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Chapter 1. Deep Ecology"s Wider Identification With Nature

Though sometimes sounding like contemporary Jeremiahs, proclaiming to a wayward humankind the spiritually devastating and potentially suicidal consequences of practices that are destabilizing the ecosphere and threatening millions of species (possibly including humankind) with extinction, deep ecologists offer a positive message: humankind can become more integrated and mature, thus outgrowing the fearful posture that leads to such aggressive treatment of nature. In celebrating and protecting Earth"s life community, of which humanity is but a part, people would fulfill themselves and thus serve their own best interests. Seeking to protect all life, which they regard as inherently valuable, deep ecologists also stress that ecological devastation diminishes the human spirit. 1 Freely conceding that there is nothing new about the idea that human fulfillment requires aligning oneself with cosmic laws transcending human control, deep ecologists claim to be drawing upon a variety of sources including: the science of ecology, Asian religions, the perennial philosophy, leading Western philosophers (including Spinoza, Heidegger, and Whitehead), Norwegian and American naturalism and pastoralism, countercultural ideals, creation-centered spirituality, and the practices and attitudes of primal peoples (especially Native Americans). 2

Though some postmodern theorists might praise deep ecology"s pluralism as a sign both of its commitment to diversity and of its rejection of modernity"s disastrous quest for certainty, others would argue that deep ecology exports unrelated ideas from their original contexts and forces them into a unified conceptual scheme. Deep ecology"s eclecticism might seem similar to the pastiche style of postmodern architects who—influenced by electronic media that have made virtually every historical tradition available for consumption—ransack the building styles of previous epochs for new vocabulary in order to add historical "density," playfulness, and irony to their structures. Leading deep ecologist, Arne Naess, however, celebrates cultural and intellectual pluralism both as an end in itself and because it strengthens the deep ecology movement, defined in terms of the Deep Ecology Platform (DEP) that was devised by Naess and George Sessions in 1984. Seeking to be as inclusive as possible, the DEP is stated in terms sufficiently general that people from many different religious and philosophical traditions—such as Christianity, Buddhism, Spinozism—can join the deep ecology movement. Hence, Naess emphasizes the distinction between deep ecology as a dynamic social movement guided by the DEP and his own explicit philosophical worldview, Ecosophy T. 3 Echoing postmodern theory"s concern about totalizing narratives, Naess asks: "Why Gleichschaltung? Why monolithic ideologies? We have had enough of those in both European and world history." 4 Preferring a pluralism that allows for deep cultural difference, he fears that establishing one philosophy or religion for all humankind would be "a cultural disaster." 5

Naess describes deep ecology as "deep" in part to contrast it with "shallow" environmentalism, which seeks only to reform certain socioeconomic practices (e.g., curtailing industrial pollution) without altering modernity"s anthropocentric attitude, which is held to be largely responsible for the growing ecological crisis. The more important reason for calling deep ecology "deep," then, is that it poses deeper questions about the normative and descriptive premises of modernity. 6 Is the way of life made possible by the norms of anthropocentric modernity truly satisfying? Can one"s own wellbeing be purchased at the expense of that of another, whether that "other" be human or nonhuman? In seeking answers to such questions, Naess believes, people will discover that the norms of technological modernity not only promote biospheric catastrophe, but are also inconsistent with the ultimate norms of many spiritual and philosophical traditions. In light of this discovery, people will call for major changes, both personal and socioeconomic, regarding how humans treat each other and the natural world. 7 Although at the level of ultimate norms many religious and philosophical traditions may be incompatible with one another, few have an ultimate norm compatible with the view that people should devour the planet in an orgy of private gratification.

The primary norm of Naess"s Ecosophy T is self-realization. A major hypothesis is that all beings are manifestations of the great Self, Atman: all things are interrelated. Hence, the possibility for self-realization ought not to be restricted to humans alone. Developing a wider sense of identification with all beings is crucial for self-realization. Deep ecologist Warwick Fox observes correctly that most deep ecology theorists adhere to some version of Ecosophy T. 8 Further, he argues that wider identification is linked to nondualism, the insight that there is no ultimate divide between things. Non-dualism is central not only to Ecosophy T, but also to the abovementioned diverse traditions to which it appeals for support. Although Naess wants to distinguish between Ecosophy T and the DEP-guided deep ecology movement, Fox maintains that the DEP is so general that it conceals what is distinctive about deep ecology: the norm of self-realization, which is to be achieved through non-dualistic wider identification. As we see later on, Fox recommends that deep ecologists change the name of their shared philosophy to reflect its distinctive approach, while letting "deep ecology" refer to the social movement guided by the DEP.

Since most deep ecology expositors share some variation of Ecosophy T, however, most people simply identify Ecosophy T with deep ecology. For this reason, many ecofeminists and social ecologists neither embrace the DEP, nor call themselves deep ecologists, despite Naess" efforts to distinguish between deep ecology, a collective term for all movements capable of agreeing with the DEP, and Ecosophy T, a name for a specific type of ecosophy that justifies adhering to the DEP. In what follows, I use the term "deep ecology movement" to refer to the movement that includes all supporters of the DEP; and I use "deep ecology" and "deep ecologists" to refer to Ecosophy T and its supporters. My account of deep ecology inevitably conflates some issues and blurs certain distinctions that are important to various deep ecology theorists. I ask their forbearance, just as I ask for the forbearance of social ecologists and ecofeminists in later chapters.

