many societies and most
governments, and;

6) Based upon established principles of physics and ecology, there is a limit to economic
growth, and;

7) There is increasing evidence that global economic growth is having negative effects on
long-term ecological and economic welfare…

Therefore, we take the position that:


1) There is a fundamental conflict between economic growth and environmental protection
(for example, biodiversity conservation, clean air and water, atmospheric stability), and;

2) There is a fundamental conflict between economic growth and the ecological services
underpinning the human economy (for example, pollination, decomposition, climate
regulation), and;

3) Technological progress has had many positive and negative ecological and economic
effects and may not be depended on to reconcile the conflict between economic growth and
long-term ecological and economic welfare, and;
61

4) Economic growth, as gauged by increasing GDP, is an increasingly dangerous and


anachronistic goal, especially in wealthy nations with widespread affluence, and;

5) A steady state economy (that is, an economy with a relatively stable, mildly fluctuating
product of population and per capita consumption) is a viable alternative to a growing
economy and has become a more appropriate goal in large, wealthy economies, and;

6) The long-run sustainability of a steady state economy requires its establishment at a size
small enough to avoid the breaching of reduced ecological and economic capacity during
expected or unexpected supply shocks such as droughts and energy shortages, and;

7) A steady state economy does not preclude economic development, a dynamic, qualitative
process in which different technologies may be employed and the relative prominence of
economic sectors may evolve, and;

8) Upon establishing a steady state economy, it would be advisable for wealthy nations to
assist other nations in moving from the goal of economic growth to the goal of a steady state
economy, beginning with those nations currently enjoying high levels of per capita
consumption, and;

9) For many nations with widespread poverty, increasing per capita consumption (or,
alternatively, more equitable distributions of wealth) remains an appropriate goal.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 01:11 1 comments

Labels: CASSE, economic growth, GDP, steady state economy

Friday, 3 September 2010


Wolf history: Agents in hiding
[Abstract of paper accepted for presentation at the sixth ESEH conference, see previous post]

WOLF HISTORY: AGENTS IN HIDING


BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN

Humans are so accustomed to being the subjects of history that to many, it is provocative to claim
that animals too can be actors of history. Such attitudes are enthused by our age-old philosophical
dismissal of animals. A hundred years ago, nature writers William J. Long and Ernest Thompson Seton
caused controversy by claiming that their writings were accurate representations of natural history.
Their depiction of wolves sparked a debate about whether animals were individual creatures subject
to learning or instinct-driven specimen. Charges of anthropocentrism and anthropomorphism have
never silenced, and the relation between science and folklore remains troublesome.
/

The cultural baggage at play in the discourse about wolf policies is so overwhelming that even an
environmental historian can be excused for confusing the map with the territory. While in a strict
62

sense we cannot go beyond having cultural perceptions of the wolf, it does matter how we treat the
wolf in environmental history. Attributing agenthood to the wolf entails, for a start, to regard it as an
animal that acts. Naturally, there is a whole range of different actions (biologist Jakob von Uexküll
operated with seven categories). In many cases, wolves are decision makers. They make informed
choices (typically based on what Michael Polanyi calls tacit knowing).
/

Being an actor may not in itself qualify anyone as an actor of historical significance. But some
individuals stand out. To illustrate the function wolf agency can play in environmental history, I will
make use of three examples:
/

1 The beast of Gévaudan: Man-eating wolf(s) that caused havoc in 1764-1767 (disputed).
2 “Ivan”: An immigrant from the East that was shot illegally (contemporary Norway)
3 The Galven bitch: Unaware of management zones, this sheep-eating female was the first to be
relocated (contemporary Norway)

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 03:55 0 comments

Labels: ESEH, Turku, Wolf history: Agents in hiding, Wolves

Animal agency presentation accepted


I have just been informed that the panel proposed by my collaborator Håkon Stokland for the sixth
conference of the European Society for Environmental History, to be arranged in Turku, Finland, June
28th to July 2nd 2011, has been accepted by the scientific committee. The title of the panel session
has been changed from "Animal agency and history - three different approaches to Scandinavian
wolves" to "Animal agency and environmental history - three different approaches to Nordic
wolves", and the committee has added a fourth presenter, a Ms. Heta Lähdesmäki.

Below is an overview of the four papers now included in the panel (Dr. Frank Zelko will be the session
chair).

"Wolf history: Agents in hiding"

PhD candidate Morten Tønnessen

"Influencing military strategy, developing chemistry, changing politics: The role of the wolf in 1800-
century Sweden"

Dr. Karin Dirke

"Animal agency and the wolf that saved an entire population"

PhD candidate Håkon Stokland


63

"Controlling wolves: Attitudes towards wolves in Finland in the 1990s"

Ms. Heta Lähdesmäki

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 03:37 0 comments

Labels: animal studies, conferences, environmental history, ESEH, Finland, Turku, Wolf history:
Agents in hiding, Wolves

Tuesday, 31 August 2010


Estonian-Norwegian Festschrift to appear September 16th

Norsk-estisk forening (= Norra-Eesti Ühing), the Norwegian-Estonian association, has announced that
its Festschrift will be launched September 16th, at an event in Oslo. It has been named "Estland og
Norge i fortid og nåtid - Norsk-estisk forening 25 år" [Estonia and Norway in the past and today -
Norsk-estisk forening 25 years].

Cf. previous posts about my joint article "Da Lotman og semiotikken kom til Norge", co-written with
Dinda Gorlée.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:51 0 comments

Labels: Dinda L. Gorlée, Estonia, Lotman, Norra-Eesti Ühing, Norsk-estisk forening, Norway, semiotics

Monday, 30 August 2010


Norwegian human-animal relations anthology in progress
Cf. previous notes about this book project, with Guri Larsen, Ragnhild Sollund and myself as
prospective editors (idea conceived of after criminology seminar - see also Academic news in brief IX
pt. 4).

We are still discussing the work title, but have agreed on most other features. These days we start
inviting contributors (the collection - which will be in Norwegian - is invitation-only).

/
64

In the process we have developed a 1p invitation letter, a 2p book project description, and a highly
secret 3p 'innholdsdisposisjon' with drafts of contents.

Excerpts of the book project description:

Forholdet mellom mennesker og dyr er sentralt for forståelsen av såvel kultur som natur – og
ikke minst for forståelsen av vår tids eskalerende miljøkrise. Det er et tema som på grunn av
sine etiske dimensjoner er gjenstand for økende interesse og debatt – også i Norge, som i
denne sammenhengen har kommet ganske kort i den intellektuelle diskursen. Etiske spørsmål
i forlengelsen av menneskets bruk av natur og dyr har fått økt økt interesse de siste årene,
både innen ulike fag og i den offentlige debatt. Likevel er gjensidig avhengighet mellom
miljø, dyr og mennesker lite belyst. Arten mennesket og andre arter er ikke bare beslektet,
men er i dagens samfunn gjensidig avhengig av hverandre på en historisk unik måte. Mens det
på den ene siden er et trivielt faktum at mennesket bare kan overleve som del av en større
natur, har vi særlig de siste århundrene også gjort utallige dyrearter stadig mer avhengige av
oss. Det moderne mennesket har innarbeidet en instrumentell (nytteorientert) tilnærming til
andre dyr. Dyr utnyttes i dag på utallige måter: til mat, sko og klær, i underholdning, som
arbeidsdyr, forsøksdyr, kjæledyr og så videre. Først de siste par generasjonene har det i vår
kultur blitt vanlig å snakke om at dyr kan ha egenverdi uavhengig av nytteverdi. Dagens
offisielle politikk for vern av biologisk mangfold sliter med eldgamle forestillinger om et
nødvendig fiendskap mellom bonde-/menneskesamfunnet og utemmet natur. Så dypt sitter
dette natursynet at vernetilhengere og dyrevernere av mange automatisk slås i hardtkorn med
menneskefiender.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:44 0 comments

Labels: Anthology, editorship, human-animal relations, speciesism

Bibliographical references - 'Semiotics of nature'


Here's bibliographical data for my contributions to the below-mentioned special issue of Hortus
Semioticus (no. 6 - 2010), on Semiotics of nature:

Riin Magnus, Nelly Mäekivi and Morten Tønnessen 2010. "Editors' foreword to the Special Issue
Semiotics of Nature". Hortus Semioticus 6 (SI on Semiotics of nature): 1-6 (incl. Estonian version,
"Toimetajate Eessõna").

Riin Magnus and Morten Tønnessen 2010. "The Bio-Translator - Interview with Professor in
Biosemiotics Kalevi Kull". Includes bibliography of Kalevi Kull’s biosemiotic publications. Hortus
Semioticus 6 (SI on Semiotics of nature): 77-103.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:42 0 comments

Labels: bibliography, Hortus semioticus, semiotics of nature


65

Special Issue 'Semiotics of nature' published


HORTUS SEMIOTICUS (no. 6)
SPECIAL ISSUE ON THE SEMIOTICS OF NATURE
Guest editors: Riin Magnus, Nelly Mäekivi and Morten Tønnessen

Dear readers,

We are delighted to announce that the journal Hortus Semioticus has now published a special issue
on the semiotics of nature. All together with 7 papers, a foreword, an interview, Meditationes
Semioticae and 2 overview articles, this issue is almost exclusively in English. The papers of
contributing MA and PhD students are all original papers written within a scientific framework which
encapsuls the topics of meaning, value, communication, signification, representation, and cognition
in and of nature.
1) Nelly Mäekivi, Riin Magnus and Morten Tønnessen: Editors foreword to the Special Issue Semiotics
of Nature
2) Remo Gramigna: Augustine’s legacy for the history of zoosemiotics
3) John Haglund and Johan Blomberg: The meaning-sharing network
4) Silver Rattasepp: The idea of the extended organism in the 20th century history of ideas
5) Sara Cannizzaro: On form, function and meaning: working out the foundations of biosemiotics
6) Svitlana Biedarieva: Reflections in the Umwelten
7) Arlene Tucker: A metaphor is a metaphor
8) Patrick Masius: What are elephants doing in a Nazi concentration camp? The meaning of nature in
the human catastrophe
9) Riin Magnus and Morten Tønnessen: The bio-translator. Interview with professor in biosemiotics
Kalevi Kull (with his complete biosemiotic bibliography)
10) Meditationes Semioticae – this time by Kaie Kotov: Do you mind? Does it matter? Semiotics as a
science of noosphere
11) Ülevaade: Acta Semiotica Estica VII

We hope that for our readers and contributors, these papers will encourage even more interest in
the field, and open yet new horizons.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:15 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiotics, ecosemiotics, Hortus semioticus, semiotics of nature, special issues,


zoosemiotics

Saturday, 28 August 2010


edu
I have registered at Academia.edu.

The list of papers there (11) is not complete - but I have accepted whatever their system could find
on its own.
66

I have not listed any past talk, but have added the 4 upcoming talks I have scheduled as for now.

My CV is there, though, offering a more complete overview (but the latest updates appears here, in
Utopian Realism).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:30 0 comments

Labels: academia.edu, social networks

Thursday, 26 August 2010


About the international phenomenology congress in Bergen
On a belated note, I took part in the 60th international congress of phenomenology in Bergen August
10-13, where I presented my paper "Semiotics of being and Uexküllian phenomenology" for a limited
but qualified audience in a group session.

This was my first encounter with the World Phenomenology Institute, lead by Anna-Teresa
Tymieniecka. Registering for the conference, I became a member (by choice) of International Society
of Phenomenology and Sciences of Life, which seems, unfortunately, not to have much activities.

My paper will be revised by October 1st, and hopefully published in the conference proceedings,
which will appear as a volume of Analecta Husserliana.

In Bergen I further mingled with local phenomenologists, and joined the email list of a University of
Bergen phenomenology group.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:11 0 comments

Labels: Bergen, phenomenology, semiotics of being, Uexküllian phenomenology, World institute for
advanced phenomenological research

"Mapping human impact" to be revised


A fortnight ago I got to read the review of my CECT paper "Mapping human impact", which made just
as much sense as my paper. I will revise it within September 15th, to be included in the proceedings
of the second CECT conference, which will appear within the end of the year.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:05 0 comments

Labels: CECT, mapping human impact, Umwelt mapping


67

References
I am in the (slow) process of preparing a more detailed academic bibliography, including works
written by others that refer to my work. One of the latest references made is in Don Favareau's
"Introduction: An evolutionary history of biosemiotics" (from Essential reading in biosemiotics),
where I'm referred to (p55), though not included in the literature list.

