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U T O P I A N RE A L I S M

UTOPISM. *** IN THE LONG RUN, NOTHING LESS IS REALISTIC. ***


WELCOME TO THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE BLOG OF MORTEN TØNNESSEN,
PHD STUDENT AT DEPARTMENT OF SEMIOTICS, UNIVERSITY OF TARTU.
*** JOIN ME IN DEVELOPING A TRUE SEMIOTICS OF BEING!

BLOG ARCHIVE

▼ 2009 (102)

• ▼ December (6)
o Festschrift contribution submitted
o Play, love etc. - UiA Philosophy Forum in preparat...
o Work title: "I, wolf"
o Invitation to contribute to book by Nova Publisher...
o Expanding horizons: Interdisciplinary integration
o Lotman piece to be co-written by Dinda L. Gorlée
• ▼ November (9)
o Conference of the Nordic Society for Phenomenology...
o Contribution on Lotman to Norwegian-Estonian Fests...
o New colleagues
o Titles - books I would like to have written (or re...
o Course work on Uexküll - meetings at UiA - the phi...
o Committee for UiA Philosophy Forum
o Philosophy in Stavanger (siddisfilosofi)
o Philosophy in Kristiansand
o "An ageing giant" - Arne Næss in memory
• ▼ October (11)
o The wolf as scapegoat
o Co-editing of special issue on biosemiotics
o First semioethics interview published + "Meditatio...
o Proceedings of the world congress in semiotics 200...
o Poster presentation presentation
o Proceedings
o Animal play article to appear in December
o Mapping human impact
o Poster presentation on the notion of ecological fo...
o Chronicles in Norwegian media - wolf politics
o New wolf essay
• ▼ September (7)
o Annotated bibliography, 3rd quarter
o "Outline of an Uexküllian bio-ontology" referred t...

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o On site in A Coruña, Spain
o The abstract book of the 2009 world congress in se...
o Reflection piece in Hortus Semioticus
o My first blurb
o Research assistant (UiA) - multimodality
• ▼ August (7)
o Presentation in TÜ seminar on the methodology of t...
o New timetable for "Semiotics of Perception"
o University teacher
o Report from China to appear in Norwegian media
o Where are the Estonians?
o Q & A with Paul Crutzen
o Copenhagen (WCEH)
• ▼ July (6)
o Existential universals
o Brian Goodwin (1931-2009)
o The Global Species
o Lecturer at University of Agder
o Brief report from Gathering in Biosemiotics 9, Pra...
o Climate change and the growth paradigm
• ▼ June (11)
o Defining biological meaning
o Tolerant Tartu
o Climate synthesis report
o 10th World Congress of Semiotics - Big Bad Wolf ac...
o Academic news in brief III: Attested, revised, and...
o Poster presentation in Tallinn in October
o Proceedings from World Congress, Helsinki/Imatra
o First ISI Web of Science publication
o First semioethics interview
o My question to Umberto Eco on science and fiction
o Most viewed at Scribd
• ▼ May (6)
o Wolves, traffic lights and cultural mix
o Exam season
o Biosemiotics abstract book - contrapunctuality
o Book, book chapter
o Umwelt ethics, deep ecology and Spinoza
o Academic news in brief II

o ▼ April (12)
 Abstract to X Congreso mundial de semiótica
 Reminiscences on Arne Näss
 World Congress
 New biosemiotic research project in spe
 Food vs. Nature
 Climate survey in The Guardian
 Participation in research group
 Three texts

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 Umwelt Transitions: Uexküll and Environmental Chan...
 Rescheduling of wolf presentation
 Update on Abram/Estonian media
 Abstraction, cruelty and other aspects of animal p...
• ▼ March (10)
o Academic news in brief
o Petition to include ethical expertise in the IPCC
o My updated CV
o New blog - The Schopenhauer Experience
o Norwegian teacher
o Page numbers
o Climate publication - IOP Conference Series
o My poster for the congress Climate Change: Global ...
o Poster programme, Copenhagen
o Food vs. Nature
• ▼ February (12)
o Talk at Gatherings in Biosemiotics, Prague
o Global Voices: Estonia?
o Homepage for zoosemiotics project
o The nature view held by environmentalists
o Academic journals - open access publishing
o Web stats Utopian Realism
o SemioPhenomenon web stats
o David Abram's public lecture online
o Contrapuntuality - Gatherings in biosemiotics 2009...
o Estonian media
o Most viewed at Scribd ... and web stats
o My article "Umwelt Transitions: Uexküll and Enviro...

o ▼ January (5)
 Now I have seen wolves
 International participation at workshops
 Arne Næss
 First wolf article - Umwelt mapping
 New research project in zoosemiotics

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SUNDAY, 20 DECEMBER 2009

Festschrift contribution submitted


The festschrift contribution of me and Dinda Gorlee, now entitled "Da Lotman og semiotikken
kom til Norge" (When Lotman and semiotics came to Norway), has been finished and
submitted to the editors.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:37 0 comments

Labels: Estonia, Festschrift, Lotman, Norway, Sebeok

THURSDAY, 17 DECEMBER 2009

Play, love etc. - UiA Philosophy Forum in preparation


I have previously mentioned the UiA Philosophy Forum (Filosofisk Forum) - see here, and here.
Today the committee of the forum gathered for the second time. We have made a draft of
the spring programme, which looks more or less like this:

1) Tuesday, January 19th (16-18)

Morten Tønnessen: "Lek som sivilisasjonens opphav" (Play as the origin of civilization),
followed by discussion

2) Tuesday, February 16th (16-18)

To filosofiske samtaler (Two philosophical dialogues)

3) Tuesday, March 16th (18-20)

Filosofisk samtale om tro (Philosophical dialogue on faith), led by Håvard Løkke

4) Tuesday, April 13th (16-18)

Håvard Løkke: Kjærlighet som moralsk følelse (Love as a moral emotion)

5) Tuesday, May 25th (18-20)

Public lecture with invited lecturer, in town. Name and title T.B.A.

In addition, there will be a course session in "philosophical dialogue" (filosofisk samtale) - in

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preparation of the February dialogue and the public event in March - February 2nd.

While events 1, 2 and 4 are "internal" (university area) events - though open to all - the 3rd
and 5th event will take place outside of campus, and aim at engaging a wider audience, in
each their way (strictly speaking, this may apply to event 3 more than to event 5, which will
nevertheless be made available for a general audience). The methodology for the dialogic
events has in the Norwegian context been further developed by amongst others Øyvind
Olsholt.

Besides talking at event 1, I will coordinate contacts for event 3, where we hope to gather
individuals from different faiths etc. - protestants, catholics, muslims, agnostics and atheists
- for a common philosophical dialogue.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:33 0 comments

Labels: animal play, belief, civilization, dialogue, emotion, faith, feeling, love, religion

THURSDAY, 10 DECEMBER 2009

Work title: "I, wolf"


The work title for my article-in-progress for the forthcoming anthology Environment,
Embodiment and History, edited by Johannes Servan and Ane Faugstad Aarø, is:

I, Wolf:
The Ecology of Experience

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:34 0 comments

Labels: Anthology, embodiment, environment, phenomenology, Uexküllian phenomenology,


wolf, wolf ecology, wolf imagery, wolf politics

MONDAY, 7 DECEMBER 2009

Invitation to contribute to book by Nova Publishers


I have received an email from Nova Science Publishers (signed by editor-in-chief Frank
Columbus) in which I am invited to contribute to a book entitled "Semiotics: Theory and
applications". They previously published 2 issues of "Journal of Biosemiotics".

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 00:27 0 comments

Labels: applied semiotics, Nova Science Publishers, semiotics, theory

FRIDAY, 4 DECEMBER 2009

Expanding horizons: Interdisciplinary integration


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Today, at 2-4, I presented "Expanding horizons: Interdisciplinary integration", previously
entitled "Methodological challenges in analyzing wolf ecology and wolf management within a
semiotic-phenomenological framework" (a 30 min talk, accompanying Timo Maran's
"Zoosemiotics: Disciplinary identity and methodological perspectives" (a good overview, with
historical perspective)). The occasion was a seminar called "Methodology of the humanities",
at University of Tartu (led by Peeter Torop).

Above: Sketch of a global ontological map (humankind in the center).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:46 0 comments

Labels: interdisciplinarity, interdisciplinary, Ontological map, Ontological niche, semiotics,


Tartu semiotics, Timo Maran, University of Tartu, zoosemiotics

Lotman piece to be co-written by Dinda L. Gorlée

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I have agreed with Dinda L. Gorlée (the Netherlands) that we will cowrite my (now our)
aforementioned 2 pp contribution to a Norwegian-Estonian Festschrift, due for next spring.
She was a central figure in Norwegian semiotics in the mid-1980s - the only time (so far)
semiotics has flourished much in Norway.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 11:27 0 comments

Labels: Bergen 1986, Dinda L. Gorlée, Estonia, Festschrift, Lotman, Norway

MONDAY, 30 NOVEMBER 2009

Conference of the Nordic Society for Phenomenology, 2010


I have submitted the following...

Contribution to the 8th annual conference of


THE NORDIC SOCIETY FOR PHENOMENOLOGY
(Nordisk Selskab for Fænomenologi)

under the general theme

/
NEW ORIENTATIONS: IN PHENOMENOLOGY
to be arranged at Södertörn University College
in Stockholm, April 22-24, 2010

Individual presentation
by Morten Tønnessen

Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics, University of Tartu


Vindmøllegangen 1, 4631 Kristiansand, NORWAY
Kuu 39-64, 50 104 Tartu, ESTONIA
Academic homepage: http://utopianrealism.blogspot.com/

Suggested title
Semiotics of Being and Uexküllian Phenomenology
/

German-Baltic biologist Jakob von Uexküll (1864-1944) did not regard himself as a
phenomenologist. Neither did he conceive of himself as a semiotician. Nevertheless, his
Umwelt terminology has of late been utilized and further developed within the framework of

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semiotics and various other disciplines - and, as I will argue, essential points in his work can
fruitfully be taken to represent a distinctive Uexküllian phenomenology, characterized not
least by an assumption of the (in the realm of life) universal existence of a genuine first
person perspective, i.e., of experienced worlds.

In the course of the presentation, I will briefly relate Uexküllian phenomenology to


a) Immanuel Kant (1724-1804),

b) the eco-existentialism of Peter Wessel Zapffe (1899-1990)

c) eco-phenomenology (including David Abram and Ted Toadvine),

d) and semiotics of nature (biosemiotics, ecosemiotics, zoosemiotics)

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:40 0 comments

Labels: eco-existentialism, existence, experience, experienced world, phenomenal world,


phenomenology, semiotics, semiotics of being, Uexküll, Uexküllian phenomenology, Zapffe

FRIDAY, 20 NOVEMBER 2009

Contribution on Lotman to Norwegian-Estonian Festschrift


I have agreed to contribute with a short (2 pp) article to the planned Festschrift of the
Norwegian-Estonian Association (Norsk-Estisk Forening), at the occasion of its 25 year
anniversary. My article will be written in Norwegian, and deal with the (pretty recent) history
of Tartu semiotics, with special emphasis on Juri Lotman and his connection to Norway (not
least the 1986 conference in Bergen, where - for the first and last time - Thomas Sebeok met
Juri Lotman).

This short article should be finished by December 20th. The Festschrift will be published in
2010, at the occasion of the independence day of the Republic of Estonia (February 24th).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:21 0 comments

New colleagues
Two more researchers have joined the research project "The Cultural Heritage of
Environmental Spaces. A Comparative Analysis Between Estonia and Norway" (the first
replacing Peder Anker as the Norwegian collaborator in a study of Estonian peat bogs etc.), in
which I take part with my Ph.D. work as a "main researcher". First, Finn Arne Jørgensen,
NTNU, who's involved in environmental history (and trying to establish a Norwegian network
within that field). I met him at the first world congress of environmental history in
Copenhagen in August. Second, Renata Sõukand - who happens to be one of the contributors

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to the special issue of Biosemiotics for which I am one of two guest-editors ('Semiotics of
perception').

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:13 0 comments

Labels: comparative analysis, Cultual heritage, Estonia, Norway, peat bogs

THURSDAY, 19 NOVEMBER 2009

Titles - books I would like to have written (or read)


Some of these are good titles (others contain but one word of special interest). Others are
good, or reputed, authors, or concern topics that interest me. Most of them will never be
read by me. Some, perhaps, will – maybe even be influential in my thinking. Time will
(perhaps) tell.

Ahonen, Pertti. 1989. The meaning of money: Comparing a Peircean and Saussurean
perspective. In Kevelson, R., ed., 13-29.

Albone, Eric S. 1984. Mammalian Semiochemistry. Chichester: Wiley.

Anderson, Myrdene & Floyd Merrell, eds. 1991. On Semiotic Modeling. Berlin: Mouton de
Gruyter.

Aschenberg, Heidi. 1978. Phänomenologische Philosophie und Sprache. Tübingen: Narr.

Balat, Michel & Janice Deledalle-Rhodes, eds. 1992. Signs of Humanity. Berlin: Mouton
de Gruyter.

Bär, Eugen 1981. Die Zeichenlehre von Thomas A. Sebeok. In Krampen, M., et al., eds.,
281-321.

Barnlund, Dean 1981. Toward an ecology of communication. In Mott, C. W. & J. H.


Weakland, eds., 87-126.

Baudrillard, Jean. 1972. Pour une critique de l’économie politique du signe. Paris:
Gallimard. – Port. s.d. Para uma crítica da economia política do signo. Lisboa: Martins
Fontes.

———. 1976. L’échange symbolique et la mort. Paris: Gallimard.

Beck, Cave. 1657. The Universal Character, by Which All the Nations in the World May
Understand One Another’s Conceptions. London.

Bentley, Arthur F. 1947. The new “semiotic”. Philosophy and Phenomenological


Research 8.1: 107-31.

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Bernard-Donals, Michael F. 1994. Mikhail Bakhtin Between Phenomenology and Marxism.
Cambridge: Univ. Press.

Bierman, Arthur K. 1962. That there are no iconic signs. Philosophy and
Phenomenological Research 23: 243-49.

Bonner, John Tyler. 1980. The Evolution of Culture in Animals. Princeton: Univ. Press.

Borsche, Tilman & Werner Stegmaier, eds. 1992. Zur Philosophie des Zeichens. Berlin:
de Gruyter.

Böttner, Margueritte. 1980. Zeichensysteme der Tiere: Ein Versuch angewandter


Semiotik. Stuttgart: Diss. Phil.

Bouissac, Paul. 1989. What is a human? Ecological semiotics and the new animism.
Semiotica 77: 497-516.

Bright, Michael. 1984. Animal Language. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press.

Brown, Jerram L. & Gordon H. Orians. 1970. Spacing patterns in mobile animals. Annual
Review of Ecological Systems 1: 239-62.

Buczyńska-Garewicz, Hanna. 1984. The degenerate sign. In Borbé, T., ed., vol. 1, 43-50.

Bunn, James H. 1981. The Dimensionality of Signs, Tools, and Models. Bloomington:
Indiana Univ. Press.

Burkhardt, Dietrich, et al., eds. 1966. Signale der Tierwelt. München: Moos.

Busnel, René-Guy & André Classe. 1976. Whistled Languages. Berlin: Springer.

Carnap, Rudolf. (1928) 1961. Der logische Aufbau der Welt. Hamburg: Meiner.

Carterette, Edward C. & Morton P. Friedman, eds. 1976. Handbook of Perception. New
York: Academic Press.

Castañeda, Hector-Neri. 1990. Indicators: The semiotics of experience. In Jacobi, K. &


H. Pape, 57-93.

Cheney, Dorothy & Robert M. Seyfarth. 1982. Recognition of individuals within and
between groups of free-ranging vervet monkeys. American Zoologist 22: 519-529.

Classen, Constance, David Howes & Anthony Synnott. 1994. Aroma: The Cultural History
of Smell. London: Routledge.

Coker, Wilson. 1972. Music and Meaning. New York: Free Press.

Colapietro, Vincent M. 1989. Peirce’s Approach to the Self. Albany: State Univ. of New
York Press.
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Costadeau, Alphonse. (1717) 1983 (1717) 1983. Traité des signes, vol. 1,
ed. Le Guern-Forel, O. Bern: Lang.

Crystal, David 1980. Introduction to Language Pathology. London: Arnold.

Dascal, Marcelo. 1978. La sémiologie de Leibniz. Paris: Aubier-Montaigne.

