Deep ecology

Deep ecology is an environmental philosophy promoting the inherent worth of living beings regardless of their instrumental utility to human needs, plus a restructuring of modern human societies in accordance with such ideas.

Deep ecology argues that the natural world is a subtle balance of complex inter-relationships in which the existence of organisms is dependent on the existence of others within ecosystems. Human interference with or destruction of the natural world poses a threat therefore not only to humans but to all organisms constituting the natural order.

Deep ecology's core principle is the belief that the living environment as a whole should be respected and regarded as having certain basic moral and legal rights to live and flourish, independent of its instrumental benefits for human use. Deep ecology is often framed in terms of the idea of a much broader sociality; it recognizes diverse communities of life on Earth that are composed not only through biotic factors but also, where applicable, through ethical relations, that is, the valuing of other beings as more than just resources. It describes itself as "deep" because it regards itself as looking more deeply into the actual reality of humanity's relationship with the natural world arriving at philosophically more profound conclusions than those of mainstream environmentalism.[1] The movement does not subscribe to anthropocentric environmentalism (which is concerned with conservation of the environment only for exploitation by and for human purposes), since deep ecology is grounded in a quite different set of philosophical assumptions. Deep ecology takes a holistic view of the world human beings live in and seeks to apply to life the understanding that the separate parts of the ecosystem (including humans) function as a whole. The philosophy addresses core principles of different environmental and green movements and advocates a system of environmental ethics advocating wilderness preservation, human population control, and simple living.[2]

Origins [ edit ]

In his original 1973 deep ecology paper, Arne Næss claims to have been inspired by scientists – ecologists – who were studying the ecosystems throughout the world. Three people in the 1960s who were considered foundational to the movement in a 2014 essay by George Sessions were author and conservationist Rachel Carson, environmentalist David Brower, and the biologist Paul R. Ehrlich. He considers the publication of Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring as the beginning of the contemporary deep ecology movement.[3]

Other events in the 1960s which have been proposed as foundational to the movement are the formation of Greenpeace, and the images of the Earth floating in space taken by the Apollo astronauts.[4]

Principles [ edit ]

Deep ecology borrows and redefines the word ecology to mean, not its conventional scientific meaning, but as a social movement based on a holistic vision of the world.[1] Deep ecologists hold that the survival of any part is dependent upon the well-being of the whole. This offers a philosophical basis for environmentalism.[citation needed] Deep ecologists criticise the biblical assumption of human superiority over other life forms, and hold that this traditional idea that the environment exists to serve humanity is not traditional.[4] Deep ecology repudiates an anthropocentric view. Proponents of deep ecology believe that the world does not exist as a natural resource to be freely exploited by humans. They believe a new economic system must replace modern capitalism because material goods do not guarantee happiness beyond a very moderate level, and over-consumption is endangering the environment.[5] Deep ecologists hope to influence social and political change through their philosophy. Deep ecology claims that ecosystems can absorb only limited change, and contends that civilization threatens the "natural" state of the environment through biodiversity loss, climate change, and other influences.[citation needed] Næss proposed, as Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke writes in his work on neo-nazism, "that the earth's human population should be reduced to about 100 million."[6] Deep ecology is viewed as politically extreme.

In 1985 Bill Devall and Sessions summed up their understanding of the concept of deep ecology with the following eight points:[7]

  • Human and nonhuman life on Earth has a value independent of its usefulness to humans.
  • Biodiversity contributes to this value.
  • Humans have no right to reduce this biodiversity except to satisfy vital human needs
  • A substantial percentage of the human population must be eliminated.
  • Humans interfere with the world too much already, and this activity is worsening.
  • A new political and economic model must be devised to replace that of present governments.
  • Individuals must be content with their situation they are in instead of striving for a higher standard of living.
  • Deep ecologists have an obligation to implement the above.

