Deep ecology, stewardship and holistic nature conservation

Foundations of deep ecology

  1. Holism. Nature is seen holistically, as an integrated system, rather than as a collection of individual things. The “oneness” of nature, however, is not monistic, denying the reality of individuals and difference. Rather, the natural world consists of an organic wholeness, a dynamic field of interaction of diverse species and their habitats. In fact, that diversity is essential to the health of the natural world.
  2. No ontological divide. Humans are fully a part of nature, and there is no ontological separation between our species and other ones.
  3. Self. Individually, each person is not an autonomous individual but rather a self-in-Self, a distinct node in the web of nature.
  4. Biocentric egalitarianism. Nature has unqualified intrinsic value, with humans having no priveleged place in nature’s web. Emphasis is placed on value at holistic levels, such as populations, ecosystems, and the Earth as a whole, rather than individual entities.
  5. Intuition. A sensuous, intuitive communion with the Earth is possible, and it gives us needed insight into nature and our relationship to it. Scientific knowledge is necessary and useful, but we need a holistic science that recognizes the intrinsic value of the Earth and our interdependence with it.
  6. Environmental devastation. Nature is undergoing a cataclysmic degradation, an ecological holocaust, at the hands of human societies.
  7. Anti-anthropocentrism. This destructiveness is rooted in anthropocentrism, an arrogant view that we are separate from and superior to nature, which exists to serve our needs.
  8. An ecocentric society. The goal at a social level is a society that is based on an ecocentric view of nature and that lives in harmony with the natural tendencies and the limits of natural world.
  9. Self-realization. The goal at an individual level is to fully realize one’s identification with nature. This involves neither a sense of an independent self nor the loss of the self in the oneness of nature. Self-realization is the full awareness of the self-in-Self.
  10. Intuitive morality. The moral ideal, then, does not involve ethics in the traditional sense of a separate self rationally deriving principles of how we ought to behave. Rather, it is a realization of our identification with nature which yields a spontaneous, intuitive tendency to avoid harm and to flourish. As John Seed has said of his work on the rainforest, “I am the rainforest defending itself.”

Golden eagle. By E. van Uchelen.