Genesis of Eden

Genesis Home

Deep Ecology and Ecofeminism: A Sabbatical Seminar

NOTE: These extracts are included as an essential reading for transforming the world. You are requested to purchase the source books yourself as essential reading material.

It is with wry humour that I include these seven articles. They form four rivers of gender two male and two female. Essentially they represent a debate which, by it's very existence, acknowledges the truth of gender, right at the core of the very environmental movement which is essential in saving the world. The mere fact that the debate exists and that it's parameters are as much between male and female, between Eastern mystical and Earth Goddess perspectives and the fact that the debate is divided at all on gender ground attests to the truth of gender in the Fall from nature however much people might like to brush the dust under the socio-biological mat.

On this account I have to agree with the ecofeminist thesis, however in due respect of this debate, I would say that the hieros gamos must lie very close to the centre of these two views. So I would politely ask both the protagonists to resolve their differences in the sacred marriage. Let's have Yab-yum give a little more initiative to the feminine to work her fertile chaos upon the earth, even if this does involve a component of Kali Tantrism into the bargain.

Let's join in the fertilization of the natural path and get on with the good work of saving the living world, instead of taking up such political positions against a truth we all know we all possess!

  1. Deep Ecology An overview Carolyn Merchant
  2. Turning the Tide Fritjof Capra
  3. The Power and the Promise of Ecological Feminism - Karen Warren
  4. The Deep Ecology Ecofeminism Debate and its parallels - Warwick Fox
  5. Ecofeminism Deep Ecology and Human Population - Christine Cuomo
  6. Deep Ecology versus Ecofeminism- Robert Sessions
  7. Difference and Deep Ecology - Val Plumwood
  8. Ecofeminism and Deep Ecology - Marti Kheel
  9. Deep Ecology and Ecofeminism - the emerging dialogue - Michael E. Zimmerman

Sessions, George (ed) 1995 Deep Ecology for the 21st Century,
Shambhala, Boston ISBN 1-57062-049-0

Warwick Fox from Deep Ecology for the 21st Century


THE QUESTION OF THE relative merits of deep ecology and ecofeminism has recently received considerable attention, primarily from an ecofeminist perspective. This question has an obvious significance to anyone concerned with ecophilosophy and ecopolitics since it contrasts two of the most philosophically and socially influential approaches that have developed in response to ecological concerns. For deep ecologists in particular, the ecofeminist critique of deep ecology is of interest for at least two reasons in addition to the direct challenge that it presents to deep ecological theorizing. First, as I argue throughout this paper, the same criticism that can be made of simplistic forms of ecofeminism can be applied with equal'force to critiques of deep ecology that proceed from simplistic versions of a broad range of social and political perspectives-the "parallels" of my title. Second, addressing the ecofeminist critique of deep ecology provides an opportunity to further elucidate the nature of deep ecology's concern with anthropocentrism.

Before examining the ecofeminist critique of deep ecology, which centers on deep ecology's negative or critical focus on anthropocentrism, it is important to outline deep ecology's positive or constructive focus. Deep ecology is concerned with encouraging an egalitarian attitude on the part of humans not only toward all members of the ecosphere, but even toward all identifiable entities orforms in the ecosphere. Thus, this attitude is intended to extend, for example, to such entities (or forms) as rivers, landscapes, and even species and social systems considered in their own right. If deep ecologists sometimes write as if they consider these entities to be living entities, they do so on the basts of an extremely broad sense of the term life-a sense as broad as that implied in such expressions as "Let the river live!" It is ultimately of little consequence to deep ecologists, however, whether one wishes to consider the kind of egalitarianism they advocate as one that extends only toward living entities (in this extremely broad sense) or as one that extends toward both living and nonliving entities. Either way, the kind of egalitarian attitude they advocate is simply meant to indicate an attitude that, within obvious kinds of practical limits, allows all entities (including humans) the freedom to unfold in their own way unhindered by the vari'ousforms of human domi'nati'on. There are, of course, all sorts of problems involved in defining such things as how far these practical limits should extend or, in many cases, even where one entity ends and another begins. But, against this, it must be remembered that deep ecologists are not intending to advocate a specific set of guidelines for action; they are only intending to advocate a general orientation. Deep ecologists not only accept but welcome cultural diversity when it comes to effecting the 'fics of th's general orientation. After all, "the freedom to unfold in their