Davidson, Donald 1978. What metaphors mean. Critical Inquiry 5: 31-47.

Dawkins, Richard & John R. Krebs. 1978. Animal signals: Information or manipulation. In
Krebs, J. R. & N. B. Davies, eds., 282-309.

Deely, John N. 1974. The two approaches to language... Jean Poinsot’s semiotic. The
Thomist 38: 856-907.

Dirven, René. 1993. Metonymy and metaphor. Leuvense Bijdragen 82: 1-28.

Dressler, Wolfgang U. 1989. Semiotische Parameter einer textlinguistischen


Natürlichkeitstheorie. Wien: Österr. Akad. der Wiss. (=Ö. A. d. W., Phil.-Hist. Kl.,
Sitzungsber., vol. 529).

Dutz, Klaus D. 1985. Historiographia Semioticae (= papmaks 18). Münster: MAkS.

Ebert, Theodor. 1987. The origin of the Stoic theory of signs in Sextus Empiricus. Oxford
Studies in Ancient Philosophy 5: 83-126.

Eco, Umberto 1984b. Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language. Bloomington: Indiana
Univ. Press.

———. 1985a. How culture conditions the colors we see. In Blonsky, M., ed., 157-75.

———. 1986. Travels in Hyperreality. New York: Harcourt.

Eimermacher, Karl, comp. 1974. Arbeiten sowjetischer Semiotiker der Moskauer und
Tartuer Schule (Auswahlbibliographie). Kronberg: Scriptor.

Ekman, Paul, ed. 1973. Darwin and Facial Expression. New York: Academic Press.

Emanuele, Pietro. 1982. Präsemiotik und Semiotik in Heidegger. Semiosis 25/26: 140-44.

Fill, Alwin. 1993. Ökolinguistik. Tübingen: Narr.

Finlay, Marike. 1988. The Romantic Irony of Semiotics: Friedrich Schlegel and the Crisis
of Representation. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Fleischer, Michael. 1987. Hund und Mensch: Eine semiotische Analyse ihrer
Kommunikation. Tübingen: Stauffenburg.

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Fraasen, Bas C. van. 1985. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Time and Space. New
York: Columbia Univ. Press.

Garvin, Harry R., ed. 1976. Phenomenology, Structuralism, Semiology (= Bucknell


Review, April 1976). Lewisburg: Bucknell Univ. Press.

Gibson, James J. 1966. The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems. Boston: Mifflin.

———. 1979. The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston: Mifflin.

Glidden, David. 1983. Skeptic semiotics. Phronesis 28: 213-55.

Harrison, P. A. 1983. Behaving Brazilian: A Comparison of Brazilian and North American


Social Behavior. Rowley: Newbury House.

Havelock, Eric A. 1963. Preface to Plato. Oxford: Blackwell.

Holenstein, Elmar. 1975. Roman Jakobsons phänomenologischer Strukturalismus.


Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp. – Port. 1978. Introdução ao pensamento de Roman Jakobson.
Rio de Janeiro: J. Zahar.

Jones, Roger S. 1982. Physics as Metaphor. New York: Meridian.

Kalinowski, Georges. 1985. Sémiotique et philosophie. Paris, Amsterdam: Hadès-


Benjamins.

Katz, David. (1925) 1969. Der Aufbau der Tastwelt. Darmstadt: Wiss. Buchgesellschaft.

Kelemen, János 1991. Kant’s semiotics. In Sebeok, T. A. & J. Umiker-Sebeok, eds., 201-
18.

Kiefer, Georg R. 1970. Zur Semiotisierung der Umwelt. Stuttgart: Diss. Phil.

Klaus, Georg. (1963) 1973. Semiotik und Erkenntnistheorie. München: Fink.

Klinck, Dennis. 1993. The semiotics of money. In Kevelson, R., ed., 229-250.

Koch, Walter A. 1986c. Philosophie der Philologie und Semiotik. Literatur und Welt:
Versuche zur Interdisziplinarität der Philologie. Bochum: Brockmeyer.

———. 1989. The Well of Tears: A Biosemiotic Essay on the Roots of Horror, Comic, and
Pathos. Bochum: Brockmeyer.

———. 1991b. Language in the Upper Pleistocene. Bochum: Brockmeyer.

———. 1992. Ecogenesis und echogenesis. In Sebeok, T. A. & J. Umiker-Sebeok, eds.,


171-211.

Koch, Walter A., ed. 1982. Semiogenesis. Frankfurt/Main: Lang.


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———. 1990d. Semiotics in the Individual Sciences. 2 vols. Bochum: Brockmeyer.

———. 1990f. Wissenschaftstheorie und Semiotik. Bochum: Brockmeyer.

Komar, Gerhard 1991. Geldzeichen. Zeitschrift für Semiotik 13: 345-365.

Krampen, Martin, et al., eds. 1981. Die Welt als Zeichen: Klassiker der modernen
Semiotik. Berlin: Severin & Siedler.

Kruse, Felicia 1990. Nature and semiosis. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society
26.2: 211-224.

Lakoff, George & Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago
Press.

Lanigan, Richard L. 1977. Speech Act Phenomenology. The Hague: Nijhoff.

Larsen, Hanne Hartvig, et al., eds. 1991. Marketing and Semiotics. Copenhagen:
Handelshøjskolen Forlag.

Lewis, Philip E. 1974. Revolutionary semiotics. Diacritics 4 (Fall): 28-32.

Lindgren, J. Ralph. 1993. The emergence of signs: The seminal convention of money. In
Kevelson, R., ed., 283-297.

Manning, Peter K. 1987. Semiotics and Fieldwork. Newbury Park: Sage.

Meier-Oeser, Stephan 1997a. Die Spur des Zeichens: Das Zeichen und seine Funktion in
der Philosophie des Mittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Merrell, Floyd 1996. Signs Grow: Semiosis and Life Processes. Toronto: Univ. Press.

Mick, David G. 1999. A global review of semiotic consumer research (= Working Paper,
Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Business).

Montagu, Ashley. 1971. Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin. New York:
Columbia Univ. Press.

Oehler, Klaus, ed. 1984. Zeichen und Realität. 3 vols. Tübingen: Stauffenburg.

Pittenger, Robert E., Charles F. Hockett & John J. Danehy. 1960. The First Five Minutes.
Ithaca, N.Y.: P. Martineau.

Pogorzelski, H. A. & W. J. Ryan. 1982. Foundations of Semiological Theory of Numbers.


Orono: Univ. of Maine Press.

Presnell, Michael. 1983. Sign, Image, and Desire: Semiotic Phenomenology and the Film
Image. Ann Arbor: Univ. Microfilms Int.

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Preziosi, Donald. 1979b. The Semiotics of the Built Environment. Bloomington: Indiana
Univ. Press.

Reis, Carlos. 1993. Towards a Semiotics of Ideology. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Romeo, Luigi. 1979d. Ecce Homo: A Lexicon of Man. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Rosenthal, Sandra B. 1998. Phenomenological semiotics. In Posner, R., et al., eds., vol.
2, 2096-2112.

Salthe, Stanley. 1998. Naturalizing semiotics. Semiotica 120: 381-394.

Santaella, Lucia. 1996c. Semiosphere: The growth of signs. Semiotica 109: 173-186.

Schiff, William & Emerson Foulke, eds. 1982. Tactual Perception: A Sourcebook.
Cambridge: Univ. Press.

Simmel, Georg. (1900) 1922. Philosophie des Geldes. München: Duncker & Humblot.

Tembrock, Günter. 1971. Biokommunikation. 2 vols. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag.

Thom, René. (1988) 1990. Esquisse d’une sémiophysique. – Ingl. 1990. Semiophysics: A
Sketch. Redwood City, Cal.: Addision-Wesley.

Thompson, Michael. 1979. Rubbish Theory. Oxford: Univ. Press.

Trampe, Wilhelm. 1990. Ökologische Linguistik. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.

Trevarthen, Colwyn. 1994. Infant semiosis. In Nöth, W., ed., 219-252.

Valsiner, Jaan & Jüri Allik. 1982. General semiotic capabilities of the higher primates. In
Key, M. R., ed., 245-57.

Vincent Ferrer. (ca. 1400) 1977. Tractatus de suppositionibus. Ed. Trentman, J. A.


Stuttgart: Frommann.

Walther, Fritz R. 1984. Communication and Expression in Hooved Mammals.


Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

Wescott, Roger W. 1984. Semiogenesis and paleogenesis. Semiotica 48: 181-85.

Yaguello, Marina. 1991. Lunatic Lovers of Language: Imaginary Languages and their
Inventors. London: Athlone.

Zarcadoolas, Christina. 1983. How to Do Things with Linguistics, Semiotics, Speech Acts,
and Phenomenology. Ph. D. Thesis, Brown Univ. Ann Arbor: Univ. Microfilms Int.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:40 0 comments

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Labels: bibliography, books, semiotics, tidsklemma, titles

WEDNESDAY, 18 NOVEMBER 2009

Course work on Uexküll - meetings at UiA - the philosophy business


I'm following the TÜ course "Readings of Juri Lotman and Jakob von Uexküll", and the first
half, considering the work of Uexküll, has now finished. A couple of days ago I submitted the
(first) term paper, "An Uexküllian Theory of Evolution?" (7 pp). I have further - since I
literarily take the course as a reading course, from a distance - submitted 6 c3 pp papers with
Q&As, covering the reading material.

“Uexküll and evolution” for many sounds like a topic that spells out a contradiction in terms.
That, I believe, does not necessarily have to be the case. Whereas some biosemioticians (e.g.
Stjernfelt 2001) have asserted that Uexküll was anti-evolution, others (e.g. Salthe 2001; Kull
2004) have concluded that he was anti-Darwinian, but not hostile to the idea of evolution as
such. Here I must agree with the latter group, as I hope will shine through in the rest of this
exposition. And not only do I think Uexküll was not anti-evolution (though, as I explain in
Tønnessen 2009, he was programmatically not historically-minded) – more than that; I believe
that an Uexküllian perspective might actually prove to be enriching within the field of
evolutionary theory. There’s proof that Uexküll did not only have negative, but also positive,
thought about evolution in his dictum (1928: 198) that “each new appearing functional cycle
verifies [the appearance of] a new animal species” (my translation).

Meanwhile, the committee for the UiA Philosophy Forum has held its first meeting (this
Monday).

So has - today - UiA's "Fagfilosofisk seksjon" (Academic philosophical section), consisting of the
philosophers at Department of religion, philosophy and history. The topic, which has been
discussed at one previous meeting as well and will be discussed further at the institute level
in December, concerns establishing new (more advanced) courses in philosophy as part of a
revised bachelor degree (which is today a bachelor in religion). One day, some say, we might
offer a master in philosophy. That would truly be of great value for the philosophy milieu at
UiA, and its attraction for students and scholars alike. Today only a one-year studium is
offered (apart from the broader introductory course, Examen Philosophicum).

Meanwhile ... I have finished (yesterday) a catalogue, or leaflet (4 pp), presenting the paid
services offered by my one-man company, SPØR FILOSOFEN (Ask the philosopher) - ranging
from lectures and courses via writing and editing to consultancy activities. You'll find it on
Scribd.

And thus the world advances...

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 05:43 0 comments


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Labels: bachelor, course, evolution, Lotman, philosophy, philosophy business, SPØR
FILOSOFEN, TÜ biosemiotics, Uexküll, UiA, University of Agder, University of Tartu

WEDNESDAY, 11 NOVEMBER 2009

Committee for UiA Philosophy Forum


The committee for the University of Agder Philosophy Forum (styringsgruppa for Filosofisk
Forum) now seems to be in place, counting the following members:

Håvard Løkke

Olav Andreas Opedal

Hege Stensland

Morten Tønnessen

Ralph Henk Vaags

The first meeting of the committee is likely to be arranged this Monday. The first Forum in
this round will likely take place in January.

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 06:13 0 comments

Labels: forum, philosophy, styringsgruppa for Filosofisk forum, UiA, University of Agder

THURSDAY, 5 NOVEMBER 2009

Philosophy in Stavanger (siddisfilosofi)

16
This term - starting November 27th or so - I will take part in the marking at Examen
Philosophicum at the University of Stavanger (the university of the town where I was born, on
the West coast of Norway), as an external examiner. Written exam is the genre, 3,000 words
the approximate length of the apparently 160 exam papers.

I am thus for the moment connected to no less than three universities - University of
Stavanger (as an external examiner), University of Agder (as a lecturer, research assistant,
and involved in philosophy forums) and University of Tartu (as a Ph.D. student, and
participant in research projects etc.).

Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 07:04 0 comments

WEDNESDAY, 4 NOVEMBER 2009

Philosophy in Kristiansand

Today I met with Ralph Henk Vaags at UiA. We have agreed to restart 'Filosofisk fagforum'
[Forum for academic philosophy], as well as 'Filosofisk forskerforum' [Philosophical research
forum] at the University of Agder (in both cases it's the first time I'm partaking). For now the
plan for the former is to arrange monthly 2-hrs seminars next spring. The two of us expect to
form the responsible committee, along with a student representative.

Independently of these activities, the town of Kristiansand also features a near-monthly


'philosophical café', Kristiansand Filosofikafé, dating back to 2001.

Not bad for a mid-size Norwegian town whose biggest celebrity is a chimpanzee called Julius
(who happens to be one of the town's best painters, as well).

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Posted by Morten Tønnessen at 08:28 0 comments

Labels: forum, Julius, Kristiansand, Kristiansand Filosofikafé, philosophy of biology, UiA,


University of Agder

WEDNESDAY, 4 NOVEMBER 2009

"An ageing giant" - Arne Næss in memory

I have just come across the newsletter wherein my brief text "An ageing giant"
appears (p13).

INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS


NEWSLETTER
_____________________________________________________
Volume 20, No. 2 Spring/Summer 2009
Morten Tønnessen, Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics, University of Tartu, Estonia:

An Ageing Giant
It is hard to summarize what Arne Næss has meant to me—first of all because he has
been so decisive in forming me as a practicing philosopher. For years I had difficulties
seeing where, at all, I would disagree with him (a problem I have now to some extent
overcome). I was early on inspired by his interpretation of Gandhi’s political ethics—
that’s how I made the leap from activist to student of philosophy. As is the case for so
many Norwegians, it was his work that introduced me to philosophy. A course in deep
ecology at Åkerøya in Norway in the late 1990s was central in giving me a more solid
basis for eco-philosophical reasoning (a couple years later Knut Olav Fossestøl,
another course participant, and I founded the “Eco-philosophical colloquium” at the
University of Oslo). By then Arne was already a familiar face for me as a philosophy
student—30 years after he retired as professor, he was still around offering public
lectures. In 2001 and 2003, I arranged public events with him myself. By 2003,
however, it was clear that this brilliant mind struggled to remain intellectually alert
and coherent. A request to partake in a proposal (concerning the Norwegian Petro-
fund) from the Green Party of Norway, for which I was the national secretary at the
time, was therefore revoked.
18
I interviewed him a couple of times. After the Åkerøya seminar I sent him my first
booklong philosophical manuscript, Dialog. He had agreed to comment it, but now I
got it returned, with an exact explanation: “372 pages!” I never knew whether to call
him Arne or Næss. Despite having met him around a dozen times, he never appeared—
with certainty—to recognize me (I wish he had). Today I have the fortune of being in
contact with some of his closest colleagues at the eco-scene. The last time I was in
contact with him (through Kit-Fai) was in 2006, when I was conducting a survey of
attitudes in the Norwegian environmentalist establishment—partly inspired by his own
little survey on attitudes to nature among Norwegian bureaucrats and others carried
out a generation or so earlier. As I heard the news of his death, I pondered home to
our house in Magé, Brazil, where we were at the time, and stepped into our outdoor
swimming pool, as the day darkened. A couple of bats joined me. I retreated to a
corner, offering the two nocturnal creatures (ecological!) space enough to rejoice
undisturbed in their playful bath.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 04: 56 0 C OM M E N T S


LABELS: A RN E N Æ SS , BAT, DE A T H , DE E P E C OL OG Y , E N V I RON M E N T AL
E T HI C S

MONDAY, 26 OCTOBER 2009

The wolf as scapegoat

My debate article "Ulven som syndebukk" [The wolf as scapegoat] is in print today in
the major Norwegian national daily Dagbladet.

