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Founding Philosophers

  • Arne Naess “father of deep ecology”
    • Norwegian professor of philosophy and rock climber
    • Influenced by the works of Baruch Spinoza and Gandhi
    • 1973 as the founding date for deep ecology
  • Dave Forman
    •  American founder of Earth First! a radical environmental activist group
      • Believed that action (often drastic) needed to be taken to prevent actions that damage the environment
      • Wrote EcoDefence: A Practical Guide to Monkeywrenching
    • Inspiration for today’s more radical Earth Liberation Front
      • Implicated in the burning of homes, ski lodges, car dealerships
      • Uses a cell structure like terrorist organizations of the 1960’s/70’s
  • George Sessions
    •  Perhaps the most articulate voice of deep ecology
    • Professor of Philosophy
  • Edward Abbey
    • Literary voice of deep ecology. Embodied the anarchist strand of the movement
    • Wrote Desert Solitaire and The Monkeywrench Gang

Core Philosophies of Deep Ecology

  • We must shift from anthropocentrism (human-centeredness) to biocentrism or eco-centrism
    • Humans should stop seeing themselves as the pinnacle of evolution, the center of the universe, and start seeing themselves as the pinnacle of evolution, the center of the universe, and start seeing themselves as part of the web of life. All strands are interconnected are intrinsically valuable.
  • We must avoid the tendency towards centralization — politically, industrially, and socially.
    • Industry has a totalizing influence on humans, destroying their sense of self and their connection to natural world
    • A better model would be based on bio-regionalism. Small, city-state communities that are based on environmentally harmonious principles.
  • End Dualism that says that nature is “out there” and that human nature is “in here.” We are connected to, inseparable from, and dependent on nature. The best goal for humans would be to connect emotionally, rationally, spiritually, and physically with nature.
  • We must end our reliance on affluence and growth.

Core Principles of Deep Ecology

  1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman Life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: intrinsic value, inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.
  2. Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realizations of these values and are also values in themselves.
  3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital human needs.
  4. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.
  5. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.
  6. Policies must therefore be changed. These policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.
  7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent value) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great.
  8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation to directly or indirectly try to implement the necessary changes.

Philosophical Roots of Deep Ecology

  • Eastern philosophy — Tao and Buddhism
  • Native American Spirituality
  • Gnostic Christianity
  • Thoreau, Leopold, Muir, ect.