Deep Ecology

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Deep Ecology

Postby Three Times Great » Sun Apr 17, 2011 3:23 pm

The deep ecologist does not see evolution as something suicidal, but rather as a form of perpetual enrichment (destined to endure until the sun dies out): the filling of an increasing number of new ecological niches, leading to a greater diversity of forms, races and species, and a greater number of organisms. Evolution is marked more by speciation than by the extinction of species (more by success than failure), adding more and more joy to life.

What the deep ecologist loves is the whole. Therein lies the grandest beauty, wealth, and love. The deep ecologist does not understand the Christian-Humanist love of man, which even at its best only extends to a nation or mankind: this he sees as a form of inbreeding, egotism, masturbation.

What is the position of humanity for the guardian of life? It is that of an interesting, splendid species; for the survival of this species the deep ecologist will fight with all his might. Billions of people, however, represent a threat, not an object of love.

Even to conceive of the development of humanity, as a species, into a seething mass is insane: to approve of it is unthinkable. By his own nature, man is already a large predator that consumes a lot of resources to sustain its vital functions; thus, the only way mankind can inhabit the biosphere is in small numbers. It must also be remembered that the distinguishing characteristic of the human species, self-awareness, calls for limited numbers: among masses of billions, man loses his identity, while his life is deprived of value and meaningfulness.

~a short essay on Deep Ecology, by Pentti Linkola
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby Sean » Sun Apr 17, 2011 10:20 pm

TTG, to what extent do you agree with Linkola?

Three Times Great wrote:The deep ecologist does not see evolution as something suicidal, but rather as a form of perpetual enrichment (destined to endure until the sun dies out): the filling of an increasing number of new ecological niches, leading to a greater diversity of forms, races and species, and a greater number of organisms.


Is Linkola claiming that this is necessarily the trajectory of evolution on earth?

Three Times Great wrote:Evolution is marked more by speciation than by the extinction of species (more by success than failure), adding more and more joy to life.


Is joy a global phenomena or does it make sense to ask, "Whose joy?"

Three Times Great wrote:What the deep ecologist loves is the whole. Therein lies the grandest beauty, wealth, and love. The deep ecologist does not understand the Christian-Humanist love of man, which even at its best only extends to a nation or mankind: this he sees as a form of inbreeding, egotism, masturbation.


So ecology is not human-dependent. We are not talking about adding more and more joy to human life, but to Life. The same goes for beauty, wealth, and love. The idea seems to be that these words, even though we associate them with human activity, have a meaning for the whole lifeworld.

These questions may not be relevant, I'm not sure exactly what Linkola is getting at. Does looking at ecology as a whole entail that ultimately the fate of humans cannot be changed by human actions? Or that the fate of humans is irrelevant to deep ecology?

Or that the impact of humans is not the focus of deep ecology (as it seems to be with straightforward ecology or environmentalism)?

Three Times Great wrote:Even to conceive of the development of humanity, as a species, into a seething mass is insane: to approve of it is unthinkable. By his own nature, man is already a large predator that consumes a lot of resources to sustain its vital functions; thus, the only way mankind can inhabit the biosphere is in small numbers. It must also be remembered that the distinguishing characteristic of the human species, self-awareness, calls for limited numbers: among masses of billions, man loses his identity, while his life is deprived of value and meaningfulness.


But then this sounds kind of suicidal, which would contradict the first point Linkola makes. It seems to be that we should allow weak humans to die. If this is not suicidal, then Linkola is committed to a definition of humanity which is not the total of human beings.

Is Linkola making some kind of policy claim here? That we should encourage birth control or allow AIDS to proliferate in Africa?
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby Three Times Great » Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:19 pm

Sean wrote:TTG, to what extent do you agree with Linkola?


I agree with him completely, given the perspective from which he is coming (the perspective of a biologist and strict conservationist). I only share this perspective partially, however, since I also have perspectives that cannot be eclipsed by biology alone.

Three Times Great wrote:The deep ecologist does not see evolution as something suicidal, but rather as a form of perpetual enrichment (destined to endure until the sun dies out): the filling of an increasing number of new ecological niches, leading to a greater diversity of forms, races and species, and a greater number of organisms.


Is Linkola claiming that this is necessarily the trajectory of evolution on earth?


He is, I think, making a statement about the nature of evolution itself. Linkola exempts man from the equation, not because he thinks man did not evolve, and not because he thinks man is somehow separate from the rest of nature, but because man is no longer subject to strict reproductive selection, and because man is biologically speaking an invasive species that threatens countless millions of other lifeforms in existence.

Three Times Great wrote:Evolution is marked more by speciation than by the extinction of species (more by success than failure), adding more and more joy to life.


Is joy a global phenomena or does it make sense to ask, "Whose joy?"


You'd have to ask him on that one.

I believe he means that life itself is seen as valuable, for its own sake, or essentially so; basically, life is "better" or more valuable than non-life. Sure this implies the question, "To whom?" but I think this question is less important to Linkola. He is a biologist and environmentalist, he sees life generally and as a whole as a beautiful thing. Because of this, he sees man as a grave threat.

Three Times Great wrote:What the deep ecologist loves is the whole. Therein lies the grandest beauty, wealth, and love. The deep ecologist does not understand the Christian-Humanist love of man, which even at its best only extends to a nation or mankind: this he sees as a form of inbreeding, egotism, masturbation.


So ecology is not human-dependent. We are not talking about adding more and more joy to human life, but to Life. The same goes for beauty, wealth, and love. The idea seems to be that these words, even though we associate them with human activity, have a meaning for the whole lifeworld.


No, I do not believe that is his idea. He admits in a different essay that all human values, love, beauty, achievment, these will die out long before all life eventually dies out. And yet life is still seen by him as essentially valuable in its own right, even if no humans exist to value it so. His is a position that places the essential value of life as primary, a given, a thing he accepts and does not feel the need to further philosophically analyze. To the biologist-deep ecologist, life is seen as precious, beautiful and valuable. The task is to attempt to maximize the diversity of this life, across all ecological niches, simply because life is itself something of worth. He is, I believe, making a personal and moral statement, not an epistemic one. He is not strictly speaking a philosopher.

These questions may not be relevant, I'm not sure exactly what Linkola is getting at. Does looking at ecology as a whole entail that ultimately the fate of humans cannot be changed by human actions? Or that the fate of humans is irrelevant to deep ecology?


The question of whether or not the fate of humans can be changed is unanswered at this point, according to him. He thinks this question is still open, but becoming more closed all the time. Basically the hope that humankind will change its ways and learn responsible caretaking of our world grows dimmer and dimmer with time.

As he notes, the fate of humans is a concern to the deep ecologist, just as is the fate of all species, animal or plant. But the deep ecologist does not prize or value man any more than any other species. Man is an animal that by virtue of its size and brain capacity will necessarily end up eradicating other species, using vast resources, and the deep ecologist understands this. The deep ecologist does not want to exterminate man, only reign in human growth and economic progress to a sustainable and responsible level.

Linkola is openly happy about ideas like faminine, war, plague and disease as ways of reducing human populations, for the sake of the entire biosphere. This is not because he hates humanity, it is because he looks at humanity and the whole of the biosphere in the same objective sense, of the biologist, and humans are no more prized than any other species. When a species becomes overpopulated and chokes the life around itself, this is seen as detrimental, from the perspective of the biologist. Ecological harmony and the maximization of diversity of species and organisms is the primary value in this paradigm, I think.

Or that the impact of humans is not the focus of deep ecology (as it seems to be with straightforward ecology or environmentalism)?


It is indeed a focus of deep ecology, but it is not the focus.

Linkola considers most environmentalism a sham, for show, pretentious or ineffective, even though he admits it is good that people and governments are starting to wake up to these ideas more and more.

Three Times Great wrote:Even to conceive of the development of humanity, as a species, into a seething mass is insane: to approve of it is unthinkable. By his own nature, man is already a large predator that consumes a lot of resources to sustain its vital functions; thus, the only way mankind can inhabit the biosphere is in small numbers. It must also be remembered that the distinguishing characteristic of the human species, self-awareness, calls for limited numbers: among masses of billions, man loses his identity, while his life is deprived of value and meaningfulness.


But then this sounds kind of suicidal, which would contradict the first point Linkola makes. It seems to be that we should allow weak humans to die. If this is not suicidal, then Linkola is committed to a definition of humanity which is not the total of human beings.


He openly admits nations should put restrictions on procreation, that quality of offspring should be a concern. He once said the UN ought to viciously attack all major cities with missile strikes or nuclear weapons in order to drastically reduce global populations; he would then have the UN forcibly relocate everyone into local communities that can be self-sufficient. He would plant trees and vegetation wherever there is paved roads and modern buildings currently. And he would severely restrict the level of technological progress, confiscating almost all cars and having people use mass transit when needed.

You can see he is serious about his perspective as a biologist. Many people would (and do) see his ideas as "evil", scary, fascist, whatever; really, his is an interesting position because it is none of these, it is merely the way a strict biologist and conservationist would rationally look at the state of affairs today in the world. Man is an animal that is choking life out everywhere on the planet, forcing the extinction of species at a rate of about 500,000 a year.

Is Linkola making some kind of policy claim here? That we should encourage birth control or allow AIDS to proliferate in Africa?


He thinks China has it right with its birth policy. He thinks we need a new world war or new global deseases to reduce human populations, yes. Remember, his is the perspective of a biologist and strict conservationist only, he has no less love for a bird or fish or plant than he does for mankind.
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby Azathoth » Mon Apr 18, 2011 11:09 pm

On what grounds is it established that billions of human beings are more a threat than billions of trees, billions of dust mites, billions of rodents, billions of avians, billions of thousands of species of insect? Is that "fact" established at all, or is the thinking of this "deep ecologist" as discriminatory AGAINST humanity as he accuses others of being FOR humanity?

Certainly mankind, like all other species from a holistic perspective, has its place in nature granted by powers far beyond ourselves. Is it any more a necessity for us to cull the human herd than it is to cull the deer to prevent their overpopulation, or log huge swaths of trees to prevent forest fires from burning whole regions?

The deep ecologist claims to bear a deep love of the whole, but does not trust in the forces which constitute that whole to make its own face what it will and instead autonomously determines that too many of a certain species is a "threat" to the whole. Does the deep ecologist then envisage the "whole" as a dependent entity to himself and in need of his intervention and protection?

I'm sorry to be confrontational, but my time is short right now. It seems very hypocritical to me to laud the a priori wisdom of natural law then turn and label an element of nature a danger to nature. Man is as our nature makes us. Our form and function is determined by physical law. Surely any ecologist - deep or shallow (which is certainly the implication of the OP, that any ecologist who does not conform to the stated perspectives is not deep, but rather somewhat more shallow) - who doesn't regard humanity as separate or intrinsically other from the rest of existence (and thereby engage in exactly the egocentric bias the OP derides as "masturbation") can appreciate that.
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby Three Times Great » Tue Apr 19, 2011 1:21 am

Azathoth wrote:On what grounds is it established that billions of human beings are more a threat than billions of trees, billions of dust mites, billions of rodents, billions of avians, billions of thousands of species of insect?


Do trees force the extinction of half a million species of animal and plant every year? Do dust mites burn fossil fuels and create global warming? Do rodents and avians cause erosion and desertification and the destruction of the world's rainforests?

Is that "fact" established at all, or is the thinking of this "deep ecologist" as discriminatory AGAINST humanity as he accuses others of being FOR humanity?


