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Expropriating Nature: The Decoding of Deep Ecology

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image of Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

In this essay, I suggest that Nina Witoszek's semiotic dismantling of Arne Næss' philosophy of deep ecology is more than just an effort to situate Næss within the tradition of his native culture. Her sociological method, perhaps unwittingly, is hostile to the phenomenological possibility of what Næss calls "spontaneous experience". Because the "decoding" of deep ecology takes place in the context of a sign-functional nexus, deep ecology's most valuable asset, the possibility for intimate experience and identification with nature, becomes expropriated within the system of signs. In other words, the cerebral and theoretical force of semiotic analysis may block access to the profound understanding of nature to which Næss' philosophy is dedicated.

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