Beneath the Surface

Beneath the Surface

Critical Essays in the Philosophy of Deep Ecology

Edited by Eric Katz, Andrew Light and David Rothenberg





The philosophy of deep ecology originated in the 1970s with the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess and has since spread around the world. Its basic premises are a belief in the intrinsic value of nonhuman nature, a belief that ecological principles should dictate human actions and moral evaluations, an emphasis on noninterference into natural processes, and a critique of materialism and technological progress. This book approaches deep ecology as a philosophy, not as a political, social, or environmental movement. In part I, the authors compare deep ecology's philosophical ideas with other positions and debates in environmental philosophy and to other schools of thought such as social ecology, ecofeminism, and moral pluralism. In part II, they investigate the connections between deep ecology and other contemporary world views, such as continental philosophy, postmodernism, and non-Western philosophical traditions. The first anthology on deep ecology that is not primarily the work of the movement's followers, Beneath the Surface offers a rigorous assessment of deep ecology's strengths and weaknesses as a philosophical position.

ContributorsJohn Clark, Deane Curtin, Arran Gare, William Grey, Mathew Humphrey, Knut Jacobsen, Eric Katz, Andrew Light, Jonathan Maskit, Val Plumwood, David Rothenberg, Ariel Salleh, Bron Taylor, Michael Zimmerman


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262112529 352 pp. | 6 in x 8.9 in


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262611497 352 pp. | 6 in x 8.9 in


Eric Katz

Andrew Light

Andrew Light is Director of the Center for Global Ethics at George Mason University and Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

David Rothenberg

Musician and philosopher David Rothenberg is the author of Why Birds Sing, Bug Music, Survival of the Beautiful, and many other books, published in at least eleven languages. His more than twenty CDs include One Dark Night I Left My Silent House and, most recently, Berlin Bülbul and Cool Spring. He has performed or recorded with Pauline Oliveros, Peter Gabriel, Scanner, Elliott Sharp, and Suzanne Vega. Nightingales in Berlin is his latest book, CD, and film. A 2019 Safina Center Fellow, he is Distinguished Professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.


  • This book's essays, by variously questioning, criticizing, elaborating, and defending the philosophical dimensions of Deep Ecology, moves forward the urgent discussion of the conceptual roots of our environmental crisis. It is a valuable contribution to discussions which deepen deep ecology.

    Andrew McLaughlin,

    Herbert H. Lehman College, City University of New York, author of Regarding Nature: Industrialism and Deep Ecology

  • 'Deep' is a positive word. We seldom wish to be shallow, whether scientists or philosophers. But the 'deep ecology movement,' launched a quarter century ago by Arne Naess, has proved as elusive as it has been influential. The question of how 'deep' to be, like the question of how 'green' to be, invites a plurality of responses. This anthology puts the merits and demerits of deep ecology under challenging critical scrutiny, offering the most seminal analysis yet of what is jointly the most promising and the most problematic of environmental philosophies.

    Holmes Rolston, III

    University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Colorado State University

  • This is an excellent collection of essays. I very much welcome the examination of deep ecology by environmentally engaged, but otherwise relatively nonpartisan, critical thinkers.

    Freya Matthews

    School of Philosophy, LaTrobe University

  • Beneath the Surface is a timely collection of essays, motivated by an important aim. The essays raise just the kind of speculative and critical questions that need to be asked and further explored. In the end, how we act depends on how we think. To their credit, the editors recognize this truth and wisely do not abandon philosophic reflection in the face of practical environmental urgency.

    Strachan Donnelley

    Director, Humans and Nature Program, The Hastings Center