A more mainstream encyclopaedia of environmentalism describes the tenets of the movement as:

Development [ edit ]

The phrase "deep ecology" was adapted from a 1973 article by the Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss,[8] who himself used the term ecosophy. Næss rejected the idea that beings can be ranked according to their relative value. For example, judgements on whether an animal has an eternal soul, whether it uses reason or whether it has consciousness or higher consciousness have all been used to justify the ranking of the human animal as superior to other animals. Næss states that from a Deep Ecological point of view "the right of all forms [of life] to live is a universal right which cannot be quantified. No single species of living being has more of this particular right to live and unfold than any other species".[9]

Several actors played a role in its development. Joseph W. Meeker introduced Sessions to the works of his acquaintance Arne Næss in 1973.[10] Warwick Fox relates that "one of the things that initially interested Sessions about Næss was Næss's strong interest in ... Spinoza".[11] Sessions wrote to Næss, beginning a lifelong association.[4]

Sources [ edit ]

Science [ edit ]

In their 1985 book Devall and Sessions identify the science of ecology as a source of deep ecology; they cite its contribution to the sense that "everything is connected to everything else".[7] The Gaia hypothesis was also an influence on the deep ecology movement, though this hypothesis has little to no scientific support [12]

Apart from these simplistic associations, there appears to have been little influence of scientific sources on Deep Ecology.

Philosophy [ edit ]

Arne Næss used Baruch Spinoza as a source, particularly his notion that everything that exists is part of a single reality.[13] Others have copied Næss in this, including Eccy de Jonge[14] and Brenden MacDonald.[15]

Aspects [ edit ]

Environmental education [ edit ]

In 2010 Richard Kahn promoted the movement of ecopedagogy, proposing using radical environmental activism as an educational principle to teach students to support "earth democracy" which promotes the voting rights of animals, plants, fungi, algae and bacteria. In a 2015 article Helen Kopnina advocated teaching deep ecology principles as a form of ecopedagogy to promote patriotism and civic and environmental responsibility in the younger generation in most educational fields by promoting it as a healthy lifestyle. She states there is a global environmental crisis and calls for teaching students to renounce capitalist practices and granting electoral representation to non-humans to remedy this, and claiming her method works by challenging the way we see education. Kopnina advocates confronting students in such a way that they will be forced to consider the moral implications of humanity's destruction of habitats and biodiversity. She advocates forcing students to watch activist propaganda as a trigger, and grading students' individual writing assignments as to how well they have accepted the messaging.[16]

Spirituality [ edit ]

Næss criticised the Judeo-Christian tradition, stating the Bible's "arrogance of stewardship consists in the idea of superiority which underlies the thought that we exist to watch over nature like a highly respected middleman between the Creator and Creation".[9] Næss further criticizes the reformation's view of creation as property to be put into maximum productive use.

Criticisms [ edit ]

Eurocentric bias [ edit ]

Guha and Martinez-Allier critique the four defining characteristics of deep ecology. First, because deep ecologists believe that environmental movements must shift from an anthropocentric to a biocentric approach, they fail to recognize the two most fundamental ecological crises facing the world today, 1) overconsumption in the global north and 2) increasing militarization. Second, deep ecology's emphasis on wilderness provides impetus for the imperialist yearning of the West. Third, deep ecology appropriates Eastern traditions, characterizes Eastern spiritual beliefs as monolithic, and denies agency to Eastern peoples. And fourth, because deep ecology equates environmental protection with wilderness preservation its radical elements are confined within the American wilderness preservationist movement.[17]

Knowledge of non-human interests [ edit ]

Animal rights activists state that for an entity to require intrinsic rights, it must have interests.[18] Deep ecology is criticised for insisting they can somehow understand the thoughts and personal interests of non-humans such as plants or protists, which they claim thus proves that non-human lifeforms have conciousness. For example, a single-celled bacteria might move towards a certain chemical stimulation, although such movement might be rationally explained, a deep ecologist might say that this was all invalid because according to his better understanding of the situation that the intention formulated by this particular bacteria was informed by its deep desire to succeed in life. One criticism of this belief is that the interests that a deep ecologist attributes to non-human organisms such as survival, reproduction, growth, and prosperity are really human interests, which is known as anthropomorphism or a pathetic fallacy, in which "the earth is endowed with 'wisdom', wilderness equates with 'freedom', and life forms are said to emit 'moral' qualities".[19][20]