Quote:

In the areas of animal studies, ethology and zoology, Mette Böll (2002), Karel Kleisner (2007,
2008), Dominique Lestel (2002), Timo Maran (2003), Dario Martinelli (2005), Stephen Pain
(2007), Morten Tønnessen (2003), and Aleksei Turovski (2000) are all pursuing biosemiotic
lines of investigation in their work.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:57 0 comments

Labels: animal studies, biosemiosics, references

Zoosemiotics book review published


My book review "A stroll around the worlds of zoosemioticians and other animals" was published
electronically in Semiotica the 24th of August (print version: issue 181, pp. 317-325). Unfortunatelly
the proof reading I reported was not executed - an errata crediting the research projects I am
involved in will be published in no. 182, in October.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:44 0 comments

Labels: A stroll around the worlds of zoosemioticians and other animals, book review, Semiotica,
zoosemiotics

Article for Signs


Yesterday I was invited to contribute with an article to the online, peer-reiewed semiotic journal
Signs, based in Denmark. I have started pondering on the theme "The cultural semiotic of wolves and
sheep". Unlike another article I am mentally prepared to write, "The symbolic construction of the Big
Bad Wolf in contemporary Scandinavia", this one will be global and historical in its scope.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:40 0 comments

Labels: Denmark, semiotics, signs, The cultural semiotic of wolves and sheep, wolves and sheep

Abstract for zoosemiotics conference in progress


I have come up with a title for my abstract submission to the conference Zoosemiotics and Animal
Representations (Tartu, April 4-8, 2011): 'The Umwelt trajectories of wolves, sheep and people'. This
paper will sum up my work on the (in part interactive) life worlds of these creatures, and introduce
some new concepts in the process ('Umwelt trajectory' being one).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:36 0 comments


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Labels: people, sheep, Umwelt, Umwelt trajectory, Wolves, zoosemiotics, Zoosemiotics and Animal
representations

Friday, 20 August 2010


Most quoted biosemiotic works
The list below is compiled from data of Google Scholar. It includes all works of biosemiotic character
of the authors listed cited 50 times and more in their system.

BIOSEMIOTIC WORKS

1. Jesper HOFFMEYER: Signs of meaning in the universe (1996): 336

2. Thomas SEBEOK: Animal communication: A communication network model for languages is


applied to signalling behavior in animals (1965): 158

3. Jesper HOFFMEYER and Claus EMMECHE: Code-duality and the semiotics of nature (1991): 152

4. Marcello BARBIERI: The organic codes - an introduction to semantic biology (2003): 137

5. Claus EMMECHE and Jesper HOFFMEYER. From language to nature: The semiotic metaphor in
biology (1991): 95

6. Marcello BARBIERI: The organic codes (1998): 88

7. Jesper HOFFMEYER: Biosemiotics: Towards a new synthesis in biology (1997): 87

8. Kalevi KULL: Biosemiotics in the twentieth century - a view from biology (1999): 67

9. Various: A semiotic perspective on the sciences: Steps toward a new paradigm (1984) 59
10. Kalevi KULL: Semiotic ecology: Different natures in the semiosphere: 57
11. Thomas SEBEOK: Coding in the evolution of signalling behavior (1962): 54

11. Claus EMMECHE: Defining life as a semiotic phenomenon (1998): 54

13. Thomas Sebeok and DJ UMIKER-SEBEOK (eds.): Biosemiotics: The semiotic web 1991 (1992): 53

RELATED WORKS
1. Claus EMMECHE: The garden in the machine - the emerging science of artificial life:
166+53
2. Claus EMMECHE, S. KØPPE and Frederik STJERNFELT: Explaining emergence -
towards an ontology of levels (1997): 144
3. Thomas SEBEOK: How animals communicate (1977): 140
4. Claus EMMECHE, Frederik STJERNFELT et al.: Levels, emergence, and three three
versions of downward causation (2000): 105
5. NA BAAS and Claus EMMECHE: On emergence and explanation (1997): 98
6. Thomas A. SEBEOK: The Clever Hans phenomenon: Communication with horses, whales,
apes, and people (1981): 93
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7. TA SEBEOK and M DANESI: The forms of meaning - Modeling systems theory and
semiotic analisis (2000): 85
8. Thomas SEBEOK: Global semiotics (2001): 78
9. PB ANDEREN, Claus EMMECHE and NO Finnemann: Downwards causation: Minds,
bodies and matter (2000): 77
10. Thomas SEBEOK and DJ Umiker-SEBEOK: Speaking of apes: A critical anthology of
two-way communication with man (1980): 65

In comparison, Umberto Eco's "A theory of semiotics" is cited 2.566 times.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:42 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiotics, classics, lists, semiotics of nature, zoosemiotics

The Global Species published


Yesterday I received my copy of new formations no. 69, where my article "The Global Species"
appears (pp98-110). Guest editor of the Special Issue 'Imperial Ecologies', Ashley Dawson,
summarizes my article in his "Introduction: New Enclosures" (freely available online). Excerpts (p20):

Morten Tønnessen‘s essay focuses on a substance even more ubiquitous than oil, one that has
perhaps also been more essential to the reproduction of our species: non-human animals.
Approaching analysis of human-affiliated life forms from the perspective of the long durée
and developing the concept of ecosemiotics, Tønnessen argues that the historical process of
globalisation can perhaps be best understood through analysis of the planet‘s colonisation not
simply by human beings but also by the accompanying proliferation of species we favour.
Alongside this process of planetary diffusion, human beings have introduced a schism in
nature, Tønnessen suggests, one that divides biological life into favoured and non-favoured
species. Life and death have been apportioned around the planet for centuries according to
this anthropocentric matrix of biological utility. The result is a global colonial organism or
ecological empire, with human beings at the apex of a massive pyramid of fauna and flora that
we privilege because of their utility to our species‘ expanded reproduction. While
acknowledging the primary role played by Europe and the United States in diffusing a
particularly unsustainable model of development around the world over the last five hundred
years, Tønnessen explores the provocative question of whether there may be something
ecologically imperialistic in our behaviour as a species over a much longer time span than that
of Euro-American-dominated modernity. Drawing unnerving conclusions from this historical
retrospect, Tønnessen argues that the serried ecological crises we currently confront are linked
inextricably to the forms of biopower we exercise not simply over human populations but
over the mammoth global pyramid of flesh and grain upon which we depend.

Other contributors: Crystal Bartolovich, George Caffentzis, Ashley Dawson, Ben Dibbley, Jeremy
Gilbert, Peter Hitchcock, Leerom Medovoi, Brett Neilsen, Rob Nixon, Sian Sullivan, Nicholas Thoburn,
Tony Venezia.

"The Global Species" is also available for purchase in PDF format:

IncentaConnect $26,80 + tax


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DocStoc $7.95

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:28 0 comments

Labels: ecosemiotics, global species, Imperial Ecologies, New formations, political ecology, The Global
Species

Arne Næss memorial piece


My brief text "An ageing giant", published in the Spring/Summer 2009 issue of International Society
for Environmental Ethics Newsletter (p13), can now be accessed freely only also by non-members.
The entire issue is to be found here.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:10 0 comments

Labels: Arne Næss, deep ecology, environmental ethics, memorial, newsletter

Wednesday, 18 August 2010


Zoosemiotics conference: Updated CFP
The organizing team of the international conference 'Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations', to
be arranged in Tartu April 4-8, 2011 - cf. initial announcement and launch of webpage - has issued an
updated CFP. The deadline for abstract submission is September 15th. To submit a proposal,
interested scholars should e-mail an abstract (300-600 words) and a bio-note (less than 100 words)
to the address zoosemiotics@semiootika.ee. The abstract and bio-note should be sent together in
one file (.doc or .rtf) attached to the e-mail.

The news fall in two categories - plenary speakers and publication venues. We are glad to announce
the plenary speakers of the conference [already mentioned in Utopian Realism]: Colin Allen
(Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University, USA), Jesper Hoffmeyer
(Professor emeritus, Biological Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark), Graham Huggan
(Professor of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Literatures at University of Leeds, UK) and David
Rothenberg (Professor of Philosophy and Music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA).
/
There are two publications planned for the articles based on conference presentations: a volume in
Rodopi´s Nature, Culture and Literature series and a special issue on zoosemiotics in journal
Semiotica. The Rodopi volume will be edited by me and Kadri Tüür, the Semiotica issue by Timo
Maran.

/
For up-to-date information, see the conference webpage.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:33 0 comments

Labels: CFP, Rodopi, Semiotica, Tartu conference, Tartu semiotics, zoosemiotics, Zoosemiotics and
Animal representations
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Chronicle on Southern wolf


This Saturday (August 14th) a chronicle of mine, "Ulven på Sørlandet" (The Southern wolf) was
printed in the regional newspaper Fædrelandsvennen.

Cf. also my Norwegian language blog, Utopisk Realisme.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:20 0 comments

Labels: Fædrelandsvennen, Norwegian wolf management, Southern wolf, wolves and sheep

Monday, 9 August 2010


Academic news in brief X
1. The Sydney workshop 'History and philosophy of ethology', to be arranged at Macquarie
University, has been rescheduled to February 19-21st, 2010 (cf. previous post). I have started
pondering what more I can get done while in Australia.

2. The editorial work with the Special Issue of Hortus Semioticus 'Semiotics of Nature' is about to be
concluded - the issue is now entering production.

3. I have started writing my thesis (though that threshold qua point in time could be defined in
various ways).

4. The last week I have started planning the remaining field work and research stays of my case study
on Norwegian wolf management. First out is a trip to Langedrag mountain farm and wildlife park
(captive wolves) and Rendalen, Hedmark (sheep farms).

5. My debate article 'Forskningens formål' (The purpose of science) was printed in the Norwegian
national daily Aftenposten August 6th. Norwegian text here.

6. The same day I sent a chronicle entitled 'Ulven på Sørlandet' (The wolf in the South) to the regional
newspaper Fædrelandsvennen. This is my first comment to the wandering wolf that has been visiting
our region (where there have not been wolves since the mid-80ies, as far as I can remember) the last
few weeks, and the calls for its death.

7. Tomorrow I am heading for Bergen, where the 60th International Congress of Phenomenology is
taking place the next few days (cf. previous posts).

8. I have arranged tickets for my next visit to Estonia, which will take place September 5th-9th (5-8 in
Tartu, 8-9 in Tallinn).

***

Last 'Academic news in brief': No. IX.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:23 0 comments


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Labels: Academic news in brief, captive wolves, Hortus semioticus, phenomenology, philosophy of
ethology, sheep, Sydney

Monday, 5 July 2010


Read
In the 1st half of 2010, my reading log shows I have read 4.486pp, written by 199 authors (abstracts
included). If this (not very quick) reading pace keeps up (as it has of late), I may read something like
36,000pp during my 4 year PhD studies.

Author Top 5 (in parenthesis: second half of 2009, first half):

1 (-, 53). Michael Polanyi

2 (-). Ralph H. Lutts

3 (6, 26). Arne Næss

4 (12, 1). John Deely

5 (-). Walter Gulick


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The following thinkers have been treated the most in what I have read these 6 months (out of 218
thinkers logged):

1 (-). Michael Polanyi

2 (10, 5). Jakob von Uexküll

3 (16, 1). Charles Sanders Peirce

4 (18), 10. Thomas Sebeok

5 (29, 18). Maurice Merleau-Ponty

6 (-). Marjorie Grene

7 (5, 11). René Descartes

8 (-). William J. Long

9 (3, 18). Immanuel Kant

10. Aristotle (2, 3), Heidegger (14, 7), Theodore Roosevelt (-)

As we see, scientist-come-philosopher Michael Polanyi (1891-1976) - who I first read last spring -
tops both lists, and I have also taken interest in his part-colleague Marjorie Grene (1910-2009), who's
#7 at the author list and #6 in the about-list. For totally unrelated top 10-lists, including 10 Truly
Awful Ways To Be Killed By An Animal, see Listverse.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:12 0 comments

Labels: email lists, log, Michael Polanyi, most read


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Academic news in brief IX

1) Saturday - two days ago - I finished my quarterly report for the research project "The Cultural
Heritage of Environmental Spaces. A Comparative Analysis Between Estonia and Norway" (5pp).
2) In the process of this year's doctoral attestation review, I was informed that my doctoral school
should be the Estonian Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts (GSCSA) (application submitted).
3) The interview with professor in biosemiotics Kalevi Kull (my supervisor), conducted by me and Riin
Magnus, has now been fully transcribed, and is in the process of being edited ("The bio-translator").
The final text will include a full biosemiotic bibliography, and replies to questions by Don Favareau,
Timo Maran and Paul Cobley.
4) A couple of weeks ago, on the 21st of June, I met in Oslo with green criminologists Ragnhild
Sollund and Guri Larsen to develop our planned anthology on human-animal and human-nature
relations. We have sketched the topics of around 18 chapters and discussed potential contributors.
Invitations to participate will likely be sent in August.

