Arne Naess (1912–)

  • Daniel G. Payne
  • Richard S. Newman


N orwegian philosopher Arne Naess is the founder of the Deep Ecology movement, which he describes as “a process of reflection leading to action.” Naess was a philosophy professor at the University of Oslo from 1939 to 1969, then went on to a second career as an environmental activist. In contrast to what he calls the “shallow ecology” movement, which concentrates on fighting pollution and resource depletion primarily for the benefit of people in the developed countries, Naess offers a set of principles that emphasizes biospherical egalitarianism, diversity, classlessness, decentralization, and personal commitment and action. Naess’s eco-philosophy has gained a small but growing number of proponents in the United States, most notably writers such as George Sessions, William Devall, and Dolores LaChapelle.


Environmental Ethic Deep Approach Derivational System Ecology Movement Deep Ecology 
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  1. 1.
    For more about interspecific community relationships, see Arne Naess, “Self-realization in Mixed Communities of Humans, Bears, Sheep, and Wolves,” Inquiry 22 (1979): 321–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Naess and Ivar Mysterud, “Philosophy ofWolf Policies I: General Principles and Preliminary Exploration of Selected Norms,” Conservation Biology 1, 1 (1987): 22–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 5.
    Tom Regan, “The Nature and Possibility of an Environmental Ethics,” Environmental Ethics 3 (1981): 19–34, citation on p. 30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 9.
    The term atman is not taken in its absolutistic senses (not as a permanent indestructible “soul”). This makes it consistent with those Buddhist denials (the avatman doctrine) that the atman is to be taken in absolutist senses. Within the Christian tradition some theologians distinguish “ego” and “true self” in ways similar to these distinctions in Eastern religions. See the ecophilosophical interpretation of the gospel of Luke in Stephen Verney’s Onto the New Age (Glasgow: Collins 1976) pp. 33–41.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    Many authors take some steps toward derivational structures, offering mild sys-tematizations. The chapter “Environmental Ethics and Hope” (in G. Tyler Miller, Li-ping in the Environment, 3rd ed. [Belmont: Wadsworth, 1983]) is a valuable start, but the derivational relations are unclear. The logic and semantics of simple models of normative systems are briefly discussed in my “Notes on the Methodology Of Normative Systems,” Methodology and Science 10 (1977): 64–79. For a defense of the thesis that as soon as people assert anything at all, they assume a total view, implicitly involving an ontology, methodology, episte-mology, and ethics, see my “Reflections about Total Views,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 25 (1964-65): 16–29. The best and wittiest warning against taking systematizations seriously is to be found in S0ren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript. For criticism and defense of my fundamental norm (“Self-realization”), together with my answer, see In Sceptical Wonder: Essays in Honor of Arne Naess (Oslo: University Press, 1982). My main exposition of Ecosophy T was originally offered in the Norwegian work, Okologi, samfunn og livsstil (Oslo: University Press, 5th ed., 1976). Even there, the exposition is sketchy).Google Scholar

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© Daniel G. Payne and Richard S. Newman 2005

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  • Daniel G. Payne
  • Richard S. Newman

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