Life's Philosophy: Reason and Feeling in a Deeper World

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Now available in English for the first time, Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess's meditation on the art of living is an exhortation to preserve the environment and biodiversity. As Naess approaches his ninetieth year, he offers a bright and bold perspective on the power of feelings to move us away from ecological and cultural degradation toward sound, future-focused policy and action.

Naess acknowledges the powerlessness of the intellect without the heart, and, like Thoreau before him, he rejects the Cartesian notion of mind-body separation. He advocates instead for the integration of reason and emotion--a combination Naess believes will inspire us to make changes for the better. Playful and serious, this is a guidebook for finding our way on a planet wrecked by the harmful effects of consumption, population growth, commodification, technology, and globalization. It is sure to mobilize today's philosophers, environmentalists, policy makers, and the general public into seeking--with whole hearts rather than with superficial motives--more effective and timelier solutions.

Naess's style is reflective and anecdotal as he shares stories and details from his rich and long life. With characteristic goodwill, wit, and wisdom, he denounces our unsustainable actions while simultaneously demonstrating the unsurpassed wonder, beauty, and possibility our world offers, and ultimately shows us that there is always reason for hope, that everyone is a potential ally in our fight for the future.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Very few people, I fear, change their lives as a result of reading contemporary academic philosophy. They are more likely to respond to example, to story. So here is a kind of universal great-grandfather, eager to share some gentle wisdom about that most mystifying of topics: How to live. It is a grand and generous gift.”—Bill McKibben, from the foreword

"Looking back on his long life, a brilliant philosopher and wise old man offers us a joyful meditation on the role of emotion in mature reasoning. Naess's philosophy of emotions is fully consistent with the concept of the "embodied mind" in contemporary cognitive science. The elegant simplicity of his language, evolved from countless solitary days in his beloved Norwegian mountains, is inspiring and healing."—Fritjof Capra

"[Naess's] most readable book . . . Perhaps the main value of Life's Philosophy is that it lets us deepen into the glassy landscapes of this extraordinary man."—Jordi Pigem, Resurgence

"[Naess] argues passionately throughout for cultivating the positive, life-affirming feelings over the negative. Basing his thinking on ideas found in Spinoza, he is convinced that there is no such thing as "pure reason," that feelings do—and should—play a decisive role in human choice and action."—Library Journal

Library Journal
Naess (Ecology, Community, and Lifestyle) reflects here on themes and ideas he considers most important for a meaningful life, based on years of philosophical inquiry. In his earlier years, he had been a proper "card-carrying" philosopher as a professor at Oslo University. In that role he wrote about many of the traditional philosophical questions in metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. Then, in middle age, and after retiring from teaching, he became a founding member of the Deep Ecology Movement, dedicating himself to ecological issues and activities. In his latest book, he argues passionately throughout for cultivating the positive, life-affirming feelings over the negative. Basing his thinking on ideas found in Spinoza, he is convinced that there is no such thing as "pure reason," that feelings do and should play a decisive role in human choice and action. The question of the relation of reason and feeling is a traditional philosophical one (here one thinks of David Hume and his "fact/value," "is/ought" distinction), and Naess states at the outset that he cannot solve the problem definitively, that he can only suggest new ways of understanding "how reason and feeling belong to each other." Because the narrative is primarily reflective and anecdotal, this would be an optional purchase for academic collections but a good choice for public libraries. Leon H. Brody, U.S. Office of Personnel Management Lib., Washington, DC Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820324180
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2002
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Arne Naess is a widely published and celebrated Norwegian philosopher whose long career spans two main periods: most recently his work launching the Deep Ecology Movement and, prior to that, his thirty years as the University of Oslo's chair in philosophy. His many books include Ecology, Community, and Lifestyle. Roland Huntford is a translator and author. His book The Last Place on Earth was made into a PBS miniseries.

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Table of Contents

Foreword ix
Preface xi
Introduction xiii
1 Life Seen as an Open Landscape 1
2 How Do You Feel Yourself and the World? 20
3 On Imagination, Research--and Petty Rationality 51
4 Reason and Feeling Are Interactive 74
5 A Feeling for All Living Beings 92
6 How Does Our Emotional Life Mature? 117
7 You Can Learn Properly Only What Engages Your Feelings 139
8 The Art of Living: To Do Little Things in a Big Way 160
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