speci I own way unhindered by the various forms of human domination" applies to the unfolding of human cultures too. As Arne Naess puts it, where we draw the limit between 'ustifiable and unjustifiable interference with respect to this general orientation "is a question that must be related to local, regional, and national particularities. Even then a certain area of disagreement must be taken as normal."i For deep ecologists, the only overriding consideration is that such limits should always be worked out i'n the light of the general orientation they advocate. Naess captures the sense of this general orientation while also conveying a sense of the cultural (and personal) diversity it allows for: "A rich variety of acceptable motives can be formulated for being more reluctant to injure or kill a living being of kind A than a being of kind B. The cultural setting is different for each being in each culture."i It is this general attitude of being reluctant, prima facie, to interfere with the unfolding of A or Bindeed, to desire that both should flourish-that characterizes the general orientation that is advocated by deep ecologists. Deep ecologists have generally referred to this general orientation or attitude as one of "biospherical egalitarianism" or, more often (in order to suggest the intended comparison with an anthropocentric perspective more directly), "blocentric egalitarianism." However, because the prefix bi'o refers, etymologically, to life or living organisms, it has sometimes been assumed that deep ecology's concerns are restricted to entities that are (in some sense) biologically alive. To correct this impression, Arne Naess and George Sessions have, in line with my preceding remarks, often pointed out that their sense of the term life is so broad, that it takes in "Individuals, species, populations, habitat, as well as human and nonhuman cultures."' To avoid the possibility of confusion, however, I prefer to describe the kind of egalitarian attitude subscribed to by deep ecologists as ecocentri'c rather than biocentric. While there seems to be little reason for choosing between these terms on the basis of their ecological connotations, there are other grounds for preferring the term ecocentric to describe the kind of egalitarianism advocated by deep ecologists.4 First, the term ecocentri'c, which etymologically means oikos-, home, or, by implication, Earth-centered, is more immediately informative than the term biocentriic, which etymologically means life-centered and so requires an appended explanation of the broad sense in which the term life should be understood. Second, the term ecocentric seems closer to the spirit of deep ecology than the term biocentric, because, notwithstanding their broad usage of the term life, the motivation of deep ecologists depends more upon a profound sense that the Earth or ecosphere is home than it does upon a sense that the Earth or ecosphere is necessarily alive (you don't have to subscribe to some ecological form of hylozoi'sm to be a supporter of deep ecology). In accordance with this extremely broad, ecocentric egalitarianism, supporters of deep ecology hold that their concerns well and truly subsume the concerns of those movements that have restricted their focus to the attainment of a more egalitarian human society. Deep ecologists, in other words, consider their concerns to subsume the egalitarian concerns associated, for example, with feminism (as distinct from ecofeminism), Marxism, antiracism, and antiimperialism.' In the eyes of deep ecologists, the emergence of a distinct ecofeminism, a distinct "green" socialism, and so on, are-at least in their best forms-attempts by feminists, Marxists-cum-socialists, and so on, to redress the human-centeredness of their respective perspectives.6 Needless to say, deep ecologists welcome these developments and they recognize that ecofeminism, green socialism, and so on have their own distinctive theoretical flavors and emphases because of the different theoretical histories that inform them. Nevertheless , they see no essential disagreement between deep ecology and these perspectives, providing that the latter are genuinely able to overcome their anthropocentric legacies.


With respect to ecofeminism and deep ecology in particular, many observers agree that the two perspectives have much in common-notwithstanding their different theoretical h'stor'es.' However, some ecofeminist writers have begun to perceive a significant tension between their perspective and that of deep ecology. In an evenhanded examination of ecofeminist criticisms of deep ecology, Michael Zimmerman has presented what is probably the clearest formulation of what I take to be the essential ecofeminist charge against deep ecology: "Feminist critics of deep ecology assert that [deep ecology] speaks of a genderneutral 'anthropocentrism' [i.e., human-centeredness] as the root of the domination of nature, when in fact androcentrism [i.e., male-centeredness] is the real root.' '8 There seems to be wide support for the view that this represents the essential ecofeminist criticism of deep ecology. For example, one of the main criticism made by Janet Biehl in her critique of deep ecology is that, "For ecofeminists the concept of anthropocentrism is profoundly, even "deeply" problematical. . . . By not excluding women from anthropocentrism, deep ecologists implicitly condemn women for being as anthropocentric as they condemn men for being-that is, for presuming to be above nature, for mastering it." Marti Kheel also notes at the outset of her critique of deep ecology that deep ecologists are concerned to "challenge the anthropocentric worldview whereas for ecofeminists "it is the androcentric worldview that is the focal point of the needed shift." Likewise, the first difference in emphasis that Charlene Spretnak refers to in her comparison of deep ecology and ecofeminism is that of anthropocentrism versus androcentrism.9 Jim Cheney has claimed, nevertheless, in response to an earlier version of this paper, that it is wrong to regard Zimmerman's formulation as representing the essential ecofeminist charge against deep ecology. For Cheney, "The essential' [ecofeminist] charge is not that deep ecologists focus on anthropocentrism whereas the problem is really with androcentrism; rather, the central concern is . . . that deep ecology is itse6( in some sense androcentric."10 In comparison to what I take to be the essential ecofeminist charge against deep ecology (as formulated concisely by Zimmerman), Cheney's formulation of the essential ecofeminist charge seems to represent a significant (if somewhat confusing) concession to deep ecology, since it suggests that ecofeminists are not overly concerned about deep ecologists' critical focus on anthropocentrism so long as deep ecologists do not formulate their critique of anthropocentrism in a way that is "itself in some sense androcentric." But whether Cheney's formulation represents a significant concession to deep ecology or not, my response to his charge is simple. The charge that I propose to address (as taken ftom Zimmerman's analysis) is clear-cut and [email protected] ecologists cannot deny that their negative focus is concerned, first and foremost, with anthropocentrism and ecofeminists cannot deny that their negative focus is concerned, first and foremost, with androcentrism. In contrast, the best that can be said about Cheney's claim that deep ecology is androcentric in its very formulation is that such a claim is entirely contentious.' Cheney's own recent attempt in Environmental Ethics to establish this claim is essentially based upon a misinterReferpretation of deep ecology as resting upon a "rights-based foundation."

