Self-Realization Beyond the Human: Arne Næss and Norwegian Deep Ecology

This is part of our special feature, Rethinking the Human in a Multispecies World.


At the risk of sounding redundant: The roots of deep ecology in Norway run deep. As the Norwegian philosopher Gunnar Skirbekk has asserted in a publication from 1981 titled “Nasjon og natur, eit essay om den norske veremåten” (“Nation and Nature: An Essay on the Norwegian Way of Being”): “We ourselves are small and vulnerable, and we must understand that we do not stand outside of nature as all-powerful engineers, but that we belong to nature, as a part of the whole. … [Norway is a] state that to a great degree builds its national identity on nature” (ctd. in Reed and Rothenberg 1993, 6). Even the literary superstar Karl Ove Knausgård, who tends to dismiss nature as a cultural “cliché” and a phenomenon irrelevant to his artistic existence (see 2015, 68, 417), experienced a kind of epiphany when he moved to northern Norway after high school. Here he was overwhelmed by the elemental force of this alien environment, which clashed with the more subdued natural setting of his childhood spent in southern locales like Tromøya and Kristiansand. As he further remarks in book four of the now classic, yet still controversial, Min kamp (My Struggle), published between 2009 and 2011:

Beyond the last house the mountain soared straight up. There was no intermediate stage, which I was used to where I had grown up, those diffuse, hard-to-define places, which were neither private property nor open nature. This was real nature, and not the low, gentle Sørland type of nature but wild, harsh, windswept Arctic nature, which confronted you as soon as you opened the door (2015, 34–35).

Here, Knausgård problematizes the basic schism between nature and culture, the human and nonhuman. Though he can hardly be considered a spokesman for the natural world, which generally looms large in Norwegian literature––even in the work of more cosmopolitan writers like the nineteenth-century playwright Henrik Ibsen and the contemporary mystery-master Jo Nesbø––he serves as living testimony that the sheer presence of nature in Norway simply cannot be ignored. Including by someone who would otherwise disavow it.

If Ibsen, Nesbø, Knausgård, and the deeply nature-oriented Knut Hamsun rank among the top literary luminaries of Norway, Arne Næss (1912–2009) is surely the most renowned philosopher to have emerged from this Nordic nation. In 1939, at the age of twenty-seven, he became the country’s youngest professor––and, in fact, the only one employed in the discipline of philosophy at the time––and would go on to publish profusely for the next seventy years of his über-active intellectual as well as outdoor life. Though his publications would range widely in terms of philosophical subjects, his initial focus on empirical semantics and argumentation theory eventually developed into a sustained engagement with environmental ethics. More specifically, he is credited with launching the movement of deep ecology, a term that he coined somewhat unwittingly in 1973. However, the roots of this nature ethic run much “deeper” in the Norwegian cultural imaginary; its documented traces can be found in such diverse discursive realms as literature, painting, mountaineering, and polar exploration. On a broader popular––in the literal sense of “belonging to the people”––level, the outdoorsy lifestyle fostered by the untranslatable hyttekultur (the Norwegian custom of retreating to rented or privately owned huts) has perhaps contributed more to the ethos of deep ecology than the arctic exploits and artistic endeavors of national icons like Fridtjof Nansen, Roald Amundsen, Ibsen, and Hamsun. To Næss’s credit, he continually tweaked his idea of deep ecology, which soon devolved into a catchy and even catchall concept, one that risked becoming philosophically naïve, romantically panpsychic, and––despite its best intentions––inextricably anthropocentric. Rather than discussing deep ecology in this generalized and, at times, amorphous sense, this article remains in more immanent fealty to Næss’s philosophical theories and their relation to distinctive Norwegian cultural traditions and environmental practices. These range from, and, in effect, build on one another in logical progression: ecosophy, self-identification or self-realization, friluftsliv (life in the open air), and allemannsrett or allemannsferdselsrett (everyman’s law or everyman’s travel law). From a more overarching supra-national standpoint, the conceptions of re-inhabitation and bioregionalism are also intimately connected to deep ecology; indeed, they can be considered its inevitable consequences.