It is fair to say that he would "discriminate" against any species that becomes overly dominant in an out of control manner, that is out of balance with its environmental niche. For example, he takes a similar position on cats, at least domesticated ones in his home country of Finland. According to him at least, they are grossly overpopulated, they kill disproportionate numbers of birds and small animals. I think his main problem is that humans create conditions which are opposed to those found in nature, where regular natural cycles of balances regulate species population numbers and growth. Of course in nature species overpopulate and wreak their own havoc from time to time, but on nowhere near the extent that man does.

I believe that Linkola's position toward man is roughly equivalent to the position against asian carp, if you are familiar with the issue. Foreign invasive species are brought to a new, unnatural environment that did not evolve to include them, and as a result they cause severe damage to that local environment, which is not equipped to fit them into its ecological "equation". Of course, given enough time, asian carp will eat all their food supply and depopulate naturally, but not until much of the natural life and species in that locale have been wiped out. To the biologist, this loss of diversity of life is a tragedy, even though the biologist still recognizes that ultimately, in the end, life will repopulate itself again.

Certainly mankind, like all other species from a holistic perspective, has its place in nature granted by powers far beyond ourselves.


I do not believe that. I do not believe there are any "powers beyond ourselves" that "grant" us anything. I think that the average biologist would agree with me. Life is just life, evolved organisms. We consider life valuable, intrinsically so, despite that if no humans exist the notion of "value" of course no longer exists. But, as long as we are here, we are able to see and appreciate the beauty and value of life, even if non-conscious life itself is unable to do this.

Is it any more a necessity for us to cull the human herd than it is to cull the deer to prevent their overpopulation, or log huge swaths of trees to prevent forest fires from burning whole regions?


Yes those "cullings" are necessary also, but perhaps not such a pressing necessity in terms of overall ecological preservation as the need to cull the global human population.

The deep ecologist claims to bear a deep love of the whole, but does not trust in the forces which constitute that whole to make its own face what it will and instead autonomously determines that too many of a certain species is a "threat" to the whole. Does the deep ecologist then envisage the "whole" as a dependent entity to himself and in need of his intervention and protection?


In a sense, yes. We humans are in a privileged position by virtue of our self-awareness, we can act to preserve or destroy other life. If life and the diversity of life is seen as of value, then the moral imperative exists to at least as best as possible attempt at the preservation of life, and attempt to stop its destruction. Of course, if you do not personally agree that life is valuable, then you will have no agreement with this perspective.

I'm sorry to be confrontational, but my time is short right now.


Not at all, I thoroughly appreciate the critical views you offer. I was hoping to encounter some resistance to Pentti Linkola's ideas on deep ecology and conservation, if only to test these ideas further.

It seems very hypocritical to me to laud the a priori wisdom of natural law then turn and label an element of nature a danger to nature. Man is as our nature makes us. Our form and function is determined by physical law.


This is true, however, the biologist acknowledges that humans are qualitatively different and highly superior to other species, in terms of survivability. As with asian carp or any other species in this situation, this oversurvivability poses a risk to other species and the environment as a whole. I think the real difference is in the fact that man, with his technology, actually possesses the potential to permanently alter the biosphere, in drastic ways. This is something that no other species, no matter how overadapted and survivable, can claim.

I think it is important to understand that deep ecology, at least as presented here, is a moral position, an ethic based on (attempting to) view the world/life from a certain (naturalistic/biological/objective) perspective.

Surely any ecologist - deep or shallow (which is certainly the implication of the OP, that any ecologist who does not conform to the stated perspectives is not deep, but rather somewhat more shallow)


Yes indeed that is the intended implication.

- who doesn't regard humanity as separate or intrinsically other from the rest of existence (and thereby engage in exactly the egocentric bias the OP derides as "masturbation") can appreciate that.


Man is not seen as separate from the rest of existence, but really, over and above it, connected to it but in a position to dominate it tremendously. The power that humans have at their disposal is a call to equally great responsibility over this precious world and all the wonderful life that exists in it and is ultimately, in a very real sense, often dependent on us. Deep ecology is a sort of extreme call to moral responsibility. At least that is how I see it.
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby Azathoth » Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:58 am

All life forms produce waste byproducts. We call ours "pollution". O2 is a waste byproduct. So is CO2. Value is subjective. There have been many mass-extinctions in the past due to climate change and larger events. If those had been averted evolution would have taken a different course. Our impact on the environment is causing a period of mass extinction. Because of this evolution will take a different course. But humanity is not outside of nature any more than a comet impact bringing mass extinction would be. The extinctions we wreak are no more avoidable than a comet impact, and no more good or evil than that either. Every species extant is new in relation to older ones and is a foreign invasive species in its own right. Every plant, animal and micro-organism. That is the ebb and flow of change. Things change in time. Eventually change will leave us behind, and we will likely be party to that change. This is purely natural. We do not have any power beyond that with which we were endowed by nature, unless this "deep ecology" is premised on the existence of forces, beings, mechanisms or other things which are "outside of" nature, in which case I would question its being called "ecology", as ecology refers to empirical science, not prescriptive social policy theory or theories about things outside the purview of natural science.

You say that "life is just life" but contradict that by saying human life is somehow different. Not "just life" then? Saying that "humans create conditions opposed to those found in nature" is, to my mind, saying that humans are not part of nature. This is the very apex of egotism, whether it's placing mankind above or below the rest of the whole. What happened to the whole? I am very dubious of any theory claiming that we as a group are superior or inferior to any other part of the whole based on subjective self-valuation of our own capacities. My assessment of Linkola's theory is that it's fundamentally premised in ego and a deeply-rooted sense of superiority.

By powers beyond ourselves I mean "gravity," "thermodynamics," and the physics and chemistry that drive the entire natural world including every thought in my mind and every action those thoughts compel my muscles to undertake. The powers which our theories and laws attempt to describe. These powers determine our existence. You do acknowledge that humanity didn't will itself into existence in violation of extant natural forces? Or perhaps I shouldn't assume - many believe that humans are somehow "super-natural" or intrinsically above/outside nature.

I've seen such theories as this for decades, from many different men (rarely from women, notably), calling for a rapid human population reduction (too often in the same homicidal terms Linkola advocates). They are typically priviledged upper-classmen who, like Linkola, grew up spending summers at resorts and family ranches and come from an influential families. My deeply held suspicion is that such individuals regard the unwashed masses as undesirable competition for resources that could be going to more yachts and luxury country estates for their own tribes. Culls of "over-dense" human population would mean little to relatively less-populous regions such as Finland or most predominantly Euro-ethnic regions. India, China, Africa and other non-euro-ethnic societies would bear the brunt of the genocide - i mean "scientifically necessary population reduction" - and are the ones ultimately villainized by such theories.

Such theories are not observational theories about ecology as it presents and by necessity are premised on self-superiority as human (and presumably self-superiority in relation to other humans as well, who are clearly less gifted with self-awareness as evidenced by their inability to restrain their numbers), they are prescriptive theories regarding social policy, clumsily masquerading as legitimate science.
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby Azathoth » Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:27 am

Three Times Great wrote:the only way mankind can inhabit the biosphere is in small numbers.


This statement is a fiction on its face. Humanity clearly inhabits the biosphere in great numbers. One can argue the value of the means, but stating that Linkola's prescription for small numbers is "the only way" is simply false. This is a statement about the way things should be (according to Linkola), dressed up as a statement of plain fact to borrow weight.

Three Times Great wrote:It must also be remembered that the distinguishing characteristic of the human species, self-awareness, calls for limited numbers: among masses of billions, man loses his identity, while his life is deprived of value and meaningfulness.


I don't believe it follows. Self-awareness endows the ability to restrain biological impulses, it does not generate a categorical imperative to do so. Does limitation of reproductive activity follow necessarily from self-awareness? We could discuss this at length, but the easiest solution would be empirical - let's observe a self-aware species. Humanity (according to Linkola, mankind is self-aware). Do they, in fact, limit their numbers? No. So it doesn't seem to follow, in fact. Perhaps my thinking is wrong on this.

Additionally, if I employ this "fact" which "must be remembered" by the reader in further thinking I can do interesting things with it like:
"those who do not limit their numbers demonstrate reduced or absent self-awareness. self-awareness is the distinguishing characteristic of the human species. those who do not limit their numbers are distinct from the human species."
Again - their is a distinctly implied villainization of those whose cultures and values are sufficiently divergent from the theorist's.

The whole thing is extremely dodgy, IMO.

Maybe it is brilliant, but it's not "Ecology." It's not the study of anything, it's prescriptive social policy theory tailored to appeal to the environmentally-conscious.
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby Three Times Great » Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:59 pm

Azathoth wrote:All life forms produce waste byproducts. We call ours "pollution". O2 is a waste byproduct. So is CO2. Value is subjective. There have been many mass-extinctions in the past due to climate change and larger events. If those had been averted evolution would have taken a different course. Our impact on the environment is causing a period of mass extinction.


Yes, it is. The idea here is that these modern mass extinctions can be avoided if humans act differently. It appears you use the idea that life will ultimately evolve and bounce back from human environmental impact as a psychological reason to not care about the countless millions of life forms on earth (including man) whose lives are threatened by man's actions.

I do not believe that "it has happened before" or "in the distant future it will all be okay" are sufficient arguments against concern for the current situation now. Unless you are primarily motivated to find excuses and rationalizations for not caring, that is.

Because of this evolution will take a different course. But humanity is not outside of nature any more than a comet impact bringing mass extinction would be. The extinctions we wreak are no more avoidable than a comet impact, and no more good or evil than that either. Every species extant is new in relation to older ones and is a foreign invasive species in its own right.


That is not true, as there is a difference between species that arise from within a niche and fully-formed species that enter a niche and force that niche to conform drastically to itself. As Linkola says, its about ensuring the maximum balance and diversity of life. If you don't agree that these are values, then of course you will reject his premise. That is fine. It doesn't mean he is wrong, it only means you do not share the values which me does.

Every plant, animal and micro-organism. That is the ebb and flow of change. Things change in time. Eventually change will leave us behind, and we will likely be party to that change. This is purely natural. We do not have any power beyond that with which we were endowed by nature, unless this "deep ecology" is premised on the existence of forces, beings, mechanisms or other things which are "outside of" nature, in which case I would question its being called "ecology", as ecology refers to empirical science, not prescriptive social policy theory or theories about things outside the purview of natural science.


Ecological concern meshes with social policy concern, because social policy directly impacts the environment.

You say that "life is just life" but contradict that by saying human life is somehow different. Not "just life" then? Saying that "humans create conditions opposed to those found in nature" is, to my mind, saying that humans are not part of nature. This is the very apex of egotism, whether it's placing mankind above or below the rest of the whole. What happened to the whole?


Saying that man is essentially different from other animals in some ways is not the same as saying man is above, separate or divorced from nature. Man *is* different, in his nature, in the essence of what the human animal is. No, this does not mean man is not natural. It means man acts and reacts upon and against nature in new and different ways. It means that man changes the rules of the game.

I am very dubious of any theory claiming that we as a group are superior or inferior to any other part of the whole based on subjective self-valuation of our own capacities.


We are different. We are superior in some qualities and capacities, inferior in others.

My assessment of Linkola's theory is that it's fundamentally premised in ego and a deeply-rooted sense of superiority.


What have you read of his writings other than the OP I posted here?

By powers beyond ourselves I mean "gravity," "thermodynamics," and the physics and chemistry that drive the entire natural world including every thought in my mind and every action those thoughts compel my muscles to undertake. The powers which our theories and laws attempt to describe. These powers determine our existence.