ring to a brief paper of my own, Cheney even acknowledges in his paper (albeit in a footnote) that if (as Fox claims) deep ecology does not rest upon 11 the language of intrinsic value and correlated concepts of rights, . . . then deep ecology is not subject to some of the criticisms I have offered." 13

More recently, Cheney has abandoned his previous view of deep ecology and accepted that deep ecologists are primarily concerned with the development of a state of being of wider identification and, hence, with the realization of a more expansive (sense of) Self. This understanding of deep ecology appears to have much in common with Cheney's characterization of ecofeminism as being concerned with an ethics of love, care, and friendship as opposed to a theory of rights, justice, and obligation.' However, Cheney argues instead that the deep ecological emphasis on the realization of a more expansive (sense of) Self is a "totalizing view" that represents "the desperate endgame of masculine alienation from nature."Il What Cheney means by his highly abstract and potentially obfuscating reference to a "totalizing view" is that deep ecologists identify with particulars only in the derivative sense that the logos of the cosmos threads its way through the cosmos, binds it together as a totality, a cosmos. Identification, for the deep ecologist, does not involve seeing or hearing the other or seeing oneself in the other, but rather involves seeing the other sub specie aeternitas. What Cheney seems to ob'ect to in deep ecology, then, is not the emphasis 'dent'ficat'on per se but rather the fact that deep ecologists emphasize idenon I I I 'ficat'on within a cosmological context-that is, within the context of an ti I I awareness that all entities in the universe are part of a single, unfolding process. There is, however, a fundamental problem with arguing, as Cheney seems to want to, for a purely personal basis for identification (as opposed to a cosmological and, hence, transpersonal basis). Specifically, emphasizing a purely personal basis for identification that "leave[s] selves intact""-necessarily implies an emphasis upon identification with entities with which one has coniderable personal contact. In practice, th's tends to mean that one identifies with my self first, my family next, my friends and more distant relations next, my ethnic grouping next, my species next, and so on-more or less what the sociobiologists say we are genetically predisposed to do. The problem with this is that, while extending love, care, and friendship to one's nearest and dearest is laudable in and of itself, the other side of the coin, emphasizing a purely personal basis for identification (myself first, my family next, and so on), looks more like the cause of possessiveness, war, and ecological destruction than the solution to these seemingly intractable problems. In contrast, to argue for a cosmological basis for identification is to attempt to convey a lived sense that all entities (including ourselves) are relatively autonomous modes of a single, unfolding process, that all entities are leaves on the tree of life. A lived sense of this understanding means that we strive, insofar as it is within our power to do so, not to identify ourselves exclusively with our leaf (our personal biographical self), our twig (our family), our minor subbranch (our community), our major subbranch (our race/gender), our branch (our species), and so on, but rather to identify ourselves with the tree. This necessarily leads, at the limit, to impartial identification with all particulars (all leaves on the tree).19 This distinction between personally based identification and cosmologically based identification certainly represents a difference in theoretical stance between Cheney's conception of ecofeminism on the one hand and deep ecology on the other. But whether this difference also reflects a basic difference between feminine and masculine modes of approaching the world (as Cheney wants to suggest) is a separate issue. On my reading of the literature, I do not see how anyone [email protected] why they would want [email protected] that many women are vitally interested in cultivating a cosmological/transpersonal based sense of identification.10 The cosmologicautranspersonal voice is a "different voice" from the personal voice, but it does not seem to respect gender boundaries. Moreover, as the above discussion suggests, whatever one's view of the relationship or lack of relationship between these approaches and gender, a personally based approach to identification is vulnerable to criticism from an ecocentric perspective in a way in which a cosmological/trailspersonal approach is not. Because this brief examination of Cheney's critique of deep ecology suggests that there are major weaknesses with his claim that the essential ecofeminist charge against deep ecology is actually "that deep ecology is i'tse@, in some sense androcentric," in what follows 1, therefore, consider the essential ecofeminist charge against deep ecology to be the far more clear-cut and potentially far more serious charge (vis-a-vis Cheney's charge) that deep ecology "speaks of a gender-neutral 'anthropocentrism' as the root of the domination of nature, when in fact androcentrism is the real root.

