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

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

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

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

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

A book by the title Life’s Philosophy would normally be fair game for ridicule. It sounds just a tad egoistic—what’s the Norse for “chutzpah”? But in this case the author is first of all an actual card-carrying philosopher, indeed one of great renown, and he has lived an actual life, one that by every indication has verged on the splendid. And so in this case the title turns out to be the utter opposite of pretentious, as is the book—in fact, they lack pretense almost entirely, as if written in some altogether forgotten language where arrogance is not a linguistic possibility.

Americans who know of Arne Naess (and, given that he is a Norwegian philosopher, a surprising number do) know of him because of his connection with the environmental debate—most significantly, his work with Californian George Sessions to formulate the principles of Deep Ecology. As this book makes clear, those completely sane and modest (albeit revolutionary) principles come from a sane and modest mind, albeit one out of step with the times. Here is a defense of slow learning, of joyfulness, of simplicity, of listening to faint feelings, that contradicts nearly every notion of a “successful” modern life.

And yet, just as one cannot read Wendell Berry without wishing to become a small farmer, one cannot read this book without wanting to turn into some emotional semblance of its author—to marry the strong Scandinavian sense of reason with the strong Scandinavian love of nature (all those Norwegians in their rustic cabins!) . . .

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