5) The 'opponent' (commentator) at my presentation on illegal wolf hunting in the seminar series
Kriminalpolitisk seminar (University of Oslo) in November will likely be professor of criminology
Kjersti Ericsson (1944-). Program for the series appears here.
6) Yesterday John Deely - who will this autumn publish Medieval Philosophy Redefined - agreed that
we will submit a book proposal (for softcover publication) involving the four first semioethics
interviews. I am very much looking forward to that enterprise.
7) Faithful to tradition, Marcello Barbieri has published photos from the 10th gathering in
biosemiotics, which took place in Braga, Portugal, a week ago.
8) Through my company, Spør Filosofen, I have been booked for a philosophical presentation of "The
future of the growth economy" at Aker Maritime Hydraulics (by the Aker MH philosophy and
literature group).

Previous posts:
Academic news in brief VIII
Academic news in brief VII
Academic news in brief VI
Academic news in brief V
Academic news in brief IV
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Academic news in brief III


Academic news in brief II
Academic news in brief I (March 30, 2009)

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:24 0 comments

Labels: Gatherings in biosemiotics, green criminology, John Deely, Kalevi Kull, philosophy business,
semioethics

Saturday, 3 July 2010


Third semioethics interview approaching publication
I am right now in the process of proof-reading "The Semioethics Interviews III: John Deely: Human
Understanding in the Age of Global Awareness", which will be published in the book Semiotics:
Theory and applications.

Nova Publishers have now launched a site for the collection, which is edited by Steven C. Hamel, and
included in the "Languages and Linguistics" series. The book, which will cost no less than 129$, is
scheduled for publication in the 4th quarter of 2010. Below is Nova's book description and the table
of contents (any emphasis is mine).

Book Description:
Semiotics is the study of sign processes (semiosis), or signification and communication, signs
and symbols, and is usually divided into three branches: Semantics, Syntactics, and
Pragmatics. Semiotics is frequently seen as having important anthropological dimensions. In
general, semiotic theories take signs or sign systems as their object of study: the
communication of information in living organisms is covered in biosemiotics or
zoosemiosis. This book discusses the theory and application of semiotics across a broad
spectrum and has gathered current research from around the globe.

Table of Contents:
Preface

Signifying the Transition from Modern to Post-Modern Schooling through Analyzing


Changes in the Material Culture of Schools (Kostas Dimopoulos, Associate Professor of
Learning Materials, Dept of Social and Educational Policy, University of Peloponnese,
Greece)

Beyond Signification: The Co-Evolution of Subject and Semiosis (Tahir Wood, University of
the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa)

Language, Emotion, and Health: A Semiotic Perspective on the Writing Cure (Louise
Sundararajan, Chulmin Kim, Martina Reynolds, Chris R. Brewin, Rochester Regional
Forensic Unit, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York, and others)

Re-Thinking the Place of Semiotics in Psychology and its Implications for Psychological
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Research (Agnes Petocz, University of Western Sydney)

How Israelis Represent the Problem of Violence in their Schools: A Case Study of a
Discursive Construction (Douglas J. Glick, Department of Anthropology, Binghamton
University, Binghamton, New York)

The Semioethics Interviews III: John Deely: Human Understanding in the Age of Global
Awareness (Morten Tønnessen, Department of Semiotics, Institute of Philosophy and
Semiotics, University of Tartu, Estonia, and others)

A Semiotics Discourse Analysis Framework: Understanding Meaning Making in Science


Education Contexts (Kamini Jaipal-Jamani, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ont., Canada)

Semiotic Constraints of the Biological Organization (Abir U. Igamberdiev, Memorial


University of Newfoundland, Department of Biology, St. John‘s, NL, Canada)

Corpus-Based Approaches to Metaphor and Metonymy: Review of Stefanowitsch, Anatol,


Gries, Stefan Th. (eds.) (Zhiying Xin, School of Foreign Languages, Sun Yat-sen University,
P. R. China)

The Role of Sign Vehicles in Mediating Teachers‘ Mathematical Problem Solving (Sinikka
Kaartinen, Timo Latomaa, University of Oulu, Finland)

Interaction and Interactivity: A Semiotic Commentary (Jan M. Broekman, Distinguished


Visiting Professor of Law, Penn State University Dickinson School of Law, Pennsylvania)

Multimodal Stylistics: The Happy Marriage of Stylistics and Semiotics (Nina Nørgaard,
Institute of Language and Communication, University of Southern Denmark)

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:28 0 comments

Labels: John Deely, Nova Science Publishers, semioethics, Semiotics: Theory and applications

Monday, 28 June 2010


Brief report from Braga
I enjoyed being in Portugal very much (my first visit there).

The talks I liked the most were these:


1. Alexei SHAROV: "Functional information: towards synthesis of biosemiotics and cybernetics"
2. Günther WITZANI: "Biocommunication of cancer cells"
3. Marcello BARBIERI: "On the origin of language"

My talk ''We the living: The reception of Uexküll in Norwegian ecophilosophy" (focusing on Arne
NÆSS and Peter Wessel ZAPFFE) was given Friday 25th at 11-11.30, and was subject to questions
from Don FAVAREAU, Peter HARRIES-JONES and Jesper HOFFMEYER.

That same Friday I chaired the afternoon session (stepping in for Marcella FARIA, who was not
77

there), which included these talks:


Dennis WATERS: "Von Neumann's theory of self-reproducing automata: A useful framework for
biosemiotics?"
Siohoi IENG: "A biosemiotic formulation of survival strategies for robots"
Gérard BATTAIL: "Identity, species, order"
Peter BARLOW: "To life on Earth: Messages from the Moon"
Isabel FERREIRA: "Interactive bodies: The semiosis of architectural forms - a case study"
Ted BAENZIGER: "Alpha and omega: the oldest and newest example of interphylogenetic semiotics:
the orchid"

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:01 0 comments

Labels: Arne Næss, Braga, Gatherings in biosemiotics, Jakob von Uexküll, Peter Wessel Zapffe,
Portugal

Monday, 21 June 2010


Seagull drama (YouTube)

Seagull drama just outside my living room window

Seagull drama II - now on a low roof

Seagull drama just outside our kitchen window

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:14 0 comments

Labels: drama, Seagull, wildlife, window

Thursday, 10 June 2010


Presentation at criminology seminar
I have agreed to give a talk in an open criminology seminar, "Kriminalpolitisk seminar", arranged by
Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law (University of Oslo), November 11th (14.15-16.00).
The topic is "Illegal wolf hunting" ("Ulovlig jakt på ulv").
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Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:39 0 comments

Labels: criminology, green criminology, ulovlig jakt, wolf hunting

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


Web stats and most viewed at Scribd
CHANGE since June 2nd 2009.

SCRIBD - IN ENGLISH
1. The Statistician's Guide to Utopia: The Future of Growth 1.089 (+646)
2. Steps to a Semiotics of Being (PPT) 567 (+416)
3. Utopian Realism 2009 474
4. Umwelt Transition: Uexküllian Phenomenology (research plan) 381
5. Semio (poster) 378 (+212)
6. Curriculum Vitae of Morten Tønnessen (1/5 2010) 333
7. Environmental problems in light of Gabriel Marcel's distinction problem/mystery 306
8. POSTER The Nature View Held by Environmentalists 280
9. ABSTRACT The Nature View Held by Environmentalists 253
10. Signs Grow, But Should They? Semioethics and the Dominant Semiosis of Homo Sapiens 218
11. Reversing the Brain Drain 191
12. The Nature View Held by Environmentalists (Attitudes in the Norwegian Environmental
Establishment) 163
13. 'Tell Me, Where is Morality Bred?' (The Semioethics Interviews I, John Deely) 140

Umwelt ethics: Deleted (but see Sign Systems Studies)

SCRIBD - IN NORWEGIAN
1. Historieløst om klima 853 (+649)
2. Utopisk Realisme 2009 772
3. Om fluer og filosofi (intervju med Arne Næss) 673
4. Hvem har ansvaret for volden? 641 (+464)
5. Burlesk vitenskapsparodi 419
6. Tidsvitne - omslag 377
7. 20 års moratorium mot oljeleting 305
8. Preludium til romanen HUFF 295
9. Europa i overgangsalderen 238
10. Jakob von Uexküll og øyets verden 224
11. Svart Bok 1998 208

SCRIBD - IN ESTONIAN
1. Must naine Tartus 445 (+293)

All my documents at Scribd


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25 Uploads
17 Subscribers
11,162 Reads
0 Readcasts

All-time web stats (no. of visits)


1. Utopisk Realisme 14.007
2. Utopian Realism 4.360
3. The Schopenhauer Experience 418

SemioPhenomenon 2.973

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:44 0 comments

Labels: Scribd, web stats

Academic news in brief VIII


1. The April 2011 conference Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations, for which I am part of the
organizing team, has announced publicly its four keynote speakers: Colin Allen, Jesper Hoffmeyer,
Graham Huggan and David Rothenberg.

2. The 10th Gathering in Biosemiotics, to be arranged in Braga, Portugal June 22-27th, has some time
ago announced its program, where my talk is scheduled for presentation Friday June 25th at 9-9.30.
The abstract of "We The Living: The Reception of Uexküll in Norwegian Ecophilosophy" is to be found
at page 42 in the abstract book.

3. Since the last "Academic news in brief" was posted May 7th, I have conducted further Michael
Polanyi work papers, and thereby, as it turned out, concluded the course work in The philosophy of
Michael Polanyi. I have started reading Marjorie Grene, and expect to write a paper at some not too
distant point in time on Polanyi and Grene and their relevance for matters of biosemiotics (and vice-
versa).

4. Quite some time ago, I was told my first blurb ever was not included after all in Paul Cobley (ed.):
Realism for the 21st Century. A John Deely Reader, published October 2009.

5. Monday - two days ago - I wrote my Attestation Review report for my third year as a Ph.D. student
(progress review report), which includes a Revised plan for research and study for the academic year
2010/2011. 13 pp. The attestation review meeting takes place Thursday 17th of June, but I do not
have the chance to be there in person.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:09 0 comments


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Labels: Academic news in brief, attestation review, Gatherings in biosemiotics, John Deely, Marjorie
Grene, Michael Polanyi, Norwegian ecophilosophy, Uexküll, We the living, zoosemiotics

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
81

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.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:39 0 comments

Labels: Arne Johan Vetlesen, Jesper Hoffmeyer, John Deely, Jon Wetlesen, semioethics, Thomas
Sebeok, Umwelt, Umwelt ethics

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


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Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:22 0 comments

Labels: captive animals, Kristansand Zoo


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Zoo life (Kristiansand Zoo May 15th)


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Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:15 0 comments

Labels: captive animals, Kristansand Zoo


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Behind the bars (Kristiansand Zoo May 15th)


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87

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:07 0 comments

Labels: bars, captive animals, fox, Kristansand Zoo, lion

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


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Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 03:03 0 comments

Labels: captive wolves, Kristansand Zoo, Wolves

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.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:30 0 comments

Labels: New formations, The Global Species

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


Monkey business (Kristiansand zoo)
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Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:08 0 comments

Labels: Kristiansand, zoo animals, zoological garden

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...").

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:28 0 comments


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Labels: Anthology, editing, green criminology, Little Red Riding Hood, Nordic Council for Criminology,
speciesism

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.

FROM THE INTRODUCTION


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.
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Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:38 0 comments

Labels: Academic news in brief, David Abram, Fædrelandsvennen, green criminology, interview,
liberation, Michael Polanyi, Phil Mullins

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.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:42 0 comments

Labels: bear hunt, bear management, civil disobedience, Nationen

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.

Contents

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.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:20 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiotics, Delectable creatures, Semiotics of perception, Steps to a semiotics of being,


Wendy Wheeler

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
93

phenomenology' - 20pp. Like the other papers, it will be considered for publication in Analecta
Husserliana.

Contents

Uexküllian phenomenology

Eco-existentialism, eco-phenomenology, and semiotics of


nature

 a) The eco-existentialism of Peter Wessel Zapffe


 b) The eco-phenomenology of David Abram and Ted
Toadvine
 c) Semiotics of nature (biosemiotics, ecosemiotics,
zoosemiotics)

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:11 0 comments


Labels: Analecta Husserliana, Bergen, biosemiosics, eco-existentialism, eco-phenomenology, Jakob
von Uexküll, phenomenology, semiotics of nature, Uexküllian phenomenology

Thursday, 29 April 2010


Examiner, University of Stavanger
I have been appointed as examiner (sensor) for Ex.Phil. (introductory philosophy) students at
University of Stavanger for a period of one year. In practice, this means that I will correct exam
papers in November/December this year. It will be my second time.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:18 0 comments

Labels: Examen philosophicum, examiner, University of Stavanger

Filosofisk Forum - looking back, and ahead


Today Filosofisk Forum (Agder University) had what turns out to be our last event for the semester (a
seminar-style talk/discussion about love). Unfortunately Camilla Serck-Hanssen (University of Oslo)
has had to cancel her planned talk in May - but we expect to host a lecture by her this autumn in
stead.

I have agreed to continue as a member of the steering group this autumn. We'll have to find new
student representatives from the fresh one-year philosophy students come September.

