Deep ecology

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Deep Ecology ( English deep ecology ) is a spiritual , "holistic" environmental and natural philosophy that seeks to live in harmony with nature. The main idea is the union of thinking , feeling, spirituality and action . In particular, people should become aware of their role as “preserver” or “destroyer” of their own world or livelihood. The more spiritual approach to a universal worldview has nothing to do with ecology as a scientific discipline , but borrows its terminology.

In addition to the purely scientific and “superficial” answers (with regard to ecological and social problems), “deeper” questions should be asked about possible changes in the human way of life in deep ecology. From the scientific area, deep ecology is inspired by systems theory and the Gaia hypothesis .

Founding by Arne Næss

The Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss (1912–2009) introduced the term deep ecology in 1972 in the essay "Shallow and the Deep" in the Journal Inquiry in the philosophical literature. He had already presented the idea shortly before at the “Third World Future Research Conference” in Bucharest . According to Næss, the deep ecology movement is based on a special type of ecological philosophy ( ecosophy ), which is geared towards ecological harmony and ecological balance. According to this conception, philosophy is normative wisdom.

Ecopsychology according to Theodore Roszak

Theodore Roszak developed a psychological variant of deep ecology in his book Ökopsychologie - Der uprooted man and the call of the earth (1994). With the demand for “biospheric equality” the idea of ​​empathy for all living things is connected. The idea that humans are only in one environment is rejected. According to Roszak, deep ecology sees "the root of the ecological evil in our ineradicable conviction that people are beyond nature and above nature, be it as lords or guardians" . As a sub-discipline of psychology and ecology, combined with an interdisciplinary reference, deep ecological psychology seeks to close the historically created gap between psychological and ecological perspectives and to establish a new concept of reason that, in connection with the Gaia hypothesis, takes the standpoint of non-human nature and overcomes anthropocentrism .


The eco-communalist Murray Bookchin criticizes the concept of deep ecology, its deeply inherent self-contradiction. It assumes that humans have a special position among all living beings, that they don't live like other animals and think in terms of time. For deep ecology, however, the most important differentiator is that humans make conscious decisions. Although he makes decisions and should actively pursue a higher goal, according to the view of deep ecology he must not take into account his peculiarity and must see himself on a level with all living things. His existence as a social being should not play a role. The questions of social conditions in coexistence could not be asked in this way and would therefore not appear in deep ecology, criticizes Bookchin. "For all its interest in the manipulation of nature," deep ecology "has very little interest in the question of how human beings manipulate one another, except perhaps when it comes to the drastic measures that are supposedly 'necessary' for 'population control' . "

Næss' emphasis on population policy is one of the main criticisms of his concept. He put the ideas for population control among other things in his eight-point concept of deep ecology. In it he advocates a “decline” and a reduction of humanity to an “acceptable minimum”. He criticized immigration policy for the fact that “every immigrant from a poor to a rich country creates ecological stress”. The deep ecologist Ralph Metzner took the view that the European “primordial cultures” living in harmony with nature had been wiped out by nomads from Central Asia and their monotheistic religions. This supposed destruction of nature found its climax “in the fascist, genocidal, totalitarian Holocausts that European civilization imposed on the world in the 20th century”. The left-wing journalist Peter Bierl regards such statements as a relativization of the National Socialist Holocaust . The French sociologist of science Bruno Latour sees deep ecology as a “fundamentalist ecology”. It is exactly the opposite of a political ecology, as it is necessary in view of the environmental threats, since it ultimately denies the possibilities of political shaping.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Arne Næss: Shallow and the Deep. Oslo: Inquiry 1972
  2. A. Drengson / Y. Inoue (Ed.): The Deep Ecology Movement: An Introductory Anthology. Berkeley: North Atlantic Publishers. A. Drengson / Y. Inoue, 1995, p. 8
  3. The ideologies of the Ecopopperinnen: As the «creepy ecologists» think . June 11, 2014 ( [accessed on July 13, 2018]).
  4. ^ Peter Bierl: Green brown. Environmental, animal and homeland protection from the right. unrast transparent - right edge vol. 5, Unrast Verlag, Münster 2014, p. 27
  5. Bruno Latour: The Parliament of Things. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2010, p. 41f


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