This chapter begins by examining the DEP. The second section analyzes the distinction between deep ecology and reform environmentalism. And the third section considers in more detail Ecosophy T, the leading version of deep ecology theory. Finally, the last section considers Fox"s suggestion that deep ecology change its name to "transpersonal ecology," to reflect what is intellectually distinctive about deep ecology theory.

The Deep Ecology Platform

Naess uses a four-level "apron chart" to model the process by which, beginning with ultimate norms, one may loosely derive increasingly more particular principles and recommendations for treating all life in a respectful manner. Such ultimate norms, and the principles and attitudes derived from them, constitute an ecosophy, that is, a total ecological worldview, which is useful in guiding decision-making in a complex world. Most deep ecologists assert that the DEP—whose position in deep ecology"s conceptual scheme is visible on the apron diagram—provides common ground for people with diverse backgrounds. 9 Almost as important are deep questioning, which helps to disclose ultimate norms, and derivational processes—represented by the apron diagram—which help both to develop and to show the applicability of one"s own ecosophy.

The first level of the apron chart represents one"s own ultimate norms, which may be drawn from various religious or philosophical traditions, and which should also express one"s own intuitions about the inherent worth of all life. The DEP, the second level of the chart, is loosely derivable from those ultimate norms. The third level concerns general consequences derivable from the DEP, including broad policies. The fourth and most concrete level concerns specific ways to implement such policies. The direction of flow of the apron chart is both top-down and bottom-up. Starting from the bottom in the domain of the concrete practices of everyday life, one begins a process of questioning that leads toward ultimate premises and norms. Starting from such norms, at the top of the chart, one works one"s way down, loosely deriving the DEP, along with general and specific recommendations. The diagram needs some clarification, however. For example, the difference between levels three and four is not altogether clear, nor is the process of "loose derivation" by which one moves from ultimate norms to the DEP and beyond. 10

Apron Diagram

The DEP itself has eight planks. The first three are the most general norms and hypotheses, whereas the final five paragraphs are hypotheses and norms "loosely derived" from the first three. The eight principles are:

  1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life have value in themselves (synonyms: intrinsic value, inherent worth). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.
  2. Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves.
  3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs.
  4. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantially small human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires a smaller human population.
  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 will be 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 bigness and greatness.
  8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to try to implement the necessary changes. 11
Though the DEP is supposedly consistent with different ultimate norms, the DEP may be read as having significant parallels with Ecosophy T. Supporting, in effect, the contention that Ecosophy T—not the DEP derived from it—is what is distinctive about deep ecology, one critic notes that the DEP"s first paragraph, which speaks of the "flourishing" of all beings, is consistent with Ecosophy T"s ultimate norm: self-realization for all beings. 12 If the DEP is in fact a shorthand version of Ecosophy T, this helps explain why the DEP, originally presented as "revisable," has assumed a more authoritative status among most deep ecology theorists. The increasingly fixed status of the DEP leads some radical ecologists to view it as the expression of a few like-minded eco-philosophers, concerned less with an open contest of views and more with promulgating their own ideas.

Concerning the first paragraph of the DEP, Naess comments that all life is bound together by "all-pervasive intimate relationships." "Life" refers not only to humans and other organisms, but also to "rivers, landscapes, ecosystems." 13 Because life is defined so broadly, and because all life-forms are said to have value in themselves, nothing can be regarded solely instrumentally: everything deserves respect. Hence, "ecological processes on the planet should, on the whole, remain intact." 14 The second paragraph notes that diversity and richness not only contribute to the realization of life-values, but have "value in themselves." Hence, the DEP opposes monoculture in farming and homogeneity in culture. Complexity and symbiosis, at work in the extraordinary web of relationships constituting the soil of old growth forests, foster greater diversity, which is a good in itself. Microbes, bacteria, tiny insects, and other "lower" forms of life are not less valuable than higher forms, though other life-forms may be more complex and in various ways richer. Praising the work of conservation biologists Michael Soulé and Edward O. Wilson, George Sessions notes that destruction of wildlife habitat and the ensuing mass extinction of species are such portentous phenomena that reputable scientists are forsaking scientific "objectivity" to lobby openly in favor of the claim that humanity ought to protect species diversity not only for prudential reasons, but also because biotic diversity is good in itself. 15

Although deliberately vague, because "vital needs" differ in different circumstances, paragraph three implies that the rampant consumerism of industrial nations does not satisfy vital needs. Indeed, such consumerism indicates that people are not realizing authentic needs, for spiritually unsatisfied people try unsuccessfully to fulfill themselves with material goods. Insofar as consumer goods are substitute satisfactions for a sense of connectedness and union, paragraph seven holds that a higher material living standard is not necessarily compatible with "appreciating life quality."