Next week we'll have a steering group meeting. Following that, we'll conduct a report on the
activities of this semester.
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Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:09 0 comments

Labels: Agder University, Filosofisk forum, love

Agents in hiding
I am in the process of contributing, as part of a proposed panel on animal agency, with an abstract to
the 6th conference of the European Society for Environmental History (ESEH), to be arranged in
Turku, Finland, June/July 2011. The title of my abstract is "Wolf history: Agents in hiding".

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:56 0 comments

Labels: agency, animal agency, animal studies, environmental history, wolf ecology

Wolf criminology
My abstract "The legality and ethical legitimacy of wolf hunting in Scandinavia" has been accepted
for presentation at the 52nd research seminar of the Scandinavian Research Council for Criminology
(SCRfC), to be arranged at Hønefoss, Norway, May 10-12.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:49 0 comments

Labels: criminology, ethical legitimacy, legality, wolf hunting, wolf policies

Research assistant (+100)


I am in the process of signing a new contract (or get my current contract renewed) as a research
assistant for the Agder University project Multimodalitet, lesemidler og læremidler (Multimodality,
literacy and learning), for another 100 hours.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:43 0 comments

Labels: Agder University, Multimodality, research assistant

Tuesday, 27 April 2010


CV
I have updated my CV.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:18 0 comments

Labels: CV

Monday, 26 April 2010


Wolf land online
My article Wolf land has been published online (April 23rd) as part of the special issue of Biosemiotics
Semiotics of perception. You'll find it here (full access for subscribers only) - and a free preview here.

Abstract
Wolf land is in the context of the present article to be considered as an ambiguous term
95

referring to ―the land of the wolf‖ from the wolf‘s perspective as well as from a human
perspective. I start out by presenting the general circumstances of the Scandinavian wolf
population, then turn to the Norwegian wolf controversy in particular. The latter half of the
article consists of an elucidation of current wolf ecology related to what is here termed wolf
land, and a concluding comment to the now controversial notion of wilderness. The final
section of this article further includes identification of changing factors in current
Scandinavian wolf ecology in terms of its semiotic niche, and ontological niche, respectively.

Keywords Wolf ecology - Wildlife management - Anti-conservationism - Land - Territory -


Wilderness

The following articles have also been published online (print version is due in December):

* Merleau-Ponty’s Concept of Nature and the Ontology of Flesh


Ane Faugstad Aarø
* Ecosystems are Made of Semiosic Bonds: Consortia, Umwelten, Biophony and Ecological Codes
Kalevi Kull
* Autocommunication and Perceptual Markers in Landscape: Japanese Examples
Kati Lindström
* Plant as Object within Herbal Landscape: Different Kinds of Perception
Renata Sõukand and Raivo Kalle
* Introduction to the Special Issue Semiotics of Perception Being in the World of the Living—Semiotic
Perspectives
Kati Lindström and Morten Tønnessen

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:26 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiotics, Kalevi Kull, Merleau-Ponty, Norway, Norwegian wolf management, Semiotics of
perception, special issue, Wolf land, wolf management

Thursday, 22 April 2010


Introduction to special issue online
"Being in the world of the living - Introduction to the Special Issue Semiotics of Perception", written
by Kati Lindström and me, has been published online (April 20, 2010).

.
The article is accessible in full-length for subscribers only.

Abstract
This special issue on the semiotics of perception originates from two workshops arranged in
Tartu, Estonia, in February 2009. We are located at the junction of nature and culture, and of
semiotics and phenomenology. Can they be reconciled? More particularly, can subfields such
as biosemiotics and ecophenomenology be mutually enriching? The authors of the current
special issue believe that they can. Semiotic study of life and the living can emerge as
properly informed only if it is capable of incorporating observations made in natural science,
96

philosophy and cultural studies. The semiotic study of nature entails an experiential turn in the
study of life processes. Perception is—or should be—at the heart of the life sciences.

Keywords Animal mind - Landscape - Perception - Semiotics and phenomenology -


Uexküllian phenomenology - Umwelt

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:18 0 comments

Special issue "Semiotics of Perception" delayed


The publication of the special issue of Biosemiotics "Semiotics of perception", for which I am a guest
editor along with Kati Lindström, has been rescheduled due to a copyright issue. It will appear as no.
3(3), in December. A regular issue will appear as no 3(2) in August.

9 out of 10 articles will be published online in a matter of days and weeks.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:13 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiotics, Semiotics of perception, special issue

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


Third semioethics interview finished, submitted and approved
The third semioethics interview, "The semioethics interviews III: John Deely: Human understanding in
the age of global awareness" was in the main finished the last weekend and finally submitted (with
minor changes) this Monday to Nova Science publishers for their forthcoming edited collection
"Semiotics: Theory and applications". Wednesday it was accepted for publication.

I have further cleared it for possible cross-publication in their topical journals.

CONTENTS

Introduction

To consider products as processes

To be aware that something exists independently of us

To realize that this planet is what we have

To realize that tomorrow is not a forever thing

To pinpoint who are responsible

To understand the domino effect


97

To conceptualize reality appropriately

To foresee negative consequences of miraculous technologies

Conclusion

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:47 0 comments

Labels: applied semiotics, John Deely, Nova Science Publishers, semioethics, The semioethics
interviews

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


GDP: Debate in The Economist
This week's online debate in The Economist concerns the following question:

This house believes that GDP growth is a poor measure of improving living standards.

Utopian Realism wrote:

Dear Sir,
for me it is impossible to answer the posted question with a simple 'yes' or 'no', because two matters
appear to be confused at the very root of the debate:
a) whether or not GDP measures (there are various measures) are precise indicators of 'living
standards'
b) whether or not growing GDP is a desirable political aim (for already wealthy nations)

It might very well be that the answer to a) is in the main yes, but the answer to b) no (if so, there is
an optimal level of GDP, and GDP is not to be maximized, but optimalized).

This possibility, however, presupposes that the debate's term 'living standards' is highly ambiguous,
and a poor choice of terms. Which it is. In market terms, GDP measures are quantitative measures
(even though they do refer to the 'demand' of economic stakeholders with means). The 'living
standard' Oswald has in mind appears to be of a qualitative nature.

The Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss distinguished systematically between 'standard of living' (a
quantitative measure of wealth) and 'quality of life'. If such a distinction had been introduced in the
polled question, I would have been able to take a stand. As it stands, a 'yes' would imply conceptual
ignorance, and a 'no' ethical ignorance.
Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 03:50 0 comments

Labels: Arne Næss, GDP, ignorance, living standard, quality of life, standard of living, The Economist,
wealth, welfare, wellbeing

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


98

Animal studies email list


I have joined the email list of the Nordic HAS (The Nordic Animal Studies Network), "a group mainly
for scientists and Ph.D. students active in the field of human-animal studies. The network is intended
for discussions and exchange of information regarding conferences, seminars and other academic
events within the multidisciplinary area of human-animal studies and to facilitate research
cooperation among its participants.".

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:33 0 comments

Labels: animal studies, email lists, Nordic HAS, The Nordic Animal Studies Netwwork

Sunday, 11 April 2010


"Is a wolf..." revised and ready for publication
I have just revised my article now entitled "Is a wolf wild as long as it does not know that it is being
thoroughly handled?", not least by adding a 2pp "Closing note: On Arne Næss' philosophy of wolf
policies". The article now refers to his 1974 and 1987 articles on the topic.

Humanimalia has confirmed that they will publish my article. I am adding the part on Næss in
response to a suggestion from their external reviewer - who liked the questions the article poses. He
hopes it will spur debate.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 19:21 0 comments

Labels: Arne Næss, Humanimalia, wildlife conservation, wolf management, wolf policies

Abstract: The legality and ethical legitimacy of wolf hunting in Scandinavia


I have just submitted an abstract to the 52nd research seminar of the Scandinavian Research Council
for Criminology (SCRfC), to take place at Hønefoss, Norway, May 10-12.

The legality and ethical legitimacy of wolf hunting in Scandinavia

This presentation will partake in the session May 11th, ―Globalisering i kriminologien og
økologisk kriminologi‖.

First, I will briefly examine laws and rules regulating wolves in Norway and Sweden since
―Lov om Utryddelse af Rovdyr og Fredning af andet Vildt‖ (Law on Extinction of Carnivores
and Protection of other Wildlife) was enforced in Norway in 1845. This section will include
comparisons of Norwegian and Swedish management regulations. In Norway, wolves have
had the status of a protected species since 1972, but conservation policies remain
controversial – and are regularly sabotaged by means of illegal hunting. The same goes for
Sweden, which in January orchestrated the first legal wolf hunt for more than a generation.

Second, I will discuss the ethical legitimacy of legal and illegal wolf hunting respectively.
How do they compare, in terms of what is justifiable in light of sustainable development etc.?
The centrality of this question is evidenced by the fact that a majority of Scandinavian wolves
today die in the encounter with a bullet. Even though the motivation of the various shooters
99

varies greatly, the outcome for the wolf is systematically similar. Unlike illegal hunting, legal
hunts have the sanction of the law. From a pragmatic standpoint, however, the attempts to
negotiate agreement with opponents of conservation policies by allowing or conducting wolf
hunts do not seem to have much effect on the level of illegal hunting. Rather than working so
as to combat illegal hunting, one could claim that current management strategies rather
legitimize wolf hunting as a phenomenon in general.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:39 0 comments

Labels: criminology, ethical legitimacy, extinction, illegal hunting, law, legal hunting, legality,
protected species, wolf conservation, wolf hunting, wolf management

Academic news in brief VI - Tartu/Tallinn events April 1-8


April 1-7 I was in Tartu, and 7-8 in Tallinn.
---------------------------------------------------------------

1) Thursday April 1st the deadline for submitting abstracts to the special issue of Hortus Semioticus
"Semiotics of nature" expired. All in all we received 3 English language abstracts. We expect to see
them all materialize.
-

2) Friday April 2nd I presented the 30m PP "Territory vs. confinement: The Umwelten of free-range
vs. captive wolves" at a 6 hour Research seminar in zoosemiotics and animal representations.
-

3) During the seminar, I agreed with Silver RATTASEPP and Nelly MÄEKIVI to include the latter
(possibly as a replacement of the former) in the planned co-work with Estonian wolf ethologist Ilmar
ROOTSI. An initial meeting has yet to take place - perhaps in June.

4) After the seminar, researchers of the project Dynamical zoosemiotics and animal representations
had a meeting (at Vilde) where we first of all made plans for the April 2011 conference Zoosemiotics
and animal representations. I agreed to co-edit the proceedings (expected spring 2012) with Timo
MARAN, which we aim to get published in book form by an international publisher. The proceedings
will envelop selected conference contributions only.

5) Monday April 5th I guest-lectured in Riin MAGNUS' English language MA course in ecosemiotics.
The topic was "More-than-human needs: The needs of the living". We discussed two papers:

- Arne NÆSS & Ivar MYSTERUD: "Philosophy of wolf policies (I): General principles and prelimenary
exploration of selected norms"

- Alf HORNBORG: "Vital signs: An ecosemiotic perspective on the human ecology of Amazonia"

-
6) After the seminar I discussed the topic of animal play during lunch with MA student Arlene
100

TUCKER. She'll write a term paper on fish play.


-

7) I then met with Riin MAGNUS to prepare our Hortus Semioticus interview with Kalevi KULL.

8) Tuesday April 6th I met 2 hours with visiting professor Walter GULICK for consultation. I am a
student in his course "The philosophy of Michael POLANYI". Polyani seems quite useful for my thesis
work etc.

9) After reading another chapter in GULICK's forthcoming POLANYI reader - which we use as course
material - I went to class (generally I take this course as a reading course. A term paper will have to
be conducted in May).

10) A while after the course, I returned to Department of semiotics to conduct the interview on
biosemiotics with Kalevi KULL, together with Riin MAGNUS. 1hr50min of recordings.

11) Finally, in Tallinn, Wednesday April 7th, I met with Allan GROMOV in Keskkonnaministeerium, the
Estonian Ministry of the Environment, to discuss possible cooperation on climate issues.

---------------------------------------------------------------
You'll find the first five "Academic news in brief" postings here.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:39 0 comments

Labels: Academic news in brief, Arne Næss, climate change, Kalevi Kull, Michael Polanyi, Tartu, the
Tartu school of biosemiotics, wolf ecology, zoosemiotics

Minding Animals International (MAI)


I have gotten in touch with Minding Animals International, the people behind the 2009
Newcastle/Australia conference and the forthcoming 2012 conference in the same series to be
arranged in Utrecht. Concretely, I have been added to the MA Email Network.

MAI aims to promote integration/development of contact between researchers in the field of animal
studies on one hand and advocacy groups promoting environmentalism, animal rigths etc. on the
other. Importantly, their vision is to support attempts to integrate the environmental movement and
animal rights groups - though MAI's work is in the main theoretical/scholarly. A crucial task!