PROBLEMS WITH THE ECOFEMINIST AND OTHER CRITIQUES Having established the nature of the ecofeminist charge that I am concerned to address in whai follows, it is important to note that this charge is not directed at deep ecology's positive or constructive task of encouraging an egalitarian attitude on the part of humans toward all entities in the ecosphere, but rather at deep ecology's negative or critical task of dismantling anthropocentrism. This distinction often seems to be overlooked by ecofeminist critics of deep ecology, who, presumably, are in general agreement with the constructive task of deep ecology.22 But with respect to the critical task of these two perspectives, the fact remains that in the absence of a good answer to the ecofeminist charge, there is no [email protected] than intellectual blindness or outright chauvinism in regard to issues concerning gender-why deep ecologists should not make androcentrism the focus of their critique rather than anthropocentrism. In addressing this challenge to the critical focus of deep ecology, I first make some general remarks about a certain style of social and political theorizing and then proceed to the essential deep ecological response to this ecofeminist charg . To begin with, deep ecologists completely agree with ecofeminists that men have been far more implicated in the history of ecological destruction than women. However, deep ecologists also agree with similar charges derived from other social perspectives: for example, that capitalists, whites, and Westerners have been far more implicated in the history of ecological destruction than pre-capitalist peoples, blacks, and non-Westerners .21 If ecofeminists also agree with these points, then the question arises as to why they do not also criticize deep ecology for being neutral with respect to issues concerning such significant social variables as socioeconomic class, race, and Westernization. There appears to be two reasons for this. First, to do so would detract from the priority that econfeminists wish to give to their own concern with androcentrism. Second, and more significantly, these charges could also be applied with equal force to the ecofeminist focus on androcentrism itself.14 How does one defend the ecofeminist charge against deep ecology (i.e., that androcentrism is "the real root" of ecological destruction) in the face of these charges?" For deep ecologists, it is simplistic on both empirical and logical grounds to think that one particular perspective on human society identifies the real root of ecological destruction. Empirically, such thinking is simplistic (and thus descriptively poor) because it fails to give due consideration to the multitude of interacting factors at work in any given situation. (While on a practical level it can be perfectly reasonable to devote most of one's energy to one particular 'cause-if only for straightforward reasons to do with time and energy-that, of course, is no excuse for simplistic social theorizing.) Such thinking falls, in other words, to adopt an ecological perspective with respect to the workings of human society itself. Logically, such thinking is simplistic (and thus facile) because it implies that the solution to our ecological problems is close at hand-all we have to do is remove "the real root" of the problem-when it is actually perfectly possible to conceive of a society that is nonandrocentric, socioeconomically egalitarian, nonracist, and nonimperialistic with respect to other human societies, but whose members nevertheless remain aggressively anthropocentric in collectively agreeing to exploit their environment for their collective benefit in ways that nonanthropocentrists would find thoroughly objectionable. Indeed, the "green" critique of socialism proceeds from precisely this recognition that a socially egalitarian society does not necessarily imply an ecologically benign society. An interesting example of the failure to recognize this point is provided by Murray Bookchin's anarcho-socialist inspired "social ecology" (I describe this approach as "anarcho-socialist" in inspiration because it advocates decentralism and cooperativeness and stands opposed to all forms of hierarchy). Bookchin is interesting in this context because, on the one hand, he correctly observes in the course of a highly polemical attack upon deep ecology that it is possi 'ble for a relatively ecologically benign human society also to be extremely oppressive internally (he offers the example of ancient Egyptian society), and yet, on the other hand, he fails to see that the reverse can also apply-that is, that it is possible for a relatively egalitarian human society to be extremely exploitative ecologically.16 For Bookchin, to accept this latter point would be to argue against the basis of his own social ecology, since in his view a nonhierarchical, decentralist, and cooperative society is "a society that will live in harmony with nature because its members live in harmony with each other. Bookchin's presentation of social ecology thus conveys no real appreciation of the fact that the relationships between the internal organization of human societies and their treatment of the nonhuman world can be as many and varied as the outcomes of any other evolutionary process. One may certainly speak in terms of certain forms of human social organization being more conducive to certain kinds of relationships with the nonhuman world than others. Bookchin, however, insists far too much that there is a straightforward, necessary relationship between the internal organization of human societies and their treatment of the nonhuman world. To this extent, his social ecology is constructed upon a logically facile basis. Moreover, it serves to reinforce anthropocentrism, since the assumption that the internal organization of human societies determines their treatment of the nonhuman world carries with it the implication that we need only concentrate on i'nterhuman egalitarian concerns for all to become ecologically well with the world-a point I take up again later.11 In doing violence to the complexities of social interaction, simplistic social and political analyses of ecological destruction are not merely descriptively poor and logically facile, they are also morally objectionable on two grounds, scapegoating and inauthenticity. Scapegoating can be thought of in terms of overinclusiveness. Simplistic analyses target all men, all capitalists, all whites, and all Westerners, for example, to an equal degree when in fact certain subble for ecological declasses of these Identified classes are far more response struction than others. Not only that but significant minorities of these classes can be actively engaged in opposing the interests of both the dominant culture 'ble for ecological of their class and those members of their class most response destruction. Inauthenticity, on the other hand, can be thought of 'n terms of underinclusiveness. Simplistic analyses are inauthentic in that they lead to a complete denial of responsibility when at least partial responsibility for ecological destruction should be accepted. Such theorizing conveniently disguises the extent to which (at least a subset of) the simplistically identified oppressed group (e.g., women or the working class) also benefits from, and colludes with, those