Beneath the Surface: Critical Essays in the Philosophy of Deep Ecology

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The philosophy of deep ecology originated in the 1970s with the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess and has since spread around the world. Its basic premises are a belief in the intrinsic value of nonhuman nature, a belief that ecological principles should dictate human actions and moral evaluations, an emphasis on noninterference into natural processes, and a critique of materialism and technological progress.

This book approaches deep ecology as a philosophy, not as a political, social, or environmental movement. In part I, the authors compare deep ecology's philosophical ideas with other positions and debates in environmental philosophy and to other schools of thought such as social ecology, ecofeminism, and moral pluralism. In part II, they investigate the connections between deep ecology and other contemporary world views, such as continental philosophy, postmodernism, and non-Western philosophical traditions. The first anthology on deep ecology that is not primarily the work of the movement's followers, Beneath the Surface offers a rigorous assessment of deep ecology's strengths and weaknesses as a philosophical position.

Contributors: John Clark, Deane Curtin, Arran Gare, William Grey, Mathew Humphrey, Knut Jacobsen, Eric Katz, Andrew Light, Jonathan Maskit, Val Plumwood, David Rothenberg, Ariel Salleh, Bron Taylor, Michael Zimmerman.

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What People Are Saying

Andrew McLaughlin
This book's essays, by variously questioning, criticizing, elaborating,and defending the philosophical dimensions of Deep Ecology, moves forward the urgent discussion of the conceptual roots of our environmental crisis. It is a valuable contribution to discussions which deepen deep ecology.
Holmes Rolston
'Deep' is a positive word. We seldom wish to be shallow, whether scientists or philosophers. But the 'deep ecology movement,' launched a quarter century ago by Arne Naess, has proved as elusive as it has been influential. The question of how 'deep' to be, like the question of how 'green' to be, invites a plurality of responses. This anthology puts the merits and demerits of deep ecology under challenging critical scrutiny, offering the most seminal analysis yet of what is jointly the most promising and the most problematic of environmental philosophies.
Freya Matthews
This is an excellent collection of essays. I very much welcome the examination of deep ecology by environmentally engaged, but otherwise relatively nonpartisan, critical thinkers.
Strachan Donnelley
Beneath the Surface is a timely collection of essays,motivated by an important aim. The essays raise just the kind of speculative and critical questions that need to be asked and further explored. In the end, how we act depends on how we think. To their credit, the editors recognize this truth and wisely do not abandon philosophic reflection in the face of practical environmental urgency.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262112529
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 6/20/2000
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Light is Director of the Center for Global Ethics at George Mason University and Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

David Rothenberg is Professor of Philosophy at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and founder of the Terra Nova book series. His most recent books are Always the Mountains and Sudden Music: Improvisation, Art and Nature.

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Table of Contents

About the Contributors
Introduction: Deep Ecology as Philosophy
I Deep Ecology and Its Critics 1
1 How Wide Is Deep Ecology? 3
2 Against the Inevitability of Anthropocentrism 17
3 A Critique of Deep Green Theory 43
4 Deep Ecology, Deep Pockets, and Deep Problems: A Feminist Ecosocialist Analysis 59
5 Ontological Determinism and Deep Ecology: Evading the Moral Questions? 85
6 In Defense of Deep Ecology: An Ecofeminist Response to a Liberal Critique 107
7 Callicott and Naess on Pluralism 125
II New Horizons for Deep Ecology 149
8 No World but in Things: The Poetry of Naess's Concrete Contents 151
9 Possible Political Problems of Earth-Based Religiosity 169
10 The Postmodernism of Deep Ecology, the Deep Ecology of Postmodernism, and Grand Narratives 195
11 Deep Ecology and Desire: On Naess and the Problem of Consumption 215
12 Bhagavadgita, Ecosophy T, and Deep Ecology 231
13 A State of Mind Like Water: Ecosophy T and the Buddhist Traditions 253
14 Deep Ecology and Its Social Philosophy: A Critique 269
Bibliography 301
Index 321
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