On January 10th I was notified that my abstract "Introducing Uexküllian phenomenology" had been accepted for presentation at the annual conference of the Nordic Society for Phenomenology (NoSP), the 11th Annual Meeting of the Nordic Society for Phenomenology, which will this year be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, at the Center for Subjectivity Research, April 18-20. This was the third time I submitted an abstract to that conference series, and the first time I was accepted.
My abstract follows below.
Introducing Uexküllian phenomenology The notion of phenomenology is in the mainstream mostly associated with human consciousness. Given how diverse the field of phenomenology is, there is no ultimate definition of phenomenology, nor definitive criteria for what counts as phenomenology. Uexküllian phenomenology derives from the biological ‘Umwelt theory’ of Jakob von Uexküll (1864-1944). Uexküll has become an inspiring figure within contemporary semiotics, particularly biosemiotics, and several central semioticians are simultaneously involved in phenomenological reasoning. I argue that Umwelt theory should principally be understood as a genuine phenomenological theory and position. Uexküll’s call for a subjective biology echoes Husserl’s call for a return to the things themselves in the most meaningful way possible, by in effect implying a return to the study and perception of nature qua individuals, nature qua living creatures (and in fact, Husserl’s notion of Lebenswelt is partly overlapping with Uexküll’s notion of Umwelt). Uexküllian phenomenology differs from most established phenomenologies by not being consciousness-centred, and by not adopting neutrality with regard to the reality status of phenomena. It is particularly affiliated with a line of phenomenological development that goes from the late Husserl via Merleau-Ponty to contemporary eco-phenomenologists including David Abram (except for the latter’s animism).