January 2005: What is Deep Ecology?

Author: Stephan Harding

Stephan describes the key concepts of 'deep ecology', as developed by Arne Naess and George Sessions. Deep ecology seeks answers to ethical questions about how we should live by focusing on deep experience, deep questioning, and deep commitment.

Deep experience involves the "perception of gestalts, or networks of relationships," leading to a "heightened sense of empathy and an expansion of our concern for non-human life." Deep questioning helps build "a coherent framework for elucidating fundamental beliefs," with a strong emphasis on action. It asks questions the fundamental assumptions underlying our culture, in contrast to approaches that adopt a "reform" approach. Deep commitment leads "people (to) act from their whole personality, giving rise to tremendous energy and commitment ... and will lead towards ecological sustainability."

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