Næss’s 1973 seminal article “The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movements: A Summary” distinguishes “shallow” ecology as an anthropocentric view that ascribes only instrumental value to nature from “deep” ecology, an attitude that recognizes the intrinsic worth of all living beings and regards humans as but one of many strands in the intricate fabric of life. He often summarizes this holistic ethic as “biospheric(al) egalitarianism.” Throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, even right up to his death in 2009, Næss revisited and refined his fundamental notion of deep ecology, elaborating an array of theories, rubrics, and models to illustrate his core environmental-ethical vision. His “eight-point platform,” formulated together with George Sessions in 1984 while the two were camping in Death Valley, California, offers a convenient overview of deep-ecological principles. It runs as follows:

  1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman Life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: intrinsic value, inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.
  2. Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves.
  3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs.
  4. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.
  5. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.
  6. Policies must therefore be changed. These policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.
  7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent value) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great.
  8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to try to implement the necessary changes.

(Devall and Sessions 1985, 70; Drengson and Inoue 1995, 49–50)[1]

The upshot of this eco-manifesto is that the traditional partitions between human life and nonhuman life-forms should be erased, so that all living beings can prosper to the greatest extent possible. Furthermore, it is incumbent upon humanity to create the necessary nonutilitarian (infra)structures to help bridge the gap between these two ostensibly separate but ultimately interdependent ontological realms: the human and the nonhuman. In other words, taking up Næss’s original terminology from over a decade earlier: long-term biocentric “deep” thinking must prevail over the longstanding “shallow” and anthropocentric-myopic mindset.

Over the years, Næss preferred to employ the term “ecosophy” over “deep ecology,” the latter of which was sometimes faulted for possessing a certain open signification; more specifically, for lacking a coherent theory or advocating an effective practice.

Deep ecology can mean everything and yet nothing. As one critic has summarized the problem: “Indeed, deep ecology has not just been rapidly converted (in part through overuse) into a conceptual bog, but is well on its way to becoming all things to all interested parties” (Sylvan 1985, 2). Næss himself has expressed similar concerns in this regard: “Is there a definite general philosophy of deep ecology, or at least a kind of philosophy? Or is it essentially a movement with exasperatingly vague outlines?” (Næss 2008b, 105). In recent years, more extreme posthumanist camps have modified or outright rejected deep ecology. The American ecophilosopher David Abram, for instance, proposes the corrective term “depth ecology,” which replaces the shallow vs. deep binary with a flat vs. deep model. That is, it contrasts “a detached way of seeing that looks at nature from outside” vs. “an embedded way of seeing (and feeling) that gazes into the depths of a nature that encompasses and permeates us” (Abram 2014, 103). According to the more radical position of Bruno Latour, whether implicitly in We Have Never Been Modern or more plainly in Politics of Nature (see 2004, esp. 26–29), deep ecology never truly transcends modernism, since it is unable to free itself from the entrenched dualisms of nature and culture, object and subject, matter and spirit, and other dichotomous human-fashioned constructs.

Again, Næss himself never failed to revisit and revise his foundational concept of deep ecology. His environmental philosophy is more strictly known as “ecosophy,” which can be defined as “one’s own personal code of values and a view of the [natural] world which guides one’s decisions” (Næss 1990, 36). It is furthermore tied to Næss’s central notion of “identification” whereby the narrow self or ego yields to the comprehensive (and capitalized) Self, which includes, if not encompasses, the nonhuman domain of nature. According to his more precise definition: “Identification is a spontaneous, non-rational, but not irrational, process through which the interest or interests of another being are reacted to as our own interest or interests” (1988, 261). In alternative terms, the individual should not engage in an anthropocentric “ego-trip,” but rather strive to cultivate the biocentric “ecological self” (see 2008c). Self-identification or the synonymous Self-realization thus mean, for Næss, a broader experience of oneness with nature in all its (bio)diversity. Here he remains adamant in distinguishing his philosophy from mysticism, which stresses the dissolution of the individual self into a non-diversified supreme (read: divine) whole. On the other hand, as evidenced in his teachings and writings, he often draws on (Mahatma) Gandhi’s idea of self-realization (maha-ātman) and Spinoza’s monistic ontology of Deus sive Natura for the theoretical underpinnings of his ecosophy. He thus insists on a critical, and indeed reciprocal, balance between subjective individuality and objective diversity such that the Self continually crosses boundaries between the human and nonhuman but does not fully dissipate in either (the basis of Latour’s critique is obvious here). Ecosophy thus implies an “identification so deep that one’s own self is no longer adequately delimited by the personal ego or the organism. One experiences oneself to be a genuine part of all life. Each living being is understood as a goal in itself, in principle on an equal footing with one’s own ego. It also entails a transition from I-it attitudes to I-thou attitudes––to use [Martin] Buber’s terminology” (1990, 174). But this kind of bio-equality means nothing in the philosophical abstract (e.g., “in principle”), whether filtered through Gandhi, Spinoza, or here Buber. In a paper reminiscent of the more scientific-inflected writings of Aldo Leopold, “Self-Realization in Mixed Communities of Humans, Bears, Sheep, and Wolves,” Næss discusses the “maximal realization of potentials among the maximal diversity of life-forms” (my paraphrase) in an explicitly Norwegian environmental context. In more conventional terms, he grapples with the problem of human-fauna coexistence or “species egalitarianism” (1979, 240) from a complex of perspectives, including philosophical, ecological, and governmental. A further takeaway from this article is that one’s ecosophy must be more narrowly defined by one’s own compass of inhabitation, by the physical space or geographical place to which one belongs––whether philosophically, ethically, or ecologically. In a word: bioregionally. Thus, we all have our own particular “Ecosophy X,” whereby X designates our specific bioregional home or personalized sense of belonging. Or what might best be called our “deep-dwelling.”