From the fourth paragraph, which hypothesizes that humans can flourish with a much smaller population, and that the flourishing of nonhuman life requires a smaller human population, and from the fifth paragraph, which makes the factual claim that human interference is seriously damaging the nonhuman world, the DEP concludes that major social policy changes are needed. Further, human population must be decreased to protect wildlife habitat and to allow room for speciation. 16 Done humanely, as deep ecologists insist, reducing population to a desirable level—numbers ranging in the one billion range have been mentioned—might take up to one thousand years. On occasion, Naess has suggested that the planet be zoned into three different regions. The first would be areas that are now densely populated by humans; the second would have a limited population, perhaps engaged in relatively noninstrusive forms of agriculture; the third would be allowed to return to its wild state and would be inhabited primarily, though not exclusively, by nonhuman beings.

Although population reduction in First World countries is crucial, because their citizens consume vastly disproportionate amounts of Earth"s resources, population reduction is also important in Third World countries where remaining rainforests are being cut down by ever-growing numbers of poverty-stricken people. For the poor, numerous children are a form of old-age insurance. Deep ecologists generally favor economic development and education, since these often lower birthrates, but they urge that such development occur without creating further ecological problems and especially without destroying more wildlife habitat. 17 Talk of population control and reduction has provoked objections from some ecofeminists and social ecologists, for whom it smacks of racism, shows a lack of understanding of the role played by First World countries in the "population bomb," and reveals the same mentality of domination responsible for the ecological crisis. In reply, deep ecologists emphasize that they do acknowledge the social roots of poverty, and that they call for a reduction of human population over the long run, according to methods that are both humane and just. They agree, however, with those professional ecologists who assert that unless current human population growth is curbed, the results may include not only the loss of remaining wildlife habitat, but also the deaths of billions of people by disease, starvation, and war.

On the basis of principles three and four, which emphasize the intrinsic value of diversity in nonhuman life and in human culture, and from principle seven, which emphasizes life quality, some deep ecologists look favorably upon bioregionalism, though this is not a logical outcome of the DEP. Bioregionalism maintains that a culture is most healthy when its practices, myths, and norms are tied up with the natural character of the culture"s geographical region. Because bioregional cultures would presumably be concerned with the flourishing of all life in the region, not just with human life, concern about short-term profit would be replaced by concern with long-term issues, ranging from protecting wild areas to developing ecologically compatible agriculture and manufacture. Personal satisfaction would follow from more profound personal relationships and self-expression within the context of a life-celebrating culture. Global consumerism would give way to widely differentiated cultures, as people from different regions take direct action to protect the planet from further devastation. There are clear parallels between these ideas and postmodern theory"s celebration of cultural diversity.

Direct action can take two forms: personal and political. The latter can involve anything from lobbying for new environmental protection legislation, to risking life and limb to protect old-growth forests from being clear-cut. Personal direct action includes bringing one"s lifestyle into conformity with one"s deep ecological attitudes. A true believer could condemn people for failing to conform to an ecologically correct lifestyle. Hence, Naess—concerned as usual to forestall orthodoxy—cautions that in developing criteria for a deep ecology lifestyle, "one should not look for "complete consistency," whatever that would mean. Every formulation would have to be vague and highly dependent upon technological idiosyncrasies." 18

Some of the countercultural lifestyle changes recommended by Naess include: choice of simple over complex means; avoidance of activities without intrinsic value or far from basic goals; hence, anticonsumerism; appreciation of cultural differences; concern for improving the situation in Third and Fourth world; affirmation of depth and richness of experience, as opposed to intensity; appreciation of meaningful work over just making a living; cultivation of life in community (Gemeinschaft) instead of in society (Gesellschaft); satisfaction of vital needs through primary production on a small scale; avoidance of tourism; appreciation of all life-forms, not just those that are beautiful or useful; respect for intrinsic value of life-forms; tendency to protect wild species if their interests come into conflict with pets; concern for protecting local ecosystems; tendency to condemn and to deplore as excessive interference in nature, without simultaneously condemning those responsible for the interference; support for nonviolent direct action when other means fail.

In addition to lifestyle changes, deep ecologists call for structural changes in social, economic, and political institutions. Sessions proposes that the United Nation establish an Environment Council, analogous to the Security Council, which would provide an integrated ecospheric-protection approach to population issues, Third World economic development, and wildlife habitat preservation. 19 Unfortunately, Sessions notes, many Third World countries are now embracing American-style capitalism"s gospel of growth, which deep ecologists regard as incompatible with an ecologically sustainable, long-range future. He describes the "new world order" as an "octopus" intertwined with multinational corporations and markets, and lacking any allegiance to any country, "as the working classes of America and the world are now beginning to realize to their dismay." 20

Naess proposes the following axiom for deep ecological politics: "Long range, local, district, regional, national, and global ecological sustainability is the criterion of ecologically responsible politics as a whole." 21 Though attracted to the Green movement, which links social justice for Third World countries, global disarmament, and ecological concerns, Naess says that accelerating ecological destruction makes it "acceptable to continue fighting ecological unsustainability, whatever the state of affairs may be concerning the other two goals of green societies." 22 Without a viable ecosophere, peace and social justice issues will be irrelevant, for the human species may become extinct. Still, says Naess, humans are our "nearest, in terms of identification with all life, and green parties should include political plans for participation in the fight against world hunger and for basic human dignity." 23 In my view, militarism, colonialism, and poverty are so closely linked to ecological problems that all these issues must be addressed simultaneously. 24 Hence, I agree with Fox that deep ecology is but one of several voices in the overall Green movement. 25 Many Greens share with deep ecologists the conviction that revolutionary social changes, including respect for nonhuman life, requires an "inner change" or personal transformation. Presumably, were such a conversion to occur among sufficient numbers of people in the First World, technological society would shift from reform environmentalism to deep ecology.