Deepness [ edit ]

When Arne Næss coined the term deep ecology, he compared it favourably with shallow environmentalism which he criticized for its utilitarian and anthropocentric attitude to nature and for its materialist and consumer-oriented outlook.[21]

William D. Grey believes that developing a non-anthropocentric set of values is "a hopeless quest". He seeks an improved "shallow" view, writing, "what's wrong with shallow views is not their concern about the well-being of humans, but that they do not really consider enough in what that well-being consists"; he is in favour of "an enriched, fortified, anthropocentric" worldview.[22]

Misanthropy, genocide [ edit ]

Some critics, particularly social ecologist Murray Bookchin, have interpreted deep ecology as being misanthropic, due in part to the characterization of humanity by some deep ecologists, such as David Foreman of Earth First!, as a pathological infestation on the Earth.[6] Bookchin therefore asserts that "deep ecology, formulated largely by privileged male white academics, has managed to bring sincere naturalists like Paul Shepard into the same company as patently antihumanist and macho mountain men like David Foreman who preach a gospel that humanity is some kind of cancer in the world of life". Bookchin mentions that some, like Foreman, defend misanthropic measures such as organising the rapid genocide most of humanity and claiming the best solution to kill humans in the Third World is "to just let nature seek its own balance, to let the people there just starve".[23] Fox rebuts that just because deep ecology criticizes anthropocentrism does not mean that deep ecology is misanthropic.[24]

Bookchin's second major criticism is that deep ecology fails to link environmental crises with authoritarianism and hierarchy. He suggests that deep ecologists fail to recognise the potential for human beings to solve environmental issues.[23]

Sciencism [ edit ]

Daniel Botkin concludes that although deep ecology challenges the assumptions of Western philosophy and must be taken seriously, like its antithesis, the wise use movement, they both "misunderstand scientific information and then arrive at conclusions based on their misunderstanding, which are in turn used as justification for their ideologies. Both begin with an ideology and are political and social in focus". Botkin has also criticized Næss's belief in the concept of some ideal "balance of nature", and the contradiction between his argument that all species are morally equal and his disparaging description of pioneering species.[25]

Links with other philosophies [ edit ]

Peter Singer critiques anthropocentrism and advocates for animals to be given rights. However, Singer has disagreed with deep ecology's belief in the intrinsic value of nature separate from questions of suffering.[26] Zimmerman groups deep ecology with feminism and civil rights movements.[27] Nelson contrasts it with "ecofeminism".[28] The links with animal rights are perhaps the strongest, as "proponents of such ideas argue that 'all life has intrinsic value'".[29]

David Foreman, the co-founder of the radical direct-action movement Earth First!, has said he is an advocate for deep ecology.[30][31] At one point Arne Næss also engaged in direct action when he chained himself to rocks in front of Mardalsfossen, a waterfall in a Norwegian fjord, in a successful protest against the building of a dam.[32]

Some have linked the movement to anarchism as evidenced in a compilation of essays titled Deep Ecology & Anarchism.[33]