A longer Norwegian version of the text is to be found in my Norwegian blog, Utopisk


Realisme.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 08: 21 0 C OM M E N T S


LABELS: WOL F I M A G E RY , WOL F M A N A G E M E N T , WOL F P OL IT I C S

FRIDAY, 23 OCTOBER 2009

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Co-editing of special issue on biosemiotics

Yesterday I agreed to co-edit a special issue of Hortus Semioticus on biosemiotics


(zoosemiotics etc. included) with Nelly Mäekivi and Riin Magnus.

The special issue, which will feature articles in both English and Estonian and is
expected to appear as no. 7, 2010 (after no. 5 is published this year and no. 6 is
published as a regular number in the spring of 2010), will include an interview with
Kalevi Kull (link inactive at the time of writing this...), conducted by Riin Magnus and
me.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 07: 19 0 C OM M E N T S


L A B E L S : B I OSE M I OT I C S , E C OSE M I OT I C S , HORT U S SE M I OT I C U S , K A L EV I K UL L ,
Z OOSE M I OT I C S

First semioethics interview published + "Meditationes Semioticae"

Hortus Semioticus no. 4 (2009) appeared some days ago. My contributions:

Pp57-80 "“Tell me, where is morality bred?” The Semioethics Interviews I: John Deely"
PDF here

Pp81-84: "Meditationes Semioticae: Signs grow – but should they? Semioethics and the
dominant semiosis of Homo sapiens sapiens" PDF here

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 07: 14 0 C OM M E N T S


L A B E L S : E T HI C S , HO M O SA P I E N S , HOM O SA P I E N S SA P I E N S , J OHN DE E L Y ,
SE M I OE T HI C S , SE M IOSI S , SI G N S , SI G N S G ROW

WEDNESDAY, 21 OCTOBER 2009

Proceedings of the world congress in semiotics 2007

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At long last I have received the proceedings of the 9th congress of the IASS/AIS -
Helsinki-Imatra, 11-17 June, 2007, "Communication:
Understanding/Misunderstanding", edited by Eero Tarasti (associated editors: Paul
Forsell and Richard Littlefield). And quite a work it is, in 3 volumes (Acta Semiotica
Fennica XXXIV, International Semiotics Institute, Imatra/Semiotic Society of Finland,
Helsinki 2009).

My text "Where I end and you begin: The threshold of the self and the intrinsic value
of the phenomenal world" appears pp. 1798-1803 (vol. III). Here, for the first time in
Earth history (in print), I offer "a critique of a critique", namely of semioethics: "While
I agree with several of the foundational statements of a semioethics proper, i have
some critical remarks as to its present manifestation." I have now been engaged with
semioethics for 2 years plus, not least through this spring's first "semioethics
interviews" with John Deely, the first of which will sooner-than-ever be published.
The article also contains seeds to what I now call "semiotic economy".

In the article I refer to:

David Agler

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Gregory Bateson

Donald Favareau

Arne Næss

Susan Petrilli and Augusto Ponzio

David Rothenberg

and myself ("Umwelt ethics")

The name of my article appears in the Contents (vol. I, p. xx). I ("Tonnesen") is


further referred to in the Thematic index (vol. III) under the keywords "biosemiotics"
(p. 1971) - but not under "ethics", nor "politics", nor "semioethics".

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 12: 52 0 C OM M E N T S


L A B E L S : I N DE X , I N T RI N SI C V A L UE , J OHN DE E L Y , P HE N OM E NOL OG Y ,
P ROC E E DI N G S , RA DI OHE A D , SE L F , SE M I OE T HI C S , SE M I OT I C E C ON OM Y ,
SE M I OT I C S , U E XK ÜL L , U M WEL T , WORL D C ON G RE SS

Poster presentation presentation

My poster "Mapping human impact: Ecological footprint vs. ontological niche" is on


display at the second CECT autumn conference, "Spatiality, memory and visualisation
of culture/nature relationships", tomorrow from 4 to 6 p.m. The 5 minute oral
presentation of my poster presentation has been scheduled for 17.00-17.05. Full
poster programme here.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 11: 40 0 C OM M E N T S


L A B E L S : C E C T , E C OLOG I C A L FOOT P RI N T , M A P , ON T OL OG I C A L N I C HE ,
SP A T I A L I T Y . C UL T U RE /N A T U RE

MONDAY, 19 OCTOBER 2009

Proceedings

22
Last week I submitted my contribution to the 10th world congress in semiotics
proceedings, "The changing imagery of the big bad wolf".

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 10: 37 0 C OM M E N T S


L A B E L S : T HE B I G B AD WOL F , W OL F I M A G E RY , WOL F M A N A G E M E N T , WOL F
P OL I T I C S

THURSDAY, 15 OCTOBER 2009

Animal play article to appear in December

I expect my article "Abstraction, cruelty and other aspects of animal play" to appear in
December, in the special issue on zoosemiotics of the journal Sign Systems Studies.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 03:38 0 COMMENTS

LABELS: ANIMAL PLAY, ANIMAL STUDIES, SEMIOTICS, ZOOSEMIOTICS

WEDNESDAY, 14 OCTOBER 2009

Mapping human impact

My poster presentation for the Oct. 22-24 Tallinn conference on Spatiality, memory and
visualization of human/nature relations (text only):

MORTEN TØNNESSEN: MAPPING HUMAN IMPACT


ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT VS. ONTOLOGICAL NICHE
In this presentation I compare my ecosemiotic concept of a human ontological niche (cf.
Tønnessen 2009) with the concept of an ecological footprint, with respect to how either of
these can be applied as tools in mapping human impact in nature. An ontological niche – a
concept derived from Jakob von Uexküll’s Umwelt concept – can be defined as the set (or
whole) of ecological relations (or ‘contrapuntal relations’, be they somatic, social or ecological)
a being or life form partakes in at a certain point in natural history (figure: early version (1920)
of Uexküll’s functional cycle).

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<!--[if !vml]-->(fig.)
<!--[endif]-->

The ecological footprint concept, on its hand, first introduced in 1996, is now being used by
WWF (LIVING PLANET REPORT) and developed methodologically by THE GLOBAL FOOTPRINT
NETWORK. Claimed to be a tool that makes sustainability measurable, it condenses a complex
array of consumption down into a single number.

The developers of the ecological footprint model stress that it includes only those aspects of
resource consumption and waste production for which the Earth has regenerative capacity.
What it does is converting consumption into the land used in production, along with the land
theoretically needed to sequester the greenhouse gases produced. By dividing ‘Humanity’s
Ecological Footprint’ (currently 2,7 ‘global hectares’ per person) by ‘World Biocapacity’ – which
is (oftentimes) modelled as being constant – we arrive at the conclusion that humanity as a
whole has been unsustainable (accumulating ‘ecological debt’) since the late 80s. When the
footprint of a country does not surpass its biocapacity, it is said to be sustainable.

<!--[if !vml]-->(fig.)
<!--[endif]-->

As we can see in the WWF figures below, global biocapacity is modelled as being potentially
decreasing (in case of sustained/accumulated ecological overshoot) or increasing (in case of
proper management).

<!--[if !vml]-->(fig.)
<!--[endif]-->

<!--[if !vml]-->(fig.)
<!--[endif]-->

The ecological footprint model has several limitations, not least the fact that there are many
environmental problems it cannot represent. It further says little or nothing about the
intensity of land use. From an ethical point of view, it is biased toward anthropocentricism in
assuming that ‘sustainability’ entails that humanity can exploit the Earth’s biocapacity fully.
It is also anthropocentric from a methodological point of view, since it represents human
consumption and ecosystem services only – both being purely human interests.
24
The human ontological niche concept, in contrast, is designed in order to display the
ecological relations in which humanity partakes. As Nathan Fiala (2008: 519) remarks, “better
measures of sustainability would address [environmental issues] directly”. Whereas the
simplicity of the ecological footprint is not only its greatest advantage but also its greatest
disadvantage, the human ontological niche concept is better suited to account for variety
within and across ecosystems, because its biggest advantage is its (qualitative, rather than
quantitative) specificity. It further allows for disparate ethical assumptions.

I will now model selected global environmental data to demonstrate how the human
ontological niche concept can be applied as a modelling tool scrutinizing human impact in
nature. The basic problem is this: How can we model human impact in nature – a crude,
aggregate measure – based on a theory of the phenomenological experiences of individual
creatures (be they human or non-human)?

<!--[if !vml]-->(fig.)
<!--[endif]-->

Above the global populations of selected livestock groups are represented in numerical terms
(data taken from Livestock’s long shadow, FAO 2006). How could we represent these global
data in qualitative terms?

<!--[if !vml]-->(fig.)
<!--[endif]-->

Here a few differences in the size of circles (3 categories) and thickness (3 categories) are
chosen to represent the relative importance of livestock groups and the character of our
relations to them. In more general terms some crucial traditional features of the human
ontological niche can be represented as depicted below (note that a positive attitude to
conservation can change the quality of our relation to big carnivores as well as to “wasteland”
species).

<!--[if !vml]-->(fig.)
<!--[endif]-->

A few simple comments:

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Resources/individuals: While an ecological footprint approach tends to focus on biomass
(natural creatures qua resources), an ontological niche approach will tend to focus on
individuals/subjects, wherever there are individuals.

Relative/Absolute: From a phenomenological point of view everything is relative to the


subjects. But absolute numbers (i.e. the totals relative to the entire Earth system) matter
too.

Qualitative/quantitative: Quantitative data must be analyzed in qualitative (oversight)


terms. But qualities alone tell as little about a concrete empirical situation as quantities
alone. Volume matters – and so does the quality (nature) of our ecological relations!

Simplifying/re-presenting complexity: All modelling entails simplification. What is decisive is


that qualitative analysis at all steps is to guide quantitative representations, and that
alienating decontextualization is to be avoided.

REFERENCES

→ Livestock’s long shadow: Environmental issues and options. FAO 2006.

→ Living Planet Report 2008. WWF.

→ Fiala, Nathan 2008. Measuring sustain-ability: Why the ecological footprint is bad
economics and bad environmental science. Ecological Economics 67: 519-525.

→ Tønnessen, Morten 2009. Umwelt transitions: Uexküll and environmental change.


Biosemiotics 2.1: 47-64.

→ Uexküll, Jakob von 1920. Theoretische Biologie (first edition). Berlin: Julius Springer.

This poster presentation has been carried out as


part of the research projects THE CULTURAL
HERITAGE OF ENVIRONMENTAL SPACES: A
COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS BETWEEN ESTONIA AND
NORWAY (EEA–ETF Grant EMP 54), DYNAMICAL
ZOOSEMIOTICS AND ANIMAL REPRESENTATIONS

26
(ETF/ESF 7790) and METHODS OF BIOSEMIOTICS
(ETF/ESF 6669).

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 05:04 0 COMMENTS

LABELS: CECT, ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT, ONTOLOGICAL NICHE, POSTER PRESENTATION,


TALLINN

FRIDAY, 9 OCTOBER 2009

Poster presentation on the notion of ecological footprints

I am in the process of preparing my poster presentation for the CECT (Center of excellence in
cultural theory) II conference "Spatiality, memory and visualisation of culture/nature
relationships: theoretical aspects", entitled "Mapping human impact: Ecological footprint vs.
ontological niche".

Names of all poster presentations are to be found here, abstracts of oral presentations here.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 05:33 0 COMMENTS

LABELS: CECT, CULTURAL THEORY, ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT, NICHE, ONTOLOGICAL


NICHE, POSTER PRESENTATION, SEMIOTIC NICHE, TALLINN

WEDNESDAY, 7 OCTOBER 2009

Chronicles in Norwegian media - wolf politics

October 2nd my chronicle "Den kinesiske miljøbevegelsen" [The Chinese Environmental


Movement] appeared in Adresseavisen, the major regional newspaper in mid-Norway (cf.
previous report).

Yesterday I wrote a chronicle entitled "Ulven som syndebukk" [The Wolf as a Scapegoat], that
I now submit to Dagbladet, Norway's third biggest national daily.

The political platform of the re-elected coalition government is said to be ready for
27
announcement in one and a half hour. According to preliminary news reports, Senterpartiet
(which has around 6 % of the vote) has not succeeded in its efforts to reach an agreement
with the two other governing parties according to which all remaining wolves would be shot,
and no wolves would be tolerated on Norwegian land.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 03:40 0 COMMENTS

LABELS: ADRESSA, CHRONICLES, DAGBLADET, NORWEGIAN GOVERNMENT, SCAPEGOAT,


WILDLIFE CONSERVATION, WOLF MANAGEMENT, WOLF POLITICS, WOLVES

THURSDAY, 1 OCTOBER 2009

New wolf essay

I have recently finished an article entitled "Is a wolf wild as long as it does not know that it is
being thoroughly man-handled?". The essay has been submitted to Humanimalia.

Abstract: The animals of the recovering Scandinavian wolf population are evidently shy, but
thoroughly man-handled, by wildlife managers as well as illegal hunters and others. After
much wilderness has vanished, the current wolf population dwells in a so-called multi-use
environment. Their interaction with human artefacts and constructions is substantial. The
author argues that the long-term conservation goal should be not simply viability, but
independent viability - i.e., viability independent of the continued actions of humans.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 06:20 0 COMMENTS

LABELS: ANIMAL STUDIES, HUMANIMALIA, WOLF ECOLOGY, WOLF MANAGEMENT, WOLF


POLITICS

WEDNESDAY, 30 SEPTEMBER 2009

Annotated bibliography, 3rd quarter

As part of a 4-times-a-year report I am conducting as a researcher in one of the research


projects I am partaking in, I write a Selected Annotated Bibliography. Here's my annotated
bibliography for the last three months.

28
Douglas W. MacCLEERY: American forests: A history of resilience and recovery. Forest
History Society, 1992. This publication offers a lot of interesting statistics and facts not
only since 1930 or so, when the proportion of US land that is forested has generally been
stable, after 300 years of deforestation, but also concerning times as far back as to year
1600 (even native indigenous forestry practices are briefly described). The last century
several wildlife species have recovered, not least due to the gradual introduction of
conservation measures. In conclusion, this work is a helpful source of references and
thoroughly examines the full implications of different attitudes to forests and utilization
of forest products. Though the situation of Norwegian forests is not identical with the
American situation, this book nevertheless provides useful knowledge about the
interconnections of conservation efforts and forestry practices/land use.

The Norwegian daily Nationen [The nation], Mon 31st of August – Wed 9th of September.
The latest national election in Norway took place September 14th. For 10 days close to
the conclusion of the election, I followed Nationen, Norway’s only national daily
devoted to matters of agriculture and rural policies. Every day in this period there were
articles etc. about carnivore policy; about half of the editions one of them featured on
the front page. In many rural areas, wolf and carnivore policy turned out to become one
of the defining topics of the electoral campaign, though only 3 parties (Senterpartiet,
Fremskrittspartiet and Sosialistisk Venstreparti) talked much about it. For the first time
the populist right-wing party Fremskrittspartiet competed seriously for the anti-wolf
votes – though Senterpartiet, traditionally the farmers’ party, still dominated the
discourse. The carnivore policy for 2009-2013 is now up for negotiations within the re-
elected coalition government, which consists of Arbeiderpartiet (the social democrats),
Senterpartiet and Sosialistisk Venstreparti (a left-wing party which supports wolf
conservation).

Paolo VIRNO: Natural-historical diagrams: The ‘new global’ movement and the biological
invariant. Pp. 131-147 in The Italian difference: Between nihilism and biopolitics (eds.
Lorenzo Chiesa and Alberto Toscano), Melbourne 2009: re.press. Translated from Italian
by Alberto Toscano. Virno’s notion of the natural-historical diagrams of human nature
refers to “concrete phenomena, socio-political states of affairs, historical events.” He
thus offers an empirical (or emergent) notion of human nature – which can be of

29
interest in the context of my depicting of a natural history of the phenomenal world.
Crucial in Virno’s observations is that ‘human nature’ as we know it places us as an
“indefinite animal”, an animal without any definitive natural environment. This, he
claims, explains our ‘instability’ as a species, and our constant urge for further
modifications of the environment. It would be interesting to integrate and try to
develop some of his main points in my own work.

