Deep Ecology Reading 6/6/11: Deep Ecology; The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecological Movement. By Arne Naess

This reading articulates the founding principles of the “ecosophy” of “deep ecology.” To give it a definition, “’Deep ecology’ (or ‘ecosophy’ = ecological wisdom) is a movement calling for a deeper questioning and deeper set of answers to our environmental concerns. Specifically, it calls into question some of the major assumptions about consumerism and materialism, challenging us to live more simply.” As a starting point, Naess distinguishes “the shallow ecology movement” from “the deep ecology movement,” and makes an attempt to characterize the two. Whereas “shallow ecology” is generally expressed as a fight against pollution and resource depletion in the world through policy,  “deep ecology” is an expression of global relationships, human identity, and Self-hood that considers the vast scope of relevant ecological and normative (social, political, ethical) material. “Deep ecology” is not simply ecological, it is ecophilosophical. In Naess’ words, “Ecology is limited science which makes use of scientific methods,” and “deep ecology” is ecophilosophical expressed as “ecosophy,” or “a philosophy of ecological harmony or eqilibrium. A philosophy as a kind of sofia wisdom, is openly normative, it contains both norms, rules, postulates, value priority announcements and hypotheses concerning the state of affairs in our universe.”

To quote and elaborate, I will list the 7 key phrases that Naess uses to characterize the deep ecology movement (his emphasis):

1)Rejection of the man-in-environment image in favour of the relational, total-field image.
2)Biospherical egalitarianism – in principle
3)Principles of diversity and symbiosis
4)Anti-class posture
5)Fight against pollution and resource depletion
6)Complexity, not complication
7)Local autonomy and decentralization

I haven’t yet decided whether it is more difficult to fully cognize this subject or regurgitate and articulate my understanding of it. I feel like I am, once again, (like learning systems thinking or permaculture) learning a new language. The “deep ecological” or “ecosophical” mental model is by far the most interesting model I have come across, utilizing and building upon systems thinking and permaculture. As we begin to scratch the surface of this ecophilosophy I feel compelled to give my full attention to cognizing the various aspects of this new field. General ecosophical thinking seems more fair and inclusive than many other ways of thinking; by considering the vast scope of relevant ecological and normative material, “ecosophy” seems structured to assess the world in a very useful way. Going forward, I am excited develop a better sense of what “deep ecology” is and how it is useful to planetary and cosmic life.


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