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Life's Philosophy

Reason and Feeling in a Deeper World

Arne Naess with Per Ingvar Haukeland Translated by Roland Huntford Foreword by Bill McKibben Introduction by Harold Glasser

Publication Year: 2002

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.

Published by: University of Georgia Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

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 ...

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pp. xi-xii

As I approach my ninetieth year, I may justifiably claim to have seen life. And looking back, I am surprised at how often I have been driven by strong feelings. For example, they led to my collecting big numbers before I started school. There was something about big numbers that fascinated me, and in my innocence I thought that ...

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pp. xiii-xxxi

For many who feel an affinity with life, the Earth, once ever bountiful, is now increasingly checkered with wounds and despair. In the midst of unprecedented economic growth, a general pauperization and homogenization of both culture and nature abound. We are smack in the middle of our planet's sixth great extinction ...

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1. Life Seen as an Open Landscape

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pp. 1-19

Confronting life can be quite brutal. We are flung into it at birth, then flung further in "encounters" that can be everything from the vile to the sublime. There is something fundamentally unjust in the way we are hurled into life. Some people suffer from their first breath to their last, while others seem to float in sublime felicity all the way. ...

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2. How Do You Feel Yourself and the World?

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pp. 20-50

Someone has just come on a visit, bringing mail with him. I found a card from a friend on which was written, "How do you feel yourself and the world?" The question was well put. Today people need to concentrate more on feeling the world. It ought to be natural to ask the question my friend asked. Why not! Because emotions have such a low status ...

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3. On Imagination, Research—and Petty Rationality

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pp. 51-73

If we survey the philosophical landscape, we see an inner relation between what I will now call the philosophy of emotion and the different components of a philosophical conspectus or system—logic, general methodology, cognitive theory, ontology, value theory, descriptive ethics, prescriptive ethics, philosophy of science, political ...

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4. Reason and Feeling Are Interactive

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pp. 74-91

My attitude to Spinoza resembles that which I have toward Gandhi—taking account of both his writings and his life. The stories about Spinoza are just as uplifting in regard to his character as the tales of Gandhi's life. Both inspire confidence because, in part, not only did they produce words, but they acted out their philosophy ...

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5. A Feeling for All Living Beings

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pp. 92-116

During a climb on a difficult section of a mountain, two friends enter into a discussion of the aims and means of the enterprise. Bad weather seems to be threatening. One wants to turn back, the other to continue. ...

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6. How Does Our Emotional Life Mature?

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pp. 117-138

The word maturing is well suited to the subject on which I now want to concentrate. My point of departure lies in situations where I consider my own or someone else's reactions immature. For example: "It was immature to become so angry over something so insignificant" or "It was immature not to react unequivocally against ...

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7. You Can Learn Properly Only What Engages Your Feelings

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pp. 139-159

Norway is a country with a special need for promoting an upbringing and education that benefits emotional maturing. Why? We have great material wealth on account of our natural resources, and we no longer have any great, burning political conflicts. We have unusually rich opportunities to ask what we want to do with our lives. ...

8. The Art of Living: To Do Little Things in a Big Way

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pp. 160-180

E-ISBN-13: 9780820336398
E-ISBN-10: 0820336394
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820324180
Print-ISBN-10: 0820324183

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2002