Not entirely. Man is essentially different in his self-awareness, his capacity for subject-hood and autonomy. No, not absolutely so. Man is a part of nature and emerges from natural laws. But one of the laws that governs man is unique to man alone: the law of a reflexive self-experiencing subjectivity (our "I" of awareness/identity). This means that man cannot be described only as the product of those forces you mention.

You do acknowledge that humanity didn't will itself into existence in violation of extant natural forces?


I'm not really sure what exactly you mean by that? Can you clarify your question please.

Or perhaps I shouldn't assume - many believe that humans are somehow "super-natural" or intrinsically above/outside nature.


Yes. This is their crude, semi-conscious way of conceptualizing the essential difference between themselves and the rest of the non-human world. Only the deep thinker or philosopher will learn to understand human nature in a mature and comprehensive manner, without the aid of childish image-beliefs such as religion, eternity or natural human "superiority".

I've seen such theories as this for decades, from many different men (rarely from women, notably), calling for a rapid human population reduction (too often in the same homicidal terms Linkola advocates). They are typically priviledged upper-classmen who, like Linkola, grew up spending summers at resorts and family ranches and come from an influential families.


That is not true at all, in Linkola's case. Do you even know anything about him? How can you make such claims? I find myself suddenly questioning your honesty and intentions here.

My deeply held suspicion is that such individuals regard the unwashed masses as undesirable competition for resources that could be going to more yachts and luxury country estates for their own tribes. Culls of "over-dense" human population would mean little to relatively less-populous regions such as Finland or most predominantly Euro-ethnic regions. India, China, Africa and other non-euro-ethnic societies would bear the brunt of the genocide - i mean "scientifically necessary population reduction" - and are the ones ultimately villainized by such theories.

Such theories are not observational theories about ecology as it presents and by necessity are premised on self-superiority as human (and presumably self-superiority in relation to other humans as well, who are clearly less gifted with self-awareness as evidenced by their inability to restrain their numbers), they are prescriptive theories regarding social policy, clumsily masquerading as legitimate science.


I see you have a prior agenda coming into this conversation. I will leave you to it.

Thank you for the discussion.
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby Sean » Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:20 pm

In my post here I want to address this struggle between Three Times Great and Azathoth in the context of a critique of democracy. I want to do this in part because Pentti Linkola is an explicit critic of democracy. As Linkola is a radical ecologist, I am going to try here to be a radical agonist.

Three Times Great wrote:
Sean wrote:TTG, to what extent do you agree with Linkola?


I agree with him completely, given the perspective from which he is coming (the perspective of a biologist and strict conservationist). I only share this perspective partially, however, since I also have perspectives that cannot be eclipsed by biology alone.


This figures in some of your responses to Azathoth as well, one of which I'll get to in a moment. TTG, You agree with Linkola in a funny way.

I think that when you say "agree with him completely," you mean that anyone who has the perspective of a true ecologist will support exactly the values and policy implications that Linkola supports. Linkola takes the values of ecology (life and diversity) to their farthest extent. Because Linkola is an ecologist first and a citizen of Finland second (for example) the values of the ecologist trump all other altruistic/liberal/humanist concerns.

I am working to be a better agonist when it comes to deliberative communication. I think it is very important to build a deliberative system where people with radical views (radical mainly in the "roots" sense, as in Life and Diversity are his roots) have their say and do so authentically. I think it is very important for writers like Linkola to take their values to their actual endpoint. Agonism is here opposed to a Habermasian sort of Communicative Rationality where we assume that if everyone is allowed to come to the table, then the consensus reached will be "good." An agonist says that consensus is not as important as dissent.

In that sense I "agree" with Linkola in the sense that "someone has to do it." Someone has to "Be the Radical Ecologist" if our deliberations on climate policy are to make sense and eventually come to a point that for example "does not involve genocide, but does take other more agreeable steps toward maintaining diversity." In a nutshell agonism does not value everyone's voice as much as it values dissenting voices. Authentic struggle is what is important.

Three Times Great wrote:
Azathoth wrote:Because of this evolution will take a different course. But humanity is not outside of nature any more than a comet impact bringing mass extinction would be. The extinctions we wreak are no more avoidable than a comet impact, and no more good or evil than that either. Every species extant is new in relation to older ones and is a foreign invasive species in its own right.


That is not true, as there is a difference between species that arise from within a niche and fully-formed species that enter a niche and force that niche to conform drastically to itself. As Linkola says, its about ensuring the maximum balance and diversity of life. If you don't agree that these are values, then of course you will reject his premise. That is fine. It doesn't mean he is wrong, it only means you do not share the values which me does.


However, I need to butt in here. TTG, you are echoing the quote I addressed above here when you say, "It doesn't mean he is wrong, it only means you do not share the values which he does." You are making this claim that seems to be, Linkola's position is valid (meaning it makes sense) even if you disagree with the premises (the values). This sort of claim is valid if people are the same as logical positions. However, Linkola's speech is an act aside from his position.

Just as humans are not outside of nature (a little cliche) Linkola is not outside of environmentalist discourse. Just because Linkola's vision is radical (has roots in deep values) does not mean it is not also political (a part of political discourse).

If I disagree with Linkola's policy choices, then of course I also disagree that his deep values are the only ones which are important. If I disagree with Linkola, then you are right that I do not share his values. But it is also true that if I disagree with him in value and policy, then I am saying that he is wrong.

Three Times Great wrote:
Azathoth wrote:My deeply held suspicion is that such individuals regard the unwashed masses as undesirable competition for resources that could be going to more yachts and luxury country estates for their own tribes. Culls of "over-dense" human population would mean little to relatively less-populous regions such as Finland or most predominantly Euro-ethnic regions. India, China, Africa and other non-euro-ethnic societies would bear the brunt of the genocide - i mean "scientifically necessary population reduction" - and are the ones ultimately villainized by such theories.

Such theories are not observational theories about ecology as it presents and by necessity are premised on self-superiority as human (and presumably self-superiority in relation to other humans as well, who are clearly less gifted with self-awareness as evidenced by their inability to restrain their numbers), they are prescriptive theories regarding social policy, clumsily masquerading as legitimate science.



I see you have a prior agenda coming into this conversation. I will leave you to it.

Thank you for the discussion.


Of course he has a prior agenda coming into the conversation! If you think this is a problem with his post, then you cannot possibly agree with the way Linkola does business. Linkola is the King of the Prior Agenda, and that is what you seem to like about him.

You say anything to Linkola, and he replies Life and Diversity. You say "There was nothing good about the Holocaust!" he says, "That was a massive thinning operation but it wasn't enough." He does not play politics with you. What TTG likes about Linkola is that Linkola walks into the conversation with deep values and the radical views that stem from those deep values.

That being said, Azathoth, your response here is simply an ad-hominem against Pentti Linkola, though a well-meaning one. On the contrary, I think that Linkola should be allowed to speak here. Not because of basic democratic rights, but explicitly because he is a dissenter. Linkola forces us to actually radically consider the issue of environmentalism.

That being said, I would like to start my speech act by saying "Linkola is wrong."

For instance, I think that one value which might be missing is a kind of anti-authoritarianism. It troubles me that one governing body should be given the license and power to commit genocide, as in a UN nuclear attack against Mumbai.
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby Three Times Great » Wed Apr 20, 2011 8:23 pm

Sean wrote:In my post here I want to address this struggle between Three Times Great and Azathoth in the context of a critique of democracy. I want to do this in part because Pentti Linkola is an explicit critic of democracy. As Linkola is a radical ecologist, I am going to try here to be a radical agonist.


I would not characterize the discussion I was having with Azathoth as a struggle. We were merely having a discussion, but as it turned out, about different things.

Also, there is no need to bring in democracy here - at least not as a context for this topic discussion. Political ideology is an attached idea to deep ecology, but not an essential one. Rather, any discussion of politics or political systems here is to be done through the context of deep ecology, not the othe way around.

Three Times Great wrote:
Sean wrote:TTG, to what extent do you agree with Linkola?


I agree with him completely, given the perspective from which he is coming (the perspective of a biologist and strict conservationist). I only share this perspective partially, however, since I also have perspectives that cannot be eclipsed by biology alone.


This figures in some of your responses to Azathoth as well, one of which I'll get to in a moment. TTG, You agree with Linkola in a funny way.

I think that when you say "agree with him completely," you mean that anyone who has the perspective of a true ecologist will support exactly the values and policy implications that Linkola supports.


That is not what I mean. A "true ecologist" is a silly term. We are talking about one sort of "ecology" here, so called "deep ecology" which has turned into a worldwide movement of primary environmental concern and extreme conservationism. The deep ecologist is not the only ecologist. Just as different "ecologist" will disagree about certain aspects of environmental issues and yet still retain a core similarity across those differences. What intrigues me about Pentti Linkola is that he assumes for himself an entirely objective, non-human-privileged position as the context in which to do ecological work or thinking. He actively and intentionally does not provilege man over other life, animal or plant. I find this fascinating. Why? Because this view is extremely rare, and yet, if we are talking in strict naturalist biological notions here, it is the view one must assume if one is to remain consistent.

Linkola takes the values of ecology (life and diversity) to their farthest extent. Because Linkola is an ecologist first and a citizen of Finland second (for example) the values of the ecologist trump all other altruistic/liberal/humanist concerns.


Yes.

I am working to be a better agonist when it comes to deliberative communication. I think it is very important to build a deliberative system where people with radical views (radical mainly in the "roots" sense, as in Life and Diversity are his roots) have their say and do so authentically.


Why are we concerned here with building a system? Do you mean for yourself only, as in your internal cognitive-conceptual system, or are you speaking of ideologies or social movements? Or do you mean to say that you and I ought to make the creation of a single common system in which we both participate and agree our primary goal here, rather than simply fleshing out our own positions as best as possible for our own sakes?

I think it is very important for writers like Linkola to take their values to their actual endpoint.


In fact, this is very important for anyone and everyone, although almost no one has the courage to do it.

Agonism is here opposed to a Habermasian sort of Communicative Rationality where we assume that if everyone is allowed to come to the table, then the consensus reached will be "good." An agonist says that consensus is not as important as dissent.


It just depends on the ends or our personal goals of such communicative interaction. Agreement can easily be more important than dissent in certain situations. Here, on a philosophy discussion website, either consensus or dissent can be equaly important, if our end goal is to facilitate an increased and improved power of understanding of our ideas, values, thoughts and meanings (this is my personal goal, perhaps it is not yours, in which case, what is your goal here?). Consensus sheds light on our own positions just as dissent does, as either can force us to look at ourselves in novel or deeper ways.

Anyways, I do appreciate your intention to be dissenting here, as well a your being open about this intention from the beginning. It saves much time spent in confusion, clarification and talking past one another later.

In that sense I "agree" with Linkola in the sense that "someone has to do it." Someone has to "Be the Radical Ecologist" if our deliberations on climate policy are to make sense and eventually come to a point that for example "does not involve genocide, but does take other more agreeable steps toward maintaining diversity." In a nutshell agonism does not value everyone's voice as much as it values dissenting voices. Authentic struggle is what is important.


I would say both are important, but yes I get your meaning.

Three Times Great wrote:
Azathoth wrote:Because of this evolution will take a different course. But humanity is not outside of nature any more than a comet impact bringing mass extinction would be. The extinctions we wreak are no more avoidable than a comet impact, and no more good or evil than that either. Every species extant is new in relation to older ones and is a foreign invasive species in its own right.