You'll find their Objectives & Principles here. Except for a few bizarre ideas, such as the topic of
"Animals and the Queer Communities" (no offence to either party), it's all good.
101

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:12 0 comments

Labels: animal rights, animal studies, environmentalism, Minding Animals, Minding Animals
International

Saturday, 10 April 2010


Webpage for zoosemiotics conference (2011)

The international conference Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations, to be arranged in Tartu April
2011, has launched its official homepage.

Our call for papers has deadline September 15.

Thanks to Katre Pärn for designing the webpage.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:39 0 comments


Labels: call for papers, Dynamical zoosemiotics and animal representations, Tartu, Tartu semiotics,
the Tartu school of biosemiotics, zoosemiotics
102

ResearcherID profile
I have registered with a profile at ResearcherID (here). ID: B-1482-2010.

Since I am not at any of my institutions, I have not yet been able to add publications.

Description:

With background from philosophy, I currently work mostly within the framework of
semiotics, in the tradition of biologist Jakob von Uexküll (1864-1944). My main topic is
human-nature relations. Consequently everything from conservation issues and philosophy of
science via cultural representation of animals and economic growth to future studies is of
interest to me. Reworking ontology is our greatest challenge.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:27 0 comments

Join James Hansen's email list!


A few days back it was announced that climate scientist James Hansen has been awarded this year's
Sophie prize.

I have been on his email list for a year or so now. You can join it here.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:12 0 comments

Labels: climate change, James Hansen, Sophie prize

Wednesday, 7 April 2010


Philosophy/history of ethology workshop materializing
The Sydney workshop on ethology that I was invited to not so long ago got funding, and will
materialize. This will be my first visit to Australia (and the second continent I visit on the Southern
hemisphere).

NAME: History and philosophy of ethology -- International


Collaborative Workshop

PLACE: Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

LIKELY TIME: February 22-4, 2011

Thanks to Juipi Chien (Taiwan) for making connections between people...

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:19 0 comments

Labels: Australia, Ethology, Macquarie University, philosophy of biology, philosophy of ethology,


Sydney

Thursday, 25 March 2010


103

"Mapping human impact" considered unsuitable


My article "Mapping human impact", where for one thing I critically evaluate the ecological footprint
concept, has been found unsuitable for Geografiska annaler by reviewers of that prestiguous journal.
Unsurprisingly, I think (as it is very much focused on my own theoretical development of Umwelt
mapping, rather than first and foremost relating to established methodology).

It is now likely to appear in the general conference proceedings of the second CECT (Centre of
Excellence in Cultural Theory) autumn conference, which as far as I understand is also materializing -
though its precise format will only be decided upon in a month or so.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:41 0 comments

Labels: CECT, ecological footprint, Geografiska annaler, mapping human impact, Umwelt mapping

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Abstract for "The global species"
The publication of my article "The global species" in Britain's New formations is approaching, and in
the process I have just written an abstract for it.

Abstract
The phenomenon of colonialism is in this article treated with reference to our stepwise
establishment throughout history of something akin to a global colonial organism. The
concept of ‗global species‘, which is introduced for the first time, applies not only to the
human species but furthermore to several of our affiliated species. Due to disparity in
ecological and climatic conditions, global presence may never before have been a typical
characteristic of dominating species – but it is today. Humankind‘s successful proliferation
and dispersal has facilitated the global spread of everything from livestock and crop species to
pets and certain bugs, at the expense of wildlife. Though humankind is in this article for the
most part taken to be one entity, the author does in no way claim that all cultures are the same,
or that we are destined to go on in the same way as we have started out. The word ―we‖,
however, is empathised – as a prerequisite for a truly global awareness and sense of
responsibility. What this article suggests, is simply that the global colonial organism we have
established is the proper real-life framework for any discussion of the ecological performance
of specific cultures and societies.

Keywords
Biosemiotics, Capitalism, Crop species, Global colonial organism, Global culture, Global
species, Globalisation, Land use, Livestock, Pets

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:17 0 comments

Labels: abstract, global colonial organism, globalisation, keywords, New formations, The Global
Species
104

Academic news in brief V: Group dialogue, editing, and a climate movie


1. Yesterday's town hall meeting with philosophical consultations on the topic of faith (Byhallen,
Kristiansand, Norway) went well, with 57 persons taking part at one point or another. We were
sitting in a half-circle, to facilitate a cosy, intimate group feeling. I was the facilitator for the last 45
minutes or so.

2. The editing of "Semiotics of Perception", the forthcoming special issue of Biosemiotics, is moving
into its very last stages - currently being sent to typesetting. Production next.

3. At the same day as I am giving a talk at Hald International Centre, Hald - May 26th (cf. yesterday's
Academic news in brief) - they will sceen the crowd-funded, fictional-documentary climate movie The
Age of Stupid. Recommendable, for the most part (I saw it a few days ago, in preparation of this
event).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:34 0 comments

Labels: Age of stupid, Filosofisk forum, filosofiske samtaler, Hald, Kristiansand, philosophical
consultations, Semiotics of perception, town hall meeting

Academic news in brief IV: Group dialogue, networking, and two talks
[Written yesterday]

1. This morning, I was on the radio for 7 minutes (Radio Sør, Kristiansand) talking about this evening's
townhall meeting, "Philosophical consultations on faith" [Filosofisk samtale om tro] - cf. former plans
made and reported. I will supplement Håvard Løkke in the role as "samtaleleder" (facilitator for the
group conversation). Four persons will introduce us to their personal view on faith: Akmal
Ali/Noureddine Ramila (muslim), Paul Leer-Salvesen (christian) and the philosophers Ralph Henk
Vaags (christian) and Stein Rafoss ("humanist").

2. Yesterday I registered on LinkedIn.

3. Last week I agreed to give a 2 hour English language talk on the environment and human dignity at
Hald International Centre (Mandal, Southern Norway) May 26th. The audience will consist of a
"class" of volunteers (14 nationalities, I think) that will by then have spent the last 7 months
practicing aid and relief.

4. Last week I further committed to giving a 45 minute talk April 5th at the University of Tartu, in an
English language ecosemiotics course at master level, led by my collegue Riin Magnus. The topic: The
needs of humans and other living creatures... and the possibility of coexistence.
105

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:29 0 comments

Labels: Act now, aid, Biosemiotics, coexistence, ecosemiotics, Hald, Kristiansand, Mandal, needs,
relief, Tartu, University of Agder, University of Tartu

Zoosemiotic research seminar April 2nd


Tartu Ülikooli semiootika osakond Department of Semiotics, University of Tartu
Tööseminar “zoosemiootika ja loomade representatsioonid” Research seminar in zoosemiotics and
animal representations

Tartu, Tiigi 78-324


2.04.2010, 10.00-16.00

Program

10.15 Coffee and introductory words


10.30 Morten Tønnessen. Territory vs. confinement - the Umwelten of free-range vs. captive
wolves
11.00 Nelly Mäekivi. Zoological garden as a semiotic environment
11.30 Teevi Subert. Sümboliline kommunikatsioon
12.00 Silver Rattasepp. The changeable and the unchangeable, or how practice becomes
metaphysics
12.30 – 14.00 Lunch break
14.00 Timo Maran. Analyzing Th. A. Sebeok‘s bibliography: initial results, problems and
perspectives
14.30 Elena Grigorjeva. XX XY Indication of the chromosome
15.00 Lona Päll. Vabaduse ökosemiootiline käsitlus Kaplinski ―Lahkujate‖ põhjal
15.30 Kadri Tüür. Birds and herrings: the Estonian tradition of maritime travel literature

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:13 0 comments

Labels: captive wolves, Department of semiotics, Dynamical zoosemiotics and animal


representations, free-range wolves, Umwelt, University of Tartu, zoosemiotics

Tuesday, 16 March 2010


Bear video

Here.

Cf. my recent post Bear pics.


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Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:04 0 comments

Labels: animal play, bear cubs, play fight, Polar Zoo, Salt and Pepper

Biosemiotics
I am now included in the online overview of the editorial board of the Springer journal Biosemiotics.

Morten Tønnessen, Department of Semiotics, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:53 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiotics, editorial board, Springer

Bear pics
The bear cubs Salt and Pepper of Polar Zoo in Northern Norway were officially let out of the den for
the winter this Saturday (2 days ago) (picture in local newspaper, with red ball, here). A few days
earlier, when I happened to be present, they tried it out, off the record, to see how the bears would
respond. Here's a few pictures of the two leaving the artificial den, and play fighting in the snow.
107
108

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:46 0 comments

Labels: bear cubs, bears, Polar Zoo, Salt and Pepper

Saturday, 13 March 2010


Tartu brochure online
The testemonial I have written for the University of Tartu (Tartu Ülikool) has so far been online on
http://www.ut.ee/ under the heading "Degree Programmes Taught in English – University of Tartu"
(NB! Testemonials rotating).

Now the 4 page brochure in which it appears - about Ph.D. degree studies, and short-term research
visits - is also online. The nationality of the three other Ph.D. students featuring with testemonials is
Romanian, Latvian and Chinese, respectively.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:24 0 comments

Labels: brochure, degree programmes, English, Ph.D. studies, PhD studies, research visit, Tartu
semiotics, Tartu Ülikool, Testemonial, University of Tartu

Friday, 12 March 2010


"We the living" accepted for presentation
I have just been notified by the Scientific Advidory Committee that my submission “We the living:
The reception of Uexkull in Norwegian ecophilosophy” has been accepted for presentation at the
10th Annual International Gathering in Biosemiotics, to be held at the Portuguese Catholic University
in Braga, Portugal June 22-27, 2010.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 03:02 0 comments


109

Labels: Biosemiotics, deep ecology, environmental philosophy, Gatherings in biosemiotics, Jakob von
Uexküll, Norwegian ecophilosophy, Peter Wessel Zapffe, reception, Umwelt theory

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


6 more wolf videos - now up-close
Links to the videos at the bottom.
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Wolf couple moving in synch

Wolves wrestle

Wolf play

A wolf plotting to steal my glove

Luna chased - the fun is over, time to go

Wolf tries to steal my glove

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:52 0 comments

Labels: animal behaviour, animal videos, captive wolves, Polar Zoo, wolf, wolf ecology, Wolves
111

And the wolves they are a-fighting


The general pattern was that Nayla and Ylva were the ones fighting (and Ylva in particular chasing
Luna, the omega (bottom of hierarchy) wolf), while Steinulv, the alpha male, kept whining and
intervening to keep the peace.

The socialized wolves at Polar Zoo simultaneously carry out their roles vis-à-vis their human
caretakers (and visitors to the zoo) and their social roles vis-à-vis each other (this is due to the fact
that the zookeepers remain neutral, in stead of taking "a role in the pack"). Accordingly, they can
fight one moment and lick a caretaker's face the next, then returning to the fight...
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113

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:57 0 comments

Labels: aggression, captive wolves, fight, hierarchy, Luna, Nayla, Polar Zoo, Steinulv, wolf, wolf
ecology, wolf violence, Ylva

The king of the hill


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Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:47 0 comments


Labels: captive wolves, hill, king, Polar Zoo, wolf, wolf ecology, wolf imagery, Wolves

Wolf kisses
These pictures are of a zookeeper and a long-term visiting animal trainer - but one of the socialized
wolves, Ylva, "kissed" me as well. The wolves got used to licking people on/in their mouths as pups,
when the zookeepers at times fed them from their mouths.

The taste of wolf - I now know.


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116

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:31 0 comments

Labels: captive wolves, kiss, kisses, Polar Zoo, wolf, wolf ecology, Wolves
117

Feeding the wolves of Polar Zoo

Here we're inside of the enclosure of the shy canid couple, Nanok (he) and Gaida (she). The box
contains animal feed (meat). The adult wolves of the park get in average 2,5 kg each day (Note: they
are not fed every day).

The shy couple kept a distance as long as we were inside. In the neighbouring enclosure, that of the
four socialized wolves, they also kept a distance as we were up in the "wooden tower" (or rather
ladder) from which these wolves are fed.
118

Nanok and Gaida eat. Correction: Nanok, the male (to the right), eats - and shows his teeth to his
beloved Gaida, to signal that she cannot yet approach the food.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the road/path, the socialiced wolves keep track of what's going on,
with us and to some extent also with their parents Nanok and Gaida...
Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:06 0 comments

Labels: captive wolves, Polar Zoo, wolf, wolf ecology, wolf imagery, Wolves
119

Scary animals I met in Polar Zoo

Feeding the lynx: Before entering an enclosure, the zoo keeper has to go through security measures
with you. Before entering the lynx enclosure, I was told that they are unpredictable, and "precision
hunters". If attacking to kill they would go for my throat. I tried to think of a cat 10 times a cat's size
... which didn't help easing my fear of these Nordic forest cats. On the other hand, they do not
commonly attack humans in the wild, and these particular animals are well fed at that.