most responsible for ecological destruction (e.g., consider the case of animal destruction for furs and cosmetics consumed by Western and Westernized women, or the case of capitalists and unionists united in opposition to the antidevelopment stance of "greenies"). It can, of course, be argued in response that the hegemony of androcentrism or capitalism, for example, is such that women or unionists effectively have no power to choose in our society and so should not be burdened with any responsibility for ecological destruction. But this surely overplays the role of social determination and to that extent only serves to highlight the charge of inauthenticity. Moreover, attempting to escape the charge of inauthenticity in this way directly contradicts the view of feminists or Marxists, to continue with the same examples, that women or the working class are capable of self-conscious direction of being a class for themselves, a revolutionary class. Yet another kind of objection to simplistic analyses of the kind to which I have been referring is that while claiming to be "ecological" or "green," some of these critics in fact remain anthropocentric-albeit in the passive sense of serving to legitimize our continued preoccupation with interhuman affairs rather than in the aggressive sense of overtly discriminating against the nonhuman world. Advocates of these approaches say in essence: "Since the real root of our problems is androcentrism or capitalism, for example, we mustfirst get our interactions between humans right (with respect to gender issues, with respect to the redistribution of wealth, and so on) and then everything else (including our ecological problems) will fall into place." Any form of direct concern with the question of the relationship between humans and the nonhuman world is thus trumped by concerns about the resolution of specific interhuman problems. The nonhuman world retains its traditional status as the background against which the significant action-human action-takes place. Not surprisingly, deep ecologists find it particularly frustrating to witness representatives of simplistic social and political perspectives waving the banner of ecology while in fact continuing to promote, whether wittingly or unwittingly, the interhuman and, hence, human-centered agenda of their respective theoretical legacies. I have already commented on Bookchin's social ecology in regard to this point. Some ecofeminist writing is also relevant here. For example, the focus of Ariel Kay Salleh's critique of deep ecology is thoroughly interhuman. "To make a better world," she concludes, men have to be "brave enough to rediscover and to love the woman inside themselves," while women simply have to "be allowed to love what we are.19 This conclusion follows from the fact that, in Salleh's version of feminism, women already "flow with the system of nature" by virtue of their essential nature. "30 Karen Warren and Michael Zimmerman have referred to this kind of approach to ecofeminism, according to which women are supposed to be "closer to nature" than men by virtue of their essential nature, as "radical feminism" (in contrast to liberal, traditional Marxist, and socialist feminism) and "essentialist feminism" respectively.11 Warren correctly notes that "Radical feminists have had the most to say about eco-feminism," and both she and Zimmerman have made telling criticisms of this approach .31 All I am drawing attention to here is the fact that this kind of "radical" approach simply serves to legitimize and, hence, to perpetuate our entirely traditional preoccupation with interhuman affairs. In accordance with the approach adopted by essentialist feminists, there is no need to give any serious consideration whatsoever to the possibility that women might, for example, discriminate against men, accumulate rather than distribute private wealth, be racist, support imperialism, or be ecologically destructive if the conditions of their historical subjugation were undone and the possibility of exercising genuine social and political power were available to them. The upshot is that there is no need to worry about any form of human domination other than that of androcentrism. For deep ecologists, it's just another variation on the same old song-the song that reassures us that all will become ecologically well with the world if we just put this or that interhuman concern first. I have objected to simplistic (and, hence, unecologically conceived) social and political analyses on the grounds that they are descriptively poor and logically facile, that they lend themselves to scapegoating on the one hand and are inauthentic on the other, and that even in their ecological guises, they are passively anthropocentric. Many who align themselves with the perspectives to which I have referred might well personally agree with the points I have made so far and consider that in virtue of this agreement, these objections do not really apply to their perspective. Thus, this kind of reaction can be quite common in the face of the sorts of objections I have made: "How could anyone be so stupid as to think that we ecofeminists (for example) are not also concerned about issues concerning socioeconomic class, race, and imperialism?" The problem is, however, that there is often a large gap between the alleged and often genuine personal concerns of members of a social and political movement and the theoretical articulation of the perspective that informs their movement. The fact that individual members of a social and political movement agree with the points I have made provides no guarantee whatsoev that the theoretical articulation of the perspective that informs their movement does not itself fall foul of these objections-and it is with this theoretical articulation that I have been concerned. By way of qualification, however, I do not in any way wish to assert that any of the objections I have made are necessarily fatal to the theoretical prospects of the social and political perspectives to which I have'referred, since it is possible, at least in principle, for each of these perspectives to be revised or, at a minimum, suitably qualified so as not to fall foul of these objections.11 But, that said, one must nevertheless be careful not to underestimate the significance of these objections, since piesentations of the social and political perspectives to which I have referred continue to fall foul of them on an all too regular basis. Variations on some (but not all) of the objections I have outlined would apply just as much to deep ecology if it were the case that deep ecologists were simply saying that humans as a whole have been far more implicated in the history of ecological destruction than nonhumans. (The ecofeminist charge against deep ecology implies that deep ecologists are saying precisely this: in turns on the contention that deep ecologists have been overinclusive in criticizing humanity in general for the destruction of the nonhuman world when the target of their critical attack should properly be the class of men and, of course, masculine culture in general.) However, this is not the essential point that deep ecologists are making, and it is here that we enter into the essential response by deep ecologists to the essential criticism made of their perspective by ecofeminists.


