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Deep ecology is a recent branch of ecological philosophy (ecosophy) that considers humankind an integral part of its environment. Deep ecology places greater value on non-human species, ecosystems and processes in nature than established environmental and green movements. Deep ecology has led to a new system of environmental ethics. The core principle of deep ecology as originally developed is Arne Næss's doctrine of biospheric egalitarianism — the claim that, like humanity, the living environment as a whole has the same right to live and flourish. Deep ecology describes itself as "deep" because it persists in asking deeper questions concerning "why" and "how" and thus is concerned with the fundamental philosophical questions about the impacts of human life as one part of the ecosphere, rather than with a narrow view of ecology as a branch of biological science, and aims to avoid merely utilitarian environmentalism, which it argues is concerned with resource management of the environment for human purposes.

DevelopmentEdit

The phrase deep ecology was coined by the Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss in 1973,[1] and he helped give it a theoretical foundation. "For Arne Næss, ecological science, concerned with facts and logic alone, cannot answer ethical questions about how we should live. For this we need ecological wisdom. Deep ecology seeks to develop this by focusing on deep experience, deep questioning and deep commitment. These constitute an interconnected system. Each gives rise to and supports the other, whilst the entire system is, what Næss would call, an ecosophy: an evolving but consistent philosophy of being, thinking and acting in the world, that embodies ecological wisdom and harmony."[2] Næss rejected the idea that beings can be ranked according to their relative value. For example, judgments on whether an animal has an eternal soul, whether it uses reason or whether it has consciousness (or indeed higher consciousness) have all been used to justify the ranking of the human animal as superior to other animals. Næss states that "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." This metaphysical idea is elucidated in Warwick Fox's claim that we and all other beings are "aspects of a single unfolding reality".[3]. As such Deep Ecology would support the view of Aldo Leopold in his book, "A Sand County Almanac" that humans are ‘plain members of the biotic community’. They also would support Leopold's "Land Ethic": "a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."

Deep ecology offers a philosophical basis for environmental advocacy which may, in turn, guide human activity against perceived self-destruction. Deep ecology and environmentalism hold that the science of ecology shows that ecosystems can absorb only limited change by humans or other dissonant influences. Further, both hold that the actions of modern civilization threaten global ecological well-being. Ecologists have described change and stability in ecological systems in various ways, including homeostasis, dynamic equilibrium, and "flux of nature".[4] Regardless of which model is most accurate, environmentalists Template:Fact contend that massive human economic activity has pushed the biosphere far from its "natural" state through reduction of biodiversity, climate change, and other influences. As a consequence, civilization is causing mass extinction. Deep ecologists hope to influence social and political change through their philosophy.

ScientificEdit

Næss and Fox do not claim to use logic or induction to derive the philosophy directly from scientific ecology [5] but rather hold that scientific ecology directly implies the metaphysics of deep ecology, including its ideas about the self and further, that deep ecology finds scientific underpinnings in the fields of ecology and system dynamics.

In their 1985 book Deep Ecology,[6] Bill Devall and George Sessions describe a series of sources of deep ecology. They include the science of ecology itself, and cite its major contribution as the rediscovery in a modern context that "everything is connected to everything else". They point out that some ecologists and natural historians, in addition to their scientific viewpoint, have developed a deep ecological consciousness--for some a political consciousness and at times a spiritual consciousness. This is a perspective beyond the strictly human viewpoint, beyond anthropocentrism. Among the scientists they mention particularly are Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, John Livingston, Paul R. Ehrlich and Barry Commoner, together with Frank Fraser Darling, Charles Sutherland Elton, Eugene Odum and Paul Sears.

A further scientific source for deep ecology adduced by Devall and Sessions is the "new physics", which they describe as shattering Descartes's and Newton's vision of the universe as a machine explainable in terms of simple linear cause and effect, and instead providing a view of Nature in constant flux with the idea that observers are separate an illusion. They refer to Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physics and The Turning Point for their characterisation of how the new physics leads to metaphysical and ecological views of interrelatedness which according to Capra should make deep ecology a framework for future human societies.

The scientific version of the Gaia hypothesis was also an influence on the development of deep ecology.

In their book, Devall and Sessions also credit the American poet and social critic Gary Snyder — a man with commitments in Buddhism, Native American studies, the outdoors, and alternative social movements — as a major voice of wisdom in the evolution of their ideas.

SpiritualEdit

The central spiritual tenet of deep ecology is that the human species is a part of the Earth and not separate from it. A process of self-realisation or "re-earthing" is used for an individual to intuitively gain an ecocentric perspective. The notion is based on the idea that the more we expand the self to identify with "others" (people, animals, ecosystems), the more we realize ourselves. Transpersonal psychology has been used by Warwick Fox to support this idea.

In relation to the Judeo-Christian tradition, Næss offers the following criticism: "The arrogance of stewardship [as found in the Bible] 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."[7] This theme had been expounded in Lynn Townsend White, Jr.'s 1967 article "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis",[8] in which however he also offered as an alternative Christian view of man's relation to nature that of Saint Francis of Assisi, who he says spoke for the equality of all creatures, in place of the idea of man's domination over creation.

ExperientialEdit

Drawing upon the Buddhist tradition is the work of Joanna Macy. Macy, working as an anti-nuclear activist in USA, found that one of the major impediments confronting the activists' cause was the presence of unresolved emotions of despair, grief, sorrow, anger and rage. The denial of these emotions led to apathy and disempowerment.