There's three lynx in Polar Zoo. This female appears to be the most curious/courageous of them. She
tried to get to eat straight from the zoo keeper's box with meat, and hissed at him when he wouldn't
let her. To the left: A piece of animal feed (meat).
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The same female lynx was not afraid of getting close to us - but run off when the zoo keeper pointed
the spade at her.

Feeding the musc oxes: Ester (left) came to eat first, Klaus (right) was more wary of us.

Two times he faked an attack at us - first by leaping ahead and stamping with his front feet, and then,
after a few minutes, by "running towards us" - for 1 meter. It did the trick for me - I felt scared
121

(although I was well aware that these were only early warning signals). I wouldn't want to run into
this fellow unprotected on a plain.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:54 0 comments

Labels: animal studies, captive animals, lynx, musc ox, Polar Zoo, zoo animals

Tuesday, 9 March 2010


Wolf pics II

Norway looks like a cake these days.

This poor wolf escaped from soon-to-be-established Polar Zoo in 1993, only to end up, in its afterlife,
as a trophy in the zoo's café.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:21 0 comments


Labels: captive wolves, Polar Zoo, wolf, Wolves
122

Wolf pics 1

This is not a wolf. The head looks like a wolverine - but the body more like a fat fox...

My first picture of the socialized wolves in Polar Zoo. I am inside of the enclosure.

Man and wolf.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:12 0 comments


Labels: captive wolves, Polar Zoo, research visit, wolf, Wolves
123

Wolf videos
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Here's five videos I have recorded today, during my research visit to Polar Zoo:

Ylva the wolf wants to play fight

Howling to the wolves of Polar Zoo

Howling with the wolves in Polar Zoo

Wolves coming to join us in Polar Zoo

Wolves take off

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:19 0 comments

Labels: animal play, captive wolves, howling, human howling, play fight, Polar Zoo, wolf, wolf
ecology, Wolves

Monday, 8 March 2010


Up North
Today I arrived in Polar Zoo, in Bardu municipality, Norway. At 68,5 degrees North, it is the
Northernmost zoological garden in the world. At the moment it is -6 degrees Celsius, but yesterday it
was raining - and last week temperatures were at winter lows of -31.

/
125

Polar Zoo has kept wolves since its start in 1994. There's currently 6 wolves here - 4 of them
socialized (the alpha male - their father, and one of the two shy wolves - is 10 years old, and was
born in the zoo). I will meet them all tomorrow (and until Thursday). Plus the brown bear cubs Salt
(female) and Pepper (male).

This afternoon I have been talking with the staff (3 permanently here (of which I have met 2), and an
additional 2 visiting at the moment). Bear trainers and the like. A lot of information to digest.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 12:06 0 comments

Labels: PolarZoo, research visit, wolf ecology, zoological garden

Sunday, 7 March 2010


Semiotics of Perception progressing
I have just submitted the second lot of papers to Biosemiotics' editor-in-chief Marcello Barbieri, to
the forthcoming special issue 'Semiotics of Perception'. One paper remains - but much of the
editorial work is at any rate concluded by now.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:50 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiotics, Semiotics of perception

Topic for zoosemiotic seminar


I have decided the topic for my short talk at the zoosemiotic seminar in Tartu April 2nd:

Territory vs. confinement - the Umwelten of free-range vs. captive wolves

Tomorrow I'm flying North, to Polar Zoo, to spend three days there.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:48 0 comments

Labels: Dynamical zoosemiotics and animal representations, Umwelt, wolf ecology, zoosemiotics

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


Festschrift to be published in June
The Festschrift wherein will appear my piece on Juri Lotman (and his encounter with Sebeok in
Bergen), co-written with Dinda Gorlée, will appear in print not in February, as originally planned, but
only in June.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:36 0 comments

Labels: Dinda L. Gorlée, Festschrift, Lotman, Sebeok


126

Summer Symposium on Sustainable Systems


Unfortunately I did not get the chance to submit an abstract to the Summer Symposium on
Sustainable Systems (4S), an interdisciplinary symposium for doctural students and post-doctoral
researchers (Sannäs, Finland, June 14-17, 2010).

The aim of the symposium is to bring together motivated researchers and high level keynote
speakers with an interest in interdisciplinary systemic approaches to complex issues under the theme
of closed-loop sustainable material systems.

4S theme this year:

Harmonizing Policy, Technology, Product Design and Resource Management

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:26 0 comments

Labels: closed-loop sustainable material systems, complex systems, Finland, sustainability,


symposium, Systems studies, technology

Town hall meeting on faith approaching


Tuesday 23rd of March, the Filosofisk Forum of the Agder University will arrange a town hall meeting
in Kristiansand, Norway, on the topic of faith. I am involved in the planning of this event (and might
take part in the execution of it as well).

At this event, we'll apply the methodology of "philosophical consultations". Before the general, open
dialogue, four representatives will talk about their personal faith, or lack thereof (a Christian
professor of ethics, a Christian philosopher, a Muslim imam, and a non-believing philosopher).

Here's a link to the (Norwegian langauge) Facebook group of the event.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:16 0 comments

Labels: Agder University, faith, Filosofisk forum, filosofiske samtaler, Kristiansand, philosophical
consultations, UiA

Friday, 26 February 2010


Phu
A few nights back, I finished "Steps To a Semiotics of Being" (9000 words).

Contents:
From Self to World
The Value of Nature
Umwelt Terminology
Concluding Remarks on Umwelt Mapping
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Just now I finished "Wolf Land" (4000 words).

Contents:
The Case of the Scandinavian Wolves
The Scandinavian Wolf Wars
The Land
Wilderness - Idea or Reality?

Borth articles are for the forthcoming special issue of Biosemiotics "Semiotics of Perception".

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:07 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiotics, semiotics of being, Semiotics of perception, Steps to a semiotics of being,


Umwelt, wolf ecology, Wolf land, wolf management, wolf politics

Thursday, 18 February 2010


New biosemiotic webpage
Marcello Barbieri has launched a new biosemiotics webpage, Biosemiotica.it.

Structure:
Home
History
Websites
Gatherings (lists of participants)
Books (1985-2009) - with no mention of Sebeok's zoosemiotic books
Journal
Society

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:25 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiosis, Marcello Barbieri, zoosemiotics

Saturday, 13 February 2010


Biosemiotic collage
A 48 pp email discussion following Marcello Barbieri's distribution of a paper now entitled "On the
origin of language: A synthesis of Biolinguistics and Biosemiotics" has been posted to the blog
Biosemiosis. The discussion featured one email from me (plus one email sent to Marcello Barbieri
only, which has also been included in the collage). You'll find the post here, and the collage here.

All in all the exchange included 79 emails (January 14th - February 6th). These include:
128

2. My general post, sent to all on this biosemiotics email list:

Dear Marcello (and dear All),

I have a few comments/questions to your text (though I have little or nothing to contribute
with concerning a general discussion about biolinguistics). First, though, I would like to ask
where it will be published (as I would like to quote it in one of my articles-in-process).

Now, to questions and comments:


1) You write that "Sebeok‘s conclusion that semiosis is based on interpretation is undoubtedly
valid in animals, but ... not applicable, for example, to the cell, where the genetic code has
been virtually the same for billions of years, which clearly shows that it does not depend on
interpretation." It is not clear to me how the fact that the genetic code has been virtually the
same practically forever shows that it does not depend on interpretation, since in order to
function the genetic code must not only have been encoded but must further repeatedly be
decoded - at a cellular level (and herein lies interpretation).

2) You claim that "animals do not interpret the world but only representations of the world.
Any interpretation, in short, is always exercised on internal models of the environment, never
on the environment itself". Sure, perception of "external reality" is always mediated.
Nevertheless, "the environment" (in an objective sense) necessarily represents the
final/ultimate object of any perception. The percepts are never identical to their final objects -
but why stress that they are (fundamentally) different from them? That is trivially true. But
related they are. Not even man can take in "reality" unmediated.

3) I find your explanations of how natural selection favors icons and indexes rewarding and
interesting - but when you ask: "Why were animals unable to go beyond icons and indexes?
Why didn‘t they learn to use symbols?" I think you neglect some empirical evidence to the
contrary.

4) I also found interesting your observation that in "all other mammals the wiring of the brain
takes place almost completely in the dark and protected environment of the uterus, whereas in
our species it takes place predominantly outside the uterus, where the body is exposed to the
lights, the sounds and the smells of a constantly changing environment." This is clearly a key
point.

morten tønnessen
http://utopianrealism.blogspot.com/

The first point, on our understanding of interpretation, was a recurring topic in the whole discussion.
The third point I made, concerning the use of symbols among animals, made Marcello revise his
article on this point, from a claim that animals do not make use of symbols to the much more correct
claim that no animal make systematic use of symbols in any way comparable to man (cf. post 5,
M.B.).

76. My email to Marcello Barbieri:


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Dear Marcello,

I have followed this discussion throughout, and realized how frustrating it must have been for
you to see how few actually addressed the (new) substance of your article. That was a shame.
Hopefully the ideas concerning the origin of language herein will be analysed in much more
detail (from both sides of the fence) after your article has been published.

Best,
Morten

In addition, Marcello's reply to me (post 4) was referred to in posts 3 (Stanley Salthe), 40 and 48
(M.B.).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:49 0 comments

Labels: animal studies, Biolinguistics, Biosemiosis, Biosemiotics, blog, collage, interpretation,


Marcello Barbieri, meaning in biology, symbols

Thursday, 11 February 2010


Course on Polanyi
This spring semester I will be taking a course on the philosophy of Michael Polanyi. Unfortunately I
had to cancel a course on phenomenology ("History of Philosophy II: from I. Kant to
Phenomenological Philosophy"), due to linguistic difficulties.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 03:44 0 comments

Labels: course, Michael Polanyi, phenomenology, Tartu Ülikool, University of Tartu

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


Invitation to Sydney workshop on ethology
I have just read an email by Matthew Chrulew, a scholar (and writer) based in Sydney and partaking
in the Australian Ecological humanities network. He is in the process of organizing a workshop
entitled 'The history and philosophy of ethology', and invites me to participate, given that an
application for funding proves successful. I would very much like to see this materialise.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:00 0 comments

Labels: Australia, Ecological humanities, Ethology, history, philosophy, Sydney

Friday, 5 February 2010


130

Sign Systems Studies


The zoosemiotics special issue of Sign Systems Studies (no. 37.3/4) has now appeared (or, rather,
been referred to) on its homepage. A complete list of contents is to be found here.

Selected articles:

Dario Martinelli: Introduction

Otto Lehto: Studying the cognitive states of animals: Epistemology, ethology and ethics
Karel Kleisner, Marco Stella: Monsters we met, monsters we made: On the parallel emergence of
phenotypic similarity under domestication

Helena Telkänranta: Conditioning or cognition? Understanding interspecific communication as a way


of improving animal training (a case study with elephants in Nepal
Morten Tønnessen: Abstraction, cruelty and other aspects of animal play(exemplified by the
playfulness of Muki and Maluca)
Elina Vladimirova: Sign activity of mammals as means of ecological adaptation
Carlo Brentari: Konrad Lorenz’s epistemological criticism towards Jakob von Uexküll

A list of all published articles 1998-2006 (including two by me) rests here.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 02:33 0 comments

Labels: animal play, animal studies, cat play, Sign Systems Studies, zoosemiotics

Thursday, 4 February 2010


Visit scheduled with PolarZoo
I have scheduled a visit to PolarZoo, in Bardu, Northern Norway, March 8-11th. My contact is Stig
Sletten, the primary animal caretaker.

PolarZoo, which claims to be "the world's Northernmost zoological park", is one of three (public)
places in Norway with captive wolves. At PolarZoo some of them are so tame that they have physical
contact with caretakers and some guests.

Later this year I will also visit Langedrag Naturpark, plus revisit Kristiansand zoo.

Remarkably, my visit to PolarZoo in March will actually be my first visit ever to Northern Norway! By
car, it's 1.785 km from where I am currently sitting making these plans (I will go by plane from Oslo to
Bardufoss, an hour's drive away).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:23 0 comments

Labels: Bardu, captive wolves, Norway, PolarZoo, wolf ecology


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Tuesday, 2 February 2010


Call for papers: Semiotics of nature
Hortus Semioticus has published a call for papers concerning our special issue 'Semiotics of nature',
for which I am one of the guest editors. Instructions for authors are found here.