Deep Ecology Versus Reform Environmentalism

In 1972, when he first spoke of shallow versus deep ecology, Naess articulated an old distinction, perhaps best exemplified by the turn-of-the-century quarrel between Gifford Pinchot, first head of the U.S. Forest Service, and John Muir, nature writer and wilderness advocate. Pinchot voiced the aim of shallow or reform environmentalism: to make the most efficient use of natural resources for human ends. Condemning Pinchot"s anthropocentric "resource conservationism," Muir helped found the "wilderness preservation" movement, which defends wild nature from mammon-bewitched entrepreneurs. Muir fought many battles, including the famous, though unsuccessful, national campaign to halt plans to dam the river in beautiful Hetch Hetchey Valley, located in Yosemite National Park. 26 Shortly after the death of the heartbroken Muir, world war erupted and eclipsed environmental concerns. During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt supported a wave of conservation efforts to prevent soil erosion, to improve management and productivity of national forests, and to enhance national parks. World War II and the postwar emphasis on economic recovery again pushed environmental concerns to the back burner of the public agenda.

In the 1960s, there rose a new wave of environmentalism, which began to replay the Muir-Pinchot debate. On the one hand, biologist Rachel Carson, in her dramatic bestseller, Silent Spring, revitalized the wilderness preservation movement and opened the way for the radical ecology movement by warning that widespread use of DDT was killing birds and other wildlife (hence, the "silent" spring). On the other hand, authors like Barry Commoner and Ralph Nader conceived of environmentalism primarily as the struggle against industrial pollution and other threats to human health. These "man-centered," antipollution reformers had little sympathy with "nature-lovers" like Carson, Gary Snyder, and David Brower, who emphasized that human population growth and industrialism threatened not only humankind, but wild nature as well. 27

Responding to public alarm about environmental deterioration, the U.S. Congress passed the Clean Air and Clean Water acts in the early 1970s. By also passing the Endangered Species Act and laws to protect wilderness areas from development, Congress gave a nod to deeper ecological concerns. In 1980, with the election of President Reagan, federal commitment to environmental concerns declined, but membership in mainstream environmental groups soared. In the mid-1980s, with scientists warning of global ecological calamity, some political leaders, including then-Senator Albert Gore, began trying to shift the focus of public debate from pollution control to ecosystem protection. 28 Some deep ecologists suspect, however, that in using the language of politicians and experts, one fails to "think with a heart" and thus helps the system continue its deadly work. 29 Christopher Manes warns that by working from within to reform the technological system, one allows that system to continue its deadly work. At the end of the Reagan administration, feeling seduced and stymied by the system, Dave Foreman resigned his position as Washington lobbyist for a national environmental group, and cofounded a leading radical ecology group, Earth First!, whose slogan reads "No Compromise in Defense of Mother Earth!" Taking immediate action to save remaining wilderness areas from destruction, Earth First!ers sometimes commit acts of civil disobedience and "ecotage," that is, sabotage of equipment used to cut old-growth forests or otherwise to damage wilderness. To those accusing them of criminal behavior, Earth First!ers, Greenpeace members, and Sea Shepherds reply that the real criminals are corporate bosses who insolently order the clear-cutting of old-growth forests or who pollute oceans with toxic wastes.

Though generally agreeing with this assessment and supporting frontline efforts to halt ecological destruction, not all deep ecology theorists would support ecotage. Although ecoactivists maintain that resisting the technological juggernaut allows no time for theorizing, deep ecology theorists insist that critical reflection is crucial for guiding action. Overcoming this simplistic opposition in his own life, Naess has committed acts of civil disobedience against ecological atrocities such as damming a beautiful and ecologically vital Norwegian river, and he has written the most important deep ecology literature. Influenced by Gandhi, he insists that nonviolent action is most effective in stirring the conscience of the larger public. To the extent that destroying property is an act of violence, Naess would have reservations about it, though the issues involved here are subtle. In general, it is advisable to distinguish between deep ecology theory and its propagandistic application by nonphilosophers with little concern for nuanced expression. Failure to make such a distinction has led critics wrongly to link deep ecology theory with racist, sexist, and misanthropic remarks made by a handful of Earth First! activists.

