Deep Ecology

The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement. A Summary.

In this short article, Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess distinguishes between what he categorizes as the “deep ecology movement” and the “shallow ecology movement”. He argues that while the shallow ecology movement has moved into the mainstream, he is critical of its anthropocentric nature. He characterizes the shallow ecology movement as focusing only on how to cope with pollution and resource depletion. The deep ecology movement, in contrast, focuses on the intrinsic relationships between living beings. Naess makes seven points related to deep ecology, they are: (a) “the relational, total field-image” (1), which he argues must replaces the image of [hu]man[s] as simply ‘in’ nature, rather than a part of it; (b) biospherical egalitarianism (with some caveats); (c) diversity and symbiosis. He argues that “ecologically inspired attitudes therefore favour diversity of human ways of life, of cultures, of occupations, of economies” (2); (d) anti-class posture, which reflects the understanding that exploitation affects the potential for self-realization of both the exploited and the exploiter; (e) an ethics of responsibilities means that ecologists do not serve merely shallow ecological goals related to pollution and resource depletion, which, when narrowly approached, can lead to other kinds of negative outcomes; (f) he favours complexity, not complication, which includes, inter alia,  the adoption of  'soft future-research' that focuses on possibilities, and more appreciation for live traditions, and an acceptance of our own ignorance; (g) finally, Naess argus for local autonomy and decentralization.

Naess, Arne. 1973. “The Shallow and the Deep, Long‐range Ecology Movement. A Summary.” Inquiry 16 (1–4): 95–100.