Photo: Agnes Holsbø
TORE NORDENSTAM – THE SHORT VERSION
Tore Nordenstam (1934-) is a Swedish philosopher, with higher degrees from Gothenburg (M.A. 1961, fil. lic. 1961) and the University of Khartoum (Ph.D. 1965); he has also studied at Uppsala and Oxford.
Between 1961 and 1998, Nordenstam held teaching positions at the Universities of Khartoum, Umeå, and Bergen. In Bergen, he was first Reader in Philosophy (1968-81) and later Professor of Philosophy (1981-98). He is currently Professor Emeritus from Bergen.
In his philosophical career, Nordenstam has moved from the analytical philosophy of language into ethics, aesthetics and the philosophy of the humanities.
Nordenstam has published a number of books, the most important of which are Sudanese Ethics (Stockholm: The Scandinavian Institute of African Studies / Almqvist & Wiksell, 1968) and, much more recently, The Power of Example (Stockholm: Santérus Academic Press, 2009); the content of the latter appeared earlier in Swedish as Exemplets makt in Dialoger 69-70 (Stockholm 2005). He has also published a goodly number of journal articles, mostly classifiable into the areas mentioned above, and some closely related to his book projects.
A foreign colleague of Nordenstam remarks, "Readers of Nordenstam's works will find him to be a clear, careful, original and touchingly humanistic thinker, influenced by Wittgenstein and others, but not in thrall to any."
TORE NORDENSTAM – THE LONG VERSION
Born in Nyköping, Sweden, 2 December 1934.
Parents: Bengt Nordenstam, B.Pharm. (1907-1972), and Greta Nordenstam, née Lundh (1909-2008).
Four brothers: Bertil, botanist; Gunnar, physician, poet; Henrik, economist; Claes, painter, designer, musician.
A childhood in Sweden – more pictures here.
Lived in Sweden up to 1961, then five years in the Sudan, back in Sweden 1966-68. After that Bergen, with a number of excursions in various directions.
Married to Ruth Milde.
Three children: Anna, Katarina, Andreas. Four grandchildren: Axel, Alma, Leander, Daniel.
Primary schools in Nybro, Hindås and Lycksele, 1941-45.
Secondary school (Hvitfeldtska högre allmänna läroverket), Gothenburg 1945-53.
1948. May 1953 – matriculation time.
University studies in Gothenburg, Uppsala and Oxford, 1953-61.
Fil.kand. 1956, fil.mag. 1961, fil.lic. 1961 (University of Gothenburg).
Ph.D. 1965 (University of Khartoum).
Teaching assistant, University of Gothenburg, 1958-61.
Lecturer in philosophy, University of Khartoum, 1961-66.
Lecturer in sociology, University of Umeå, 1966-68.
Docent in descriptive ethics, University of Umeå, 1967-68.
Reader in philosophy, University of Bergen, 1968-81.
Professor of philosophy, University of Bergen, 1981-98.
Senior research fellow (Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung), Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken, several periods between 1973 and 2001.
Visiting professor, University of Khartoum, 1985; Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, 1990-1993; Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, 1997.
Professor emeritus since 1999.
Analytical philosophy of language, in the beginning; then ethics, aesthetics and the philosophy of the humanities.
Various tasks at the universities of Gothenburg, Khartoum, Umeå and Bergen.
Organisation of a dozen Scandinavian and international symposia and conferences.
Member of various ethical committees, evaluation committees, governing boards etc.
Participation in interdisciplinary projects has always been an important part of my philosophical work.
In the 1960s, I cooperated with the economist D.J. Shaw in a project which we called African University in Transition. We produced three reports in 1967: A Survey of the Students in the University of Khartoum, A Survey of the Students in the University of Khartoum 62/63, and together with the philosopher A.P. Cavendish Staff Attitudes in an African University. Cf. our paper The Student Community in an African University and my book Afrikas universitet (both 1970).
History, Science and Society was a project within the framework of the Nordic Summer University which lasted for five years (1973-1977). The project was led by Kjell S. Johannessen and myself. The emphasis was on the history of the humanities and social sciences.The results were assembled in a book which was to be published in Denmark in 1980, but the publishing house ceased to exist in the middle of the printing process. A selection of the papers has been published in the volume Vitenskapenes vekst (1996).
At the same time, we began to cooperate with the departments of art history and theatre at the University of Bergen (Gunnar Danbolt, Tor Bastiansen Trolie et al.). For several years, we had common seminars once a week, which were attended by most of the students of art history and theatre. Two research projects were developed within this framework: The history of the theory of art and Philosophy of art and fundamental problems in art historical research. A good many seminar papers were produced by both staff and students, and in addition we published two books, Den estetiske praksis (1979) and Vitenskapsfilosofi og grunnlagsproblemer i teatervitenskapelig forskning (1983).
From the middle of the 1970s, I cooperated with Bo Göranzon in Stockholm in several projects. The first one was the PAAS Project, Conditions for change in working life, 1974-1983. Some of the results were summed up in the books Ideologi och systemutveckling (1976, 1978) and Datautvecklingens filosofi. Tyst kunskap och ny teknik (1984). My research report on evaluations and paradigms in computer-assisted development belongs to the same context. We were also invited to make an investigation of working conditions in the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm and to make research on part time work and home work for one of the Swedish labour unions (Svenska fabriksarbetareförbundet).
Research, Ethics and Development – Research Policy in the Sudan was a project which started in 1977, with Dr Ibrahim Ahmed Omer (University of Khartoum), professor Håkan Törnebohm (University of Gothenburg) and myself as participants. We produced many reports on the way to the final result, Research and Development in the Sudan, Khartoum University Press, 1985. Bergen Talks on Philosophy of Development (1982) gives some glimpses from our discussions at that time. (The picture: Håkan Törnebohm in Khartoum, 1977.)
Two other projects in the 70s dealt with transcendental pragmatics and research pragmatics. Both were led by Gunnar Skirbekk and myself. The projects led to my book on the Ought/Is-issue, Fra ”er” til ”bør”? (1984), and the collection of papers, Die pragmatische Wende (1986), edited by Dietrich Böhler, Tore Nordenstam and Gunnar Skirbekk.
Management and Change was a project led by professor Albert Danielsson, Industrial Economy and Organisation, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm. It started in 1982 and ended four years later with the book Samtal om ledarskap, ledning och ledare. That project was followed by another one on ownership.
In the last few years I have followed the growth of the research field practical knowledge with great interest. Since 2000, I have cooperated with Ingela Josefson, Ruth Olsen, Anders Lindseth et al. in the Centre for Practical Knowledge at Bodø Regional University, which has now become the University of Nordland. Amongst other things, I took part in the preparations for a Ph.D. programme in practical knowledge, which was approved in 2009. Our report Praktisk kunnskap – som erfaring og som forskningsfelt (2005) gives a survey of the development of the study of practical knowledge. Cf. Etik och praktisk kunskap (2013) and Practical Knowledge and Ethics (2013).
My publications include eighteen books (ten as author, the remainder as editor, co-editor and co-author) and a considerable number of shorter texts. Cf. Books & Papers and Translations. Three book-length critical reports might also be worth mentioning here: a report on working conditions in the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, the report on practical knowledge mentioned above, and an evaluation of research in the humanities at the University of Gothenburg, Den humanistiska cirkelns kvadratur. Om humanioras möjligheter och framtid.
My oral production consists of lectures, seminars and courses for the last 50 years or so, most of it in Norway, Sweden and Sudan. Some video-recorded lectures at the Centre for Practical Knowledge in Bodø can be seen here.
In the last few years, I have also made some paintings.