Wendy WHEELER: The Whole Creature: Complexity, Biosemiotics and the Evolution of
Culture. London 2006: Lawrence & Wishart. In this valuable book, Wheeler outlines
some connections between biosemiotics and other complexity science on the one hand
and politics and cultural theory on the other. In the context of my work Wheeler’s book
represents an important step toward a proper understanding of the cultural implications
of competing scientific outlooks and worldviews. While Wheeler on some points
simplifies the connections between ‘capitalism’ and mainstream science, her portrayal
of the cultural and ethical (and political) implications of a world view of biosemiotic
relationism rather than one of capitalist atomism/individualism is in the main
informative and telling. The main message – which I do subscribe to – is that human
beings are social (and ecological) creatures which can not thrive – or correctly be
described on a theoretical level – as isolated individuals. Her stress of the social and
ecological aspects of cultural life bears implications not least for economic thought.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 08:44 0 COMMENTS

LABELS: BIOSEMIOTICS, COMPLEXITY SCIENCE, DOUGLAS MACCLEERY, FORESTRY,


NATIONEN, NATURAL-HISTORICAL DIAGRAMS, PAOLO VIRNO, WENDY WHEELER, WILDLIFE
CONSERVATION

SATURDAY, 26 SEPTEMBER 2009

"Outline of an Uexküllian bio-ontology" referred to in encyclopedia


article

My article "Outline of an Uexküllian bio-ontology" - my very first academic article, published


in Sign Systems Studies in 2001 - is included in the literature list of the entry for "Uexküll,
Jacob Johann Baron von (1864-1944)" in volume XXIX of Biographisch-Bibliographisches
Kirchenlexikon (BBKL): Nachschlagewerk mit aktuellen Nachträgen (columns 1455-1483 -
30
author: Heike Delitz). This volume was published in 2008 in Nordhausen by the publisher
Traugott Bautz.

Full reference:

- Tønnessen, Morten: Outline of an Uexküllian bio-ontology, in: Sign Systems Studies 29


(2001), 683-691

The encyclopedia entry also appears on Spiegel Wissen.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 14:09 0 COMMENTS

LABELS: ENCYCLOPEDIA ENTRY, OUTLINE OF AN UEXKÜLLIAN BIO-ONTOLOGY, SPIEGEL,


UEXKÜLL

WEDNESDAY, 23 SEPTEMBER 2009

On site in A Coruña, Spain

I have just arrived in A Coruña (Galicia), Spain, where the 10th world congress of
semiotics takes place. It has been a long journey. I have been travelling (first by
ferry, and then) by train - more than 3,000 km. It is my first time in Spain. Se my
approximate route here.

Friday I will be presenting my talk "The changing imagery of the big bad wolf" -
with examples from the Norwegian national election September 14th.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 13: 52 0 C OM M E N T S


L A B E L S : A C ORU Ñ A , SP A I N , T HE B I G B AD WOL F , W OL F I M A G E RY , WOL F
M A N A G E ME N T , WOL F P OL I T I C S

WEDNESDAY, 16 SEPTEMBER 2009

The abstract book of the 2009 world congress in semiotics

31
... is to be found here.

My contribution (p. 153) ends abruptly, with a word missing.


THE CHANGING IMAGERY OF THE BIG BAD WOLF
Autores/Autors: Morten Tønnessen (UNIVERSITY OF TARTU)

The current work is part of the author’s ecosemiotic analysis of


Norwegian/Scandinavian wolf management in the period 1855-2010. In Norway, as in
several other countries, wolf management is controversial. For some on the
countryside it has come to symbolize the ignorant hostility (and imperialistic
tendencies) of the urban elites. There is a wide gap between perceptions on the
conservation side and in the antagonistic camp, and the proper role of folklore –
which is considered by wolf ecologists as unscientific – has never been agreed upon.
Field observations confirm that the political and cultural strife has little basis in
actual wolf ecology – sheep, for instance, which play a marginal role in Scandinavian
wolf diet, are currently major players in popular imagery (and, ironically,
management policies) only. As symbols have grown and developed, cultural
representations of wolves appear, at least in part, to have decoupled from ecological
reality. In what ways have our conceptions of wolves changed from the extermination
campaigns of the 19th century to the conservation efforts of our generation? To what
extent have wolves, in modern times as well as earlier, symbolized human traits,
religious ideas etc., and to what extent have they represented actual phenomena of
nature? By offering a series of examples of animal representations involving wolves –
in fiction and popular culture, in myths and in legends – I will inquire into these
questions, aiming at approving our understanding of how human cultures has co-
evolved not only with wolves, but further with a rich human imagery of these
creatures, the infamous ancestors of man’s best
FRIEND.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 08: 21 0 C OM M E N T S


L A B E L S : A N I M A L RE PRE SE N T A T I ON S , A NI M A L ST U DI E S , FI CT I ON , N ORWA Y ,
SE M I OT I C S , SHE E P , T HE B I G B A D WOL F , WOL F E C OL OG Y , WOL F I M A G E RY ,
WOL F M A N A G E M E NT , WORL D C ON G RE SS

32
Reflection piece in Hortus Semioticus

Yesterday I finished a little article entitled "Signs grow - but should they? Semioethics
and the dominant semiosis of Homo sapiens sapiens".

What is the nature of semiosis? And what is the culture of semiosis?

To be published in the soon-to-be-published Hortus Semioticus (where the first


semioethics interview - with John Deely - will be published as well). "Signs grow - but
should they?" represents the first in a series of reflections by young semioticians fully
occupied in "the semiotic garden".

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 05: 08 0 C OM M E N T S


LABELS: FL OY D M E R RE L L , J OHN DE E L Y , SE M I OE T HI C S

TUESDAY, 15 SEPTEMBER 2009

My first blurb

Yesterday I delivered my first blurb.

Occasion: Paul Cobley (ed.): Realism for the 21st Century. A John Deely Reader -
to be published by Scranton University Press.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 03: 39 0 C OM M E N T S


LABELS: B L U RB , J OHN DE E L Y , P A UL C OB L E Y , SC RA N T ON UN I V E RSI T Y P RE SS

MONDAY, 7 SEPTEMBER 2009

Research assistant (UiA) - multimodality

I have been assigned as a research assistant of the UiA (Agder University) research
project "Multimodalitet, leseopplæring og læremidler (MULL)" - "Multimodality,
reading training and educational materials". In this position I will have some work to
do this autumn and next spring, related first of all to dissemination of results. The

33
project sorts under the Department of Nordic and media Studies, Faculty of
Humanities and Education.

Norwegian language project site here.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 06: 31 2 C OM M E N T S


L A B E L S : A G DE R U N IV E RSI T Y , M U L T I M ODA L I T Y , RE A DI N G , RE SE A RC H
A SSI ST A N T , U I A

SUNDAY, 30 AUGUST 2009

Presentation in TÜ seminar on the methodology of the humanities

Title for my talk: "Methodological challenges in analyzing wolf ecology and wolf
management within a semiotic-phenomenological framework".

The seminar takes place at the department of semiotics, and will be organized by
Peeter Torop.

Date T.B.A.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 08: 42 0 C OM M E N T S

FRIDAY, 28 AUGUST 2009

New timetable for "Semiotics of Perception"

Kati Lindström and I have just agreed with the editor-in-chief of Biosemiotics,
Marcello Barbieri, that the special issue "Semiotics of Perception", an outcome of the
SemioPhenomenon workshops in Tartu February 2009 ("The Ecology of Perception" and
"Animal Minds"), for which we are the guest editors, will be published as no. 2, 2010
(August) in stead of as no. 1, 2010 (April), as originally planned.

Contributors:
David Abram
34
John Deely

Kalevi Kull

Kati Lindström

Timo Maran

Silver Rattasepp

Renata Sõukand & Raivo Kalle

Morten Tønnessen

Wendy Wheeler

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 01: 59 0 C OM M E N T S


L A B E L S : B I OSE M I OT I C S , P E RC E P TI ON , PHE N OM E N OL OG Y , SE M I OT I C S OF
P E RC E P T I ON

THURSDAY, 27 AUGUST 2009

University teacher

35
Today I wrote the contract for teaching in the history of philosophy at Agder
University (UiA), Kristiansand, Norway this autumn. Hopefully I will be reassigned for
next spring (Kristiansand) and summer (Lesvos, Greece) at a later point.

First lecture took place this Monday, in the biggest auditorium of the university,
named after Henrik Ibsen, with some 200 students present - the second on Tuesday.
At the very first one, I took some time telling about the history of examen
philosophicum (which started out in Copenhagen in the 17th century) in Norway, not
least Arne Næss' role in modern times; and the ongoing debate on the place of
Ex.phil. in the Norwegian education system (after decades and centuries of revisions
and cuts).

I am now a:

- Ph.D. student

- Researcher (in 3 research projects)

- University teacher ("universitetslektor")

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 10: 02 0 C OM M E N T S


L A B E L S : A G DE R U N IV E RSI T Y , A RN E N ÆSS , C OP E N HA G E N , E X . P HI L. , E X AM E N
P HI L OSOP HI C U M , K RI ST I A N SA N D , L E SVOS , T E A C HE R , T E A C HI N G , U I A

FRIDAY, 21 AUGUST 2009

Report from China to appear in Norwegian media

One of the talks I appreciated the most at the First World Congress of Environmental
History, in Copenhagen, August 4-8, was "The Rise, Development, and Influence of the
Environmental NGOs in China" by professor Xueqin Mei and Da Mao from Beijing,
China. I have composed an article based on their talk. This article has been accepted
for publication (possibly only in a few weeks) in a regional Norwegian newspaper with
fairly good circulation.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 10: 51 0 C OM M E N T S

36
LABELS: C HI N A , E N VI RON M E N T A L HI ST ORY , E N V I RON M E NT A L M OV E M E N T ,
N G OS

TUESDAY, 4 AUGUST 2009

Where are the Estonians?

I am here at the First World Congress of Environmental History as the only Estonian
representative (as a Norwegian Ph.D. Student at Department of Semiotics, University
of Tartu). This March I was in Copenhagen at an international climate conference,
with around 1,500 participants - as the only Estonian representative. Where are the
Estonians?

Here at the environmental history congress there are maybe 550 participants, judging
by the list of participants. Though scholars from Europe and the US dominate (along
with participants from Canada, Australia, New Zealand), there are some
representation of other regions of the world as well, South America and Asia (China,
Japan, India, Taiwan, Nepal ...) included. As for Africa, there's 9 participants (15 % of
world population, 1-2 % of world congress participants) - in addition to South Africa,
Nigeria, Egypt and Lesotho are represented (Lesotho 2, Estonia 1).

Norway, with its 7 representatives - me not included - almost compares to Africa in


participation. That's not surprising, however, given that Norway is a neighboring
country. Then again, so is practically Estonia. And yet, I am the only one here - nor
are there any participants from Latvia or Lithuania; making me the sole
representative from the Baltic states.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 08: 00 0 C OM M E N T S


L A B E L S : B A L T I C ST AT E S , B A L T I CU M , E NV I RON M E N T A L HI ST ORY , E ST ON I A ,
L E SOT HO , U N I V E RSI T Y OF T A RT U , U S , WORL D C ON G RE SS

Q & A with Paul Crutzen

Here at the First World Congress of Environmental History (Copenhagen/Malmø August


4-8) Nobel laureate in chemistry Paul J. Crutzen gave the first traditional plenary

37
talk, entitled "The Anthropocene: Humans as a force in global environmental cycles".
A good talk it was (though in the context of climate change I would not pragmatically
allude to geo-engineering - which Crutzen did refer to in conclusion, "out of despair"
(being clear, to be fair, that it was only a "last resort", and that other solutions should
be sought).

I asked him a question in the Q & A session following Crutzen's talk. First I referred to
his mention of the incredible economic growth of the last century, and said I
understood his despair with regard to climate change. But what role has the economy
to play in this context? Is our current economic model viable, or not?

Paul Crutzen answered, after a moment of hesitation, that he though the current
economic crisis is evidence that our current economic model is not viable (laughter
from the audience).

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 03: 19 0 C OM M E N T S


L A B E L S : A N T HROP O C E N E , C RU T ZE N , EC ON OM I C C RI SI S , E N V I RON M E N T A L
HI ST ORY

SATURDAY, 1 AUGUST 2009

Copenhagen (WCEH)

The full program - including abstracts - of the world congress in environmental


history, to take place in Copenhagen next week, is available at
https://whec2009.ruc.dk/program/pdf.
/
Why is it that so many academic events have such high-society profiles? At WCEH2009,
lunch + coffee can be bought for 2000 DKK - 400 DKK (around 50 Euros) per day! Such
prices discourage participation from low-income countries, and persons (as well as for
scholars and students who don't mind - or even prefer - normal standards).
/

38
Same story with hotels (pensions and B&B are more often than not not even
mentioned as options - cf. the upcoming world congress in semiotics in La Coruna,
Spain).
/
As for the program, I am to be found at p.7 (program) and 183 (abstract).

1001 Estranged, Endangered, Extinct. Lessons from the Extinction of the


Scandinavian Wolf
Morten Tønnessen, University of Tartu
/
After thousands of wolves had been shot, the Scandinavian wolf went extinct.
But it reappeared – and in Norway it’s had the status of a protected species since
1972. For many sheep farmers – widely regarded as the clearest antagonists of
the wolves – the current wolf management remains a symbol of their modern
estrangement. In what way does the estrangement of sheep farmers relate to
the equally evident estrangement of the still endangered wolves?

Other Norwegian topics at WHEC2009:

380 Making yourself at home in nature: The conflict between public access to
land and leisure cabin ownership in Norway, 1850-2000
Finn Arne Jørgensen, fa@jorgensenweb.net, NTNU
/
473 Local knowledge in a global industry: the formation and movement of the
science of salmonaquaculture
Stephen Bocking, sbocking@trentu.ca, Trent University
/
914 War over Whales: Radical Environmentalist Organizations and Scientific
Knowledge in Whaling Controversies
Morten Haugdahl, morten.haugdahl@hf.ntnu.no, Norwegian University of
Science and Technology (NTNU)

39
/
959 The standard of living, consumption and the environment in Norway 1726-
2006
Kjell Bjørn Minde, kjell.minde@hsh.no, Stord University College

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 06: 15 2 C OM M E N T S


L A B E L S : C OP E N HA GE N , EN V I RON M E N TA L HI ST ORY , HI G H SOC I E T Y , P RI C E S ,
SE M I OT I C S , WC E H , WOL F E C OL OG Y , WOL F M A N A G E M E N T , WORL D
C ON G RE SS

FRIDAY, 31 JULY 2009

Existential universals

Yesterday I finished my article "Existential universals: Biosemiosis and existential


semiosis", for Eero Tarasti's anthology Transcending Signs.

Contents:
"Semiotics of being"
"Universals of biosemiosis"
"On Earth - the natural setting of the human condition"
"On the alienation of the semiotic animal"

Let there be no doubt: Existential universals can be articulated and


conceptualized in a variety of ways. Any numbered list would be likely to be
incomplete - and any chronological exposition may well be at least in part
arbitrary. That being said, this is my bid.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 03: 44 0 C OM M E N T S

SUNDAY, 26 JULY 2009

Brian Goodwin (1931-2009)

I just got the news that Brian Goodwin is dead, since July 15th.

40
B.G. held a PhD in theoretical biology. Among his books are How The Leopard
Changed Its Spots (1994). He liked climbing trees. B.G. will be remembered for his
pioneering contributions to theoretical biology and complexity science, not least
through his development of biological structuralism (incomplete Wikipedia-article
here). For many years at the end of his life (ten, or a bit more) Brian taught at
Schumacher College, UK. His latest title there was "Scholar in residence". In addition
to contributing to short courses he taught at their groundbreaking MSc in Holistic
science - for which he was of foundational importance, along with staff ecologist
(deep ecologist, James Lovelock-colleague) Stephan Harding.

Personally I encountered Goodwin at two occasions. First, when - the autumn of 1999
- I resided at Schumacher college for three months as a volunteer. B.G. was at that
point the main responsible for the newly created MSc in Holistic science, which I
believe was in its second year. Now and then I got to listen to his talks in the MSc or
in courses, or talk with him at dinner etc. My second encounter with Goodwin occured
in the summer/autumn of 2006. At the age of 75, he accepted an invitation to figure
in the advisory board of a Nordic-Baltic Research Network for Philosophy of Biology.
The network never got funding, and therefore never materialised. I was onboard as
the assigned secretary of this network.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 01: 15 0 C OM M E N T S


L A B E L S : C L I M B I NG TRE E S , C OM P L EX I T Y , G OODWI N , HOL I SM , HOL I ST I C
SC I E N C E , P HI L OSOP HY OF B I OL OG Y , SC HU M A C HE R C OL L E G E ,
ST RU C T U RA L I SM , T HE ORE T I C A L B I OL OG Y

WEDNESDAY, 15 JULY 2009

The Global Species

I have just finished my journal article 'The Global Species', for New formations.

