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Jacques Lawinski

Jacques Lawinski

PhD candidate in philosophy and ecology at Université Paris VIII, visiting researcher in Lesvos, Greece. A writer, an activist, and an avid walker, I explore the planet and what it means to relate to nature, finding new, ecological ways of being.
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Ecology, Community and Lifestyle. 
By Arne Naess, translated and edited by David Rothenberg
Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Arne Naess was the founder of the deep ecology movement. He was a Norwegian philosopher and environmentalist who also participated in many protest movements and actions.

A collection of articles and writings by Arne Naess, the founder of the deep ecology movement. In this book, Naess discusses the different ethical and ontological foundations for deep ecology, and for a new relationship with nature and other beings in general.

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A philosophical and conceptual look into the deep ecology movement, this book is Arne Naess’ blueprint for the way that we could, and perhaps should, be thinking about our relationships with other beings.

For Naess, ecosophy is an individual’s personal approach to their place in the world and the value that they put on nature. Each person will have a different ecosophy, and at this time, we should be working on describing our own ecosophy, so that we are clear about how we should act.

Naess writes, “The intention is to encourage readers to develop and articulate basic, common intuitions of the absolute value of nature which resonate with their own backgrounds and approaches. The recognition of the problem and its subsequent study is called ecophilosophy. More precisely, it is the utilisation of basic concepts from the science of ecology – such as complexity, diversity and symbiosis – to clarify the place of our species within nature through the process of working out a total view.” p. 3

Naess places a lot of emphasis on the process of working out what we believe in, and developing a total view, rather than fragmentary parts of a viewpoint which don’t fit together well. This leads him to a lot of conceptual discussions about the value of nature, the place of ecology in politics, the problems with the current economic system, and more.

Ecological politics and ecosophy as our understanding of nature has an opinion and a position on every issue we are currently facing in our everyday lives. Naess therefore wants to create a set of principles from which we can build an opinion and a strategy for each of these issues. He writes, “The environmental movement will be strongest if it can be shown that its concise set of principles can be derived from a variety of world-views and backgrounds.” p. 4 Naess proposes a set of principles, and then asks readers to see how they can arrive at these conclusions from their own culture and standpoint on the world.

The book is definitely philosophical in nature and is not light bedtime reading. It does however provide one example of how we can radically change the way we think about everything – and a set of principles that we can use to do it. Change at a system level is possible, if enough of us are willing to accept a new paradigm and a new set of guiding principles.

Ecology, Community and Lifestyle is available at Paper Plus, or check out your local bookshop to see if they have it in stock or can order it for you. 

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