Vol 26 No 2 (2010): Remembering Naess & Devall

Communication Ecology of Arne Naess (1912-2009)

Alan R. Drengson
University of Victoria
Published May 1, 2010


We explore communication ecology and how it shaped Arne Naess’ development from child to mature scholar. As a nature-loving, cross-cultural, comparative philosopher, he explored cultures and nature together. His unified communication ecology reflected the places and cultural elements forming his character and professional approach. Both mirror the evolution of studying communication, cultures and languages with ecological methods used for comprehending the natural world. These methods focus on processes, relationships and whole systems, rather than reductionist analysis. Evolving communication and place-based learning systems are in living communities everywhere. There are cultures, language families, and dialects even in communities of nonhuman species. Naess studied worldviews and life philosophies as naturalists’ study living species and beings in ecosystems. He explored classifying cultures, worldviews and religions with ecologically based methods. He called personal philosophies striving for ecological wisdom and harmony ecosophies. Communication ecology avoids the “one size fits all” study of the world; it facilitates the wisdom of diversity in cultural, linguistic, technological and economic analysis. This approach is pluralistic rather than monolithic.