Næss labeled his ecosophy “Ecosophy T,” based on his preferred abode of Tvergastein, which is the name he bestowed on his mountain cabin situated on a high plateau within the present-day national park of Hallingskarvet (established in 2006) in southwest Norway. The word “Tvergastein” (a compound noun meaning “crossed stones”) derives from the regional dialect for the angled quartz crystals found in this most ancient geological terrain of Scandinavia, and, more proximately, in a tarn right behind Næss’s hut. Tvergastein, which lies at just over 1,500 meters and a good three-hour trek from the nearest town (Ustaoset, located halfway between Oslo and Bergen), is Norway’s highest privately owned dwelling. Næss commissioned its construction in 1938 and eventually expanded it from an eight-by-five-meter shelter to a 100-square-meter lodge, albeit a modest one lacking such amenities as electricity and running water. As if this simplicity and inaccessibility were not enough, Næss built, with his own hands, a three-by-three-meter refuge some 200 meters higher up on the crags of the Hallingskarvet massif, which he dubbed “Skarveredet” (roughly meaning “a nest” in a mountain “notch”). By his own admission, this bivouac-like sanctuary gave him “‘the feeling[s] of being on the very brink of the abyss’ and ‘of a raven perched on the cliff for long periods’” (ctd. in Langlais 1995, 201). Tvergastein can thus be considered Norwegian hyttekultur taken to the environmental and existential extreme. It afforded Næss “a simple lifestyle with maximum self-reliance” (2008a, 54), a bioregional niche where he could cultivate the following philosophical ideals: “unruffledness, equanimity, austerity, distance, aloofness, nonviolence, diversity, egalitarianism” (2008a, 55). Though professionally bound to the University of Oslo, Næss spent as much time as possible at Tvergastein. In fact, he scheduled his lectures from Tuesday to Wednesday afternoon, whereupon he would take the evening train to Ustaoset, hike or ski up to his hut, and then return to Oslo the following Tuesday morning for another two packed days of classes and other academic obligations. In this fashion, he avoided getting caught up in a staid academic routine, instead expanding his philosophical horizons and deepening his ecosophical roots high up on a barren mountain plateau otherwise devoid of human habitation.[2] Indeed, his (Self-)identification with this austere landscape would become so profound that he seriously considered changing his surname from Næss to Tvergastein (see Drengson 2008, 38).