Naess says that reform environmentalism is limited "not due to a weak or unethical philosophy, but due to a lack of explicit concern with ultimate aims, goals, and norms." 30 Guided by such concerns, deep ecology challenges the political, economic, and metaphysical presuppositions of technological modernity. Insofar as the ecological crisis is a crisis of character and culture, reforming existing practices without changing self and culture will not suffice in the long run, since such reforms only address certain symptoms (e.g., healththreatening pollution), and not the roots of ecological devastation. George Sessions says that "an ecologically harmonious social paradigm shift is going to require a total reorientation of the thrust of Western culture." 31 Maintaining that "progress" purchased at the expense of the natural world is "unequivocal regress," Devall and Sessions take "an uncompromising stand against the main thrust of modern, technocratic culture." 32 They call for a spiritual transformation that will give rise to an "ecological sensibility," which will make possible joyful relationships among people and with nonhuman beings. Such relationships will in turn lead to life-enhancing social and political changes. Faced with the inertia of technological modernity, deep ecologists are at times skeptical about making the transition to an ecological society. Naess once wrote that "the most probable course of events is continued devastation of conditions of life on this planet, combined with a powerless upsurge of sorrow and lamentation." 33 But deep ecologists are often more upbeat about the future. 34 Retaining countercultural optimism, they envision the possibility that a mature humankind will generate "a new metaphysics, epistemology, cosmology, and environmental ethics of person/planet." 35

But critics like Charles Krauthammer, charging deep ecologists with being immature and, worse, with engaging "in earth worship to the point of idolatry," assert that a "sane" environmentalism must be "entirely anthropocentric" and must declare "unashamedly" that "nature is here to serve man." 36 Deep ecologists retort that it is usually not "man" in general, but industrial elites who benefit most from ecologically devastating technologies. 37 Further, unless people respect life for its own sake, not merely for its utility, technological civilization will ultimately destroy itself. Some say the choices facing us are limited: either retain the industrialism model and watch the planet die, or hope that model collapses so that the earth may live. David Ehrenfeld asks: "What is the gentlest Gollum [sic]—one that in the final act of self-destruction will take with it merely a finger of civilization, not the whole body?" His answer: "[G]lobal economic depression, coming soon, without war if that is possible, and resulting in a collapse of the present world economic system and along with it the collapse of exploitative industry." 38 Though his hope is that economic collapse would allow earth"s ecosystems to recover, such a social calamity might not foster ecological well-being, but might well pave the way for authoritarian leaders who would wreak even greater ecological havoc. Since total economic collapse would probably trigger off war, starvation, and disease that would kill hundreds of millions of people, one may detect a hint of misanthropy in the hope that industrial collapse would save life on earth. Tending to agree with Ehrenfeld that "the true misanthropists are those who are struggling to hold to the mad course that we are now pursuing with such relentless enthusiasm and such little heed for the ultimate cost," 39 however, many deep ecologists would say that a measure of human suffering in the short term must be weighed against the possibility of tremendous long-term suffering if present practices are not changed. Of course, deep ecologists hope that the transition to an ecological age will minimize suffering for all concerned. 40 Hence, they envision what Theodore Roszak has called the "creative disintegration of industrial society."

Yet friendly critics like Martin W. Lewis argue that in calling for the end of industrial civilization, deep ecologists "reduce their own potential bases for political power to ever more minuscule, and powerless, groups." 41 Similarly, Robert Paehlke holds that real progress can be made in dealing with ecological problems only by working within existing political arrangements. 42 Despite their own rhetoric to the contrary, deep ecologists in fact often recommend working from within to change the system, while simultaneously working for personal and social transformation. Increasingly, moreover, deep ecological attitudes are being embraced by people who once scoffed at saving forests for reasons other than prudential ones. Reformist views may fade into deep ecological views. For example, anthropocentric reformers want to preserve rainforests because they are: a silo (a source of genetic diversity for medicine agriculture); a laboratory (for biologists and ecologists); a gymnasium (for human recreation and refreshment); a life-support system (sustaining the human species); a cathedral (a source of religious awe and inspiration); and an art gallery (source of aesthetic pleasure). 43 Though the silo and laboratory arguments seem plainly anthropocentric, the life-support, cathedral, and art gallery arguments can be read either in anthropocentric terms or in deep ecological terms. If Earth is viewed as a kind of human spaceship in need of oxygen, one could offer anthropocentric reasons for saving oxygen-producing rainforests. But if Earth is viewed in terms of the Gaia hypothesis, as the self-organizing home for all life, and if life itself is intrinsically valuable, one could argue that rainforests should be saved both as ends in themselves and because they help sustain the interconnected web of life. 44

A similar reading can be given of the view that rainforests are like a cathedral or an art gallery. John Muir"s experience of the "sacred" beauty of wild nature may share aspects of Pinchot"s utilitarianism. 45 Rainforests should be saved, in other words, not because of their intrinsic worth, but because of their religio-aesthetic "use-value." Hence, John Rodman reads "this once world-historical schism [between Pinchot and Muir] as a family quarrel between advocates of two different forms of human use [of nature]—economic and religio-aesthetic." 46 Rodman criticizes aesthetic utilitarianism for two reasons. First, claims about natural beauty are open to dispute, thus making aesthetics an unsatisfactory candidate for revealing nature"s intrinsic value. Second, European-American aesthetic sensibility, shared by Muir, leads people to save scenic wonders like Yosemite Valley while ignoring the less attractive marshes and brushland that may have greater ecological importance. 47

Defending Muir, deep ecologists argue that his utilitarian aesthetic appeals are usually found in writings connected with political debates. 48 Elsewhere, he gives voice to his nature mysticism, according to which nature"s beauty is not projected onto it by the human perceiver, but is an aspect of nature that humans are capable of perceiving. That people often experience a healing pleasure in the face of nature"s awesome beauty and complexity may mean that they are directly apprehending nature"s inherent worth. In saying that appreciating such beauty is important for human well-being, Muir anticipated other instrumentalist-sounding arguments advanced by deep ecology sympathizers like Paul Shepard and Edward O. Wilson, who maintain that the human psyche needs wild nature. 49 Deep ecologists stress that all life is to be protected not only because of its instrumental value, but also because it has a worth of its own.