See also [ edit ]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ a b Smith, Mick (2014). "Deep Ecology: What is Said and (to be) Done?". The Trumpeter. 30 (2): 141–156. ISSN 0832-6193. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b John Barry; E. Gene Frankland (2002). International Encyclopedia of Environmental Politics. Routledge. p. 161. ISBN 9780415202855.
  3. ^ Sessions, George (2014). "Deep Ecology, New Conservation, and the Anthropocene Worldview". The Trumpeter. 30 (2): 106–114. ISSN 0832-6193. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Drengson, Alan; Devall, Bill; Schroll, Mark A. (2011). "The Deep Ecology Movement: Origins, Development, and Future Prospects (Toward a Transpersonal Ecosophy)". International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. 30 (1–2): 101–117. doi:10.24972/ijts.2011.30.1-2.101.
  5. ^ Anderson, Tom; Guyas, Anniina Suominen (2015). "Earth Education, Interbeing, and Deep Ecology". Studies in Art Education. 53 (3): 223–245. doi:10.1080/00393541.2012.11518865. ISSN 0039-3541.
  6. ^ a b Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (1998). Hitler's Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth, and Neo-Nazism. NY: New York University Press, ISBN 0-8147-3110-4
  7. ^ a b Devall, Bill; Sessions, George (1985). Deep Ecology. Gibbs M. Smith. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-87905-247-8.
  8. ^ Næss, Arne (1973). "The shallow and the deep, long‐range ecology movement. A summary" (PDF). Inquiry. 16 (1–4): 95–100. doi:10.1080/00201747308601682. ISSN 0020-174X.
  9. ^ a b Næss, Arne (1989). Ecology, community and lifestyle: outline of an ecosophy Translated by D. Rothenberg. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 166, 187. ISBN 0521344069. LCCN 88005068.
  10. ^ Jacob, Merle (1994). "Sustainable development and deep ecology: An analysis of competing traditions". Environmental Management. 18 (4): 477–488. Bibcode:1994EnMan..18..477J. doi:10.1007/BF02400853. ISSN 0364-152X.
  11. ^ Fox, Warwick (1995). Toward a transpersonal ecology: developing new foundations for environmentalism. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. p. 63. ISBN 0791427757. LCCN 95010627.
  12. ^ David Landis Barnhill, Roger S. Gottlieb (eds.), Deep Ecology and World Religions: New Essays on Sacred Ground, SUNY Press, 2010, p. 32.
  13. ^ Naess, A. (1977). "Spinoza and ecology". Philosophia. 7: 45–54. doi:10.1007/BF02379991.
  14. ^ de Jonge, Eccy (April 28, 2004). Spinoza and Deep Ecology: Challenging Traditional Approaches to Environmentalism (Ashgate New Critical Thinking in Philosophy). Routledge. ISBN 978-0754633273.
  15. ^ MacDonald, Brenden James (2012-05-14). "Spinoza, Deep Ecology, and Human Diversity -- Schizophrenics and Others Who Could Heal the Earth If Society Realized Eco-Literacy". Trumpeter. 28 (1): 89–101. ISSN 1705-9429.
  16. ^ Kopnina, Helen (2015-03-01). "If a Tree Falls and Everybody Hears the Sound: Teaching Deep Ecology to Business Students". Journal of Education for Sustainable Development. 9 (1): 101–116. doi:10.1177/0973408215569119. ISSN 0973-4082.
  17. ^ Guha, R., and J. Martinez-Allier. 1997. Radical American Environmentalism and Wilderness Preservation: A Third World Critique. Varieties of Environmentalism: Essays North and South, pp. 92-108
  18. ^ Feinberg, Joel. "The Rights of Animals and Future Generations". Retrieved 2006-04-25.
  19. ^ Joff (2000). "The Possibility of an Anti-Humanist Anarchism". Retrieved 2006-04-25.
  20. ^ Pister, E. Phil (1995). "The Rights of Species and Ecosystems". Fisheries. 20 (4). Archived from the original on 2006-08-22. Retrieved 2006-04-25.
  21. ^ Devall, Bill; Sessions, George. Deep Ecology: Environmentalism as if all beings mattered. Retrieved 2006-04-25.
  22. ^ Anthropocentrism and Deep Ecology by William Grey
  23. ^ a b Bookchin, Murray (1987). "Social Ecology versus Deep Ecology: A Challenge for the Ecology Movement". Green Perspectives/Anarchy Archives.
  24. ^ Zimmerman, Michael E (1993). "Rethinking the Heidegger-Deep Ecology Relationship" (PDF). Environmental Ethics.
  25. ^ Botkin, Daniel B. (2000). No Man's Garden: Thoreau and a New Vision for Civilization and Nature. Shearwater Books. pp. 42, 39]. ISBN 978-1-55963-465-6.
  26. ^ Kendall, Gillian (May 2011). The Greater Good: Peter Singer On How To Live An Ethical Life. Sun Magazine, The Sun Interview, Issue 425. Retrieved on: 2011-12-02
  27. ^ Alan AtKisson. "Introduction To Deep Ecology, an interview with Michael E. Zimmerman". In Context (22). Retrieved 2006-05-04.
  28. ^ Nelson, C. 2006. Ecofeminism vs. Deep Ecology, Dialogue, San Antonio, TX: Saint Mary's University Dept. of Philosophy
  29. ^ Wall, Derek (1994). Green History. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-07925-9.
  30. ^ David Levine, ed. (1991). Defending the Earth: a dialogue between Murray Bookchin and Dave Foreman.
  31. ^ Bookchin, Murray; Graham Purchase; Brian Morris; Rodney Aitchtey; Robert Hart; Chris Wilbert (1993). Deep Ecology and Anarchism. Freedom Press. ISBN 978-0-900384-67-7.
  32. ^ J. Seed, J. Macy, P. Flemming, A. Næss, Thinking like a mountain: towards a council of all beings, Heretic Books (1988), ISBN 0-946097-26-7, ISBN 0-86571-133-X.
  33. ^ Deep Ecology & Anarchism. Freedom Press. 1993.