If “Ecosophy T” still comes across as overly abstract or conceptually vague, it can be further concretized in the practice of friluftsliv, which Næss extols as an ethically and ecologically responsible “way of life in free nature that is highly efficient in stimulating the sense of oneness, wholeness and in deepening identification” (1990: 177). Friluftsliv has a storied tradition in Norway and is the subject of countless popular as well as scholarly books and articles.[3] This composite word (fri = free, luft = air, liv = life) was coined by none other than Ibsen, in an epic poem from 1859 that bears the title “Paa vidderne,” which is usually rendered as “On the Heights.” A vidde (literally: “width”) is a distinctive feature of the Norwegian landscape, namely an expansive highland plateau that lies above treeline but that does not resemble the vast glaciated tracts of more northern and maritime mountain ranges. In other words: it corresponds to the topography of Tvergastein. Some sixty years in the wake of Ibsen’s poem, the arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen held a now famous speech, simply called Friluftsliv, to the youth section of the Norwegian Hiking Association (Den Norske Turistforening). This 1921 discourse solidified the term friluftsliv in both the Norwegian language and mentality. Nansen’s simple, no-nonsense definition reads as follows: friluftsliv means “getting away from the crowd, the perpetual chase, the confusing noise, whither our lives are all too often led––getting out into nature, out into the great open” (see 1922, 3; 199; my translation). Since then, numerous others have reflected and expounded on this notion, which Næss himself views as a veritable “route towards paradigm change” (1990, 178). That is, as the perfect platform for both an environmentally ethical vita activa and contemplativa.

As Næss’s fellow deep ecologist and climbing companion Nils Faarlund has declared: “Friluftsliv is one of the warmest words in Norwegian––even warmer than love” (1993, 172). According to Faarlund, friluftsliv is both a way of life and a way of thinking that seeks to restore our (lost) sense of home in the wake of modernization and mass culture. It is an undeniably nostalgic sentiment, one that originated during the mid-nineteenth-century cultural movement known as “Norwegian romantic nationalism.” It should therefore not be construed as a term that solely applies to “modern” trends such as outdoor recreation or environmental education. That is, it should not be subsumed under sport or (eco)-tourism and it does not require fancy hiking apparel or expensive climbing gear. Nor does it presume that one seek out remote wilderness or set foot on lofty summits; local landscapes fully suffice for one’s simple and sincere effort to (re)connect with nature and (re)experience a kind of deep-ecological homecoming. In alternative terms, Faarlund makes a case for re-inhabitation and bioregionalism, which are two important outcomes, or better yet offshoots, of deep ecology, even if their origins are more American––and more narrowly, Californian––than Norwegian (Peter Berg, Raymond Dasmann, and Gary Snyder are prominent exponents of these posthuman modes of dwelling dating back to the 1970s.) Nevertheless, in a similar biocentric vein, Faarlund’s tellingly titled essay “A Way Home” argues that friluftsliv involves “an unselfish ‘I-Thou’ relationship” (recall Næss’s earlier deference to Buber’s interactive dyad) that recreates “nature-consonant lifestyles” amidst “the anthropocentrism of a nature-dissonant society” (1993, 164). Furthermore, friluftsliv does not just operate as an individual outlook or activity. More widely, “it evokes a national identity, a sense of really ‘belonging’ to the land” (ibid.)––whether the local Norwegian landscape or the greater homeland of Norway itself.

In actual fact, friluftsliv has become legally codified on a national level in the (nearly isomorphic) friluftslov or, as it is officially called: Lov om friluftslivet (“law regarding the free-air-life”).[4] In more informal parlance, this governmental decree is known as allemannsrett or allemannsferdselsrett, a kind of Outdoor Recreation Act or “everyman’s law” that was passed by parliament in 1957 but harks back to “commoner’s rights” and “rights to roam” that have long existed in much of central and northern Europe. According to this ruling, people have the legal right to exercise their environmental-ethical creed, more specifically to engage in outdoor activities––whether camping, hiking, climbing, canoeing, Nordic skiing––regardless of prevailing boundaries between public land and private property. Granted, some technical rules apply to this nationally sanctioned ethos of life in the open air. For instance, one must pitch one’s tent at least 150 meters from privately owned structures and can only remain at a given site for up to two days (whereby certain overused areas on the coast and in the mountains are off limits in terms of open camping). Furthermore, Norway has promoted friluftsliv in numerous ways, whether societal, educational, or recreational. Some basic facts about the country already work in favor of this lifestyle: natural spaces are more plentiful and more proximate to a greater percentage of people’s doorsteps than, say, in the United States, Canada, or elsewhere in Europe; diverse means of public transportation can convey open-air enthusiasts to the woods, mountains, and fjords both efficiently and affordably; Norwegians have more free time at their disposal than perhaps any other citizenry (they work an average of 1,342 hours per year as opposed to 1,815 hours in the United States, 1,778 hours in Canada, and 1,581 hours in neighboring Sweden). Furthermore, an extensive network of hostels and campgrounds, many of which are open year-round, enable longer sojourns in the outdoors. In more out-of-the-way areas, the DNT (Den Norske Turistforening) has established a vast infrastructure of marked trails, serviced huts, and organized trips for the benefit of hikers and skiers throughout the year. Youth pedagogy also plays a key role in inculcating an environmental consciousness. Schoolchildren are exposed to the “free air” from an early age, for instance through outdoor recess after every indoor class period and week-long vacations qua nature excursions during the fall, winter, and spring.[5]