Although useful in some ways, the reform versus deep ecology distinction seems inconsistent with deep ecology"s nondualism and often generates needless controversies between deep ecologists and reformists. 50 Furthermore, deep ecology"s anti-anthropocentrism has encouraged the rise of radically anthropocentric groups, such as the "Wise-Use Movement," which condemns deep ecology as a pagan ecofascism that calls for outright appropriation of private land. Insisting that national security rests on easy access to natural resources, Wise-Use members call for dismantling legislation that established wilderness areas and forbade practices such mining in national parks. 51 Further, as Earth Firstlers have aggressively defended wilderness areas, opposing groups—such as the "Sahara Club"—have aggressively defended their right to motorcycle wherever they please. Despite such countermovements, the corporate and political mainstream is beginning to take ecological issues into account in a way that would have been unimaginable twenty years ago. For instance, the idea of sustainable development, though it admits of widely varying definitions, has become a buzzword at high levels of corporate society. 52 Many radical ecologists fear, however, that so-called sustainable development will simply slow the rate at which wildlife habitat is destroyed and general environmental quality is degraded.

Some ecological reformists maintain, however, that liberal democracy is flexible enough to further economic growth in an environmentally sustainable fashion. "Free market environmentalists" argue that new forms of property rights can help alleviate many ecological problems. 53 Scarcity of desirable natural resources will raise prices to the level that ecologically sounder alternatives will become economically attractive. And increased costs associated with safe disposal of toxic products will create a demand for innovations that minimize environmental problems, while sustaining or even enhancing productivity. Although Bill Devall states that "privatization of some aspects of land can further the long-term environmental quality of the land, if the stewards of the land respect its integrity," 54 he also notes that the privatizing approach defines the value of nonhuman according to human interests, even if such interests include having unspoiled land in which to hike. Free market environmentalism"s problem-solving approach also conceals the fact that many of yesterday"s "solutions" are today"s "problems." In the 1950s, for instance, nuclear-generated electricity was to said to be too cheap to meter. Today, not only is such nuclear-generated electricity very expensive, but the waste stemming from producing it poses perhaps the gravest, humanmade, long-term threat to ecological well-being. Deep ecologists conclude that anthropocentric attitudes must shift if humankind and the rest of the living earth can flourish. According to Ecosophy T, this shift involves attaining a wider identification with the nonhuman.


According to Naess, deep questioning of basic beliefs may be motivated by the intuition of identification with nonhuman beings. For him, this intuition occurred when, as a child playing in the Norwegian fjords, he was struck by the fantastic variety of life forms, particularly tiny, "useless" ones. 55 Though these little organisms were different from him, he felt they were not radically other. His sense of identification with all life was strengthened when he became a helpless witness to the suffering of an insect. 56 But he emphasizes that

[S]uch experiences are enough. No definite Buddhist or other cultural phenomena are strictly necessary to start developing the basic attitude expressed, among other ways, by the term the greater Self, and the norm "Self-realization!" This is only to fight the idea that there is something extraordinary and culturally sophisticated involved. Just the ordinary sensitivity of a loving child. 57

Although seeking to preserve wilderness, Naess also urges that urban parks be maintained, because encounters with birds, squirrels, insects, plants, and other organisms afford the possibility for a lifechanging intuition about one"s relationship to other life forms. 58 Since one cannot argue for one"s intuition, Naess expresses his in terms of an ultimate norm, self-realization, from which he derives an internally consistent total view capable of addressing concrete ecological problems. Trained as an analytic philosopher and influenced by Spinoza"s method, he uses a deductive model—complete with numbered axioms and derived theorems—to articulate this total view, Ecosophy T. Though not expecting others to use this method, Naess starts with an axiom, that is, the ultimate norm of self-realization, grounded on his own intuition and influenced by Gandhi, among others. In light of this norm, Naess posits three hypotheses that, taken together, form an argument that concludes that self-realization for one requires self-realization for all. On the basis of this conclusion, he posits a new norm: self-realization for all beings. Subsequently, he adds further hypotheses, for example, concerning the sorts of behavior that promote the norm of self-realization of all beings.