Bibliography [ edit ]

  • Bender, F. L. 2003. The Culture of Extinction: Toward a Philosophy of Deep Ecology Amherst, New York: Humanity Books.
  • Katz, E., A. Light, et al. 2000. Beneath the Surface: Critical Essays in the Philosophy of Deep Ecology Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
  • LaChapelle, D. 1992. Sacred Land, Sacred Sex: Rapture of the Deep Durango: Kivakí Press.
  • Passmore, J. 1974. Man’s Responsibility for Nature London: Duckworth.
  • Taylor, B. and M. Zimmerman. 2005. Deep Ecology" in B. Taylor, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, v 1, pp. 456–60, London: Continuum International.
  • Clark, John P (2014). "What Is Living In Deep Ecology?". Trumpeter: Journal of Ecosophy. 30 (2): 157–183.
  • Hawkins, Ronnie (2014). "Why Deep Ecology Had To Die". Trumpeter: Journal of Ecosophy. 30 (2): 206–273.
  • Sessions, G. (ed) 1995. Deep Ecology for the Twenty-first Century Boston: Shambhala.

Further reading [ edit ]

  • Gecevska, Valentina; Donev, Vancho; Polenakovik, Radmil (2016). "A Review Of Environmental Tools Towards Sustainable Development". Annals of the Faculty of Engineering Hunedoara - International Journal of Engineering. 14 (1): 147–152.
  • Glasser, Harold (ed.) 2005. The Selected Works of Arne Næss, Volumes 1-10. Springer, ISBN 1-4020-3727-9. (review)
  • Holy-Luczaj, Magdalena (2015). "Heidegger's Support For Deep Ecology Reexamined Once Again". Ethics & the Environment. 20 (1): 45–66. doi:10.2979/ethicsenviro.20.1.45.
  • Keulartz, Jozef 1998. Struggle for nature : a critique of radical ecology, London [etc.] : Routledge.
  • Linkola, Pentti 2011. Can Life Prevail? UK: Arktos Media, 2nd Revised ed. ISBN 1907166637
  • Marc R., Fellenz. "9. Ecophilosophy: Deep Ecology And Ecofeminism." The Moral Menagerie : Philosophy and Animal Rights. 158. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2007.
  • Sylvan, Richard (1985a). "A Critique of Deep Ecology, Part I.". Radical Philosophy. 40: 2–12.
  • Sylvan, Richard (1985b). "A Critique of Deep Ecology, Part II". Radical Philosophy. 41: 1–22.
  • Tobias, Michael (ed.) 1988 (1984). Deep Ecology. Avant Books. ISBN 0-932238-13-0.
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