That is not true, as there is a difference between species that arise from within a niche and fully-formed species that enter a niche and force that niche to conform drastically to itself. As Linkola says, its about ensuring the maximum balance and diversity of life. If you don't agree that these are values, then of course you will reject his premise. That is fine. It doesn't mean he is wrong, it only means you do not share the values which me does.


However, I need to butt in here. TTG, you are echoing the quote I addressed above here when you say, "It doesn't mean he is wrong, it only means you do not share the values which he does." You are making this claim that seems to be, Linkola's position is valid (meaning it makes sense) even if you disagree with the premises (the values). This sort of claim is valid if people are the same as logical positions. However, Linkola's speech is an act aside from his position.


I am talking about his values, his ideas, his "logical positions", then, and not "the man himself". In philosophy, we talk about ideas. We talk about the people who have ideas only as a further means to talking about those ideas. When I say "I agree with Linkola" or "Linkola is not wrong, you just do not share his values perspective" of course what I mean is, "I agree with Linkola's ideas here X, Y and Z" and "Linkola's ideas X, Y and Z are not wrong, you just do not share the values perspective that Linkola himself holds and in which he grounds his ideas X, Y and Z."

Just as humans are not outside of nature (a little cliche) Linkola is not outside of environmentalist discourse. Just because Linkola's vision is radical (has roots in deep values) does not mean it is not also political (a part of political discourse).


Agreed.

If I disagree with Linkola's policy choices, then of course I also disagree that his deep values are the only ones which are important.


Not necessarily, you may simply disagree with his policy choices on how best to further these deep values without actually disagreeing with these deep values themselves. However, my point to Azathoth was that he disagrees with the 'deep values' that ground Linkola's ideas, and that this disagreement is primary here.

We could either look at the issue of whether Linkola's specific ideas are rational, necessitated or able to be argued successfully based on his stated values and premises, or we could look at whether those values and premises are in fact correct and why/why not. I would be happy to take either direction here that you prefer, or both.

If I disagree with Linkola, then you are right that I do not share his values. But it is also true that if I disagree with him in value and policy, then I am saying that he is wrong.


Yes.

Three Times Great wrote:
Azathoth wrote:My deeply held suspicion is that such individuals regard the unwashed masses as undesirable competition for resources that could be going to more yachts and luxury country estates for their own tribes. Culls of "over-dense" human population would mean little to relatively less-populous regions such as Finland or most predominantly Euro-ethnic regions. India, China, Africa and other non-euro-ethnic societies would bear the brunt of the genocide - i mean "scientifically necessary population reduction" - and are the ones ultimately villainized by such theories.

Such theories are not observational theories about ecology as it presents and by necessity are premised on self-superiority as human (and presumably self-superiority in relation to other humans as well, who are clearly less gifted with self-awareness as evidenced by their inability to restrain their numbers), they are prescriptive theories regarding social policy, clumsily masquerading as legitimate science.



I see you have a prior agenda coming into this conversation. I will leave you to it.

Thank you for the discussion.


Of course he has a prior agenda coming into the conversation! If you think this is a problem with his post, then you cannot possibly agree with the way Linkola does business. Linkola is the King of the Prior Agenda, and that is what you seem to like about him.


Of course. But I never claimed that Linkola had no prior agenda. My point is that I am not here to talk about so-called conspiracies to reduce human population for the sake of so-called wealthy elites, so these wealthy can have more resources and cruise around on their yahts more. I made it clear that Linkola's position on population reduction is not one stemming from hatred of mankind or a desire to rule mankind. Thus, if Azathoth disagrees with this claim, he needs to demonstrate why he disagrees, not merely attempt to use the fact that he disagrees alone as a supposed argument against Linkola's positions, or my position on Linkola's positions. Rather, Azathot demonstrated his explicit lack of information about Pentti Linkola himself, as well as his lack of concern for this lack of information (thus exposing his own underlying ideological agenda) by uncerimoniously lumping Linkola into the "rich wealthy family" category of "elites who merely want less competition for resources." That is entirely false, Linkola does not in any way fall into that category. In fact, he is a relatively poor/self-sufficient fisherman living mostly outside of society and he shuns technology, progress and money/wealth. He rejected university life and work to work as a local fisherman for 35 years, and he spent much of his time during his life alone and on foot surveying and cataloguing Europe's forests and wildlife.

So what am I to conclude from Azathoth's blatant need to lump Linkola into such a category without Azathoth's having even the slightest information about Linkola's actual history and life? I must therefore conclude that Azathoth's devotion to his ideological position or agenda here trumps his devotion to seeking the truth or having a genuine honest discussion.

You say anything to Linkola, and he replies Life and Diversity. You say "There was nothing good about the Holocaust!" he says, "That was a massive thinning operation but it wasn't enough." He does not play politics with you. What TTG likes about Linkola is that Linkola walks into the conversation with deep values and the radical views that stem from those deep values.


Yes, certainly.

That being said, Azathoth, your response here is simply an ad-hominem against Pentti Linkola, though a well-meaning one. On the contrary, I think that Linkola should be allowed to speak here. Not because of basic democratic rights, but explicitly because he is a dissenter. Linkola forces us to actually radically consider the issue of environmentalism.


Agreed. That is part of the utility of his ideas here.

That being said, I would like to start my speech act by saying "Linkola is wrong."

For instance, I think that one value which might be missing is a kind of anti-authoritarianism. It troubles me that one governing body should be given the license and power to commit genocide, as in a UN nuclear attack against Mumbai.


Now, I could ask you "Why does that trouble you?", but then we would stray off into tangent conversations and away from the core issue here, of "deep ecology" as understood through the perspective of Pentti Linkola's ideas and values. If you want to start a new topic on "anti-authoritarianism" or "UN ability to commit mass genocide" then I would probably be interested in taking it up. But unless you can show how these are directly relevant to my topic here, they do not really matter in this conversation. Yes, you worry about one political group having such absolute unchecked power to kill billions of people and control every aspect of their lives. I agree, that is a worrying concern to me also. However, from the position Linkola takes, of naturalistic biology, that concern is secondary at best. Life and the survival and diversity of species will thrive if human populations and technological-economic progress are violently reduced, and this trumps all other concerns.

Should we talk about whether or not a middle ground can be found between promoting so-called deep ecological principles while also not falling into a position of political global tyranny and mass genocide of humans? Sure, that would be relevant here. I would be interested in pursuing that, if your thoughts are along these lines. Such a discussion would be beneficial as it would force us to dive deeper into deep ecology, its values, premises, goals, logic, consequences, and whether or not such a naturalistic biological perspective (of humanity as an absolutely non-privileged species) is even practically or psychologically possible.
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby Sean » Wed Apr 20, 2011 9:57 pm

Three Times Great wrote:What intrigues me about Pentti Linkola is that he assumes for himself an entirely objective, non-human-privileged position as the context in which to do ecological work or thinking.


This is not what I expected you to say. I thought that you appreciated Linkola because he has values and takes them to their farthest extent. Instead you say here that you appreciate Linkola because he does not have certain values, and does not entertain them in his thinking.

What does it even mean to have a non-human-privileged position? One thing that it might mean is that Linkola deletes any values which are human-values from his set of core values. If there are things that humans value that Linkola also values, would this mean that he then has a human-privileged position? If diversity and joy turn out to be human values, then hasn't Linkola taken on a human-privileged position? Do foxes have fox-privileged positions?

Either evolution necessarily moves the biosphere toward diversity and well-being of all life or it doesn't.

Linkola says evolution does necessarily move the biosphere toward diversity and well-being of all life.

So Linkola says humans have managed to find a different kind of species being from evolution, and are now an anti-evolution force.

Humans are actively preventing evolution from taking place in the way that it should.

If Linkola says that drastic measures need to be taken by humans to allow evolution to take place, then he is saying that humans have taken control of evolution. Humans are officially more powerful than evolutionary processes. Evolution is just another process to be administered by bureaucracy. We are the evolution police of the biosphere.
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby allanquartz » Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:21 pm

So basically Linkola is saying that biodiversity = good. The greater the diversity of species in the world the greater the good in the world. Would this be correct?

I ask this because it fits in with something I have been toying with for some time. And that is that there is a flaw in the environmentalists argument, and possibly with the arguments of the deep ecologist. And it has to do with the idea that humans, through over-population, are killing the planet. I see no evidence of this. What I see is the concentration of the living mass of the planet into a smaller group of species, the largest group being humans. I would propose that there are an increased number of rats, mice, chickens, dogs, cats, wheat, corn, cows, sheep, etc, on the planet than there would otherwise be.

My thought is that, at any given point in time, there is a fixed amount of organic mass in and on the planet. As a species grows in number and mass then there must be an equivalent drop in the number and mass of the rest of the species. In order to increase the diversity of living organisms on this planet there would have to be a decrease in the number of other creatures, not necessarily humans; although limiting human numbers would definitely help. Other factors play a part of course - capture of organic matter at the bottom of the ocean for instance.

Where I think deep ecologists' argument breaks down is in the assumption that the greater the diversity of species, the better things are. But where is the evidence of this? What is the argument in favour of diversity? Probably it is linked to the idea that “speciation (adds) more and more joy to life.” This is such a value laden statement and not, as deep ecologists probably believe, a self evident truth. I believe there are people who genuinely get more joy from the built environment than they do from the natural.
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby Three Times Great » Fri Apr 22, 2011 5:40 pm

allanquartz wrote:So basically Linkola is saying that biodiversity = good. The greater the diversity of species in the world the greater the good in the world. Would this be correct?


We need to distinguish what a more natural-wild ecological niche and a less natural-wild niche look like, under this view. Imagine a rainforest without a single building or human intervention in sight. That would be a more natural site. Then imagine a lake surrounded by factories, the water filled with sewage and toxic pollutants, the air acrid, number of species and overall life drastically limited as much of it has been killed off or forced to move away as a result of human presence. Linkola's point is that there is a real and important difference between these two spaces.

Of course there is a strong temptation by us to assume there is nothing wrong with this, as humans are "part of nature too," and our actions are "just more life acting out its own part in the ecological system." However, the perspective of the deep ecologist (among many others) sees human presence as a dischordant, harmful and non-natural force. Not non-natural because man is not a part of nature, but non-natural because the way in which man interacts with his surroundings differs from the way in which every other life form on the planet interacts with its surroundings, and this particular human way is so destructive and damaging to natural ecological systems, food chains, energy cycles and balances that nature works out on its own. Both the quality and the quantity of human/natural interaction is profoundly different than non-human life/natural interaction, is essentially the point.

So, the argument is not only that diversity of species/life is good, but also that human intervention is bad, at least the sort of human intervention we see today. You can imagine tribes and local groups of humans from ancient times, living in nature without creating long-term destabilizations in their local environment, without killing off countless millions of species and drastically altering the terrain and ecology around them; that would be an example where humans can live in harmony with their surroundings. Linkola's point is essentially that there is a difference between this sort of local human tribalism that exists for the most part in harmony with its surroundings (it subjects itself to the same natural laws of balance that all other life is subject to from its environmental surroundings) versus how humans are today, altering, destroying their surroundings, causing mass extinctions, disrupting food chains, preventing cyclical balancing in ecological niches among co-dependent predator-prey relationships.

A related and important point here is distinguishing how natural-wild systems tend toward being balanced/stabilized to where they are self-sustaining across time, whereas (modern) human systems predicated on waste, growth and "progress" lack this tendancy toward self-sustainability. This begins to get at the heart of the difference between natural-wild spaces/systems and human spaces/systems. Human systems are a fundamental imbalance between man and his surroundings, because (modern) human systems are dependent upon constant growth and production of excess waste and excess use of finite resources in a manner that does not replentish these resources faster or in line with this use.