Acknowledging recent criticism of the identitarian logic of metaphysical system-builders from Aquinas to Hegel, Naess asserts that Ecosophy T is not a modernist system purporting to deduce the purpose of world history—and justifying violence to realize that purpose—but instead is a structured, dovetailed "assemblage of statements, all provisional and tentative." 59 Such an ecosophy, "a philosophy of ecological harmony or equilibrium" helps orient praxis in the face of intricate ecological and social problems. 60 An ecosophy can also "provide a single motivating force for all the activities and movements aimed at saving the planet from human exploitation and domination." 61 Naess calls his total view "Ecosophy T" to emphasize that other possible ecosophies range from "A to Z," the "T" supposedly referring to his mountain hut, Tvergastein ("cross the stones"). Refusing to privilege his ecosophy, and encouraging a Socratic process of critical self-inquiry, he wants to eliminate "absolutisms, arrogance, and "eternalism" with regard to validity [of basic principles and norms] in time and in social and physical space." 62

Developing a revisable total view is consistent with Naess"s quest to become more mature or integrated. Such integration does not mean becoming isolated or self-encapsulated, but instead means discovering how one is related to and constituted by the larger ecosystemic context. 63 Far from being an impenetrable ego demanding that things conform to his abstract schemes, a mature person is attuned to and prepared to enter into relationships—sometimes contradictory—with many human and nonhuman beings. Such a relational self benefits from a total view, which helps to guide action in the multifarious relationships constituting an ecological community.

Gandhi inspired Naess"s conviction that personal fulfillment can only occur in connection with the fulfillment of all beings. Naess cites Gandhi:

I believe in advaita (non-duality), I believe in the essential unity of man and, for that matter, of all that lives. Therefore I believe that if one man gains spiritually, the whole world gains with him and, if one man falls, the whole world fails to that extent. 64

Following Gandhi"s assertion that "self-realization" involves attaining "Muksha" (liberation) and seeing God "face to face," Naess regards deep ecology not only as a campaign to save wilderness and to protect biodiversity, but also as a movement to liberate humanity from enslaving attitudes and practices. 65 Naess and George Sessions also appeal to Spinoza"s thought to support their nonanthropocentrism and nondualism. Combining a concern for human freedom with an interest in modern science, Spinoza viewed humanity in terms of its relation to the cosmos, instead of conceiving of the cosmos as an instrument for human ends. 66 According to Sessions, Spinoza"s purpose in philosophizing is to break free from the bonds of desire and ignorance which captivate and frustrate most men, thus standing in the way of what real happiness is available to them, and to attain a higher Self which is aligned with a correct understanding of God/Nature. 67

For Spinoza, Nature and God are identical. Since all individuals are modes of the infinite attributes of the one Substance/God/Nature/Being, individuals manifest the attributes, including thought and extension, in ways appropriate to their own being. Combining mystical intuition with scientific insight about the interrelatedness of all things in the rational cosmos, Spinoza contended that human bondage ensues from ignorance about the necessity at work in the interrelated self-manifestation of God/Nature, whereas human freedom arises from intellectual intuition about such necessity. For Spinoza, all things are characterized by conatus, the striving for self-preservation. Unlike Hobbes, who conceived of conatus passively, as a fearful struggle for survival, Spinoza conceived of conatus actively, as the joyful process of self-realization. He posited an inner relation between joy (laetitia) and increase of power of realization, and sorrow (tristitia) and decrease of power of realization (potentia). Joy is not felt because of the realization of a potential, but it is part of the very process of its realization. 68

For Spinoza, true freedom means acting according to and persevering in one"s own nature; actively expressing and fulfilling one"s essence. The more one acts according to one"s own nature, the more one acts from love and generosity and also from the highest level of reason: the wisdom of amor intellectus Dei. Revealing that all things are interrelated manifestations of God/Nature, such wisdom inspires compassion for things stymied in their attempts at self-realization. My own self-realization is enhanced by the self-realization of others with whom/which I am internally related. 69 Because exploitation reduces the potential for self-realization on the part of exploited beings, and because it thus reduces my own capacity for self-realization, exploitation is to be avoided.

Naess and Sessions concede that Spinoza had an instrumental attitude toward animals (he considered vegetarians to be naive sentimentalists), though Naess denies that such instrumentalism was integral to Spinoza"s thought. 70 Although agreeing that Spinoza did not view humans as privileged or separate from the rest of nature, and that he regarded our noblest emotions and thoughts as "on a par with rainbows and snakes," Yirmiyahu Yovel, however, insists that Spinoza accorded no inherent value to particular entities. In the final analysis, God/Nature is "beyond good and evil." Values are human projections that weigh things in relation to our own desire or conatus. Thus it is humanity that evaluates pollution as "bad" and pristine nature as "good." At a more fully actualized level of awareness, where we attain "God"s understanding love" (amor intellectualis Dei), we may begin saying "yes" to nature (and humankind) not only when it pleases us or serves our interests, but also in all its ambiguity, ugliness, and destructiveness. Further, a growing understanding of the lessons of ecological science may lead us to treat the biosphere better in order to enhance our own striving and also to avoid doing serious harm to ourselves. Yovel, then, supports the view that Spinoza offers an affirmative, but utilitarian, reading of the cosmos, a reading not shared by Naess and Sessions. 71