The target of the deep ecologists' critique is not humans per se (i.e., a general class of social actors) but rather human-centeredness (i.e., a legitimating ideology)." It is not 'ust ecofeminist critics who miss this point. Some other critics also miss it in an even bigger way by attacking deep ecologists not simply on the grounds that they criticize humanity in general for its ecological destructiveness, but rather on the grounds that deep ecologists are actually opposed to humanity in general-that is, that they are essentially misanthropic. According to Murray Bookchin, for example, in deep ecology "'Humanity' is essentially seen as an ugly 'anthropocentric' thing-presumably, a malignant product of natural evolution. 1116 Henryk Skolimowski also suggests (albeit rather indirectly) that deep ecologists are misanthropic. "I find it rather morbid," he writes in The Trumpeter, "when some human beings (and the context suggests that he means deep ecologists) think that the human lot is the bottom of the pit. There is something pathological in the contention that humans are a cancer among the species. This kind of thinking is not sane and it does not promote the sense of wholeness which we need nowadays." In line with my remarks here, Alan Drengson, The Trumpeter's editor and a prominent deep ecology philosopher, intervenes immediately at this point by adding parenthetically: "And it is certainly not the thinking of deep ecologists. Ed. "

The extent to which people in general are ready to equate opposition to human-centeredness with opposition to humans per se can be viewed as a function of the dominance of the anthropocentric frame of reference in our society. Just as those who criticize capitalism, for example, are often labeled as "Communists" and, by implication, "the enemy," when, in reality, they may be concerned with such things as a more equitable distribution of wealth in society, so those who criticize anthropocentrism are liable to be labeled as misanthropists when, in reality, they may be (and, in the context of environmentalism, generally are) concerned with encouraging a more egalitarian attitude on the part of humans toward all entities in the ecosphere. In failing to notice the fact that being opposed to humans-centeredness (deep ecology's critical task) is logically distinct from being opposed to humans per se (or, in other words, that being opposed to anthropocentrism is logically distinct from being misanthropic), and in equating the former with the latter, Bookchin and Skollmowski commit what I refer to as thefallacy of misplaced misanthropy.11 Committing this fallacy in the context of criticizing deep ecology involves not just a crucial misreading of deep ecology's critical task, but also the oversight of two other considerations that contradict such a misreading. The first is that deep ecology's constructive task is to encourage an egalitarian attitude on the part of humans toward all entities in the ecosphere-including humans. The second is that deep ecologists are among the first to highlight and draw inspiration from the fact that not all humans have been human-centered either within the Western tradition or outside it. Far from being misanthropic, deep ecologists celebrate the existence of these human beings. In making human-centeredness (rather than humans per se) the target of their critique, deep ecologists have contended that the assumption of human self-importance in the larger scheme of things has, to all intents and purposes, been the single deepest and most persistent assumption of (at least) all the dominant Western philosophical, social, and political traditions since the time of the classical Greeks-notwithstanding the fact that the dominant classes representing these traditions have typically ad'udged themselves more human than others-and that, for a variety of reasons, this assumption is unwarranted and should be abandoned in favor of an ecocentric outlook .3' Thus, what deep ecologists are drawing critical attention to is the fact that whatever class of social actors one identifies as having been most responsible for social domination and ecological destruction (e.g., men, capitalists, whites, Westerners), one tends at the most fundamental level to find a common kind of legitimation for the alleged superiority of these classes over others and, hence, for the assumed rightfulness of their domination of these others. Specifically, these classes of social actors have not sought to legitimate their position on the grounds that they are, for example, men, capitalists, white, or Western per se, but rather on the grounds that they have most exemplified whatever it is that has been taken to constitute the essence of humanness (e.g., being favored by God or possessing rationality). These classes of social actors have, in other words, habitually assumed themselves to be somehow more fully human than others, such as women ("the weaker vessel"), the "lower" classes, blacks, and non-Westerners ("savages," "primitives...... heathens"). The cultural spell of anthropocentrism has been considered sufficient to Justify not only moral superiority (which, in itself, might be construed as carrying with it an obligation to help rather than dominate those who are less blessed), but also all kinds of domination within human society-let alone domination of the obviously nonhuman world.