CALL FOR PAPERS: SPECIAL ISSUE ON THE SEMIOTICS OF


NATURE
Guest editors: Riin Magnus, Nelly Mäekivi and Morten Tønnessen
/

Hortus Semioticus is an online academic journal of semiotics - the study of signs and sign processes.
In Tartu, Estonia, where the student journal is based, nature has long accompanied culture as a topic
for semiotic inquiry (cf. the fields known as biosemiotics, ecosemiotics, and zoosemiotics). The
driving force behind the journal is curiosity and the joy of inquiry.
/

Around the summer of 2010 the journal will publish a special issue on the semiotics of nature
(meaning living nature, rather than physical nature). We are inviting papers on the topics of meaning,
value, communication, signification, representation, and cognition in and of nature (ranging from the
cellular level to the global scene). We encourage originality within a scientific framework which
emphazises the semiotic aspects of the life processes alluded to above. Not least, we strongly
welcome submissions from other fields (besides, beyond or beneath semiotics). Graduate students
and young scholars are particularly encouraged to submit.
/

Contributions (5-20 pages) should be written in English or Estonian and sent to the guest editors by
May 1st, 2010. Prior to that we're expecting an abstract (100-200 words) plus 3-5 keywords by April 1
2010. Please find further instructions attached.

/
Please submit your proposal to the guest editors: riin.magnus@gmail.com (Riin Magnus),
nellymaekivi@gmail.com (Nelly Mäekivi) and mortentoennessen@gmail.com (Morten Tønnessen)

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:34 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiotics, call for papers, ecosemiotics, Hortus semioticus, semiotics of nature, special
issue, zoosemiotics
132

Mapping human impact delivered

The second last night I further finished my article "Mapping human impact - Expanding horizons:
Interdisciplinary integration" (17pp) where, for one thing, I criticise the ecological footprint concept.

The article will partake in proceedings from the second CECT autumn conference, and is in part based
on my presentation there. Proceedings will likely appear in Geografiska annalar, published by the
Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography.

Contents:

Ecological footprint vs. ontological niche

Interpreting numerical data qualitatively

Development of ontological maps

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:25 0 comments

Labels: CECT, ecological economics, ecological footprint, Geografiska annaler, global map, mapping
human impact, Ontological map, Ontological niche, spatiality

Global species revisited


The second last night (literally) I finished revising my article "The global species" for the journal New
formations. Three pages were added, not least addressing global disparities.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:20 0 comments

Labels: globalisation, New formations, The Global Species

Philosophical consultation
Today in Filosofisk Forum the topic was philosophical consultations (filosofiske samtaler). Here's a
collection of relevant papers, about the methodologies in question. While today a group
conversation w/facilitator-method was applied, a session on March 2nd will feature me in the role as
a facilitator critically questioning fellow philosopher Håvard Løkke (there's also sessions February
16th and not least (a public one, out of are university-wise) March 16th).
133

The session is entitled 'To filosofiske samtaler (hardcore)' [Two philosophical consultations
(hardcore)]. I will see whether I can get inspired beforehand by the work of enfant terrible Oscar
Brenifier.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:15 0 comments

Labels: Filosofisk forum, filosofiske samtaler, Oscar Brenifier, philosophical consultations, UiA

Saturday, 30 January 2010


Society for Utopian Studies
There actually is a Society for Utopian Studies (based in Toronto) - publishing a journal called Utopian
Studies!

About the Society


Founded in 1975, The Society for Utopian Studies is an international, interdisciplinary
association devoted to the study of utopianism in all its forms, with a particular emphasis on
literary and experimental utopias. Scholars representing a wide variety of disciplines are
active in the association, and approach utopian studies from such diverse backgrounds as
American Studies, Architecture, the Arts, Classics, Cultural Studies, Economics, Engineering,
Environmental Studies, Gender Studies, History, Languages and Literatures, Philosophy,
Political Science, Psychology, Sociology and Urban Planning.

Although many Society members are involved in social activism or communitarianism, the
purpose of the Society itself is to study utopianism rather than to pursue utopian projects. The
Society sponsors an annual scholarly meeting and publishes the journal Utopian Studies and a
newsletter, Utopus Discovered, which contains information about upcoming conferences and
workshops, and details on publications in the field.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:52 0 comments

Labels: societies, Utopia

No Bodily phenomenology
My abstract "Intercorporality and relational being: Nature considered as an intercorporal body (the
body of all bodies)" has been rejected by the organizers of the conference Bodily phenomenology.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:19 0 comments

Labels: body, conferences, intercorporality, phenomenology, relational being

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


134

A couple of things
Here during my current visit in Tartu, I have met with my supervisor (today), with Timo Maran
(heading the research project "Dynamical zoosemiotics and animal representations", for which I do
zoosemiotic research), and with Riin Magnus and Nelly Mäekivi, with whom I am guest-editing a
special issue of Hortus Semioticus (both yesterday).

Of the outcome: Preliminary plans about the date of the first in a series of regular workshops on
dynamical zoosemiotics and animal representations, and a soon-to-be distributed call for papers for
our special issue on the semiotics of nature, aimed at graduate students and young scholars in
particular.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 09:05 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiotics, Hortus semioticus, semiotics of nature, Tartu, the Tartu school of biosemiotics,
University of Tartu, zoosemiotics

Enlisted at doctoral school


Apparently, I have been enlisted partaking (starting January 1st, I think) in a doctoral school, a 3-4
year project of EU format and Estonian coverage (with a topic akin to "Cultural science"). My final
categorization, however, appears not to have been settled (since the Department of Semiotics has
also established ties to a second doctoral school, concerned with linguistics, semiotics and
philosophy), and it is said that I personally have no say over it - and that further information will
follow.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:48 0 comments

Labels: Doctoral school, Estonia, EU, philosophy, semiotics, University of Tartu

Lotman/Semiotics of technology
What you find below was posted by me last week in the community SemioComm on LiveJournal.

I have just read "Technological progress as a problem in the study of culture" (Lotman 1988
[Russian], tr. to English 1991). A very rich text, dealing not least with various technologies of language
(writing, printing etc.). Early on, Lotman attacks Thomas Kuhn's view that "[o]utside the laboratory
everyday affairs usually continue as before" whenever scientific revolutions occur (quoted p. 781 of
Lotman's article). Here, Lotman portrays himself in contrast with Kuhn - though Kuhn is in other
contexts known exactly for emphasizing not only the the social workings of science, but also the way
in which scientific intuition and common cultural intuition interact - think only of his analysis of the
transition from a heliocentric to a geocentric world view (I don't know how much Lotman read of
Kuhn?). At that instant, Kuhn defended the view that it was somewhat rational of the scholars of the
day not immediately to adopt the new, revolutionary ideas - because they actually for quite some
time contradicted common and accepted knowledge, as well as the everyday intuitions of the day.

As Lotman stresses, the cultural impact of scientific revolutions oftentimes takes time to materialize.
"There is a repeated pattern to the immediate consequences of a technological change: having
acquired new powerful means, society first attempts to use them for old ends", he writes (p. 782-3),
135

"increasing its possibilities only quantitatively". Lotman's examples of ancient bureaucracies are
amusing. His simple observation that the invention of writing made much more advanced
architecture and infrastructure administrable is intruiging. In consequence, we can theorize (with
Lotman) that the advent of writing also made empires possible. Statehood, then, is from this
theoretical perspective a (actual, materialized, factual (though not necessary)) consequence of the
written word.

Similarly prolific are Lotman's observations regarding elements in the emergence of capitalism. The
technology of printing - enabling mass publication - is a central example, which further points to the
modern phenomena of mass hysteria, mass mentality etc (as well as, as Lotman notes, expressions of
individualism and eruptions of creativity). The individual and the mass - the individual as
representative of the mass - the individual in opposition to the mass (thereby reaffirming the
centrality of the mass, nevertheless)... Limitless optimism which can any given moment turn into its
opposite, bottomless pessimism...

And I ask myself: This global (or US?) culture of fear and hysteria ... After 9/11 in particular, perhaps
... how is it related to our most recent advances in mass communication? How is language changing
today, in cultural terms? This, I realize, is not a new debate... Perhaps the swine flu "pandemia"
would represent a good case study. Have we been infected by modern language?

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:37 0 comments

Labels: applied semiotics, Kuhn, language, Lotman, mass hysteria, mass media, modernity, scientific
revolutions, statehood, technology

New biosemiotic research project


Kalevi Kull's research project "Biosemiotic models of semiosis" [Semioosi biosemiootilised mudelid]
(ETF/ESF 8403) has been granted support from Eesti Teadusfond (Estonian Science Foundation). I am
listed as senior personnel (January 1st, 2010 - December 31st, 2011), along with fellow Tartu
biosemioticians Riste Keskpaik and Riin Magnus.

In this project, we are going to study the changes in general semiotics that are resulted from
the development of biosemiotic concepts and biosemiotic theory. One of our points of
departure will be the general semiotic theory as presented in "A theory of semiotics" by
Umberto Eco (which is until now one of the very few existing treaties in the general theory of
semiotics), and also some of Eco's later work that has developed the general theory. We will
also consider the theoretical work of Juri Lotman (and in some extent of Floyd Merrell, John
Deely and Paul Bains). The concepts we are going to study from the point of view of general
semiotics will include umwelt, organic code, organic relation, inheritance system, organic
need, functional cycle. The biosemiotic work to be analysed will include the models presented
in the works of Jesper Hoffmeyer, Howard Pattee, Marcello Barbieri, and Terrence Deacon.
The results will be published as review articles and case study analyses in the international top
periodicals of semiotics.

My ETIS (Estonian Research Portal) data is to be found here.

Cf. also my question to Umberto Eco on science and fiction.


136

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:15 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiotics, Estonian Science Foundation, Kalevi Kull, research project, the Tartu school of
biosemiotics, Umberto Eco, University of Tartu

Monday, 25 January 2010


We the living - abstract to G10
I have just submitted my abstract to the Tenth annual gathering in biosemiotics.

We the living: The reception of Uexküll in


Norwegian ecophilosophy
By Morten Tönnessen

Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics, University of Tartu

Submission to the Tenth Annual International Gathering in Biosemiotics,

to be held on June 22–7, 2010

at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Portuguese Catholic University (UCP)

in Braga, Portugal

Arne Naess (1913-2009) and Peter Wessel Zapffe (1899-1990) are two out of three
classics within Norwegian ecophilosophy, which has been acclaimed for its influence on
'radical environmentalism' internationally (cf. Peter Reed & David Rothenborg (eds.),
Wisdom In The Open Air: The Norwegian Roots of Deep Ecology, University Of Minnesota
Press 1992). Both Naess and Zapffe introduced fundamental disciplinary concepts (e.g.
'biosophy' by Zapffe, 'ecosophy' and the distinction between the deep and the shallow
ecological movement (thus 'deep ecology') by Naess). And they both based part of their
philosophies on Uexküll's work – though Uexküll was admittedly much more central to
Zapffe than he was to Naess, for whom Uexküll mattered first of all in the development
of his early (pre-environmentalist) philosophy. For a start, we can say that while Naess in
the main neglected the experiential and interpretative aspects of Umwelt theory, Zapffe
added pessimism to the mixture.

Uexküll plays a significant foundational role in Naess' published dissertation Erkenntnis


und Wissenschaftliches Verhalten (Jacob Dybwad, Oslo 1936) as well as in Zapffe's
colossal main work (and doctoral dissertation) Om det tragiske [On the tragic] (1941).
Interestingly (and fittingly), the Journal of philosophy characterized Naess' 1936 work as
"a valuable contribution to a naturalistic, behavioristic description of [...] cognitive
’content,’ and the procedure of science". In Zapffe's work, Uexküll plays the role as the
biologist, depicting the worlds of the living and not least the radical difference between
the living and the non-living. By using Uexküll's Umwelt theory as a stepping stone, the
existentialist philosopher Zapffe makes two basic points:

1) that there is a "brotherhood of suffering" ranging "from the amobea to the dictator",
and
137

2) that humans are unique in having several additional "interest fronts"; not only
biological interests but further social, autotelic, and metaphysical interests.

Despite the fact that Uexküll was first of all, in the context of Naess' work, influential at
an early stage (and was read by Naess in a slightly simplistic manner), we see here how
Zapffe's reading of Uexküll is informing also when we are considering the thoughts Naess
was later to develop on the topic of self-development through identification with others.
In Zapffe's case, Uexküll's Umwelt theory constitutes a central ingredient in his lifework
as such. In order to understand the paradoxical tension between the
sympathy/identification with animals on one hand and the explicit anthropocentrism in
Zapffe's ethics (where the human experience of wilderness ranks higher than anything
else) on the other, we have to start by understanding the biological outlook on which he
build his existentialist ecophilosophy.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:50 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiotics, Braga, deep ecology, ecophilosophy, Gatherings in biosemiotics, Naess,


Portugal, Uexküll, Zapffe

Announcement of zoosemiotics conference


The first announcement of the conference "Zoosemiotics and animal representations", to be
arranged in Tartu April 4-8th, 2011, has been made (linked from www.biosemiotics.org). I am part of
the organizing team.

Full text of the announcement:

International conference
Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations
Tartu, Estonia. 4–8 April 2011.

Zoosemiotics is an interdisciplinary research program introduced by American semiotician Thomas A.