The concept of interrelatedness, promoted by deep ecology theorists as an alternative to modernity"s atomistic-anthropocentric paradigm, helps to justify Ecosophy T"s norm of self-realization. 72 Naess rejects "the man-in-environment" image in favour of the relational, total-field image. Organisms as knots in the biospherical net or field of intrinsic relations. An intrinsic internal relation between two things A and B is such that the relation belongs to the definitions or basic constitutions of A and B, so that without the relation, A and B are no longer the same things. The total-field model dissolves not only the man-in-environment concept, but every compact thing-in-milieu concept—except when talking at a superficial or preliminary level of communication. 73

In line with this total-field image, Australian deep ecologist John Seed intuits that his identity is bound up with the tropical rainforests:

When I realize that I don"t have any independent existence, that I am part of a food chain, for instance, then at a certain point Me-first and Earth-first become inseparable. I feel that"s the best position to be coming from—to realize one"s identity with the Earth. "Myself" now includes the rainforest, it includes clean air and water. 74

In the process of wider identification, one discovers that the self is not an ego encapsulated inside a skin bag, but is an event con- stituted by a complex network of relations. 75 Appealing to Leopold"s land ethic and ecosystem ecology, a leading environmental ethicist, J. Baird Callicott, argues that individuals are not independent units, but are constituted by a network of internal relationships. Since no part can be valuable independent of the ecological whole of which it is an integral aspect, Callicott regards bioregions and species as more valuable than individual organisms. 76 Critics attack such interrelational holism for at least two reasons. 77 First, the ecosystemic approach to ecology, often appealed to by deep ecologists as evidence for their ideas about interrelatedness, has been challenged in recent years by a new approach to ecology, developed by population biologists, which explains ecosystemic phenomena as the unintended by-products of the interactions among individual organisms. (Though postponing examination of this approach to chapter 3, I wish to note here that systemic and individualist ecologies need not be mutually exclusive: they may simply be different ways of approaching complex phenomena.) Second, the concept that individuals are constituted by internal relations leads some critics—including a number of radical ecologists—to conclude that holism promotes a type of ecofascism, in which individuals may be sacrificed for the good of the larger whole. Sensitive to this political problem, deep ecologists acknowledge the inherent worth both of individual organisms and of the ecosystems of which they are a part.

Appealing to scientific hypotheses to support one"s ethical and political views is an old practice. Hobbes and Locke explicitly modeled their individualistic social theories on the atomism of early modern science. Despite subsequent warnings against deriving is from ought, or fact from value, such derivations are still often made. Naess says, however, that "all the sciences are fragmentary and incomplete in relation to basic rules and norms, so it"s very shallow to think that science can solve our problems." 78 Nevertheless, deep ecologists at times proclaim that modernity"s mechanistic-atomistic materialism is giving way to a new interrelational cosmology, according to which the idea of "dominating" or "conquering" nature seems suicidal. 79

Recently, Freya Matthews has appealed to holistic trends in physics to justify Ecosophy T"s concept of self-realization, interconnectedness, and wider identification. 80 In her view, human flourishing requires a cosmology that is both consistent with modern science and that portrays the universe as compatible with human interests. Such a cosmology must reconcile our intuitions about the quasi-independent character of individuals, with the view that things are constituted at all levels by interrelated, holistic, dynamic processes. Matthews argues that the "substance monism" of geometrodynamics (GED), which is linked to general relativity theory, is such a cosmology. GED is consistent with the intuition of interconnectedness, capable of justifying the principle of wider identification, and also able to be reconciled with the view that individuals have a measure of inherent worth. As Matthews concedes, however, because GED is a troubled theory, she does not want to make her metaphysical postulate of cosmic interrelatedness entirely dependent on the problematic status of an empirical hypothesis. All too often, radical ecologists make unjustified leaps from contested scientific claims to bold metaphysical assertions. Nevertheless, Matthews rightly contends that contemporary physics suggests that relations obtain among events that were once regarded as utterly separated by space and time.

GED views Einstein"s spacetime as the generative matrix from which all things emerge. C.J. Graves remarks that this matrix is not a passive arena, but the source and medium of all interactions, its parts both acting on and being acted on by each other; and . . . spacetime is a unified whole, with global and topological as well as local characteristics. It is not a collection of things, but a single thing—the only thing that is really real. One could call it by such names as pure substance, or being as such. 81

According to GED, an individual entity is not precisely localizable, but instead "there is a sense in which each body or source is everywhere, and at the same time." 82 Matthews maintains that GED can be reconciled with Spinoza"s monism, but she concedes that his tendency to discount the reality of time poses a problem not only for such reconciliation, but also for her own effort to conceive of the cosmos as a self-realizing, dynamic system. Like Hegel, Matthews faults Spinoza for not endowing God/Nature with its own conatus, that is, with a teleological, temporal drive that mirrors the teleological striving of individuals which are modifications of God/nature"s. Although maintaining that the organism is the paradigmatic instance of an individual self, Matthews maintains that GED justifies viewing the cosmos itself as a kind of dynamic self, with which each individual self—ranging from amoeba to whole ecosystems—is bound up in complex sets of interrelationships. The value of selves stems from their activity of self-realization, but since all selves are interconnected, the self-realization of any particular self is somehow bound up with the self-realization of all other selves, including the cosmic Self. The cosmic whole conditions individuals, whereas individuals condition the cosmic whole thr