We may have intellectual understanding of our interconnectedness, but our culture, experiential deep ecologists like John Seed argue, robs us of emotional and visceral experience of that interconnectedness which we had as small children, but which has been socialised out of us by a highly anthropocentric alienating culture.

Through "Despair and Empowerment Work" and more recently "The Work that Reconnects", Macy and others have been taking Experiential Deep Ecology into many countries including especially the USA, Europe (particularly Britain and Germany), Russia and Australia.

PrinciplesEdit

Proponents of deep ecology believe that the world does not exist as a resource to be freely exploited by humans. The ethics of deep ecology hold that a whole system is superior to any of its parts. They offer an eight-tier platform to elucidate their claims:[9]

Template:Quotation

MovementEdit

In practice, deep ecologists support decentralization, the creation of ecoregions, the breakdown of industrialism in its current form, and an end to authoritarianism.

Deep ecology is not normally considered a distinct movement, but as part of the green movement. The deep ecological movement could be defined as those within the green movement who hold deep ecological views. Deep ecologists welcome the labels "Gaian" and "Green" (including the broader political implications of this term, e.g. commitment to peace). Deep ecology has had a broad general influence on the green movement by providing an independent ethical platform for Green parties, political ecologists and environmentalists.

The philosophy of deep ecology helped differentiate the modern ecology movement by pointing out the anthropocentric bias of the term "environment", and rejecting the idea of humans as authoritarian guardians of the environment.

CriticismsEdit

Main article: Criticism of deep ecology

Links with other movementsEdit

Parallels have been drawn between deep ecology and other movements, in particular the animal rights movement and Earth First!.

Peter Singer's 1975 book Animal Liberation critiqued anthropocentrism and put the case for animals to be given moral consideration. This can be seen as a part of a process of expanding the prevailing system of ethics to wider groupings. However, Singer has disagreed with deep ecology's belief in the intrinsic value of nature separate from questions of suffering, taking a more utilitarian stance.Template:Fact The feminist and civil rights movements also brought about expansion of the ethical system for their particular domains. Likewise deep ecology brought the whole of nature under moral consideration.[10] The links with animal rights are perhaps the strongest, as "proponents of such ideas argue that 'All life has intrinsic value'".[11]

Many in the radical environmental direct-action movement Earth First! claim to follow deep ecology, as indicated by one of their slogans No compromise in defence of mother earth. In particular, David Foreman, the co-founder of the movement, has also been a strong advocate for deep ecology, and engaged in a public debate with Murray Bookchin on the subject.[12][13] Judi Bari was another prominent Earth Firster who espoused deep ecology. Many Earth First! actions have a distinct deep ecological theme; often these actions will ostensibly be to save an area of old growth forest, the habitat of a snail or an owl, even individual trees. It should however be noted that, especially in the United Kingdom, there are also strong anti-capitalist and anarchist currents in the movement, and actions are often symbolic or have other political aims. At one point Arne Næss also engaged in environmental direct action, though not under the Earth First! banner, when he tied himself to a Norwegian fjord in a successful protest against the building of a dam.[14]

Robert Greenway and Theodore Roszak have employed the Deep Ecology (DE) platform as a means to argue for Ecopsychology. Although Ecopsychology is a highly differentiated umbrella that encompasses many practices and perspectives, its ethos is generally consistent with DE. As this now almost forty-year old "field" expands and continues to be reinterpreted by a variety of practitioners, social and natural scientists, and humanists, "ecopsycology" may change to include these novel perspectives.

Early InfluencesEdit

Notable advocates of deep ecology Edit

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See alsoEdit

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NotesEdit

Template:Reflist

Bibliography Edit

  • Bender, F. L. 2003. The Culture of Extinction: Toward a Philosophy of Deep Ecology Amherst, New York: Humanity Books.
  • Devall, W. and G. Sessions. 1985. Deep Ecology: Living As if Nature Mattered Salt Lake City: Gibbs M. Smith, Inc.
  • Drengson, Alan. 1995. The Deep Ecology Movement
  • Katz, E., A. Light, et al. 2000. Beneath the Surface: Critical Essays in the Philosophy of Deep Ecology Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
  • Næss, A. 1989. Ecology, Community and Lifestyle: Outline of an Ecosophy Translated by D. Rothenberg. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Passmore, J. 1974. Man’s Responsibility for Nature London: Duckworth.
  • Sessions, G. (ed) 1995. Deep Ecology for the Twenty-first Century Boston: Shambhala.
  • 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. Also online at [1]

Further readingEdit

  • Jozef Keulartz, Struggle for nature : a critique of radical ecology, London [etc.] : Routledge, 1998
  • Michael Tobias ed, Deep Ecology, Avant Books (1984, 1988) ISBN 0-932238-13-0.
  • Harold Glasser (ed), The Selected Works of Arne Næss, Volumes 1-10. Springer, (2005), ISBN 1-4020-3727-9. (review)
  • Jack Turner, The Abstract Wild, Tucson, Univ of Arizona Press (1996)
  • de Steiguer, J.E. 2006. The Origins of Modern Environmental Thought. The University of Arizona Press. 246 pp.

Educational ProgramsEdit

External linksEdit

da:Dybdeøkologi de:Tiefenökologie es:Ecología profunda fr:Écologie profonde he:אקולוגיה עמוקה it:Ecologia profonda ja:ディープエコロジー nn:Djupøkologi no:Dypøkologi sr:Duboka ekologija fi:Syväekologia sv:Djupekologi


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