Arne Naess’ ecological theory: we are the environment in which we live

Until the beginning of the 20th century, both psychology and other disciplines responsible for studying different aspects of human existence understood that as people, we are detached from the environment in which we live; that is, we are individuals, in the most literal sense of the term. This idea may seem very bizarre raised this way, but in fact it continues to be noticed in the way we think.

For example, when we say that everyone is plowing their destiny, or that everyone’s life depends above all on how they manage their will, we are treating human life as if it were something out of context.

This idea was also predominant in Western philosophy and therefore led us to assume a way of life based on the use of nature as if it were a simple collection of resources. But it ended, among other things, thanks to the work of environmental philosophers among whom pointed out Norwegian thinker Arne Naess. Then we will see how he thought and how he designed our way of life.

    Who was Arne Naess?

    This philosopher was born in Oslo in 1912, and in 1933 he became the youngest professor at the University of Oslo; he devoted himself to the teaching of philosophy.

    From a young age, Naess was interested in the environment and the protection of nature, even at a time when environmentalism was practically non-existent. However, he began to put his ideas into practice after his retirement.

    In 1970 he was chained to an area near a waterfall located in a fjord where they planned to build a dike and demanded the project halt, and also helped lead many other actions of environmentalists based on direct action.

    Such experiences led Arne Naess to forge a philosophy on the relationship between humans and nature.

      The ecological theory of Arne Naess

      Naess philosophy usually boils down to the motto “Think like a mountain”, Which this environmentalist used occasionally, although it was first used by another activist, Aldo Leopold. This sentence, reminiscent of Buddhist proverbs, does not really express a complicated idea to understand: this Norwegian thinker believed that treating human beings as theirs was something separate from the rest of nature, an illusion, a mirage.

      The cause of this collective delirium it has to do with anthropocentrism, The belief that all the material exists to meet the needs of human beings, as if it were part of a hotel garden. As historically our species has somewhat succeeded in adapting the environment to its interests, we believed that this will always be the case, and that this is the raison d’être of the environment: to provide us with resources that we can consume. .

      Another derivation of the idea that we should think like a mountain is that one of our main interests should be the protection of the environment; This way, we reduce the risk of natural disasters and in doing so, we improve our chances of enjoying a quality of life in a remarkable way.

        Expanded consciousness

        Arne Naess and Aldo Leopold believed that because we value the ability to think in abstract terms, we must take responsibility for the environment. Unlike animals with reduced cognitive abilities, we can think about the long-term consequences of things, and so it is an ethical need to do our best to reduce our negative impact on the environment.

        So in harmony with nature is the key to living together in a correct way and in which most of the inhabitants of the planet benefit from the fact that evolution has created a species capable of thinking of everything. Instead of focusing our concerns on the mundane aspects of everyday life, we should look back and protect the place we came from: the biosphere.

        The “deep me”

        Arne Naess proposed the concept of “ecological self” to refer to this self-image in which the concept we have of ourselves is related to the natural environment to which it belongs and to the community of living things that coexist in it. Defending this form of self-recognition can lead to seeing ourselves not as individuals, but as part of a network of living beings and forms of expression of nature: Eagles, fish, wolves, etc.

        Of course, it seems that this way of thinking was influenced by the philosophies of Native American and Animist peoples, although Naess didn’t put much emphasis on the spiritual dimension it hurts to give to this perspective. In any case, it is clear that this is a way of thinking that would currently be accepted by many people.

        Leave a Comment