A Collection of Essays by Sigmund Kvaløy Setreng

The Ash-Lad: Classical Figure of Norwegian Ecophilosophy

By Sigmund Kvaløy Setreng

According to Setreng the fairytale character of the Ash-Lad is a “classical figure of Norwegian ecophilosophy and ecopolitics.” In his interpretation of the deeper meaning of the story, which first appeared in print in 2007, Setreng explores parallels with Gandhi’s process thinking and philosopher Henri Bergson’s thoughts on the origin of laughter. Moreover, he holds that the present shift in the world climate might soon change all priorities, and bring the Ash-Lads back.

A Tale of Two Countries

By Sigmund Kvaløy Setreng

From the late 1960s onwards, Setreng visited Nepal and Bhutan several times. He often took his wife and small children along to Nepal, and partly because of that he was able to establish an intimate connection with traditional people in the Plough Furrow valley, a traditional Tibetan community. In this article from 1993, Setreng tells the story of his failing efforts to protect the peak of the sacred mountain Tseringma from being climbed.

Inside Nature

By Sigmund Kvaløy Setreng

In Setreng’s view there are considerable differences between sitting inside at his desk behind a typewriter, and working outside in a winter forest. He opposes the common notion, that we go out in nature, and turns it playfully around: when he has finished cutting birch trees for firewood and returns home on his skis, he effectively moves from the “inside” of nature to the “outside” of his typewriter. An article from 1992.

Complexity and Time: Breaking the Pyramid’s Reign

By Sigmund Kvaløy Setreng

Setreng points out that the socio-ecological crisis of our time is something completely unprecedented and has become global. He elaborates the need for the development of a new paradigm. Setreng contrasts the term “ecophilosophy” with “deep ecology.” This article from 1988 provides a vivid account of the direct action to protect the Mardøla and Alta rivers from being dammed.

Gaia versus Servoglobe

By Sigmund Kvaløy Setreng

Based on a paper from 1987, Setreng tells the story of the formation of his Ecophilosophy Group in the late 1960s. One of the key concepts that he develops here is that of the Servoglobe: the metaphor of a supercomputer that is able to couple artificial intelligence with global information gathering. The author dwells at length on the difference between qualitative complexity (in nature) and complicatedness (the abstract and the digital).

Norwegian Ecophilosophy and Ecopolitics and Their Influence from Buddhism

By Sigmund Kvaløy Setreng

In this article from 1987, Setreng traces how his Ecophilosophy Group decided to leave the academic armchair milieu behind and to move out into the world of practice and direct engagement. In this they were deeply inspired by the study of Buddhism and they acquainted themselves with the principles of Gandhian nonviolence.

Ecophilosophy and Ecopolitics: Thinking and Acting in Response to the Threats of Ecocatastrophe

By Sigmund Kvaløy Setreng

In the early 1970s, Sigmund Kvaløy Setreng was instrumental in establishing “The Co-Working Groups for Nature- and Environment Protection” in Norway, also called the Ecophilosophy group. In this text from 1974, which reads like a manifesto, he compares the world of Western civilization with societies which still have been able to retain a high degree of self-sufficiency and self-resourcefulness.

The Universe Within

By Sigmund Kvaløy Setreng

Resurgence Magazine introduced this article in 1984 as follows: “Sigmund Kvaløy is a twentieth century sage. He is a fighting philosopher and an active thinker. He has many personalities: storyteller, farmer, traveler and academic. In his Schumacher Lecture he relates stories from the Norwegian sagas to the current struggle to save the rivers and the landscape. His experience of the Himalayan Buddhist culture and the European Green movement makes his lecture both diverse and deep.”

Sigmund Kvaløy Setreng Essays & Articles

Arne Naess

Sigmund Kvaløy Setreng (1934-2014)
Photo: Private collection