That anthropocentrism has served as the most fundamental kind of legitimatron employed by whatever powerful class of social actors one wishes to focus on can also be seen by considering the fundamental kind of legitimation that has habitually been employed with regard to large-scale or high-cost social enterprises such as war, scientific and technological development, or environmental exploitation. Such enterprises have habitually been undertaken not simply in the name of men, capitalists, whites, or Westerners, for example, but rather in the name of God (and thus our essential humanity-or our anthropocentric projection upon the cosmos, depending upon one's perspective) or simply in the name of humanity in general. (This applies notwithstanding the often sexist expression of these sentiments in terms of "man," mankind," and so on, and notwithstanding the fact that certain classes of social actors benefit disproportionately from these enterprises.) Thus, to take some favorite examples, Francis Bacon and Descartes ushered in the development of modern science by promising, respectively, that it would lead to "enlarging the bounds of Human Empire" and that it would render humanity the "masters and possessors of nature."10 Approximately three and a half centuries later, Nell Armstrong's moon walk-the culmination of a massive, politically directed, scientific and technological development effort-epitomized both the literal acting out of this vision of "enlarging the bounds of Human Empire" and the literal expression of its anthropocentric spirit: Armstrong's moon walk was, in his own words at the time, a "small step" for him, but a giant leap for mankind." Here on Earth, not only do examples abound of environmental exploitation being undertaken in the name of humanity, but this also constitutes the fundamental kind of legitimation that is still most often employed for environmental conservation and preservation-it is implicit in every argument for the conservation or preservation of the nonhuman world on account of its use value to humans (.e.g, its scientific, recreational, or aesthetic value) rather than for its own sake or its use value to nonhuman beings. The cultural pervasiveness of anthropocentrism in general and anthropocentric legitimations in particular are further illustrated when one turns to consi 'der those social movements that have opposed the dominant classes of social actors to which I have been referring. With respect to the pervasiveness of anthropocentrism in general, it can be seen that those countermovements that have been most concerned with exposing discriminatory assumptions and undoing their effects have typically confined their interests to the human realm (i.e., to such issues as imperalism, race, socioeconomic class, and gender). With respect to the pervasiveness of anthropocentric legitimations in particular, it can equally be seen that these countermovements have not sought to legitimate their own claims on the basis that they are, for example, women, workers, black, or non-Western per se, but rather on the grounds that they too have exemplified-at least equally with those to whom they have been opposedeither whatever it is that has been taken to constitute the essence of humanness or else some redefined essence of humanness. While it would, in any case, be contrary to the (human-centered) egalitarian concerns of these countermovements to seek to legitimate their own claims by the former kind of approach (i.e., on the basis that they are, for example, women, workers, black, or nonWestern per se), the pity is (from a deep ecological perspective) that these countermovements have not been egalitarian enough. Rather than attempting to replace the ideology of anthropocentrism with some broader, ecocentrically inclined perspective, these countermovements have only served to reinforce it. It should be clear from this brief survey that the history of anthropocentrism takes in not only the assumption of the centrality and superiority of humans i.n general, but also the various claims and counterclaims that various classes of humans have made with regard to the exemplification of whatever attributes have been considered to be quintessentially human. Deep ecologists recognize that the actual historical reasons for the domination of one class by another (and here I also refer to the domination that humans as a class now exert over the nonhuman world) cannot be identified in any simplistic manner; they can be as complex as any ecological web or the evolutionary path of any organism. However, deep ecologists also recognize that claims to some form of human exclusiveness have tyically been employed to legitimate the bringing about and perpetuation of historical and evolutionary outcomes involving unwarranted domination. In consequence, deep ecologists have been attempting to get people to see that historical and evolutionary outcomes simply represent "the way things happen to have turned out"-nothing more-and that self-serving anthropocentric legitimations for these outcomes are just that.

What the ecofeminist criticism of deep ecology's focus on anthropocentrism overlooks, then, is the fact that deep ecologists are not primarily concerned with exposing the classes of so ' I actors historically most responsible for social domination and ecological destruction, but rather with the task of sweeping the rug out from under the feet of these classes of social actors by exposing the most fundamental kind of legiti'mati'on that they have habitually employed in identifying their position. (This distinction between a concern with classes of just social actors on the one hand and the most fundamental kind of legitiryiation they employ on the other hand should be apparent from the fact that deep ecology has been elaborated within a philosophical context rather than a sociological or political context-which is not to suggest that deep ecology does not have profound social and political implications.) Of course, ecofeminists, green socialists, and so on are also concerned with questions of legitimation, but they are generally concerned with these questions in a different sense than dee ecologists are concerned with them. The primary emphasis of ecofeminists, green socialists, and the other social and political analysts to whom I have referred is on the distribution of power in society and the ways in which that distribution is reinforced and reproduced. In this context, references to legitmation tend not to be to the "bottom line" rationale employed by these powerful classes (i.e., to legitimation in the fundamental or philosophical sense), but rather to the ways in which existing power structures utilize their sources of power to back up existing states of affairs (from overtly physical forms of power such as the police and the military to less tangible forms such as economic power and the manipulation of social status). To the extent that ecofeminists, green socialists, and so on are concerned to expose the fundamental, philosophical legitimation employed by the classes of social actors whose unwarranted degree of power is the focus of their critique, and to the extent that this concern extends out into a genuinely ecocentric perspective, it becomes difficult to see any significant difference between what they call ecofeminism, green socialism, and so on and what others call deep ecology (such differences as remain are simply differences of theoretical flavor and emphasis rather than differences of substance).

Deep ecologists want to unmask the ideology of anthropocentrism so that it can no longer be used as the "bottom line" legitimation for social domination and ecological destruction by any class of social actors (men, capitalists, whites, Westerners, humans generally or even essentialist feminists!)." Thus, those who ali n themselves with certain perspectives on the distribution of power in human society (e.g., feminism, Marxism, antiracism, or anti-imperialism) misunderstand the essential nature of deep ecology if they see it in terms of their perspective versus deep ecology (e.g., in the case of ecofeminism and deep ecology, androcentrism versus anthropocentrism or if they criticize deep " Rather, 'ust as deep ecology on the basis that it has "no analysis of power. I ecologists have learned and incorporated much from, and should be open to, a range of perspectives on the distribution of power in human society, so those who align themselves with these social and political perspectives can learn and incorporate much from, 'and should be open to, the deep ecologists' critique of the most fundamental kind of legitimation that has habitually been employed by those most responsible for social domination and ecological destruction.

Warren, Karen 1994 Ecological Feminism,
Routledge, London 88 ISBN 0-415-07298-0

from: Ecological Feminism, Christine J. Cuomo

Christine J. Cuomo received her PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she wrote her dissertation on ecological feminism as environmental ethics. She is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cincinnati, where she often gets to teach feminist and environmental philosophy. Her life is enriched by the presence of her bike and her tent, among other things.



