Wednesday, 14 January 2009

arne naess

Like many others, we're saddened to hear news of the death of the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess (pic).

My co-editor Wallace Heim, who met him several times at Schumacher College and kept in touch, writes:

'He was one of the remarkable thinkers of the last century. His life's work was systematising Spinoza's Ethics, then profound work on Gandhi's non-violence, and the non-violence necessary after the Second World War to rebuild European relations. The League of Nations asked him to define democracy, and a few days later he had dozens of possible conditions and situations which could be considered democratic, depending on the cultural context. The institution said - 'No - we want one definition only.'

'Then, after retiring, he developed deep ecology and his version of eco-philosophy, deep ecology being a much more rigorous philosophy than the polemics over self-realisation, intrinsic value, or the superficial differences with social ecology would have it. He was not attracted to theatre, or not to the histrionic theatre of his childhood. He valued precision in thought and communication and getting the heart of an argument.'

'But his essays on emotion and on 'The Place of Joy in a World of Fact' and on 'Beautiful Action' are inspiring for both activism and performance.'

There's a video of Naess here, an essay by David Rothenberg on Naess here, and his selected works are here.

(This post was expanded 15/1/09)

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