I ask this because it fits in with something I have been toying with for some time. And that is that there is a flaw in the environmentalists argument, and possibly with the arguments of the deep ecologist. And it has to do with the idea that humans, through over-population, are killing the planet. I see no evidence of this. What I see is the concentration of the living mass of the planet into a smaller group of species, the largest group being humans. I would propose that there are an increased number of rats, mice, chickens, dogs, cats, wheat, corn, cows, sheep, etc, on the planet than there would otherwise be.


I agree with you that humans are not "killing the planet", this is a gross overstatement intended to get the point across in a more direct and emotional manner. But there is truth within the statement, nonetheless. Humans are causing mass extinctions, mass global disruptions in cyclical processes and food chain systems, and environmental destructions such as desertification, acid rain, polar ice melting, etc. Humans are having an impact. Now, we can intelletualize from the armchairs of our philosophy forum and say, "Well who cares, humans are killing off millions of other life, eroding the earth's forests and soils, creating acid rain and huge trash dumps, causing oil spills, shrinking the ozone layer, melting polar ice, dumping toxins into freshwater lakes and streams, but so what? Life is all equally valuable, we have just as much a right to be here, and we are natural too. And there is just as much biomass as before, just condensed into less species. We have a right to our way of life, by virtue of the fact that we can do it." Sure, that is fine. And yet, this position has a sense of desperation and denial to it. Until you spend time out in nature, really out there deep in nature away from development and human progress, among the living forests, breath the clean air, experience the life presence around you, and then go to a trash dump and see miles and miles of waste and garbage, until you have experienced the extremes of either side it is impossible to really grasp the issue in a deeply personal way. We can intelletualize all we like. But at the end of the day, there is a fundamental difference between natural spaces and the environments that humans create at the expense of natural spaces.

It is a moral-aesthetic argument, an emotional argument. We can rationalize and intellectualize away this morality and emotionality all we like, people do this constantly. But I believe most of them have never really let themselves experience nature in a deep and personal way, never sat and experienced what pollution and environmental decay and mass extinctions really mean, in a personal, emotional sense. Linkola and others feel deeply sad when they contrast natural spaces with human spaces. If you do not share this sadness, it may be because you have never really experienced these states and spaces in a real manner. Or maybe it is just, as I said to Azathoth, that you do not share the values and sentimental-moral reactions to environmental decay, death and destruction. There are many humans that just do not feel anything in the presence of these.

My thought is that, at any given point in time, there is a fixed amount of organic mass in and on the planet. As a species grows in number and mass then there must be an equivalent drop in the number and mass of the rest of the species. In order to increase the diversity of living organisms on this planet there would have to be a decrease in the number of other creatures, not necessarily humans; although limiting human numbers would definitely help. Other factors play a part of course - capture of organic matter at the bottom of the ocean for instance.


This is a good point, however, biomass does grow over time. It would be interesting to see some statistics or figures showing overall biomass growth, up to the present age and projected out into the future. I would contend that biomass has grown over the history of the planet, and perhaps it peaked at a certain point and has remained relatively constant from there on out. But I would also argue that if humans intervene sufficiently, overall biomass could certainly decrease. After all, if 500,000 species need to be wiped out this year alone, and countless forest covering, well does the increase in humans, rats, cats and dogs really keep up with that level of destruction? And how would we even measure it?

Linkola values quality of life as well as quantity. Of course there is no clear way to measure quality. But one way he does this is by prizing natural spaces above human spaces, for those same moral-emotional reasons I mentioned above. Natural balances and cycles, complex food chains and species co-dependence, these deeply intertwined ecological webs that nature has worked out over so many thousands of years have a value to them that a population of rats living on the human waste surplus of cities and sewage systems lacks. Of course, again, it is a moral-aesthetic and emotional argument, and you are free to reject it if you truly do not share those moral-aesthetic values that prize a rainforest over a landfill.

Where I think deep ecologists' argument breaks down is in the assumption that the greater the diversity of species, the better things are. But where is the evidence of this? What is the argument in favour of diversity? Probably it is linked to the idea that “speciation (adds) more and more joy to life.” This is such a value laden statement and not, as deep ecologists probably believe, a self evident truth. I believe there are people who genuinely get more joy from the built environment than they do from the natural.


That is true, of course, many people get more joy from build environments, as these environments arise from our human nature and conform to our comforts and desires. As I said, the position of the deep ecologist (and any position that prizes environmental-natural spaces over human spaces) is a moral-emotional-aesthetic position. We can rationalize and intellectualize away this value all we like, and many, many people do do this. That is up to them. If they are dismissing a deeper feeling inside themselves that causes them to fundamentally question these human spaces and intrusions into otherwise wild spaces, if they are using these rationalizations and intellectual arguments to deceive themselves about their more instinctive reactions to this situation, then they are deceiving themselves. However, if they truly feel nothing and value wild spaces not a bit, and look at the death of millions of species without any pity, remorse, sadness or sense of loss, then they simply lack this inherent moral-emotional-aesthetic value perspective from which the rest of us are coming. I contend that most people are in the first category, they share a part in this essential value position but do not care to admit it to themselves. But of course many people really just don't care, don't share these values at all, and are happy to eradicate millions of species and countless wild spaces in the name of human comfort and convenience.
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby phyllo » Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:29 pm

Linkola values quality of life as well as quantity.

He does?
He proposes killing 9 out of 10 people, the elimination of automobiles and practically all major roads and a return to an agrarian society.
I see that as :
Back breaking farm work.
High mortality and high infant mortality due to lack access to medicine.
Food limited to what can grown locally and seasonably.
No electricity. No refrigeration.
Limited access to information. Limited books, no internet, no radio or no television.
Limited potential for personal advancement.

How many people actually want to go back to that lifestyle?
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby Three Times Great » Fri Apr 22, 2011 9:08 pm

Not many. That's why he says it probably will never happen. And for the record, he states that the improvement of medical technololgy such that infant mortality is greatly reduced and overall longevity greatly increased has been one of the worst things that humans have done (for man, as well as for the planet).

His position is not one of eliminating technology, it is one where technology would be brought into self-sustainability, where man would use technology in a manner that does not to make every aspect of our lives so much easier and more convenient that it comes at the expense of our physical, mental and emotional health, and at the expense of finite resources and the ecological state of the planet.

His sense of quality of life is meant that natural-wild spaces are more valuable, in general, than (modern) man-made spaces. He also means that some humans are more valuable than others. He effects a sort of rank order of our consciousness as a means toward this valuation: those with higher intellect/conscious self-awareness and greater ecological concern, which also means less greedy/selfish/short-sighted, are more valuable humans than those who display less of these qualities.
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby phyllo » Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:41 pm

And for the record, he states that the improvement of medical technololgy such that infant mortality is greatly reduced and overall longevity greatly increased has been one of the worst things that humans have done (for man, as well as for the planet).
It can be safely assumed that he has no children ... few parents want to see their children suffer and die.
And who wants to be crippled or die because of a random bacteria, virus or accident.
His position is not one of eliminating technology, it is one where technology would be brought into self-sustainability, where man would use technology in a manner that does not to make every aspect of our lives so much easier and more convenient that it comes at the expense of our physical, mental and emotional health, and at the expense of finite resources and the ecological state of the planet.

I can't see any way of controlling technology that precisely. Any technology has many potential uses. An advanced technology base requires factories, a transportation network, fuel and electricity, technicians and engineers and produces undesirable side effects. He must want a 17th century level of technology ... wood-burning stoves and horse-drawn wagons.

He is saying that humans should stop using the best tool that nature has put at their disposal ... the brain. If we are to get out of the mess which we have created, we need to think more and more efficiently. Less thinking is not an option.
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby allanquartz » Sun Apr 24, 2011 12:03 pm

I probably should have said at the outset that I come from an environmentalist background, having been quite active in the movement, including politically. But I was never really sure what deep ecology meant until I spent a couple of years living and working with Indigenous people in central Australia. I now consider myself as coming from an anarcho-indegenist perspective, and it is from this that I draw my understanding of deep ecology.

Three Times Great wrote:
allanquartz wrote:So basically Linkola is saying that biodiversity = good. The greater the diversity of species in the world the greater the good in the world. Would this be correct?


We need to distinguish what a more natural-wild ecological niche and a less natural-wild niche look like, under this view. Imagine a rainforest without a single building or human intervention in sight. That would be a more natural site. Then imagine a lake surrounded by factories, the water filled with sewage and toxic pollutants, the air acrid, number of species and overall life drastically limited as much of it has been killed off or forced to move away as a result of human presence. Linkola's point is that there is a real and important difference between these two spaces.


Ok, first of all, an ecological niche without human intervention is not more or less natural, it is totally unnatural. Up until recently (few hundred years) there were societies which considered this rainforest as home, not as some aesthetic to consider while away from home, but their home. That is, much like the apartment or house, they lived in and looked after their home. They kept pests away, they cleaned it, they did all the things we do, just without the technology. And all the while the ecosystem maintained a healthy level of diversity.

In regards to Linkola, I would assume that while others go camping, and on returning to a house or apartment, say, “Ah, home at last!”; Linkola probably goes into the forest and says, “Ah, home at last!” And this is the distinction that I think the deep ecologist fails to make. Deep ecologists believe that we all feel the same level of attachment to the natural environment and that those who don't only need to have their eyes awoken to see the truth of the matter. As someone who feels this same attachment to the natural environment and a sadness at its loss, I still believe that most people do not “feel” the same. They may enjoy a visit, much like they enjoy a visit to an art gallery or a museum, but they do not see themselves as a part of it like Linkola does.

Three Times Great wrote: Of course there is a strong temptation by us to assume there is nothing wrong with this, as humans are "part of nature too," and our actions are "just more life acting out its own part in the ecological system." However, the perspective of the deep ecologist (among many others) sees human presence as a dischordant, harmful and non-natural force. Not non-natural because man is not a part of nature, but non-natural because the way in which man interacts with his surroundings differs from the way in which every other life form on the planet interacts with its surroundings, and this particular human way is so destructive and damaging to natural ecological systems, food chains, energy cycles and balances that nature works out on its own. Both the quality and the quantity of human/natural interaction is profoundly different than non-human life/natural interaction, is essentially the point.


Earthworms change their environment in a way that changes what species can live amongst it. The earthworm makes the soil better able to hold moisture in a way which disadvantages plants which prefer a dry compact soil and, over time, increases the level of biodiversity. Was this a more natural environment before the introduction of the earthworm? A warmer climate will probably see an increase in the amount of rain in the deserts of central Australia, increasing the number of different species of flora and fauna. Again, will this then be a more natural environment? The deep ecologist would surely have to answer yes to both.

I would also argue that human activity is not destructive to nature's balances, it merely taps it and sends it on a wobble, as does every species. Nature constantly rebalances itself, as we are probably seeing with climate change. I'm not the most knowledgeable about these things but I would suggest the qualitative and quantitative impact of bacteria, or other such organisms, on the ecosystem of the planet was far greater than humans. I know it led to greater diversity but I'm sure if humans had been around at the time some would have argued against the change.