Sebeok in the 1960s with the aim to merge semiotics and ecology and to launch semiotic studies of
animal communication. The foundational idea in zoosemiotics is that relations between animals and
their environment as well as between different individuals are not purely physical, but are to a large
extent sign-mediated. This gives a significant role to the animal subjects, and recognizes more as well
as higher forms of complexity in animals than previously assumed. A lot has happened since the
concept of zoosemiotics was proposed: the rise of biosemiotics and cognitive ethology are two
among many important developments in the field of animal communication studies. Now, almost 50
years after Sebeok’s initiative, the Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu organizes an
international gathering aiming to look back at the history of zoosemiotics, but also to look ahead
towards the future of semiotic studies of animals. At this event, the scope of zoosemiotics is defined
broadly, so as to include specific studies in the history of science, philosophical accounts of animals,
case studies on animal communication as well as animal representations in literature and other
media. At the same time, the focus of the conference is explicitly twofold: “semiotic processes” and
“animals” are the key concepts that are to guide the conference as well as the individual
presentations. To this conference, we invite researchers from various backgrounds who have been
inspired by zoosemiotics or who are interested in different aspects of semiotic studies of animals.
138

Key topics of the conference


- Theory and methodology of zoosemiotics
- History of zoosemiotics, the legacy of Thomas A. Sebeok
- Practical applications of zoosemiotics (e.g. zoosemiotics and conservation)
- Zoosemiotics’ relation to relevant fields such as cognitive ethology, biosemiotics, ecocriticism etc.
- Animal experience (semiotics and phenomenology)
- Semiotic perspectives on animals in literature, art, films etc. (e.g. seeing man in animals, and the
animal in men).
- Semiotics of human-animal relationships: historical, social and communicative perspectives (e.g. the
semiotics of zoos, of wildlife management, and of domesticated animals).

The conference “Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations” has an international advisory board. All
presentation abstracts will be peer-reviewed. The conference is organized by the Department of
Semiotics at the University of Tartu under the auspices of the Centre of Excellence in Cultural Theory
(CECT, EU/Estonia), and is supported by the Estonian Science Foundation (ETF/ESF).

Conference timeline
First call for papers: March 2010.
Deadline for abstracts: 15 September 2010.
The conference “Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations”: 4–8 April, 2011.
Deadline for conference publications: September 2011.

Contacts
E-mail: zoosemiotics@semiootika.ee
Postal address: The conference “Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations”, Department of
Semiotics, University of Tartu, Tiigi 78, Tartu 50410, Estonia.
Organizing team: Timo Maran, Jelena Grigorjeva, Morten Tønnessen, Kadri Tüür, Silver Rattasepp,
Nelly Mäekivi.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:14 0 comments

Labels: 2011, animal studies, applied semiotics, Biosemiotics, conferences, Department of semiotics,
University of Tartu

Friday, 22 January 2010


The global species
I have at long last (due to some technical email confusion, apparently) received the response from
New formations to my contributed article The global species. They are positive, apart from to my
omittance of cultural distinctions (in the article I treat humankind as a global culture, in very broad
strokes).

I will revise it next week.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:04 0 comments


139

Labels: globalization, New formations, The Global Species

Animal play talk


I have omitted mentioning that February 18th (Tuesday this week) I gave a talk in "Filosofisk Forum"
(University of Agder - Kristiansand, Norway) entitled "Lek som sivilisasjonens opphav" [Play as the
origin of civilization].

15 people were there, pretty much as expected - and the discussion following my talk was lively and
engaged enough.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:19 0 comments

Labels: Filosofisk forum, Kristiansand, philosophy, UiA

Bibliographical reference for animal play article


Abstraction, cruelty and other aspects of animal play (exemplified by the playfulness of Muki and
Maluca). Sign Systems Studies 37 (3/4), 2009: 558-579.

Includes abstract in English, Estonian and Russian.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:13 0 comments

Labels: animal play, bibliography, Maluca, Muki, Sign Systems Studies

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


Contribution to world phenomenology conference accepted
I have been notified that my submission to The 60th International Congress of Phenomenology (to be
arranged in Bergen in August), "Semiotics of being and Uexküllian phenomenology", has been
accepted by the organisers.

Inclusion in the programme is dependent on the delivery of a full-length paper by May 1st.

All submitted papers are copy-righted for the first option of publication by the Springer journal
Analecta Husserliana.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:38 0 comments

Labels: Bergen, phenomenology, semiotics of being, Uexküll, Uexküllian phenomenology, World


institute for advanced phenomenological research

Testemonial online
My testemonial for the University of Tartu is now online (under the headline "Degree programmes
taught in English - University of Tartu").

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 02:43 0 comments

Labels: Testemonial, University of Tartu


140

Tuesday, 19 January 2010


Business
My one man-company Spør Filosofen Tønnessen has now launched a new site, SpørFilosofen.no,
where offers of lectures, readings, Q&A sessions etc. are described (in Norwegian).

Yesterday I was in a meeting with the event bureau Kjentfolk in Oslo, and agreed to start working
with them.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:34 0 comments

Labels: events, lectures, philosophy business, philosophy-for-hire

Testemonial for UT brochure

I have been asked by the International Relations Office of University of Tartu to appear in a
information brochure aiming at recruiting international students (will also be published online).
Below is the testemonial I have submitted.

It was the legacy of Jakob von Uexküll (1864-1944) that brought me to Estonia, and the Tartu school
of biosemiotics. My first visit took place in 2000 - the welcoming kindness of my hosts inspired me to
return for conferences and eventually Ph.D. studies. Today I am involved in three research projects in
Estonia, and I am happy to be part of a thriving and open intellectual environment.

Morten Tønnessen (Norway), Ph.D. student at Department of Semiotics

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 10:17 0 comments

Labels: applied semiotics, international students, Testemonial, the Tartu school of biosemiotics,
University of Tartu

Joining the editorial board of Biosemiotics


Editor-in-Chief of Biosemiotics, Marcello Barbieri, has just invited me to join the editorial board of the
journal, and I have willingly accepted.

The editorial board now counts (26 people all in all):

Myrdene Anderson, Argyris Arnellos, Stefan Artmann, Søren Brier, Luis Emilio Bruni, Paul
Cobley, Stephen J. Cowley, Fatima Cvrcková, Charbel Niño El-Hani, Marcella Faria, Almo
141

Farina, Mario Gimona, Peter Harries-Jones, Alexander V. Kravchenko, Dario Martinelli, Yair
Neuman, Stephen Philip Pain, Susan Petrilli, Joanna Raczaszek-Leonardi, Luis Mateus
Rocha, Stanley N. Salthe, Frederik Stjernfelt, Morten Tønnessen, Tommi Vehkavaara, Bruce
H. Weber and Günther Witzany.

In addition, there's 4 associate editors ( Donald Favareau, Jesper Hoffmeyer, Kalevi Kull, Anton
Markoš) and an Advisory board wherein sits (15 people, namely) Prisca S. Augustyn, Gérard Battail,
Peter A. Cariani, Han-liang Chang, Sergei V. Chebanov, Marcel Danesi, Terrence Deacon, John Deely,
Claus Emmeche, Cliff A. Joslyn, Koichiro Matsuno, Winfried Nöth, Howard Hunt Pattee, Alexei Sharov
and Jean Umiker-Sebeok.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:37 0 comments

Labels: applied semiotics, biology, Biosemiotics, editorial board, journal

Friday, 15 January 2010


Contribution to the conference "Bodily Phenomenology"
I have just submitted my contribution to the conference Bodily Phenomenology, to be arranged in
Sweden in May.

MORTEN TØNNESSEN
INSTITUTE OF PHILOSOPHY AND SEMIOTICS, UNIVERSITY OF TARTU, ESTONIA

INTERCORPORALITY AND RELATIONAL BEING


NATURE CONSIDERED AS AN INTERCORPORAL BODY (THE BODY OF ALL BODIES)

ABSTRACT SUBMITTED TO THE CONFERENCE BODILY PHENOMENOLOGY


TO BE ARRANGED BY THE CENTRE FOR STUDIES IN PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE
MAY 19-21, 2010
AT SÖDERTÖRN UNIVERSITY, SWEDEN.

The body and the world are obviously related. Not only is the body the immediate centre of the
physical world for any given perceiving (and acting) subject. Not only is any perception of ‘the world’
necessarily mediated by the body (organism) of the perceiver. We can further observe that the living
world (nature) is in actual fact constituted intercorporally, in other words by the numerous relations
that exist between the countless bodies about which we have come to learn.

For me, as a biosemiotician, embodiment is perhaps the most central general topic possible.
Consciousness is but the top of the iceberg – mind, in the elemental sense of awareness of
something, is everywhere in nature, since every living being is capable of, and dependent on,
interpreting, understanding and acting upon its relevant surroundings. Mind, then, is more-than-
human, even more-than-animal, and embodied mind must in its most general sense be taken to
signify the embodiment not necessarily of an anthropoid, more or less articulate consciousness, but
of a highly diverse repertoire of oftentimes diffuse awarenesses.
142

This is nature. An intercorporal body – a global web of bodies attuned to each other and routinely in
conflict with each other – the body of bodies. This is nature – where body relates to body, as partner,
as predator, as prey – a world built on bodies all partaking in relational being, a kind of existence
wherein the particular beings (you, me, Muki) are constituted in and by their relationships with
others.

In the course of this talk, I will allude to elements of the philosophy of embodiment in the work of
Jakob von Uexküll, David Abram, Gabriel Marcel and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. My broader project is
that of contributing to the development of an Uexküllian phenomenology worthy of the designation
semiotics of being.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 13:00 2 comments

Labels: body, conferences, David Abram, embodiment, Gabriel Marcel, intercorporality, Merleau-
Ponty, phenomenology, relational being, semiotics of being, Sweden, Uexküll, Uexküllian
phenomenology

Thursday, 14 January 2010


Third semioethics interview confirmed
My contribution (abstracted) “The Semioethics Interviews III: John Deely: Human Understanding in
the Age of Global Awareness”, submitted upon invitation to Nova Science Publishers' planned
anthology Semiotics: Theory and Applications, has been accepted for inclusion in this volume.

The publication is likely to appear either late this year or early in 2011.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 04:50 0 comments

Labels: applied semiotics, John Deely, Nova Science Publishers, semioethics

Monday, 11 January 2010


Semioethics interview in Nova's semiotics anthology

I have submitted an abstract entitled “The Semioethics Interviews III: John Deely: Human
Understanding in the Age of Global Awareness” to Nova Science Publishers' planned anthology
Semiotics: Theory and Applications, upon invitation.

The first interview in this series was published in Hortus Semioticus. The second and fourth are still to
find their places of publication (interested, anyone?).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:19 0 comments

Labels: applied semiotics, Hortus semioticus, John Deely, Nova Science Publishers, semioethics, The
semioethics interviews
143

Saturday, 9 January 2010


Academic reports II
The last few days I have, in effect, concluded 2009 reporting to two research projects, "Dynamical
zoosemiotics and animal representations" (10pp) and "Methods of Biosemiotics" respectively. The
former includes plans for 2010 (field trips, research stays, conference participation and expected
publications).

In the process I am updating my info at the Estonian Research Information System (ETIS).
Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:51 0 comments

Labels: animal representations, Biosemiotics, Dynamical zoosemiotics and animal representations,


Estonian Research Portal, ETIS, Reports, Tartu Ülikool, University of Tartu

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


David Abram release date(s)
David Abram's follow-up to The Spell of the Sensuous, entitled Becoming Animal: An Earthly
Cosmology, is scheduled for publication August 24th, cf. Random House.

A chapter from Becoming Animal, "The discourse of the birds" (which I can testify is good reading),
will appear in the special issue of the journal Biosemiotics "The semiotics of perception", that very
same month.
Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:08 3 comments

Labels: An Earthly Cosmology, Becoming animal, Biosemiotics, David Abram, release date

Academic reports
The last week I have completed two academic reports (and began on a third, having a fourth
scheduled):

1. General report of the 4rth quarter for the research project "The cultural heritage of environmental
spaces" (3pp)

2. Status report for the special issue of "Biosemiotics" Semiotics of Perception, due August 2010 (6pp)

As for the latter, Silver Rattasepp and John Deely have cancelled their contributions, while Ane
Faugstad Aarø (UiB/Hermes text) is now on board.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:03 0 comments

Labels: Biosemiotics, cultural heritage, environmental space, Reports, research project, Semiotics of
perception, special issue
144

Economist profiles
Now in place:

EconPapers

MPRA

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:01 0 comments

Labels: economist profile, EconPapers, Morten Tønnessen, MPRA

Saturday, 2 January 2010


The future on growth - on EconPapers
My article The future of growth is now available on EconPapers.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 03:36 0 comments

Labels: economic crisis, economics, exponential growth, future studies, growth, limits to growth