41
In this article I will attempt to demonstrate that the historical process of globalization -
in the long term - can be outlined in terms of the expanding and eventually practically
global range (occurrence) not only of our own species, but of several of our affiliated
species as well.

Contents:
The Ecosemiotics of Globalisation
The Beginnings of Globalisation
The Ecology of Capitalism
The Politics of Biosemiotics

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 02:35 0 COMMENTS

LABELS: BIOSEMIOTICS, CAPITALISM, ECOSEMIOTICS, GLOBAL, GLOBALISATION,


GLOBALIZATION, HOMO SAPIENS, HOMO SAPIENS SAPIENS, POLITICS, RANGE, SPECIES,
THE GLOBAL SPECIES, WOLF ECOLOGY

FRIDAY, 10 JULY 2009

Lecturer at University of Agder

I have agreed to give lectures this autumn at the Department of Religion, Philosophy and
History, Faculty of Humanities and Education, University of Agder (Norway). The lectures, in
the history of philosophy, are part of Examen Philosophicum (Ex.Phil.), the Norwegian
compulsory introduction to philosophy.

Philosophers covered will include the following:


Plato
Aristotle
Augustin
Macchiavelli
Hobbes
Descartes
Hume
Kant
Kierkegaard
42
Classes start August 24th.
POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 04:50 0 COMMENTS

THURSDAY, 9 JULY 2009

Brief report from Gathering in Biosemiotics 9, Prague

The 9th Gathering in biosemiotics took place in Prague, The Czech republic, June 30th-July
4th. 48 presentations were scheduled in the programme (abstract book here), a few of which
were cancelled.

Some talks I enjoyed (I did not attend all talks):


Edward BAENZIGER: "Photosemiosis in orchids"

Eliseo FERNÁNDEZ: "Biosemiotics and the relational turn in biology"

Jonathan HOPE: "Umwelträume and multi-sensory integration"

Timo MARAN and Karel KLEISNER: "Semiotic selection, cooption, and good old Darwin: Is there
a common basis for the explanation of mimicry, sexual selection, and domestication?"

My talk, "On contrapuntuality: Semiotic niche vs. ontological niche: the case of the
Scandinavian wolf population" was given Friday 3rd of July - and went well, with positive
response and useful feedback.

43
I further enjoyed the spirited company of (among others) Myrdene ANDERSON, Luis Emileo
BRUNI, Sara CANNIZZARO, Paul COBLEY, Stephen PAIN, Riin MAGNUS, Rex ALEXANDER and
Prisca AUGUSTYN.

Augustyn held an interesting workshop on Uexküll translation (she is currently translating


Theoretische Biologie (1928), among other texts). The gathering also featured a lively
roundtable on the concept of meaning within biology, to which there were 20 suggestions for
definitions.

The next gatherings will be arranged the following places (main responsible in
parenthesis):
2010: Portugal ... (João Carlos MAJOR)

2011: New York (Victoria ALEXANDER)

2012: Tartu (Kalevi KULL)

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 04:55 0 COMMENTS

LABELS: BIOSEMIOTICS, CONTRAPUNTUALITY, MEANING, PRAGUE, SEMIOTIC NICHE,


THEORETICAL BIOLOGY, UEXKÜLL, UMWELT, WOLF ECOLOGY, WOLF MANAGEMENT

TUESDAY, 7 JULY 2009

Climate change and the growth paradigm

Stephen Purdey (University of Toronto) has composed a short text addressing "the link
between science and society regarding climate change" (email distributed via the adaptation-
list for participants at the March 2009 Copenhagen climate conference). More specifically, he
writes about "The Growth Paradigm" (cf. his book Economic Growth, the Environment and
International Relations, to be published in November by Routledge).

Excerpts:

44
Mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change are important objectives, but
the biggest obstacle to achieving those objectives, and to successfully maintaining a
stable planetary climate, is the deep-seated commitment among policy-makers to
continuous economic growth.

... Continuous growth depends irrevocably on the continuous transformation and


consumption of energy. The socio-political commitment to unending economic growth
will inevitably overwhelm any effort to conserve energy, or to shift energy supplies from
carbon-based to renewable sources, and it is fundamentally incompatible with any
absolute reduction in the amount of energy consumed. Greenhouse gas emissions can be
significantly reduced per unit of economic production in the global economy, but if
production itself continues to increase, then those relative reductions will ultimately be
futile.

... at its root, climate change is a socio-political, indeed a cultural issue and as such
requires from scientists a kind of social and moral awareness which often falls outside
their normal range of professional interests. ... Now scientists have the ... obligation of
pointing out that the core policy priority of governments around the world is at odds
with immutable physical laws which preclude unending economic growth.

And here's my response (sent to Purdey only):

Dear Stephen,

I do believe this is a very important point (see my article "The Statistician's Guide to
Utopia: The Future of Growth").

In this context I think it is further crucial to emphasize the shift in attention and
political priority that is going on today as part of the rising global awareness about
climate change, wherein climate issues tends to dominate and almost monopolize
environmental policies. Just think about energy: Even if we did manage to use only

45
renewable energy etc., that energy consumption (and the economic activity that goes
along with it) would, within a paradigm if never-ending growth, be likely to have severe
environmental consequences; even it the climate problem was hypothetically solved
(which is in itself a totally unrealistic assumption, of course).

A further consequence of the prospect of continued growth is that policies increasingly


depend on high-tech solutions, which further commits us to a technologically dominated
society and in effect limits our range of policy options.

By the way, have you read "Surviving 1,000 centuries: Can we do it?" - A very informing
book about the physical limits of our long-term global activities.

Best,

(morten tønnessen)

Academic homepage: http://utopianrealism.blogspot.com

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 05:00 0 COMMENTS

LABELS: CLIMATE CHANGE, ENERGY, GROWTH, LIMITS TO GROWTH, PARADIGM,


PHYSICAL REALITY, PURDEY, RENEWABLE ENERGY, TECHNOLOGY, TORONTO

WEDNESDAY, 24 JUNE 2009

Defining biological meaning

46
Here's my provisional definition of the concept of meaning within the life sciences (submitted
ahead of Gatherings in biosemiotics 9, to be arranged in Prague - where there will be an open
roundtable discussion on this very topic):

"It is the meaning-ful character of the encounter between physical, organic bodies and the
material externalization of their life worlds that mediates between the inner and the outer,
the self and the world."

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 05:01 1 COMMENTS

SATURDAY, 20 JUNE 2009

Tolerant Tartu

I have joined the Tolerant Tartu Advocacy Network (Tolerantse Tartu eestkostevõrgustik).

According to its mission statement, the network "support, enhance and promote societal,
cultural and scientific activities in Estonia, specifically in Tartu."

The general aim of the project „Tolerant Tartu Advocacy Network" is to develop a model of
Tartu as a city of tolerance where people enjoy living together, regardless of their race,
ethnicity, religious beliefs, and other personal characteristics."

The project is funded by "Sihtasutus Kodanikuühiskonna Sihtkapital" (KÜSK) - The National


Foundation of Civil Society, and organized under Domus Dorpatensis. Events for the coming
year here.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 06:00 0 COMMENTS

THURSDAY, 18 JUNE 2009

Climate synthesis report

The synthesis report from the conference 'Climate Change: Global risks, challenges and
decisions' (Copenhagen, March 2009) has been published. It is written by Nicholas Stern,
Daniel M. Kammen, Katherine Richardson and nine others.

47
It is based on the 16 plenary talks given at the Congress as well as input from over 80 chairs
and co-chairs of the 58 parallel sessions held at the Congress.

The preface refers to the proceedings, where my abstract 'The nature view held by
environmentalists: Attitudes in the Norwegian environmental establishment' is included,
among 1,400 others. "Most of the approximately 2500 people attending the Congress were
researchers, many of whom have also been contributors to the IPCC reports. Participants
came from nearly 80 different countries" (I was there as the only representative from
Estonia).

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 05:39 0 COMMENTS

WEDNESDAY, 17 JUNE 2009

10th World Congress of Semiotics - Big Bad Wolf accepted

I have been informed that my submission "The Changing Imagery of the Big Bad Wolf"
has been accepted for the 10th World Congress of Semiotics, to be arranged in A
Coruña, Spain, September 22-26. My presentation will take place September 25th.

A written version, to be submitted to the congress proceedings, will be prepared


within October 15th.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 02: 56 0 C OM M E N T S

TUESDAY, 16 JUNE 2009

Academic news in brief III: Attested, revised, and wild

1. The annual attestation review for doctoral students at Department of Semiotics will
take place this Friday. Last Thursday I submitted my 6 pp. Attestation review for the
academic year 2008-2009 (with a 'Revised plan of study and research' for the
academic year 2009-2010 included).

2. The Journal of Environmental philosophy has responded to my submission 'Notes


toward a natural history of the phenomenal world', which they want me to re-submit
48
in a partly rewritten form. I am currently studying the naturalization of
phenomenology.

3. The anthology now entitled 'Environment, embodiment and history', to be edited by


Johannes Servan (University of Bergen) and Ane Faugstad Aarø (Hermes Text/UiB)
moves forward. Of 10 confirmed contributors so far, I am the most Junior one.

"The anthology will have a theoretical approach that is grounded in phenomenology,


but we welcome contributions from various theoretical schools that will address,
criticize or discuss the phenomenological tradition within the questions of
environment and embodiment."

My contribution might concern both the conception of an Uexküllian phenomenology


and my work with Scandinavian wolf management. The editors are further challenging
me to address the topic of 'wildness' in its relation to taming, control and domination.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 09: 07 0 C OM M E N T S

MONDAY, 15 JUNE 2009

Poster presentation in Tallinn in October

My submission to the Tallinn October 22-24 conference 'Spatiality, memory and


visualisation of culture/nature relationships: theoretical aspects', 'Mapping Human
Impact: Ecological Footprint vs. Ontological Niche', has been accepted by the
organizing committee as a poster presentation.

In this presentation I will compare my ecosemiotic concept of a human


ontological niche with the concept of an ecological footprint, with respect to
how either of these can be applied as tools in mapping human impact in nature.

This will be my second poster presentation, following March's 'The nature view held by
environmentalists. Attitudes in the Norwegian environmental establishment'.

49
POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 00: 54 0 C OM M E N T S

THURSDAY, 11 JUNE 2009

Proceedings from World Congress, Helsinki/Imatra

The 9th IASS World Congress Proceedings is reported to be in preparation, and


expected to appear in July, as part of the publication series Acta Semiotica Fennica
(ASF). They will include my text 'Where I end and you begin: The threshold of the self
and the intrinsic value of the phenomenal world' (wherein my pointed critique of the
semioethics as phrased by Susan Petrilli appears).

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 06: 27 0 C OM M E N T S

MONDAY, 8 JUNE 2009

First ISI Web of Science publication

"The statistician's guide to Utopia: The future of growth" is listed as an ISI Web of
Science publication, since TRAMES is now indexed by them.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 05: 09 0 C OM M E N T S

WEDNESDAY, 3 JUNE 2009

First semioethics interview

This Sunday I finished 'The Semioethics Interviews I: John Deely / 'Tell me, where is
morality bred?'" (31 pp. manuscript), submitted to Hortus Semioticus.

Contents:
A whole new beginning for ethics?

A call for moral treatment

Agents and their subjects (and their needs)

An explicit account of otherness (or: a pretty good reason for hitting someone)

50
“You may recognize otherness and still shoot the guy”

Kalevi Kull on why good is to be done

Dog with puppies vs. mafia chieftain

Illegitimate semiosis

An animal nevertheless (a being of Gaia)

Becoming a semiotic animal

Semioethics: A household word

A revolutionary of sorts

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 03: 14 0 C OM M E N T S

My question to Umberto Eco on science and fiction

The University of Tartu has published a complete video of Umberto Eco's lecture in
Tartu May 6th, 'On the Ontology of Fictional Characters: a Semiotic Study'. My
question - and Eco's subsequent answer - is to be found in the interval 01:11:25 -
01:14:15.

The transcript reads:

MT My name is Morten Tønnessen, I’m a PhD student at Department of


Semiotics. And – you talked about the difference between physical existence and
fictional existence. And I would like you to say something about what role
fiction can be said to play within natural science, or applied science.

UE No... No, I missed ... the real question.

MT Let me finish. First, it’s obvious of course that imagination and creativity
are fundamental traits of humans in many walks of life. And often in applied
science, we start out with imagining something that does not exist – it’s totally

51
mind-dependent; and then we carry it into life. So it actually turns into
something with a physical existence. Isn’t that the work of fiction?

UE No! I... Take, for instance the cold fusion. Typical example of a scientific
hoax. It was untrue. I don’t say that fiction is mistake – which is different.
Ptolemy believed in good faith the Earth was still immobile, huh? – and the Sun
turned. It was not making fiction – it was committing a mistake. Simple and
believed. I say that there is fiction when the author pretends to say the truth,
and asks you to pretend that you are believing it. In this case you are in a
fictional world. If not, it’s a lie. If I tell you there is an elephant outside, and you
naively go out to see whether it is there or not, that is not a case of fiction, I am
only a damn liar, that’s all. And you are too much naive, hehe. Except, you are
not Thomas Aquinas, because it seems that ... comrades told him, because he
was only studying, huh? – 'Thomas, there is an ass flying on the skies', and...
(mimics Thomas looking to the skies:) Uh? He went out to look, and, there was
not... they laughed: Ahaha... And he said, ‘I believed it was more, very similar...
that there was an ass flying.’ Then the monk lied, ehehehe...

Comment: Eco's definition of fiction, that "there is fiction when the author pretends
to say the truth, and asks you to pretend that you are believing it", is fine. His
counterexamples, however, do not appear to have anything to do with my question,
where I talk about fiction (within science) as having to do with something first
imagined and then made into be (as a physical existent). Eco's examples concerns
either a) mistaken scientific theories or b) Lies/jokes. Whether those qualify as
'fiction' is a separate issue.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 00: 46 2 C OM M E N T S

TUESDAY, 2 JUNE 2009

Most viewed at Scribd

Most viewed as of June 2nd, 2009 (Feb. 11th in parenthesis)

52
1 (1) The Statistician's Guide to Utopia: The Future of growth 443 (255 = +188)

2 (2) Umwelt ethics 317 (166 = +151)

3 (3) Historieløst om klima 204 (110 = +94)

4 (4) Hvem har ansvaret for volden? 177 (102 = +75)

5 (4) SemioPhenomenon poster 166 (102 = +64)

6 (up) Must Naine Tartus 152

7 (-) Steps to a Semiotics of Being 151 (0 = +151)

Latest additions: CV, Preludium til romanen HUFF, 'The Nature View Held by
Environmentalists' abstract/poster. For a full list of my uploaded documents, see here. For a
previous post on views on Scribd, see here.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 05:19 0 COMMENTS

WEDNESDAY, 27 MAY 2009

Wolves, traffic lights and cultural mix

[From Aftenposten's supplementary ad magazine on Estonia, May 27th, 2009 - Norwegian text:
Øyvind Rangøy (for transcription, see Utopisk Realisme)]

NORWEGIAN MORTEN IS THE FIRST FOREIGN DOCTORAL CANDIDATE IN SEMIOTICS:


WOLVES, TRAFFIC LIGHTS AND CULTURAL MIX
Morten Tønnessen (33) is not only the only Norwegian doctoral student at the
University of Tartu, but also the first foreign doctoral candidate at the Department
of semiotics. But probably not the last.

We meet Morten in the student town Tartu, and he would like to explain for us what semiotics is.
– A familiar example is traffic lights. It is one of the most obvious signs that most people can

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understand. When you have green and red with yellow in between, most people know that this
has a conventional meaning. Green means go – and so on. But it is also a double-encoding, an
encoding according to the order. A quick glance at a traffic light, and you can easily get what
you are supposed to do. They are symbols with a random meaning that has simply been agreed
upon.

Semiotics is thus the study of the signs and the use of them, we are told. – But then we see how
many people today just look at the signs – traffic lights – and no longer at the traffic. This is for
me a sign of alienation, people are so overtly present in the reality of signs that they no longer
see the nature behind it, says Morten.

Semiotics is dealing with the functioning of signs, Morten explains, engaged. – And with the
context. Part of the first a semiotician will ask, is what context the signs function in.

NOT ONLY TARTU-MOSCOW

– When there is talk of Tartu and semiotics, often the "Tartu-Moscow School" is mentioned. What
is that?