Three Times Great wrote: So, the argument is not only that diversity of species/life is good, but also that human intervention is bad, at least the sort of human intervention we see today. You can imagine tribes and local groups of humans from ancient times, living in nature without creating long-term destabilizations in their local environment, without killing off countless millions of species and drastically altering the terrain and ecology around them; that would be an example where humans can live in harmony with their surroundings. Linkola's point is essentially that there is a difference between this sort of local human tribalism that exists for the most part in harmony with its surroundings (it subjects itself to the same natural laws of balance that all other life is subject to from its environmental surroundings) versus how humans are today, altering, destroying their surroundings, causing mass extinctions, disrupting food chains, preventing cyclical balancing in ecological niches among co-dependent predator-prey relationships.


I don't think anyone is arguing that humans do not disrupt their environment and do not have an impact on the level and type of speciation through their actions. I don't think anyone is arguing that no animal has no impact on its environment either. I think what most, and I do mean most, people are reacting to is the idea that the “natural environment” is better than the built environment. When people thought that factories were poisoning the water they drank then they were environmentalists. But once the water was cleaned up and the smell went away, then they stopped focusing on the natural environment. Why? Because maintaining their own home was more important than maintaining that place “over there.” When increasing amount of biodiversity interrupts the person's ability to vacuum the floor, then biodiversity will lose. I don't like it, it breaks my heart, but that, I think, is the reality.

Sorry, but I think you are being a little naive if you think humans of ancient times did not have an impact. They may not have killed off millions of species but they would have been the cause of some extinctions. Over the whole planet, as migration sent humans into every part of the globe other than Antartica, a significant number of species would have perished. Humans, as do all creatures, see off anything that competes with it for survival and ignores the things that have no impact on it. What humans do is manipulate their environment to gain access to what it needs to survive and thrive, where other animals mostly evolve bodily to survive and thrive. We are just more efficient with the killing now. And of course, this efficiency is what disturbs the deep ecologist.

Three Times Great wrote: A related and important point here is distinguishing how natural-wild systems tend toward being balanced/stabilized to where they are self-sustaining across time, whereas (modern) human systems predicated on waste, growth and "progress" lack this tendancy toward self-sustainability. This begins to get at the heart of the difference between natural-wild spaces/systems and human spaces/systems. Human systems are a fundamental imbalance between man and his surroundings, because (modern) human systems are dependent upon constant growth and production of excess waste and excess use of finite resources in a manner that does not replentish these resources faster or in line with this use.


I don't really disagree with this in regards to modern capitalist structures. But this isn't to say that a system cannot be found that covers the planet in concrete and bricks, yet maintains sustainability. Some of us may not like the living space by then but still it is possible without a natural environment.

allanquartz wrote:I ask this because it fits in with something I have been toying with for some time. And that is that there is a flaw in the environmentalists argument, and possibly with the arguments of the deep ecologist. And it has to do with the idea that humans, through over-population, are killing the planet. I see no evidence of this. What I see is the concentration of the living mass of the planet into a smaller group of species, the largest group being humans. I would propose that there are an increased number of rats, mice, chickens, dogs, cats, wheat, corn, cows, sheep, etc, on the planet than there would otherwise be.


Three Times Great wrote: I agree with you that humans are not "killing the planet", this is a gross overstatement intended to get the point across in a more direct and emotional manner. But there is truth within the statement, nonetheless. Humans are causing mass extinctions, mass global disruptions in cyclical processes and food chain systems, and environmental destructions such as desertification, acid rain, polar ice melting, etc. Humans are having an impact. Now, we can intelletualize from the armchairs of our philosophy forum and say, "Well who cares, humans are killing off millions of other life, eroding the earth's forests and soils, creating acid rain and huge trash dumps, causing oil spills, shrinking the ozone layer, melting polar ice, dumping toxins into freshwater lakes and streams, but so what? Life is all equally valuable, we have just as much a right to be here, and we are natural too. And there is just as much biomass as before, just condensed into less species. We have a right to our way of life, by virtue of the fact that we can do it." Sure, that is fine. And yet, this position has a sense of desperation and denial to it. Until you spend time out in nature, really out there deep in nature away from development and human progress, among the living forests, breath the clean air, experience the life presence around you, and then go to a trash dump and see miles and miles of waste and garbage, until you have experienced the extremes of either side it is impossible to really grasp the issue in a deeply personal way. We can intelletualize all we like. But at the end of the day, there is a fundamental difference between natural spaces and the environments that humans create at the expense of natural spaces.


I'm probably repeating myself when I say people can experience those extremes that you talk about and still come down on the side of a built environment. And by the way, forests are not the only places of deep nature, the desert is too.

Also, it appears that the hole in the ozone layer is shrinking to near normal. An example of how humans can change the product of their actions yet still maintain the technology. I see no fewer aerosols than before.

Three Times Great wrote: It is a moral-aesthetic argument, an emotional argument. We can rationalize and intellectualize away this morality and emotionality all we like, people do this constantly. But I believe most of them have never really let themselves experience nature in a deep and personal way, never sat and experienced what pollution and environmental decay and mass extinctions really mean, in a personal, emotional sense. Linkola and others feel deeply sad when they contrast natural spaces with human spaces. If you do not share this sadness, it may be because you have never really experienced these states and spaces in a real manner. Or maybe it is just, as I said to Azathoth, that you do not share the values and sentimental-moral reactions to environmental decay, death and destruction. There are many humans that just do not feel anything in the presence of these.


Some people feel the same deep emotion at the loss of a great museum, yet I'm sure Linkola would trade a museum for a rainforest any day. I could imagine a person wearing a mink coat crying as the bulldozer tears into a beautiful old building. I don't think people are rationalising it away at all, they just see things differently. What I believe the deep ecologist needs to argue for is a place for them to live in, in their natural environment, without interference from the non-deep ecologists. Much like others want to live in their homes without interference from environmentalists. Their argument is with the conservationists who lock up acres of land and exclude human activity in it. Humans belong in the forests, deserts and savannahs of the world but are being excluded. Where is Linkola's home? He should be fighting to be allowed to live in it and join with others who are asking the same. This is the indigenist viewpoint and I believe it may be his as well.

allanquartz wrote:My thought is that, at any given point in time, there is a fixed amount of organic mass in and on the planet. As a species grows in number and mass then there must be an equivalent drop in the number and mass of the rest of the species. In order to increase the diversity of living organisms on this planet there would have to be a decrease in the number of other creatures, not necessarily humans; although limiting human numbers would definitely help. Other factors play a part of course - capture of organic matter at the bottom of the ocean for instance.


Three Times Great wrote: This is a good point, however, biomass does grow over time. It would be interesting to see some statistics or figures showing overall biomass growth, up to the present age and projected out into the future. I would contend that biomass has grown over the history of the planet, and perhaps it peaked at a certain point and has remained relatively constant from there on out. But I would also argue that if humans intervene sufficiently, overall biomass could certainly decrease. After all, if 500,000 species need to be wiped out this year alone, and countless forest covering, well does the increase in humans, rats, cats and dogs really keep up with that level of destruction? And how would we even measure it?


Same way w measure everything, choose a measurement and measure.

A fluctuating biomass would indicate that it is possible for life to maintain itself with less.

Three Times Great wrote: Linkola values quality of life as well as quantity. Of course there is no clear way to measure quality. But one way he does this is by prizing natural spaces above human spaces, for those same moral-emotional reasons I mentioned above. Natural balances and cycles, complex food chains and species co-dependence, these deeply intertwined ecological webs that nature has worked out over so many thousands of years have a value to them that a population of rats living on the human waste surplus of cities and sewage systems lacks. Of course, again, it is a moral-aesthetic and emotional argument, and you are free to reject it if you truly do not share those moral-aesthetic values that prize a rainforest over a landfill.


I think most people do reject this argument.

allanquartz wrote:Where I think deep ecologists' argument breaks down is in the assumption that the greater the diversity of species, the better things are. But where is the evidence of this? What is the argument in favour of diversity? Probably it is linked to the idea that “speciation (adds) more and more joy to life.” This is such a value laden statement and not, as deep ecologists probably believe, a self evident truth. I believe there are people who genuinely get more joy from the built environment than they do from the natural.


Three Times Great wrote:That is true, of course, many people get more joy from build environments, as these environments arise from our human nature and conform to our comforts and desires. As I said, the position of the deep ecologist (and any position that prizes environmental-natural spaces over human spaces) is a moral-emotional-aesthetic position. We can rationalize and intellectualize away this value all we like, and many, many people do do this. That is up to them. If they are dismissing a deeper feeling inside themselves that causes them to fundamentally question these human spaces and intrusions into otherwise wild spaces, if they are using these rationalizations and intellectual arguments to deceive themselves about their more instinctive reactions to this situation, then they are deceiving themselves. However, if they truly feel nothing and value wild spaces not a bit, and look at the death of millions of species without any pity, remorse, sadness or sense of loss, then they simply lack this inherent moral-emotional-aesthetic value perspective from which the rest of us are coming. I contend that most people are in the first category, they share a part in this essential value position but do not care to admit it to themselves. But of course many people really just don't care, don't share these values at all, and are happy to eradicate millions of species and countless wild spaces in the name of human comfort and convenience.


I guess this is where we fundamentally disagree, I believe the opposite to be true. We could waste a lot of time measuring this to find out who is right. But I think its time for deep ecologists to stop trying to convince others of their (modern) mistaken view on life and begin arguing for their (deep ecologist) right to a place to live.

Just on the issue of evolution, I think it makes perfect evolutionary sense for humans to limit the biodiversity around them because it makes it easier to control. We can deepen our understanding of each of the fewer species and thus work out ways to better control them for our own benefit.
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby Azathoth » Wed May 11, 2011 2:53 am

Three Times Great wrote:
Azathoth wrote:Because of this evolution will take a different course. But humanity is not outside of nature any more than a comet impact bringing mass extinction would be. The extinctions we wreak are no more avoidable than a comet impact, and no more good or evil than that either. Every species extant is new in relation to older ones and is a foreign invasive species in its own right.


That is not true, as there is a difference between species that arise from within a niche and fully-formed species that enter a niche and force that niche to conform drastically to itself. As Linkola says, its about ensuring the maximum balance and diversity of life. If you don't agree that these are values, then of course you will reject his premise. That is fine. It doesn't mean he is wrong, it only means you do not share the values which me does.


I believe that this is a somewhat misleading distinction and although it distracts from the broader hypocrisy in Linkola's ideology that I was attempting to address, I think it warrants comment. It is true, regardless of the values upon which Linkola's prescriptions are premised. Because the "species that arise from within a niche" is a fiction, unless you're only talking about semantics and not life forms. Without trekking over to a discussion of forms and ends, let's acknowledge that it's extremely unlikely that life as a pattern originated new-born in each niche. Therefore while, within a restricted time-frame, we can frame our view of an organism to see that it arose within a niche and is now fully-formed occupying that niche, at some point its primitive ancestor entered that niche from another. If human space travel brought micro-organisms to a now-sterile Mars we would surely consider those organisms invasive foreign species to the sterile martian environment despite there having been no previous ecosystem. Since at some point Earth was without life, all life is an invasive, foreign thing that wreaks change on its environment.

Three Times Great wrote:
Azathoth wrote:I would question its being called "ecology", as ecology refers to empirical science, not prescriptive social policy theory or theories about things outside the purview of natural science.


Ecological concern meshes with social policy concern, because social policy directly impacts the environment.


Again, my question is whether calling it "ecology" is accurate at all then or whether it's something else masquerading as a formal science. Otherwise we can really just call anything ecology, can't we? Since everything impacts the environment.

Three Times Great wrote:Saying that man is essentially different from other animals in some ways is not the same as saying man is above, separate or divorced from nature.


