What way toward a more beautiful and resilient future?

Could a fundamental change in relations with our nonhuman neighbors start humanity down that new path? Around the globe, people are wrestling with these and related questions, prompted by the accelerating challenges facing life on Earth. Open Air Philosophy aims to help deepen understanding of the ecological crisis—its drivers and possible solutions—by sharing the work of three pioneering nature-focused philosophers.

Arne Naess, Sigmund Kvaløy Setreng, and Peter Wessel Zapffe were profoundly influenced by the landscape of their native Norway, its wild mountains and coastlines, and by their own adventurous spirits. Activist in orientation, Naess (who coined the term “deep ecology”) and Kvaløy participated in nonviolent direct-action campaigns. All advocated for a nonaggressive approach to being in nature.

Prescient thinkers about the trajectory of society, each attempted to live their personal philosophy. Social change movements that acknowledge the intrinsic value of life and that work to expand freedom and justice for the more-than-human world owe an ideological debt to these colorful thinkers.

Explore their ideas, if you will, in the open air . . .

The Deep Ecology Platform

  1. The flourishing of human and nonhuman beings has value in itself. The value of nonhuman beings is independent of their usefulness to human beings.
  2. Richness of kinds of living beings has value in itself.
  3. Human beings have no right to reduce this richness except to satisfy vital human needs.
  4. The flourishing of human life is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.
  5. Current human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.
  6. Policies must be changed in view of points 1–5. These policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of human affairs will be greatly different from the present.
  7. The appreciation of a high quality of life will supersede that of a high standard of life.
  8. Those who accept the foregoing points have an obligation to try to contribute directly to the implementation of necessary changes.

Arne Naess and George Sessions (1984)

Photos: Antonio Vizcaíno/America Natural