Thus, friluftsliv is both a philosophical ideal and a practical mode of existence, both of which are oriented toward a “more-than-human world” (Gelter 2000, 83, 90). In many ways, this Norwegian, and to some extent, broader Scandinavian phenomenon[6] crystalizes deep-ecological thinking, offering a physical field of activity and ethical pattern of conduct for the realization of the Self that Næss postulates as the core of his Spinozan-Gandhian-inspired ecosophy. But Næss was far more than a professional and prolific philosopher; he also pioneered rock-climbing routes in Norway, took part in three Himalayan mountaineering expeditions, and generally spent as much time as possible in the “open air,” even going to great lengths to calculate the number of days he spent at Tvergastein. In 1993, he celebrated his 4,015th day (an exact total of eleven years) at the hut and by the time of his death in 2009 he had abided there for thirteen years overall (see Gjefsen 2012, 332, 371). In accordance with his predilection for the outdoor life in all its plenitude, Næss also published articles on such philosophical-environmental topics as “Climbing and the Deep Ecology Movement” and “Metaphysics of the Treeline” (see 2005a and 1995b). In the end, the example of his thinking and dwelling, carried out under the mantra of deep ecology, seamlessly mesh with the admixture of environmental ethics, bioregional practices, and governmental policies embraced under the mantle of Norwegian friluftsliv. In Næss’s own summative words with respect to both his philosophy and his country:


Has Norway anything to tell the world––something that is more or less specific for Norway and that should be appreciated by the world––before our little nation disappears, becomes just a tiny province among societies of the future superclass? I don’t know anything other than the classic Norwegian friluftsliv: free-air-life. Norwegians walk, run, creep into nature to get rid of whatever represses them and contaminates the air, not only the atmosphere. They don’t talk about going out, but in and into nature. There they find themselves, who they are, what they stand for. And then they come back more whole, more sure of themselves, more ready to face the problems that will inevitably confront them in cities, towns, even in their old local communities.

(Næss 1994, 15; 2005b, 38)


Sean Ireton is Associate Professor of German in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of Missouri. His areas of research embrace modern philosophy and comparative literature with a special focus on existentialism and environmentalism.




Abram, David. 2014. “On Depth Ecology.” The Trumpeter 30 (2): 101–4.

Devall, Bill, and George Sessions, eds. 1985. Deep Ecology. Living As If Nature Mattered. Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith.

Drengson, Alan. 2008. “The Life and Work of Arne Næss: An Appreciative Overview.” In Drengson and Devall 2008, 3–41.

Drengson, Alan, and Bill Devall, eds. 2008. The Ecology of Wisdom: Writings by Arne Næss. Berkeley: Counterpoint.

Drengson, Alan, and Yuichi Inoue, eds. 1995. The Deep Ecology Movement: An Introductory Anthology. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.

Faarlund, Nils. 1993. “A Way Home.” In Reed and Rothenberg 1993, 157-69.

––––––. 1993. “Touch the Earth: A Conversation with Nils Faarlund.” In Reed and Rothenberg 1993, 169–75.

Gelter, Hans. 2000. “Friluftsliv: The Scandinavian Philosophy of Outdoor Life.” Canadian Journal of Environmental Education 5 (Summer): 77–92.

Gjefsen, Truls. 2012. Arne Næss: Et Liv. Oslo: Cappelen Damm.

Gurholt, Kirsti Pedersen. 2008. “Norwegian friluftsliv and Ideals of Becoming an ‘Educated Man.’” Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning 8 (1): 55–70.

Knausgaard (Knausgård), Karl Ove. 2015. My Struggle. Book Four. Translated by Don Bartlett. Brooklyn: Archipelago Books.

Langlais, Richard. 1995. “Living in the World: Mountain Humility, Great Humility.” In Sessions 1995, 195–203.