How not so?
How is a theory of humanity as the only life form out of balance with the whole, proposed by humans, not self-centered on its face. We're either part of the whole, and thereby part of the natural balance the wholeness embodies, or we are in some degree not. Which makes us to some degree outside of nature.

Or... maybe there is another species which - through no human intervention - is also deeply out of balance with nature? I'd be interested to hear about that, because it might mean that I simply fail to grasp the lofty notions proposed by Linkola and need a better explanation of what he means by "the whole" and by humans "difference" from other members of the whole and why it's more different than the differences between various non-human members.

Three Times Great wrote:
My assessment of Linkola's theory is that it's fundamentally premised in ego and a deeply-rooted sense of superiority.


What have you read of his writings other than the OP I posted here?


A few smatterings on the web. It's irrelevant to my assessment, which is based on this thread and doesn't pretend to be comprehensive of his life and body of work. If his conclusion, as a man, is that man is fundamentally different from all other beings in his relationship to the greater whole of the universe then there is clearly ego at play.

Three Times Great wrote:Man is a part of nature and emerges from natural laws. But one of the laws that governs man is unique to man alone: the law of a reflexive self-experiencing subjectivity (our "I" of awareness/identity). This means that man cannot be described only as the product of those forces you mention.


You're implying that humanity is subject to unique physical laws/forces? Do you have any evidence?

I believe that humanity is subject to the same laws and forces and powers as all things. Even our "self-awareness" and "free-will", so-called, are the result of our perceptions of the effects of these forces on our awareness. They are not a form of proof that we are made of a different stuff or subject to different rules. I feel like you're asserting that humanity is nominally equal, but in fact different from everything else in a fundamentally different way than the other members of the whole differ one from another. It's really carving out a very "special" place for humanity in the grand scheme, though nominally that place is merely "different" and not superior. Inferior, if anything. The slip from "different" to "better" is down a steep slope though, and not a long one.

Three Times Great wrote:That is not true at all, in Linkola's case. Do you even know anything about him? How can you make such claims? I find myself suddenly questioning your honesty and intentions here.

I see you have a prior agenda coming into this conversation.


Prior agenda is exactly my issue with Linkola's "ecology" - it's not dispassionate study of ecology, its definitely a theory based on personal agenda. I'll concede that it's based - at least in part - on empirical biology and ecology. But it is not Ecology. It is a socio-political agenda misleadingly calling itself "ecology."

"Linkola grew up in Helsinki, spending the summers in the countryside, at the farm of his grandfather Hugo Suolahti. His father Kaarlo Linkola was the Rector of Helsinki University and his grandfather had worked as the Chancellor of that same university." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentti_Linkola

I don't know what your background is, but perhaps it biases you regarding what "wealth" is. My father was carpenter. There's no one in my family who grew up spending summers on family farms because no one in the family had one. Only 3 people in my extended family have been able to attend university at all - most have had to work to get by and support their families. And to the best of my knowledge I'm pretty well-off, relatively speaking. From the perspective of the 50% of humanity that lives off of less than $2 a day, he is certainly the product of an elite upper class of educated, landed individuals. Regardless of his personal discretion and good taste in not pursuing excess, he is the product of a family with land, social benefits, and the influence of being top administrators of a good western university. He had priviledges, whether or not he chose to embrace them. And, as a trustee, I can tell you right now there are about 1,001 ways to control massive amounts of wealth and/or influence - cash, land, businesses, institutions, non-profits, churches, etc, etc - and not have a penny of it traceable to you, personally; whether you're Barrack Obama or Pentti Linkola. It's very easy to be personally poor and yet control - and have use of - a vast fortune. In fact I strongly recommend it - directly owning anything in your personal name exposes you to needless liability and extra taxes. Looks good for politicians and other public servants, too!

That's great that he's a fisherman and all, maybe I underestimate the man, given that my understanding of him is limited to this thread, but it doesn't make him less of a hypocrite. You can't discuss a holistic ecology and then draw one part outside of the whole. For any reason. It is no longer a whole if you do, the wholeness has been negated as has his entire "deep ecology" by his own refusal to accept humanity as an integral part of the natural order of things. Neither does my failure to be deeply familiar with the man prevent me from characterizing him as the product of a privileged up-bringing when he clearly is relative to the greater wash of humanity.

And it's fine that he's a hypocrite. He's not a saint, he's just some guy. I'm no saint either, which is why I'm not offended by you questioning my intentions. They are selfish, but not malicious. Linkola advocates systematic, targeted violence against civilian populations, which makes me question whether he's aware of how unqualified he is to make that recommendation; all pseudo-holistic eco-feel-good explanations aside. It's just another thin rationale for social hygiene - a very old proposal that became very unpopular for a while after WWII, but has been re-surfacing as the generations directly affected have died out and living memory has been displaced by loosely-grounded theory.
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby Sean » Wed May 11, 2011 4:34 am

This is a great post Azathoth. A little long, but you had a lot to say.

I think Three Times Great has moved on to greener pastures, I haven't seen him around the ILP lately.

Even if Linkola is wrong, I don't think we should associate him with nazis as you sort of allude with the WWII reference.

Even if Linkola is wrong, isn't it ultimately good to have someone around who is so insane that they make more moderate measures at curbing destruction sound sane? If we silence people by comparing them to Hitler (thus insane) then we ultimately reinforce the status quo. I think it's important to allow speech which is so wildly extreme that more moderate voices (which are nonetheless revolutionary relative to the status quo) can be heard.

Let's not compare Linkola to Hitler (even though he's a total genocidaire). Some of your post deals with Linkola point by point, showing where he oversteps. Some of your post trashes his authenticity. Fucking self-hating Bourgeois European Intellectual. I prefer the former assault.

After all, he's so crazy, he makes us sound less crazy.
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Re: Deep Ecology

Postby Three Times Great » Wed May 11, 2011 10:14 am

Azathoth wrote:
Three Times Great wrote:
Azathoth wrote:Because of this evolution will take a different course. But humanity is not outside of nature any more than a comet impact bringing mass extinction would be. The extinctions we wreak are no more avoidable than a comet impact, and no more good or evil than that either. Every species extant is new in relation to older ones and is a foreign invasive species in its own right.


That is not true, as there is a difference between species that arise from within a niche and fully-formed species that enter a niche and force that niche to conform drastically to itself. As Linkola says, its about ensuring the maximum balance and diversity of life. If you don't agree that these are values, then of course you will reject his premise. That is fine. It doesn't mean he is wrong, it only means you do not share the values which me does.


I believe that this is a somewhat misleading distinction and although it distracts from the broader hypocrisy in Linkola's ideology that I was attempting to address, I think it warrants comment. It is true, regardless of the values upon which Linkola's prescriptions are premised. Because the "species that arise from within a niche" is a fiction, unless you're only talking about semantics and not life forms. Without trekking over to a discussion of forms and ends, let's acknowledge that it's extremely unlikely that life as a pattern originated new-born in each niche.


We are not speaking generally about life here, we are speaking about individual species and how the relations between these species and their environments differ, what sort of relations these are. Linkola's point here, which is true, is that there is a difference between a species that lives in relative balance with its environment over time and a species that does not. No, this is not an absolute difference, and yes, all life regardless is still "part of the whole" and "natural". It is of course entirely natural to be an "invasive species"; the point, however, is that as humans, we can recognize the greater value in being a species that lives in balance with its environment rather than living in imbalance. My point, then, was that if you reject this value, you must also reject Linkola's position here - you seem not to care whether or not humans live in balance with nature. That is fine, it means you and he are on opposing sides of valuation here, and will find no common ground.

As I wrote, the differences here are moral-aesthetic. Of course all species are natural, of course it is entirely natural for an invasive species to enter a new niche and wipe out much of the life in it, imbalance its ecosystems and food chains, and permanently alter it. Nature is like that, often enough. But the point, for Linkola, is that as humans, we can recognize that there is value in at least understanding this process and attempting to favor the side of balance rather than imbalance. Why? Not because balance is "more natural", but because balance is better. It is viewed as better under this paradigm because it maximizes the number and diversity of species, and minimizes extinctions. This is good for humans long-term, as we are subject to the imbalances of our ecosystems, and it is also seen as good overall, because the diversity and multiplicity of life generally is posited here as a value. Again, you are free to reject that value, as you wish.

Therefore while, within a restricted time-frame, we can frame our view of an organism to see that it arose within a niche and is now fully-formed occupying that niche, at some point its primitive ancestor entered that niche from another.


The point is not how the species formed initially, the point is the relationship that now existent species has with its surroundings. At times, species formed and existent for a long time and thus highly adaptable enter suddenly a new niche to which they never evolved; this can cause that species to go extinct, or it can also cause that species to become hyper-survivable, in which case, we call it an invasive species. You are splitting hairs here and trying to take a broader approach, that "well all species are new at first", and thus you miss the essential point here: that there is a difference in how various species relate to their environment. Some of these relationships tend toward more balance over time than others, some tend even toward extreme imbalance. How is this measured? We might measure it by population growth and death rates over time, by the measure of these of other species within that same local ecosystem, by the complexity of sustaining food-chain systems, or by the number of extinctions within that ecosystem over a given time period.

Three Times Great wrote:
Azathoth wrote:I would question its being called "ecology", as ecology refers to empirical science, not prescriptive social policy theory or theories about things outside the purview of natural science.


Ecological concern meshes with social policy concern, because social policy directly impacts the environment.


Again, my question is whether calling it "ecology" is accurate at all then or whether it's something else masquerading as a formal science. Otherwise we can really just call anything ecology, can't we? Since everything impacts the environment.


Ecology being the study of nature and biology in ecosystems, this concern meshes with other concerns. Does that mean ecology is "something else"? No? Yes? Who cares? Why do I care about trying to hammer out a perfect definition of ecology that isolates it from other related concerns? Are you trying to imply there is no such thing as ecology if ecologists are also concerned and care about the social policies which affect the natural systems and life that they scientifically study?

Three Times Great wrote:Saying that man is essentially different from other animals in some ways is not the same as saying man is above, separate or divorced from nature.


How not so?


As I have already explained, the relationship that man has between himself and his environment is different than that of other species; this is because man, an animal with unique capacity for subjectivity of experience, possesses a highly developed consciousness-unconsciousness that affords man a position of greater perspective and power. Man has now evolved to the point where virtually every place on earth can be considered his "niche". This is fine, except that, again, if you value ecological balance and diversity/multiplicity of species, you see how mankind eradicates species at a great pace, and throws ecosystems into imbalance across the planet. Man as a species, because of his great power over controlling nature to his own ends, enters into local ecosystems around the planet, disrupting them, changing them, or destroying them. This is all entirely "natural" from the perspective that man is just one more species among others, and no species life is inherently valuable or more valuable than any other. Species live and die, so what? It's all natural. Yeah, I get that. However, the point is that, if we value ecological balance, if we value diversity and multiplicity of life, then this way of existing that mankind now has acquired is seen as detrimental and regrettable. And one could certainly make the argument also that as a species man is causing himself great long-term harm by effecting such destruction of its own environment, as man is still subject to the conditions of this environment.

Linkola sees things like modern economic progress, pollution and species extinction as signs that mankind is not living in a way that is sustainable for the long-term. If you had read any more of his writings, you would know this. Any system, economic or organic, that is predicated on continually increasing growth is not sustainable, as continuing increasing growth is not possible - systems can survive sustainably, for the long-term, only when they exist in such a way that allows for the continued existence and replentishing of needed resources and material conditions. Man is highly adaptable, but this adaptability, even with the aid of technology, is not infinite. it is foolish to assume that mankind can continue to exist in this manner in which he currently exists, i.e. as a species whose ecological platform is based on increasingly greater environmental destruction and use of finite resources.