– This is a tradition or school in the area of semiotics which is primarily related to Juri Lotman’s
work and to semiotics of culture. Lotman and others develop models for society and how cultures
and subcultures can be analyzed. But another tradition of semiotics that Tartu and Estonia has is
related to the Baltic-German biologist Jakob von Uexküll. – This is more important in my own
work. He was the predecessor of the so-called biosemiotics, or semiotics of nature. In Estonia,
there is both a tradition of cultural semiotics and a tradition of natural semiotics – a kind of
philosophy of nature on the relationship between man and nature. This makes Tartu a potent
place in semiotics internationally.

Morten develops what is properly called an Uexküllian phenomenology, a kind of philosophy of


nature in which Jakob von Uexküll is important. – A core concept is environmental change, in
conjunction with the concrete experienced life worlds of humans and other living beings.
Moreover, I have a case study on Norwegian wolf management – a Norwegian-Estonian research
project that compares ecological space in Estonia and in Norway.

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CULTURAL ENCOUNTER AS MOTIVATION

It is no coincidence that the central persons in the Estonian tradition of semiotics have a diverse
cultural background, says Morten: – Juri Lotman was a Russian Jew. He had a complex
background, and ended up in Tartu because he was not tolerated in Russia. Soviet powers
allowed him to be in a kind of internal exile in the Empire's periphery, and Tartu had an old
university tradition. In the 60ies Lotman established the first international journal for semiotics –
Sign Systems Studies – which is still published in Tartu.

The other source of the semiotics tradition – Jakob von Uexküll, however, was from a German
cultural background and another time. He took his basic university education in Tartu, but was
later active elsewhere in Europe. He regarded himself as German, even though Estonia today
regards him as one of their own.

A Russian immigrant and a German emigrant are thus important in the Estonian project of
semiotics, and this, Morten thinks, is an important point: – The cultural mix was probably part of
motivation for these scholars.

INTERNATIONALIZATION

– Why hasn’t there been any foreign doctoral student in semiotics here before?

– Yes, why hasn’t anyone gone here on their own before, with that kind of ambition? It is only in
recent years that the University of Tartu has sought actively for foreign students at all levels.
Now, just like in Norway, there is an internationalization going on at the university here.
Currently there are only 5-600 international students here, of 15-20000.

Morten has some visits in Tartu behind him even before he started on his doctoral studies. This
year he came to start for real [not so exact...], and his Ph.D. should be completed in 2011. Until
then he lives permanently in Tartu with his wife Helena, who is from Brazil.

STUDENT TOWN AND CULTURAL CENTER

Tartu, with its about 100,000 inhabitants, is a great city to study, he says. – The students are
very visible on the urban scene. The city is also small enough to be pretty transparent when it
comes to the subjects I am involved in. It is a city that it is easy to feel at home in, just the right

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size. At the same time, the institution of the University of Tartu is old and large enough to carry
the bulk of the Estonian academic tradition. Tartu is a kind of cultural capital.

Morten the semiotician also has a tip for those who might have become interested in what he is
doing. Namely that in the fall, the University of Tartu opens an English language master
programme in semiotics.

STUDY OPPORTUNITIES IN ESTONIA

If you want to learn Estonian, Estonia is the obvious choice. But Estonian institutions further
have more than 100 approved international study programs in English. A usual path is 3 years
Bachelor + 2 years Master. Some study places are free of charge, if there are any tuition fees
Lånekassen can give support.

English Language master - hot tips:

– ICT applications at the Tallinn Technical University and University of Tartu: Cyber Security and
Software Engineering.

– The Film Arts – Baltic Film and Media School (BFM), Tallinn.

– Animation – Estonian Academy of Fine Art, Tallinn

– Materials and Processes for Sustainable Energetic – Univ of Tallinn.

– Applied Measurements Science – Univ. in Tartu.

– Semiotics – Univ. in Tartu.

More information: www.studyinestonia.ee

Source: Mariann Lugus, the Archimedes foundation.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 00:43 0 COMMENTS

SATURDAY, 23 MAY 2009

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Exam season

Lately I have finished a lot of compulsory course essays (5 the last couple of weeks). Here's a
list of all 10 compulsory essays I have completed this semester (latest ones marked with an x)
- 46 pp. all in all.

INTRODUCTION TO ARISTOTELIAN PHYSICS AND BIOLOGY


'On the Mathematician and the Student of Nature' (8 pp)
x 'On the Soul' (6 pp)

ETHICS AND METHODOLOGY OF SCIENCE


'Essay on Induction' (2 pp)
'Essay on Paradigms and Normal Science' (2 pp)
'Essay on Scientific Realism' (2 pp)
'Essay on Relativism and the UNESCO Declaration' (2 pp)
x 'Essay on Informed Consent and the Ethical Principles of Science' (3 pp)
x 'Essay on Peer Review and the Lomborg Case' (3 pp)
x 'The Scientificity of Biosemiotics: Why Bother?' (7 pp)

HUMAN BEING UNDERSTOOD SEMIOTICALLY


x 'Semiotics of the Nonexistent' ( 11 pp)

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 02:00 0 COMMENTS

THURSDAY, 21 MAY 2009

Biosemiotics abstract book - contrapunctuality

The 9th Gathering in Biosemiotics, to take place in Prague, June 30th - July 4th, has made its
abstract book available online. My abstract, 'On contrapuntuality. Semiotic niche vs.
ontological niche: the case of the Scandinavian wolf population', appears on p. 45. My talk is
scheduled to take place Friday, July 3rd, 16-16.30.

In this talk I will argue that the notions of ‘semiotic niche’ (Hoffmeyer) and
‘ontological niche’ (introduced by myself) are complementary concepts. While the

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semiotic niche concept is best fitted to describe optimal ecological situations, in
which ecosystems are functional, the ontological niche concept is better fitted to
describe situations of ecosystem malfunction. The reason is that a ‘semiotic niche’
is plainly an expression of optimal (or desirable) ecological conditions and
relations, whereas the ontological niche depicts the set (or ‘gestalt’) of
contrapuntal relations that a being takes part in at any given point of natural
history.
In one sense, therefore, the semiotic niche is a general concept, whereas the
ontological niche is a specific concept. In situations where the ‘normal’ ecosystem
is not left intact, a concept of relational being, such as that of an ontological
niche, can be applied to exhibit in what way changing ecological conditions and
relations affect the viability of a population of animals, and literally change their
place in the world. Some examples will be provided in order to demonstrate the
importance of not confusing a manifest ontological niche with the partly
indiscernible semiotic niche.

One such example is the behaviour of Scandinavian wolves. Here, the semiotic
niche of these wolves would represent their behavioural repertoire. It would be
wrong, however, to assume that their current behaviour – as shy animals with a
taste for moose and an evident preference for forest-covered, uninhabited habitats
– simply reflects their general semiotic competence. Rather, it reflects how they
apply their semiotic competence in a certain ecological and cultural context. The
fact of the matter is that the behaviour of Scandinavian wolves to a substantial
degree reflects our approach to them. In the same way as the shyness of this
population results from our century-long hounding of wolves, their avoidance of
built-up areas reflects their (partly embodied) experience with encountering
people. Wolf behaviour in modern times, to cut a long history short, is just as
much an indicator of human behaviour as it is an expression of what it is like to be
a wolf.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 03:52 2 COMMENTS

MONDAY, 11 MAY 2009

58
Book, book chapter

1) My book proposal "The Growth Crisis: Norwegian Ecophilosophy and the Future of the
Growth Economy", submitted to Springer, is in preparation for being sent to review. I have
agreed to complete two sample chapters (ch. 1, on Zapffe, and ch. 7, on the future of
growth) by June 30th.

2) My contribution to Eero Tarasti's anthology (Mouton de Gruyter) "Transcending Signs" is


likely to be entitled 'Existential Universals: From Biosemiosis to Existential Semiosis (and
Back)'.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 04:03 0 COMMENTS

THURSDAY, 7 MAY 2009

Umwelt ethics, deep ecology and Spinoza

In the 30,000 character post 'Bioethics, Defining the Moral Subject and Spinoza', Kvond treats
my 2003 article 'Umwelt ethics' in impressive detail, mainly from a Spinozist point of view.

Outline:

An Ecology of Persons

"Code-duality" and Dual Attributes: Where is the seam?

The "Positioning" of an Imitation of the Affects

Triangulation and the Internal of Cause

Why not a Mountain?

The "Ontological Niche"

Total Umwelt and Biosphere Split

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In his essay Morten Tønnessen steers somewhat clear from Hoffmeyer’s wider embrace
in order to return to the rich heritage of Umwelt-thinking, and he tries to heal any
solipsistic phenomenological drag from the concept by postulating various zones of
“total Umwelt” expression. These are still phenomenological states, but simply
totalized by some measure. Personally, I don’t see the advantage of returning to
Idealism’s internal preoccupation and anchoring, something which ever must return to
the notion of a subject. Yet, Tønnessen also extracts from von Uexküll the important
idea that the animal and its Umwelt are inseparable. While this still leaves us on the
wrong side of the ledger, Tønnessen’s transfer from a terminology of “Tier-Umwelt-
monade” to “bioontological monad,” which he reads as counterpart to the biosphere[.]
POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 07:05 3 COMMENTS

TUESDAY, 5 MAY 2009

Academic news in brief II

1. First step of co-editing (with Kati Lindström) the upcoming special issue of the journal
Biosemiotics, entitled 'Semiotics of Perception', is completed, as all abstracts have been
gathered and an introduction ('Being in the World of the Living - Semiotic Perspectives')
drafted.

2. Last Friday/Saturday I finished my Springer book proposal for the book 'The Growth Crisis:
Norwegian Ecophilosophy and the Future of the Growth Economy'. 10 pp. A Norwegian
language book proposal was finished in two versions over the course of the last couple of
weeks.

CHAPTERS:
1 Zapffe: The distraction economy
2 Kvaløy Setreng: Growth means crisis
3 Arne Næss: Sooner or later economic growth must end
4 Semiotic economy: An economy with room for the living
5 How we became so rich (and the Earth so poor)
6 How rich are we?
7 On the future of growth

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3. The blogger Kvond recently posted 'Umwelt, Umwelten and The Animal Defined By Its
Relations', in which he discusses a few points from my 2003 article 'Umwelt ethics' (he also
refers to Kalevi Kull, John Deely, Paul Bains etc.). He finds that it is a wonderful outline of
the possibilities of the thought of an Uexküllian deep ecological ethics, "including an
informing critique of Uexküll’s actual political views, but it seems to lack a thorough
connection between the two streams, presenting more a juxtaposition." I see that point.

There is much to be said ... about what a Spinozist/Davidsonian analysis could contribute to
Morten Tønnessen’s Deep Ecology ethics, and even more to investigate in terms of just how
Exowelten could overlap, and with what consequence. I hope to have opened up an avenue of
extra-somatic interpretation of the real way that awareness crosses boundaries and resides in
organs of perception beyond what is well-considered our “body”.

4. This week there are two guests in town, both Italian - philosopher Carlo Brentari, who is
visiting the Jakob von Uexküll Centre and will be offering a 45 min. talk in a biosemiotics
seminar, and a certain Umberto Eco.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 00:48 1 COMMENTS

THURSDAY, 30 APRIL 2009

Abstract to X Congreso mundial de semiótica

The Changing Imagery of the Big Bad Wolf

Morten Tønnessen

The current work is part of the author’s ecosemiotic analysis of


Norwegian/Scandinavian wolf management in the period 1855-2010. In Norway,
as in several other countries, wolf management is controversial. For some on the
countryside it has come to symbolize the ignorant hostility (and imperialistic
tendencies) of the urban elites. There is a wide gap between perceptions on the
conservation side and in the antagonistic camp, and the proper role of folklore –
which is considered by wolf ecologists as unscientific – has never been agreed
upon. Field observations confirm that the political and cultural strife has little
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basis in actual wolf ecology – sheep, for instance, which play a marginal role in
Scandinavian wolf diet, are currently major players in popular imagery (and,
ironically, management policies) only.

As symbols have grown and developed, cultural representations of wolves


appear, at least in part, to have decoupled from ecological reality. In what ways
have our conceptions of wolves changed from the extermination campaigns of
the 19th century to the conservation efforts of our generation? To what extent
have wolves, in modern times as well as earlier, symbolized human traits,
religious ideas etc., and to what extent have they represented actual
phenomena of nature? By offering a series of examples of animal representations
involving wolves – in fiction and popular culture, in myths and in legends – I will
inquire into these questions, aiming at approving our understanding of how
human cultures has co-evolved not only with wolves, but further with a rich
human imagery of these creatures, the infamous ancestors of man’s best friend.

Keywords: Animal representations, cultural imagery, zoosemiotics

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 12: 58 0 C OM M E N T S

Reminiscences on Arne Näss

I have contributed with a little piece of text, entitled "An Ageing giant", to the
forthcoming May issue of ISEE (International Society for Environmental Ethics)
Newsletter - which will include a special section in memory of Arne Näss.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 10: 30 0 C OM M E N T S

MONDAY, 27 APRIL 2009

World Congress

I have registered for the 10th World Congress in Semiotics, to take place in A Coruña,
Galicia (Spain).

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I will be participating on behalf of the research project Dynamical zoosemiotics and
animal representations.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 00: 00 0 C OM M E N T S

SUNDAY, 26 APRIL 2009

New biosemiotic research project in spe

I am involved as a principal investigator in an application for the research project


"Biosemiotic models of semiosis", to be held by my supervisor Kalevi Kull. The project
will - if granted funding - span over the years 2010 to 2013.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 10: 08 0 C OM M E N T S

MONDAY, 20 APRIL 2009

Food vs. Nature

I have submitted my article "Food vs. nature: How Human Taste Has Shaped Nature as
We Know It" to The Trumpeter - Journal of Ecosophy.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 04: 55 0 C OM M E N T S

FRIDAY, 17 APRIL 2009

Climate survey in The Guardian

'World will not meet 2C warming target, climate change experts agree' is the headline
of The Guardian's article summarizing a survey/poll the british newspaper carried out.
The survey follows a scientific conference last month in Copenhagen, where a series
of studies were presented that suggested global warming could strike harder and
faster than realised.

The Guardian contacted all 1,756 people who registered to attend the conference and
asked for their opinions on the likely course of global warming. Of 261 experts who

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responded, 200 were researchers in climate science and related fields. I belong to the
61 on other fields.

My answers were as follows:

(1) Given the current growth in carbon emissions and range of mitigation options
available, do you think that global average temperature rise CAN be limited to
2C?

If we took the right measures today, that would quite likely be possible. The
chance of that happening, however, is remote. While there has been an
emerging concensus the last couple of years that 'something has to be done', the
discourse about what measures are the right ones has not progressed, but rather
worsened - not least as a consequence of the green-washing of any conceiveable
form of energy production (from nuclear energy to 'clean coal'), which has all
been re-branded as 'climate friendly'. As for now it seems like all major energy
sources will keep growing. With such a development, it is not remotely realistic
to limit global temperature rise to 2C.

(2) Do you think the world IS currently taking the necessary action to limit the
rise to 2C?

No. Some energy practices have to be excluded. Fossil fuel has to be phased out.
It doesn't matter how much renewable energy we produce, as long as it
supplements, rather than replaces, dirty energy. The world does not need 'more
energy'.

(3) Given the scale of current action and the likely political response over the
next few years do you think average temperature rise WILL be limited to 2C?

Probably not. A more fundamental societal change is likely to take more time to
occur - though 'tipping points' exist in human societies as well, I don't see the
constructive tendency in thought and attitudes that would be required.

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(4) If yes, then what will bring about the required reduction in carbon emissions?

(CCS is not likely to be a solution. First of all, it continues our fossil era, meaning
that IF it doesn't work out, we will lose valuable time, and in the meantime we
will have increased the problem and grown even more dependent on fossil
solutions. Even if it did work out, it could only be applied where there are big
sources of emissions, meaning that a CCS strategy will favor big business and
centralization of infrastructure, and all the same legitimize smaller sources of
emissions, which taken together represent too high emissions already.)

(5) If no, then what do you think is the most realistic average temperature rise
we can expect this century?

The real lesson from our climate awareness should be that nature is not
something we can perfectly well predict and control. Is there a chance for a 2
degree increase? Yes. Is there a chance for a 5 degree increase? Maybe. With the
lack of caution in today's climate policies (where many see climate change as a
great business opportunity), we can only leave this question to future historians.