Latour, Bruno. 1993. We Have Never Been Modern. Translated by Catherine Porter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

––––––. 2004. Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy. Translated by Catherine Porter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

“Lov om friluftslivet (friluftsloven).” Lovdata: (Accessed June 5, 2021)

Nansen, Fridtjof. 1922. “Friluftsliv: Tale på Den Norske Turistforenings møde for skoleungdommen, juni, 1921.” Den norske turistforenings aarbok, 3-5. Kristiana: Grøndahl & Søn. Reprinted in 1978. Friluftsliv fra Fridtjof Nansen til våre dager, edited by Gunnar Breivik and Haakon Løvmo, 199–200. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

Næss, Arne. 1979. “Self-Realization in Mixed Communities of Humans, Bears, Sheep, and Wolves.” Inquiry 22: 231–41.

––––––. 1988. “Identification as a Source of Deep Ecological Attitudes.” In Deep Ecology, edited by Michael Tobias, 256–70. Revised second printing [1984]. San Marcos, CA: Avant Books.

––––––. 1990. Ecology, Community and Lifestyle: Outline of an Ecosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

––––––. 1994. “The Norwegian Roots of Deep Ecology.” In Nature: The True Home of Culture, edited by Børge Dahle, 15–18. Oslo: Norges Idrettshøgskole. Reprinted in 2005b. The Trumpeter 21 (2): 38–41.

––––––. 1995a. Det gode lange livs far: Hallingskarvet sett fra Tvergastein. Oslo: N.W. Damm & Søn.

––––––. 1995b. “Metaphysics of the Treeline.” In Sessions 1995, 246–48.

––––––. 1995c. “The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movements: A Summary.” In Drengson and Inoue 1995, 3–9.

––––––. 2005a. “Climbing and the Deep Ecology Movement.” The Trumpeter 21 (2): 57–60.

––––––. 2005b. “The Norwegian Roots of Deep Ecology.” The Trumpeter 21 (2): 38–41.

––––––. 2008a. “An Example of a Place: Tvergastein.” In Drengson and Devall 2008, 45–64.

––––––. 2008b. “The Basics of the Deep Ecology Movement.” In Drengson and Devall 2008, 105–19.

–––––– . 2008c. “Self-Realization: An Ecological Approach to Being in the World.” In Drengson and Devall 2008, 81–96; Drengson and Inoue 1995, 13–30; Sessions 1995, 225–239.

Næss, Arne, and George Sessions. 1985. “Platform Principles of the Deep Ecology Movement.” In Devall and Sessions 1985, 69–73. Reprinted in Drengson and Inoue 1995, 49–53.

Reed, Peter, and David Rothenberg, eds. 1993. Wisdom in the Open Air; The Norwegian Roots of Deep Ecology. Minneapolis/London: University of Minneapolis Press.

Sessions, George, ed. 1995. Deep Ecology for the 21st Century: Readings on the Philosophy and Practice of the New Environmentalism. Boston: Shambhala.

Sylvan, Richard. 1985. “A Critique of Deep Ecology.” Radical Philosophy 40: 2–12.

Vikander, Nils. 2007. “Feet on Two Continents: Spanning the Atlantic with Friluftsliv?” In Nature First: Outdoor Life the Friluftsliv Way, edited by Bob Henderson and Nils Vikander, 8–20. Toronto: Natural Heritage Books.

[1] For a slightly different version of these eight platform principles, as reformulated later without Sessions, see Næss 1990: 29; 2008b: 111–12.

[2] For these biographical details related to Tvergastein, I am indebted to Gjefsen 2012: esp. 93, 121–22; and Næss 1995a. This latter source is an illuminating and at times stunning mix of autobiography, philosophy, and photography (courtesy of Johan Brun) revolving around Tvergastein and its mountainous environs.

[3] For perhaps the best overview of this cultural phenomenon written in English, and one that moreover reflects on the issue of gender, see Gurholt 2008.

[4] For the precise details and wording of this law, see the Norwegian governmental Lovdata webpage:

[5] For much of the above information, I am indebted to Vikander (2007), who goes into greater detail regarding Norwegian free-air pedagogy on various levels, ranging from preschool to the (usually) post-secondary Folkehøgskole.

[6] On some differences between Norwegian and Danish-Swedish notions of friluftsliv, see Faarlund 1993: esp. 163–64.



Photo: Signs of the Norwegian Trekking Association (Den norske turistforening, DNT) on the path to Gaustatoppen mountain (Norway) | Shutterstock


Published on November 9, 2021


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