How is a theory of humanity as the only life form out of balance with the whole, proposed by humans, not self-centered on its face. We're either part of the whole, and thereby part of the natural balance the wholeness embodies, or we are in some degree not. Which makes us to some degree outside of nature.


Again, I have already answered this. This issue isnt an either/or, as you seem to think. You seem to be getting stuck on the idea that, "well humans are natural too! therefore whatever they do is fine and natural and you have no use complaining about it!" This is an extremely naive and simplistic, child-like perspective to hold.

Or... maybe there is another species which - through no human intervention - is also deeply out of balance with nature? I'd be interested to hear about that, because it might mean that I simply fail to grasp the lofty notions proposed by Linkola and need a better explanation of what he means by "the whole" and by humans "difference" from other members of the whole and why it's more different than the differences between various non-human members.


Again, you could either actually read some of Linkola's writing, or you could re-read what I have here written. "Imbalanced" species do not live long, by definition, so there are not many of them around. Mankind ought to take a hint from this fact, is one of Linkola's big points.

Three Times Great wrote:
My assessment of Linkola's theory is that it's fundamentally premised in ego and a deeply-rooted sense of superiority.


What have you read of his writings other than the OP I posted here?


A few smatterings on the web. It's irrelevant to my assessment, which is based on this thread and doesn't pretend to be comprehensive of his life and body of work.


Ah.

If his conclusion, as a man, is that man is fundamentally different from all other beings in his relationship to the greater whole of the universe then there is clearly ego at play.


Not true at all. There need be no "ego" involved in such an impartial, philosophical observation on the nature of the relationship between a species and its environment.

You seem to be avoiding the deeper issues here. I can only guess why.

Three Times Great wrote:Man is a part of nature and emerges from natural laws. But one of the laws that governs man is unique to man alone: the law of a reflexive self-experiencing subjectivity (our "I" of awareness/identity). This means that man cannot be described only as the product of those forces you mention.


You're implying that humanity is subject to unique physical laws/forces? Do you have any evidence?


I have already made my argument that this is so. Man's way of being, his essential nature as a self-conscious entity is different from the essential nature and way of being of other non-human species. Man is a being able to derive far, far more information (knowledge) from himself and his environment, and is able to make use of this information, thus allowing man to act in a much more informed and powerful manner. Man sees himself, his subjectivity of awareness allows him great perception into the minute inner workings of his body-brain systems; man does not merely react to his environment through sensory perception, as other life does (man does this too, and in a much greater way than non-human life), but rather man also reacts to projected virtual images of what his environment might be like, could be like. Man can theorize, speculate, imagine, conceive, hope, and along with this, man creates his environment in a literal way. Man forces his environment to become a product of himself, rather than man being the product of his environment. Yes, I know its reciprocal and goes both ways, my point is that the way in which this occurs for man is vastly different than for other species.

When man acquired self-consciousness he was able to experience directly his own inner world, which means, to experience as metaphor the world of his environments, life around and outside of himself that informs his own inner spheres. From this perspective, man is a god, able to see and experience far more than any other species is able. And because man is also able to make practical use of this new information, through his use of language and his physical strength and dexterous hands, this gives him even more advantage in survivability. This is all fine and good, especially for us, but Linkola's and other peoples' point is that this essential capacity of man's for super-survivability, by virtue of man's deep and complex self-consciousness, throws natural systems into temporary imbalance as man enters them and forces them to conform to his overarching presence; man forces mass extinctions, man pollutes his environment, and man uses finite resources in a manner that does not allow for their sufficient replentishment. All of these things are viewed as "bad", from a moral-aesthetic perspective, by Linkola and many other people. You, however, along with many others, do not seem to be in the least bit concerned by these things. That is fine. Again, it is a moral-aesthetic position, a philosophical stance based on certain values of ethics, beauty and meaning. But unfortunately, we still have not even gotten to the deeper level of discussing these values in respect to this issue here, as you are unable to grant even that the assumption of these values leads to the positions which Linkola, among others, describes here.

I believe that humanity is subject to the same laws and forces and powers as all things. Even our "self-awareness" and "free-will", so-called, are the result of our perceptions of the effects of these forces on our awareness. They are not a form of proof that we are made of a different stuff or subject to different rules. I feel like you're asserting that humanity is nominally equal, but in fact different from everything else in a fundamentally different way than the other members of the whole differ one from another. It's really carving out a very "special" place for humanity in the grand scheme, though nominally that place is merely "different" and not superior. Inferior, if anything. The slip from "different" to "better" is down a steep slope though, and not a long one.


No other species that we know of or observe is subject to the natural laws of the self-experiencing subjectivity of consciousness-unconsciousness - that is my name for it, because as far as I know, there is no other name to call it. The means by which man experiences, perceives, and related to himself are unique to man alone. This means that the "natural laws" governing how consciousness operates are different for man, as his consciousness is sufficiently self-conscious of itself, generating the singularity of a sufficiently informed and comprehensive subjectivity, "I" of self-awareness and identity.

You are getting hung up on technicalities and semantics again. I am not here making any case that there is a "new natural Law", or any such thing. I am using the notion of natural laws to make the point that mankind is unique in this respect, and that as a result of this fundamental uniqueness of structure of consciousness-unconsciousness man therefoer is subject to different "rules" of operation than other species. Call these natural laws, or natural rules, call them whatever you want, i don't care; the point is that they are different.

Three Times Great wrote:That is not true at all, in Linkola's case. Do you even know anything about him? How can you make such claims? I find myself suddenly questioning your honesty and intentions here.

I see you have a prior agenda coming into this conversation.


Prior agenda is exactly my issue with Linkola's "ecology" - it's not dispassionate study of ecology, its definitely a theory based on personal agenda. I'll concede that it's based - at least in part - on empirical biology and ecology. But it is not Ecology. It is a socio-political agenda misleadingly calling itself "ecology."


So your point is that a scientist who also values what he studies is no longer a scientist? Really.

The fact of a scientist's caring about or not caring about the biological life which he studies through ecological science is irrelevant to that ecological science itself being and being used and understood as science. Higher social policy and moral concern is connected but different from "dispassionate study". The fact that both can exist in the same person does not belie either one.

"Linkola grew up in Helsinki, spending the summers in the countryside, at the farm of his grandfather Hugo Suolahti. His father Kaarlo Linkola was the Rector of Helsinki University and his grandfather had worked as the Chancellor of that same university." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentti_Linkola

I don't know what your background is, but perhaps it biases you regarding what "wealth" is. My father was carpenter. There's no one in my family who grew up spending summers on family farms because no one in the family had one. Only 3 people in my extended family have been able to attend university at all - most have had to work to get by and support their families. And to the best of my knowledge I'm pretty well-off, relatively speaking. From the perspective of the 50% of humanity that lives off of less than $2 a day, he is certainly the product of an elite upper class of educated, landed individuals.


Oh, I see, so because his family had a farm, he is upper class. Well, when you compare him to starving Somalians I suppose you are right. But then, you are merely asserting your own skewed agenda again here, aren't you? My point was that he is not a "wealthy elite" who sails around in his "yachts", as you said. In fact, he rejected university life to live as a fisherman, preferring to live by his own means. And for his adult life, he has lived like this, spending his time fishing and walking around the forests of europe, cataloguing and studying life on his own. So, the essential point I was making is that he is not a wealthy elite who wants to exterminate man so he can have less competition for resources and space for his luxury yachts. Rather than learn about the man, you attempted to paint an entirely incorrect picture of him, for the sake of your convenience of then being able to dismiss him and his motives as a member of this category. This revealed that your real motive here is not to learn or be objective, but to twist the facts and perceptions of the issues here to suit your own prior agenda, whatever that may be (some sort of anti-environmentalism, perhaps?). I don't know or care what your agenda is, I only know that you are not here to be honest or honestly learn and talk about these issues. You would rather invent fictions and use them as an excuse to dismiss the man and his ideas out of hand, without even first fairly examining them. Well, then. How ought I respond to such a person, really?

Regardless of his personal discretion and good taste in not pursuing excess, he is the product of a family with land, social benefits, and the influence of being top administrators of a good western university. He had priviledges, whether or not he chose to embrace them.


Yes, let's judge someone by the situation of their parents, rather than the 50+ years of their own adult life.

Yawn.

And, as a trustee, I can tell you right now there are about 1,001 ways to control massive amounts of wealth and/or influence - cash, land, businesses, institutions, non-profits, churches, etc, etc - and not have a penny of it traceable to you, personally; whether you're Barrack Obama or Pentti Linkola. It's very easy to be personally poor and yet control - and have use of - a vast fortune. In fact I strongly recommend it - directly owning anything in your personal name exposes you to needless liability and extra taxes. Looks good for politicians and other public servants, too!


More off-topic and groundless assertions. If you have any sort of reason to think Linkola is such as this, feel free to present it. Otherwise, what the hell are you even doing saying these things? You are trying, not to discuss the issues here, but to paint a picture of Linkola the man that allows you to conveniently dismiss him and his ideas out of hand, without the bother of even examining them first.

That's great that he's a fisherman and all, maybe I underestimate the man, given that my understanding of him is limited to this thread, but it doesn't make him less of a hypocrite.


It doesn't make him anything, since you clearly do not know enough about him to make intelligent statements about him. But it does make you a hypocrite, or at least dishonest, for making blatantly untrue statements about him when you admittedly do not have the basis of knowing whether such statements might or might not be true.

You can't discuss a holistic ecology and then draw one part outside of the whole. For any reason.


He isn't drawing one "part" outside of the "whole", he is demonstrating how one such part relates to the whole in a different and unique manner. Do you see the difference? No? Well, then. So evey "part" must have an equal relationship to the "whole", then?

It is no longer a whole if you do, the wholeness has been negated as has his entire "deep ecology" by his own refusal to accept humanity as an integral part of the natural order of things. Neither does my failure to be deeply familiar with the man prevent me from characterizing him as the product of a privileged up-bringing when he clearly is relative to the greater wash of humanity.


More uninformed prejudice.

And it's fine that he's a hypocrite. He's not a saint, he's just some guy. I'm no saint either, which is why I'm not offended by you questioning my intentions. They are selfish, but not malicious. Linkola advocates systematic, targeted violence against civilian populations, which makes me question whether he's aware of how unqualified he is to make that recommendation; all pseudo-holistic eco-feel-good explanations aside. It's just another thin rationale for social hygiene - a very old proposal that became very unpopular for a while after WWII, but has been re-surfacing as the generations directly affected have died out and living memory has been displaced by loosely-grounded theory.


More uninformed prejudice. I have already addressed this, and you chose to ignore it. Linkola bases his social policy ideas directly in his broader ecological concern, which he clearly states (if you had even bothered to read him or be open to learning about his positions), and not in some sort of globalist elitism of eugenically cleansing the earth of the "unwashes masses" so the "privileged few" can life on earth in peace and plenty.

You misrepresent his positions and motives, you admit to your ignorance of his writings and background, and you misunderstand the ideas of his that I have posted here, even on a purely theoretical philosophic level. I am beginning to wonder why you are even posting in this topic? Is it to push your agenda, to satisfy your own psychological self-validations and ego-investments in this agenda, or are you just trolling?
Three Times Great
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