Is there a chance for a 1 degree increase? - Maybe - but that wouldn't necessarily
mean that 'all environmental problems were solved' - it is conceiveable indeed
that we can solve 'the climate problem', one way or another, and yet, a hundred
years from now, have more substantial environmental problems than today. With
current policies (and current thinking), we are likely to see increased
environmental pressure, overall, regardless of what happens with the climate.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 07: 49 0 C OM M E N T S

WEDNESDAY, 15 APRIL 2009

Participation in research group

I am listed as one of 19 personnel in the Center of Excellence in Cultural Theory


(CECT) semiotics research group 'Meaning-generation and transdisciplinary
methodology of semiotic analysis of culture' (there's also 14 'senior personnel'). All in
all 34 semioticians are involved, principal investigator Kalevi Kull included.
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The scientific theme is based on the need of bringing the development of social
and human sciences to the level of higher congeniality with the developmental
speed of culture and society. This task implies that (1) the analysis of complex or
hybrid cultural phenomena (identities, events, different types of artistic
synthetic activities, texts of new media and multimedia) be updated, and (2) the
cooperation capability of disciplines studying culture, society and nature be
increased. Amongst the main goals there is shaping principles of semiotic analysis
of culture for such transdisciplinary methodology that would ensure the
integration of the diversity of research objects and methods into a complex
analytic strategy. In order to analyse the set of signification, communication,
representation and translation mechanisms as meaning-generation, there will be
united three areas of semiotic analysis: (1) semiotics of culture, (2)
sociosemiotics, and (3)semiotics of nature. The empirical material of the project
forms of chronotopical identities in culture, society and nature.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 04: 48 0 C OM M E N T S

TUESDAY, 14 APRIL 2009

Three texts

Yesterday I finished my compulsory course essay (in 'Ethics and Methodology of Science') 'Essay
on Induction' (2 pp).

This night/morning I finished my compulsory course essay (in 'Aristotelian Physics and Biology')
'On the Mathematician and the Student of Nature' (8 pp).

Right now I finished my abstract for the CECT conference 'Spatiality, memory and visualisation
of culture/nature relationships: Theoretical aspects', 'Mapping Human Impact: Ecological
Footprint vs. Ontological Niche '. Abstract:

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In this presentation I will compare my ecosemiotic concept of a human
ontological niche with the concept of an ecological footprint, with respect to
how either of these can be applied as tools in mapping human impact in nature.
An ontological niche - a concept derived from Jakob von Uexküll's Umwelt
concept - can be defined as the set (or whole) of ecological relations (or
'contrapuntal relations', be they somatic, social or ecological) a being or life
form partakes in at a certain point in natural history. The ecological footprint
concept, on its hand, first introduced in 1996, is now being used by WWF (Living
Planet Report) and developed methodologically by the Global Footprint Network.
Claimed to be a tool that makes sustainability measurable, it condenses a
complex array of consumption down into a single number. The developers of the
ecological footprint model stress that it includes only those aspects of resource
consumption and waste production for which the Earth has regenerative
capacity. What is does is converting consumption into the land used in
production, along with the land theoretically needed to sequester the
greenhouse gases produced. By dividing 'Humanity's Ecological Footprint'
(currently 2,7 'global hectares' per person) by 'World Biocapacity' - which is
modelled as being constant - we arrive at the conclusion that humanity as a
whole has been unsustainable (accumulating 'ecological debt') since the late 80s.
When the footprint of a country does not surpass its biocapacity, it is said to be
sustainable.

The ecological footprint model has several limitations, not least the fact that
there are many environmental problems it cannot represent. It further says
nothing about the intensity of land use. From an ethical point of view it is biased
toward anthropocentricism in assuming that 'sustainability' entails that humanity
can exploit the Earth's biocapacity fully. Also from a methodological point of
view it is anthropocentric, as it represents human consumption and ecosystem
services only - both being purely human interests. The human ontological niche
concept, in contrast, is designed in order to display the ecological relations in
which humanity partakes. As Nathan Fiala (2008: 519) remarks, “better measures
of sustainability would address these issues [environmental issues] directly”.
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Whereas the simplicity of the ecological footprint is not only its greatest
advantage but also its greatest disadvantage, the human ontological niche
concept is better suited to account for variety within and across ecosystems,
because its biggest advantage is its (qualitative, rather than quantitative)
specificity. It further allows for disparate ethical assumptions. Unlike the
ecological footprint, it will hardly result in an illusory certainty while in fact
misrepresenting ecological reality. After assessing the ecological footprint
concept, I will model selected global environmental data to demonstrate how
the human ontological niche concept can be applied as a modelling tool
scrutinizing human impact in nature.

Reference
Fiala, Nathan 2008. Measuring sustainability: Why the ecological footprint is bad
economics and bad environmental science. Ecological Economics 67: 519-525.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 08:50 0 COMMENTS

TUESDAY, 7 APRIL 2009

Umwelt Transitions: Uexküll and Environmental Change

My article 'Umwelt Transitions: Uexküll and Environmental Change' is now awailable online in
full-text, courtesy of Biosemiotics/Springer.

Html-version here.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 07:47 0 COMMENTS

THURSDAY, 2 APRIL 2009

Rescheduling of wolf presentation

My presentation 'Estranged, Endangered, Extinct. Lessons from the Extinction of the


Scandinavian Wolf', to be held at The First World Congress of Environmental History

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(Copenhagen, August 4-8), has apparently been rescheduled to the session 'Using and abusing
wild animals. Terrestrial and aquatic case studies', to take place August 5th.

Other presentations in the same session:

- Cultural Behavior and Animals’ Life: The Relationship between the Tribute and Asiatic Lions’
Crisis (1400-1600)

Lei Kang

- Wild Animals and Humans in Asia before 1900

Peter Boomgaard

- Global Whaling Politics in the North Atlantic and South Pacific

Karen Oslund

Full programme of the WCEH congress here.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 08:33 0 COMMENTS

Update on Abram/Estonian media

My blog post entitled "Estonian media", from February 13th, has been updated. It now
includes my brief, Estonian language introduction to David Abram's text, printed in Roheline
Värav (GreenGate).

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 05:09 0 COMMENTS

WEDNESDAY, 1 APRIL 2009

Abstraction, cruelty and other aspects of animal play

I have finished my article on animal play, for the special issue on zoosemiotics of Sign Systems
Studies.

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Abstraction, cruelty and other aspects of animal play
Exemplified by the playfulness of Muki and Maluca

The fun of playing resists all analysis, all logical interpretation […] Here we have to do with
an absolutely primary category of life, familiar to everybody at a glance right down to the
animal level […] Animals play so they must be more than merely mechanical things. We play
and know that we play, so we must be more than merely rational beings.

Huizinga 1986 [1938]: 3-4.

Abstract
Play behaviour is notorious for constituting a much debated, yet little clarified field of
research. In this article, attempts are made to reach conclusions on the relation
between human play and the play of other animals (especially cat play), as well as on
the very character of play. The concept of Umwelt is reviewed, as are definitions of
animal play, categorization of animal play and the role of meta-communication in
playful behaviour. For some play is a symbol of everything that is good. The author of
the current article does not deny that social morality may have originated from play
behaviour, but stresses the existence of cruelty play, which leads to additional
assumptions. Another notion that is treated in some detail is perceptual play, which
proves to demonstrate complex semiotic play that is related first of all to signification.
At the end of the article an alternative categorization of animal play is suggested, in
which the fundamental role of mind games is emphasized. Throughout the text
examples of play behaviour are offered by the two domestic cats Muki and Maluca.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 07:45 0 COMMENTS

MONDAY, 30 MARCH 2009

Academic news in brief

1. ENCOUNTER WITH A PUBLISHER

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At the Copenhagen congress on climate change I ran into a publisher from Springer.
- You don't happen to be giving books away for free today, do you? I said, hinting at 'Surviving
1,000 Centuries: Can We Do It?' in the book shelf.

- Of course, said the publisher - if you can tell me about the next book you plan to publish.
I am now preparing a book proposal entitled 'The Growth Crisis: Norwegian Ecophilosophy and
the Growth Economy', an idea I originally conceived of in terms of a Norwegian publication
only. I am very pleased that Springer shows interest in my work - not least since it has been
the publisher of many of the works by Arne Næss and Jakob von Uexküll. In that company - I
can feel at home.

2. ENCOUNTERS WITH SCHOLARS

Roger Parent recently visited Semiootika Osakond from Canada. I was there for three classes
of his course on The semiotics of cultural conflicts (a course which greatly inspired my wife,
who now appears to be just as semiotic as myself). Today I missed out on Martin Walter's
lecture on Poinsot, due to some confusion about summer/winter time - but we went for lunch
(where I had a delicious ceasar salad).

3. NEW FORMATIONS

I have agreed to submit an article to New Formations' special issue on Imperial Ecologies. My
article will address topics of globalization from an ecosemiotic (and largely historical) point of
view (with a view to the past as well as to the future), with emphasis of human settlers and
the ecology of capitalism.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 08:33 0 COMMENTS

WEDNESDAY, 25 MARCH 2009

Petition to include ethical expertise in the IPCC

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I have signed a petition to include ethical expertise in the next report from the IPCC.

The petition says:

Ethical Expertise for AR5

It is widely acknowledged…

…that ethical questions play a central role in climate science and policy. Most recently,
this is evidenced in the key messages resulting from the International Scientific
Congress on Climate Change in Copenhagen of March 2009.1 IPCC reports are full of
explicit and implicit references to ethical issues, particularly in the context of
discussions on sustainability. Important examples include:

- global distributive justice in mitigation and adaptation2

- intergenerational justice, in particular the issue of discounting3

- usefulness of cost-benefit analysis in evaluating climate change4

- the relation of humans to nature and questions regarding the value of biodiversity and
natural services5

- value judgements that determine what is to count as a "key" vulnerability and what
level of anthropogenic interference with the climate system is to count as "dangerous"6

We observe…

…that in the IPCC assessment reports, ethical questions are not addressed with the same
rigour as other questions. The analysis of issues with strong ethical components is not
conducted on a comparable level of scientific quality as is the analysis of other issues. It
is indicative of this general observation that, for the references given for the examples
above, there is an almost complete lack of professional ethicists among the
coordinating, lead, and contributing authors.

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We observe…

…that by now there is a large and growing literature on climate change written by
ethics specialists. The first survey article on climate ethics appeared in the most
prominent ethics journal five years ago,7 and bibliographies with relevant literature
take up many pages.8

We therefore suggest…

…that a chapter with a general overview of the ethical issues in climate change be
included in AR5. Such a chapter should not arrive at specific conclusions regarding the
morally "correct" climate policy, but should rather provide an analysis that can support
political decision-making and facilitate structured discussion. It should enumerate the
approaches available in the state of the art literature as well as portray the most
relevant arguments concerning all sides of the debate. Above all, authorities in the field
of ethics rather than social or natural scientists should prepare such a chapter. In case a
chapter on ethical issues should not become a reality, we urge that, at the very least, in
those chapters where ethical issues are expressly addressed, the expertise of
professionals in the field of ethics is sought and that such professionals be included in
the list of authors.

1 See in particular key message 4 at

http://climatecongress.ku.dk/newsroom/congress_key_messages/

2 For example: AR4, WG III, chap. 13, especially 13.1.2; AR4, WG III, chap. 2.6 (for an earlier

example, see: TAR, WG III, chap. 10.4.5)

3 For example: AR4, WG III, chap. 2.4.2.1. (for an earlier example, see: SAR, WG III, chap. 4)

4 For example: AR4, WG III, chap. 2.2 – 2.4 (for an earlier example, see: TAR, WG II, chap. 2.7).

5 For example: AR4, WG III, chap. 2.6.3; AR4, WG II, 19.3.2.

6 For example: AR4, WG II, chap. 19.1.2.2; AR4, WG III, chap. 1.2.2

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7 Gardiner, S. (2004). “Ethics and Global Climate Change,” Ethics 114: 555 – 600.

8 An impression can be gained from http://rockethics.psu.edu/climate/education/bibliography.shtml.

Among the many contributions by specialists in the field of normative science, salient examples of

state of the art treatments include:

- Caney, S., Gardiner, S., Jamieson, D. & Shue, S. (eds.) (2009). Climate Ethics (New York: Oxford

University Press).

- Page, E. (2006). Climate Change, Justice and Future Generations (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar).

- Vanderheiden, S. (2008). Atmospheric Justice. A Political Theory of Climate Justice (New York:

Oxford University Press).

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 14:15 0 COMMENTS

TUESDAY, 24 MARCH 2009

My updated CV

I have updated my CV.

1. PERSONAL DETAILS

2. EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

3. LANGUAGE SKILLS

4. INFORMAL COMPETENCE

5. EDUCATION

6. ACADEMIC ACTIVITY

7. WRITING, EDITING ETC.

8. FILMOGRAPHY

9. VOLUNTARY WORK ETC.


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10. AWARDS, GRANTS ETC.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 09:52 0 COMMENTS

New blog - The Schopenhauer Experience

My "band", The Schopenhauer Experience, now has its own blog. Here you'll find a complete
"discography", links to songs and music online etc.

My latest musical work - my first for more than a year - is entitled "No Words This Time".
Voice, but no lyrics.

Existentialist electronica is what I now call it ...

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 08:50 0 COMMENTS

WEDNESDAY, 18 MARCH 2009

Norwegian teacher

I have agreed with Tartu Rahvaülikool (Tartu Folk High School) that I will be offering a course
(4 hours per week, 54 hours all in all) in Norwegian this autumn. This will be the first
Norwegian course offered at Rahvaülikool ever (all in all they offer courses in 13 languages).

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 04:45 0 COMMENTS

SUNDAY, 15 MARCH 2009

Page numbers

My article 'Umtelt Transitions: Uexküll and Environmental Change' (Biosemiotics 2.1), to


appear in paper edition in April, has been assigned page numbers: 47-64.

DOI 10.1007/s12304-008-9036-y

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 02:39 0 COMMENTS

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WEDNESDAY, 11 MARCH 2009

Climate publication - IOP Conference Series

The abstract of my poster presentation 'The nature view held by environmentalists. Attitudes
in the Norwegian environmental establishment' is included in the digital (CD) Abstract Book of
the climate conference currently ongoing in Copenhagen, which has been distributed to about
2000 participants.

All abstracts have now been published in the open access journal IOP Conference Series: Earth
and Environmental Science, volume 6, 2009. Abstracts are organized by sessions. My session,
'Cultures, Values & World Perspectives as Factors in Responding to Climate Change' (session
57) is to be found here. My contribution, 'The nature view...', is, and will remain, available
online at the hyperlink hidden in the apparent depths of these characters.

IOP = Institute of Physics

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 02:06 0 COMMENTS

FRIDAY, 6 MARCH 2009

My poster for the congress Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and
Decisions

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This is the poster that I will be presenting at the congress 'Climate Change: Global Risks,
Challenges and Decisions' (Copenhagen, March 10-12, 2009). Entitled 'The Nature View Held by
Environmentalists: Attitudes in the Norwegian Environmental Establishment', it presents in
some detail the outcome of two of the questions from a survey dating back to 2006 which was
carried out among decision makers involved in the Norwegian environmental discourse.

Presented here are the findings on what natural entities - ranging from 'individual human
beings' to 'nature' - the respondents attributed value to, plus how they ranked 14 sources of
energy according to environmental friendliness.

The poster has also been uploaded to Scribd (word format). So has the abstract, which will be
made available to policy makers at December 2009 UN Climate summit, COP15.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 01:34 0 COMMENTS

MONDAY, 2 MARCH 2009

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Poster programme, Copenhagen

The detailed poster programme for the forthcoming scientific conference on climate change,
in preparation of the december UN climate summit, is now online.

My contribution, 'The nature view held by environmentalists. Attitudes in the Norwegian


environmental establishment', is to be found on page 27.

While there are several presenters from Norway, I appear to be the only representative from
Estonia.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 10:16 0 COMMENTS

SUNDAY, 1 MARCH 2009

Food vs. Nature

I have submitted an article, "Food vs. Nature. How Human Taste has Shaped Nature as We
Know It" to a coming special issue of Politics and Culture, on food sovereignty.

