A Collection of Essays about Arne Naess

The Life and Work of Arne Naess: An Appreciative Overview

By Alan Drengson

This long and comprehensive introduction to the life, work, and accomplishments of Arne Naess by Alan Drengson first appeared in The Trumpeter, in 2005, a magazine that was established by the author. In the article Drengson not only tracks the genesis (inception) of the term deep ecology, he also takes up such diverse themes as the difference between what have been called the shallow and deep ecology movements, Naess’s concept of Ecosophy T and his most basic personal norm of seeking self-realization.

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The Influence of Arne Naess

By David Rothenberg

Philosopher and composer David Rothenberg tells of his friendship with Arne Naess, and particularly his gentle way of dealing with critics. Yet, exactly because of his attitude of welcoming all kind of views, many philosophers, according to Rothenberg, found him too vague and too cordial to viewpoints that were not his own. In this text, published in 2010 – a year after Naess’s passing – Rothenberg also addresses the environmental crisis as it is manifesting itself in the 21st century, and states that while deep ecology may have begun as a concern for wild nature and wilderness by only a few, today it is all about preserving hope for human civilization as part of the vast ecosystem that planet Earth comprises.

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Our Mutual Love of Mountains

By Dolores LaChapelle

LaChapelle was an avid mountain climber and skier, but first and foremost she was a philosopher and researcher. She shared much common ground with Arne Naess. In this text from 1992 LaChapelle shares memories of their correspondence and her encounters with Arne. She also tells of the introduction of the deep ecology movement principles in the United States, at the time of the Earth Day X Colloquium in 1980.

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My Relationship with Arne Naess

By Bill Devall

Sociologist and practicing Buddhist Bill Devall is particularly remembered because of his extensive studies of environmental thought and practices. In this warm tribute to Arne Naess, Devall praises him as an amazing teacher (in a Buddhist sense) and as one of the great philosophers of the 20th century. The memorial was written in 2009, the same year that Devall passed away himself.

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Earth Family: An Interview with Vandana Shiva on Arne Naess

By Jan Van Boeckel

Indian scholar and environmental activist Vandana Shiva befriended Arne Naess in Oslo in the early 1980s when she worked there for five years as a visiting professor. What has always impressed her very deeply about Arne is, in her own words, the combination that she finds in him of innocence, of “being childlike in his enjoyment of every moment of life,” with extreme brilliance of the mind. Shiva also talks about the influence of Gandhi’s concept of satyāgraha, of non-violent non-cooperation and direct action, on Naess. She states firmly that, in her view, deep ecological solutions are the only viable solutions to ensure that every person on this planet has enough food, enough water, adequate shelter and dignity.

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In Memoriam Arne Naess

By David Rothenberg

David Rothenberg is an American composer and philosopher who has worked closely with Naess in the 1980s and has published numerous books and texts on his environmental philosophy. At Naess’s funeral in Oslo in 2009, Rothenberg was invited to present a commemoration speech. Here, in this In Memoriam, Rothenberg looks back at his friendship over the years with Arne. He relates how at the very end of Arne Naess’s life, his early work was again appreciated in the new discipline of “experimental philosophy” – thus making way for it to return back to the mainstream of the discipline.

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The Joy of Living Deeply and Well

By Alan Drengson and Bill Devall

Drengson is the Associate Editor of the ten volume Selected Works of Arne Naess (SWAN) published in 2005 by Springer. In 1983, he founded the now online magazine Trumpeter: Journal of Ecosophy and, later, Ecoforestry. Until his death in 2009, Bill Devall was well-known as both theorist and activist in the environmental movement. Together, they wrote this introduction to the life of Arne Naess and his ecophilosophical reflections in particular. They also refer to Naess’s own life’s philosophy, called Ecosophy T.

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Arne Naess

Arne Naess (1912-2009)
Photo: Doug Tompkins