This article summarizes the author's views on mankind's systematic discrimination


between favored and unfavored life forms throughout human history, with particular
emphasis on domesticated animals and plants. In the context of an up-to-date,
politically oriented philosophy of nature, two empirical facts should be treated as
fundamental: First, that the ecological crisis van be regarded as a global event of
environmental change with historical roots in humankind's domestication of animals and
plants. Second, that much of the modern loss of biodiversity and ecosystem complexity
can be ascribed to man's habit of discriminating between favored and unfavored
species, thus superimposing a human hierarchy upon nature. In this article, it is argued
that the subject of domestication can be regarded as archetypical for human interaction
with the environment, since it exemplifies an attempted taming of nature. Further
theoretical developments are outlined, and some implications for food-related politics
and activism suggested.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 17:22 1 COMMENTS


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WEDNESDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 2009

Talk at Gatherings in Biosemiotics, Prague

The Scientific Advisory Committee of the Ninth Annual International Gatherings in


Biosemiotics has accepted my paper "On contrapuntuality. Semiotic niche vs. ontological
niche: the case of the Scandinavian wolf population" for a 30 min. presentation. My talk is
scheduled for Friday 3rd of July, at 16:00-16:30.

Other presenters include Marcello Barbieri, Stephen Pain, Paul Cobley, Myrdene Anderson and
many others.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 04:26 0 COMMENTS

TUESDAY, 24 FEBRUARY 2009

Global Voices: Estonia?

The news blog Global Voices, which is written by more than 100 bloggers (see also Wikipedia),
is looking for a volunteer author/blogger to report from the blogosphere in Estonia.

Global Voices is a leading participatory media news room for voices from the developing
world. Begun in 2005 as a simple blog hosted at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society
at Harvard University, Global Voices has grown into a vibrant global community of more than
150 active volunteer authors and translators and more than 20 freelance part- time regional
and language editors.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 01:24 0 COMMENTS

MONDAY, 23 FEBRUARY 2009

Homepage for zoosemiotics project

The Estonian Science Foundation research grant "Dynamical zoosemiotics and animal
representations", where I am one of the main investigators, now has a homepage.

The main objectives of the research project are:


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1. reinterpreting and elaborating classical zoosemiotic theory, working with and
analyzing T. A. Sebeok’s zoosemiotic library;

2. developing semiotic tools for analyzing sign relationships that extend beyond the
limits of culture; practical analysis of sample cases;

3. studying semiotic strategies and evolution of representative forms used for depicting
animals in myths, literature and visual culture;

4. including environment in the analysis of communication between humans and


animals; regarding changing communicative relationships as an object for zoosemiotic
research.

The first major activity of the project was to arrange the Animal Minds workshop, Feb. 9.-10.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 12:49 0 COMMENTS

SUNDAY, 22 FEBRUARY 2009

The nature view held by environmentalists

My poster presentation at the IARU World Congress on Climate Change: Global Risk,
Challenges and Decision (Copenhagen, March 10-12, 2009), " The nature view held by
environmentalists. Attitudes in the Norwegian environmental establishment" (poster board no.
P57.19) has been scheduled.

SESSION: 57 - Cultures, Values and World Perspectives as Factors in Responding to Climate


Change.

TIME of my poster presentation: Wednesday, 11 March 2009, 10:45-16:45

A brief ORAL PRESENTATION will take place by the poster at 13:45-13:55.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 06:25 0 COMMENTS

SATURDAY, 21 FEBRUARY 2009


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Academic journals - open access publishing

I have been considering to apply/volunteer as a reviewer og editorial member of the coming


journal The International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation, to be published by Africa-
based Academic Journals. They are founded on an open access policy which in the case of this
publishing house entails that authors have to pay a handling fee for publishing, whereas all
published articles are openly and freely available online.

Another publishing house with an identical name (which published online as well as in print),
Academic Journals Inc., is apparently one of the biggest scientific publishers in Asia.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 01:49 2 COMMENTS

FRIDAY, 20 FEBRUARY 2009

Web stats Utopian Realism

Data from the last couple of months, where there has been an average of 3 page loads from a
total of 2 unique visitors each day (all in all 284 page loads, 172 unique visitors, 151 of which
were first time visitors).

LOCATION OF VISITORS

1. Estonia (35 %)

2. USA (17 %)

3. Norway (13 %)

4. Brazil (9 %)

5. Canada (4 %)

6. UK (3 %)

6. Italy (3 %)

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8. Netherlands (2 %)

8. Finland (2 %)

10. Denmark (2 %)

The 23 origin countries includes Nepal, India, Iran and Taiwan. Non-western countries
(including Brazil and Taiwan) accounts for 11-12 % of visits, North-America for 21-22 %.

9 out of 10 visits are first time visits, hardly 1 out of 10 have returned.

59 different search terms have taken people to the site.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 02:47 0 COMMENTS

FRIDAY, 20 FEBRUARY 2009

SemioPhenomenon web stats

The SemioPhenomenon website has had visitors from at least 23 countries, 17-18 of
which are European. Most visiters have been from

1. Estonia (68 %)

2. Finland (7 %)

3. USA (5 %)

4. Italy (5 %)

5. Sweden (4 %)

Visits from non-European countries, US excluded, account for only 3 % (even when
Russia is included).

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Close to 80 % of visits were first-time visits.

Recent visitors have found the site by way of 53 different keyword searches.

While three fourths of visits lasted shorter than 5 minutes, almost one out of five
lasted longer than an hour.

AWE has been the most popular exit link.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 01: 15 0 C OM M E N T S

WEDNESDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 2009

David Abram's public lecture online

David Abram's public lecture at The University of Tartu Feb. 10th, 'Language and the
Ecology of Sensory Experience', which was part of the events SemioPhenomenon, is
now online at the university webpage.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 02: 03 0 C OM M E N T S

SUNDAY, 15 FEBRUARY 2009

Contrapuntuality - Gatherings in biosemiotics 2009, Prague

I have just submitted an abstract for the 9th gathering in biosemiotics, to be arranged
in Prague, entitled "On contrapuntuality: Semiotic niche vs. ontological niche - the
case of the Scandinavian wolf population".

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 11: 00 0 C OM M E N T S

FRIDAY, 13 FEBRUARY 2009

Estonian media

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An announcement of the workshops in Tartu Postimees February 4th reads
"Semiootikakonverentsile tuleb mustkunstnik" (Magician comes to conference in
semiotics).

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::

On February 6th, ERR - Estonian Public broadcasting - published the following news
story online: (based on a 3 minute interview that aired on Vikerraadio at noon the
same day):

Tartus kohtuvad semiootika koolkonnad

Tartus algas 6. veebruaril semiootikakonverents ,,Fenomenoloogia kohtub


semiootikaga''. Kahes töötoas osalevad kokku teadlased 10 riigist, et kahte
lähenemist üksteisele ligemale tuua.

Esimeses töötoas keskendutakse maastiku tajumisele ja teises töötoas


animaaluse tajumisele ning selle osale inimloomuses.

Konverentsi peakorraldaja Morten Tönnesseni sõnul on taju semiootikute jaoks


põnev valdkond. "Taju hõlmab nii keskkonna, teiste inimeste kui ka kõige muu
kogemist. Maailma kogemine oleneb suuresti inimese enda hoiakutest või
tunnetest,'' rääkis Tönnessen.

Peakorraldaja Tönnessen on ise norralane, kes õpib 2007. aastast Tartu Ülikoolis.
Idee konverents just Tartus pidada tuli talle Tartu Ülikooli semiootikaosakonna
ajaloolise tausta tõttu. Just seetõttu on Tartusse kohale tulnud ka oma ala
eksperdid. Peaesineja on Ameerika kultuuriökoloog David Abram, kes on tuntud
oma käsitluste poolest ühendada traditsioonilist fenomenoloogiat ökoloogiliste
teemadega.

Tönnessen loodab Tartus kahte koolkonda üksteisele lähemale tuua. "Kokku

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saavad kaks loodusele keskenduvat mõtteviisi: ameeriklaste ökoloogiline
fenomenoloogia ja eestlaste biosemiootika," ütles Tönnessen.

10. veebruarini toimuva ürituse sõnavõtte on lubanud kajastada mainekas


semiootika teadusajakiri "Biosemiotics".

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Today, Feb. 13th, the first translation of David Abram into Estonian (excerpts from
"The Spell of the Sensuous. Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World")
appears in Roheline Värav (Green gate) under the headline "Lapsed nägid esimest
korda Linnuteed". The publication includes a brief introduction by me. The translation
was conducted by Signe Saumaawith help from Ehte Putang, Riin Magnus and Silver
Ratassepp.

My introduction reads as follows:

David Abram

Ameerika fenomenoloog ja süvaökoloog, kes on inspireerinud rohelist filosoofiat


ja eluviisi kogu maailmas. Innustust saanud Maurice Merleau-Ponty’lt, on ta
püüdnud välja töötada radikaalset loodusfilosoofiat, mis jääks truuks kogetava
paljususele.

David Abram on kirjutanud nüüdisklassikaks saanud raamatu «The Spell of the


Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World» (1996), kust
pärineb ka siinne tekst.

David Abram osales Tartu biosemiootikute korraldatud töötubades taju


semiootikast ja fenomenoloogiast 6.–10. veebruaril 2009.

Tekst ilmub siin autori heakskiidul, ühtlasi palus David Abram selle pühendada
oma sõbrale ja kolleegile Arne Naessile, kes suri 96 aasta vanusena 12. jaanuaril
2009.

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Morten Tønnessen

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 08: 43 0 C OM M E N T S

WEDNESDAY, 11 FEBRUARY 2009

Most viewed at Scribd ... and web stats

Most viewed as of February 11th, 2009 (Sep 2, 2008 in paranthesis)

1 (1) The Statistician's Guide to Utopia: The Future of growth 255 (79)

2 (2) Umwelt ethics 166 (78)

3 (4) Historieløst om klima 110 (22)

4 (>5) Hvem har ansvaret for volden? 102 (<10)

4 (-) SemioPhenomenon poster 102 (-)

Latest addition: Steps to a Semiotics of Being (my PPT presentation from the Animal
Minds workshop). For a full list of my uploaded documents, see here.

Displays of my web pages, since Dec. 2008:

1. SemioPhenomenon 2,137

2. Utopisk Realisme 241

3. Utopian Realisme 237

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 02: 29 0 C OM M E N T S

SUNDAY, 8 FEBRUARY 2009

My article "Umwelt Transitions: Uexküll and Environmental Change"

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My article "Umwelt transitions: Uexküll and Environmental Change" has been published
online in the Springer journal Biosemiotics. Full text available for subscribers only
(first page, including abstract, freely available).

The article will appear in the paper edition to be published in April.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 03: 07 0 C OM M E N T S

TUESDAY, 27 JANUARY 2009

Now I have seen wolves

My first encounter with wolves (from a distance) took place in Kristiansand dyrepark
(Kristiansand Zoo, Norway), guided by Olav Åsland, their main responsible for keeping
the captive wolves. It's a pack of 6 wolves, born in 2002 (alpha male), 2005 (alpha
female) and 2008 (the four pups) respectively. They were being fed, with pieces of
horse meat. A lot of crows joined in on the eating. After a little time the wolves came
running to get hold of a few of the meat pieces, and then ran off to the heights in
order to eat undisturbed.

A curious male wolverine, at the other side of the path, had a good look at us, a few
meters from the fence.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 10: 28 0 C OM M E N T S

FRIDAY, 23 JANUARY 2009

International participation at workshops

The February workshops on perception seem to be turning into international events,


also at the level of participation. By now there are registered participants from
Norway, Finland and USA, in addition to from Estonia. Three invited foreign scholars
are among the presenters: David Abram (US), John Deely (US) and Wendy Wheeler
(UK).

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The workshops are open for registration, see the event homepage - which by now
displays a full list of presenters (and most titles) as well as a brief introduction to
David Abram's phenomenology.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 04: 25 1 C OM M E N T S

TUESDAY, 13 JANUARY 2009

Arne Næss

Arne Næss died yesterday.

He was the one who inspired me to adapt to philosophy. I had the fortune to meet
him - amongst other things, I conducted a couple of interviews with him, I arranged
two public talks in Oslo, and I attended a 3-day seminar on deep ecology.

He was a great man.

Too great for his time, which was not mature for his thought, his instinct.

Too great for his (and my) country, which barely understood him, embracing only his
entertaining, clown-like side. In Norway everybody knew who he was - and yet hardly
anyone knew what he was all about. Though his persona in the Norwegian context out
shadowed his philosophy, he leaves behind him a philosophy that is internationally
greater than the image of his persona, and that remains alive and thriving - a seed
inspiring much needed change for our global civilization, at this critical point in
history.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 10: 58 0 C OM M E N T S

TUESDAY, 6 JANUARY 2009

First wolf article - Umwelt mapping

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My article "The Phenomenal Fields of Wolves on the Scandinavian Peninsula during
Their Recovery" has been finished and submitted to Journal of Comparative
Psychology, edited by Gordon M. Burghardt.

ABSTRACT
This study makes use of a typology of four phenomenal fields, with roots in the
work of Jakob von Uexküll (1864-1944), in a systematic assessment of modern
wolf ecology on the Scandinavian Peninsula, with emphasis on the wolves’
private experience. It shows that the wolves on the Scandinavian Peninsula are
shy animals which demonstrate clear preferences for forest-covered
environments and a diet dominated by moose (Alces alces). The findings of this
study suggest that wildlife management policy should be developed with a short-
term as well as a long-term perspective. While recovery is the logical
conservation goal in the short term, when a variant of human-dependent viability
is in many cases all that is achievable, to restore independent viability should be
the long-term goal for wildlife management.

KEYWORDS
Gray wolf Canis lupus, wolf ecology, wildlife management, Umwelt

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 09: 36 0 C OM M E N T S

MONDAY, 5 JANUARY 2009

New research project in zoosemiotics

Timo Maran´s research project "Dynamical zoosemiotics and animal representations"


(grant no. ETF/ESF 7790), where I am involved, has been granted funding. It will span
over the years 2009-2012.

POSTED BY MORTEN TØNNESSEN AT 08: 29 0 C OM M E N T S

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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

Lectures online (audio)

• Steps to a Semiotics of Being

• Wolf Land

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)

• 6 A Principal Investigator in Timo Maran´s research project (2009-2012) "Dynamical


Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations" ( ETF/ESF 7790)
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• 7 Participant (2007-2009) in Kalevi Kull`s research project "Methods of Biosemiotics"
(ETF 6669)

• 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 upcoming special issue of Biosemiotics,


'Semiotics of Perception' (2010)

• 9.2 Lecturer in the history of philosophy at University of Agder

• 9.3 Research assistant of the UiA research project "Multimodalitet, leseopplæring og


læremidler (MULL)"

Upcoming academic events

• 8th annual conference of the Nordic society for phenomenology (Stockholm, April 22-
24, 2010)

• EX-100-1 Examen Philosophicum (University of Agder, autumn 2009)

• Semiotics of Perception - special issue of BIOSEMIOTICS (vol. 3, no. 2 - August 2010)

• Special issue of Hortus Semioticus on biosemiotics/zoosemiotics/ecosemiotics (2010)

• The 60th International Congress of Phenomenology (Bergen, Aug. 10-13, 2010)

• Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations (Tartu, April 2011)

Past events

• 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)

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• 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

• Department of Religion, Philosophy and History (Universitetet i Agder)

• Department of Semiotics (Tartu Ülikool)

• International Association for Environmental Philosophy (IAEP)

• International society for biosemiotic studies

• Jakob von Uexküll Centre (Tartu)

• The Nordic Society for Phenomenology

• Zoosemiotics and animal representations

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

• Epistemology

• Ontology

• Phenomenology (especially eco-)


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• 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

My Blog List

Biosemiosis

Animals and aesthetics

3 months ago

BLOG ARCHIVE

• ▼ 2009 (102)
o ▼ December (6)
o ▼ November (9)
o ▼ October (11)
o ▼ September (7)
o ▼ August (7)
o ▼ July (6)
o ▼ June (11)
o ▼ May (6)
o ▼ April (12)
o ▼ March (10)
o ▼ February (12)
o ▼ January (5)
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• ▼ 2008 (41)

o ▼ December (7)
o ▼ November (5)
o ▼ October (4)
o ▼ September (5)
o ▼ August (2)
o ▼ July (6)
o ▼ June (3)
o ▼ May (4)
o ▼ April (5)

2.015

• The Sophist (2004)

Articles and essays online

• All my documents at Scribd

• Must naine Tartus (in Estonian)

• Reversing the Brain Drain (interview with president Toomas Hendrik Ilves)

• The Statistician's Guide to Utopia: The Future of Growth

• Umwelt ethics

• Umwelt Transition: Uexküllian Phenomenology (Research Plan)

Other M.T. pages online

• The Schopenhauer Experience (existentialist electronica)

• Utopisk realisme (Norwegian language blog)

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