A growing number of environmental activists, concemed academics, and writers are identifying their work as 'radical ecology,' or 'radical environmentalism." Utilizing the political distinction between liberal reformism and political revolution, radical ecologists eschew reformist solutions to environmental problems in favor of a revolutionary change in the way humans conceive and interact with environments (including non-human individuals, other species, and ecosystemic communities). A certain school of radical ecological thought, Deep Ecology, has become very popular in Europe and the United States, especially among white, middle-class, male environmental activists and academics. Ecofeminism, a radical environmentalism which incorporates both ecological and feminist concems, emerged from the global feminist movement of the early 1970s. Its proponents emphasize the many finks among the oppression of women, the degradation of the environment, and other forms of oppression and domination. Ariel Kay Salleh's 1984 article "Deeper than Deep Ecology: the eco-feminist connection" offered an early ecofeminist critique of Deep Ecology. Safleh argued that ecofeminism offers a depth of analysis and understanding that is lacking in Deep Ecology. Although I do not agree with her descriptions there of 'women's consciousness' as foundational to ecological feminism, Salleh's recent piece 'The Deep Ecology/ecofeminism debate,' (1992) evidences both a strengthening of her arguments against Deep Ecology and a shift from her earlier focus on a universalist conception of women's consciousness. My analysis here supports her conclusion that ecofeminism provides a normative and critical environmental theory that is superior to Deep Ecology. Utilizing Deep Ecologist Ame Naess's own definition of 'depth,' I locate the 'depth' of ecofeminism in the complexity of its considerations of environmental issues and problems. I begin by illustrating the strength and depth of ecofeminism through a comparison of the approaches of Deep Ecology and ecofeminism to the issue of human population. By doing so, I hope to fill out gaps in the ecofeminism/Deep Ecology debate with an example of concrete differences between these approaches to global environmental issues. Through this illustration, I also hope to defend ecofeminism against Warwick Fox's claim that ecofeminism is a shallow environmental theory. Although some of Fox's critique is based on readings of several ecofeminist authors against whom I argue elsewhere (Cuomo 1992), 1 aim to show that even his arguments against those authors are misdirected. There are various interpretations of "ecofeminism.' Here I take aecofeminism' to be the position that environmental and feminist issues are intrinsically linked, and that environmental and feminist philosophies should acknowledge and address these connections .2 Central to my argument is the contention that Fox, and those who put forth similar arguments, confuse the legitimate ecofeminist analyses of human interactions with each other with anthropocentrism, a concept which Deep Ecologists and other radical environmentalists use to refer to human-centered thinking, or human chauvinism. My main conclusion, echoing Salleh, is that according to Deep Ecologists' own definitions of 'deep' ecological theory, ecofeminism is actually "deeper than deep ecology' (Salleh 1984). In sum, I argue that ecofeminist consideration of the size of human population is superior to Deep Ecologists' precisely due to the complexity of ecofeminist analysis of such issues, and hence that ecofeminism does not offer a simple analysis of ecological and social problems.

Defining deep ecology

I would like to distinguish deep ecology from Deep Ecology, although I shall be considering both here. One term, which I will represent in small-case letters, refers to a general category a type of ecological theory. The term that I will represent in capital letters refers to a particular example of such theory. Both terms were introduced by Norwegian philosopher Ame Naess in his 1973 article 'The shallow and the deep, long-range ecology movement." There he distinguishes deep ecologies from shallow ecologies and sketches out Deep Ecology, an example of an ecological philosophy based on a theory of biocentric, or life-centered, equality. According to Naess, shallow ecology is typified by movements which fight exclusively against pollution and resource depletion. The central objective of shallow movements is to promote 'the health and affluence of people in the developed countries." Movements and theories are considered 'deep" in terms of the 'distance [they] look in search of roots of a problem, and in refusing to ignore troubling evidence" (Naess 1990: 12). At the core of Naess's view is the belief that arbitrarily restricting moral consideration to humans is an example of anthropocentrism, or thinking which is unjustifiably human centered. In sum, deep theories consider the long-range dimensions of ecological problems and solutions, are not anthropocentric, are not reformist, question anthropocentric thinking at its deepest levels, and recommend fundamental change in human attitudes toward the nonhuman members of the global biota. Although there may be many examples of deep ecologies (some would characterize the Greens, ecofeminists, social ecologists, and bioregionalists as "believers"), in his more extensive works Naess articulates in great detail a particular philosophy which he and later advocates identify as Deep Ecology. So, as radical ecologist Steve Chase writes, the term deep ecology can therefore be seen as one that does double duty, referring on the one hand to a whole class of approaches (i.e., all nonanthropocentric approaches) and on the other hand to a particular kind of approach within this class ... a distinctive kind of approach to nonanthropo centrism. (Chase 1991: 9)

Naess and others have theorized on the meanings of both deep ecology and Deep Ecology. Deep Ecology is an earth or ecocentrism which entails a "deep yes to nature, and thinking of the landscape first" (Naess 1990: 15). Its biospherical egalitarianism acknowledges the existence in all "ways and forms of life' of an .equal right to live and blossom." In Ecology, Community and Lifestyle, Naess puts forth an eight-point platform of Deep Ecology (Naess 1990: 29-31). The writings of Ame Naess have inspired many philosophers and activists to implement and expand this platform .3 Probably some of the best known advocates of Deep Ecology in the United States are the members of Earth First!, the 'self-proclaimed 'action wing of the Deep Ecology movement" (Chase 1991: 8). In the 1980s Earth First! gained notoriety throughout the United States for its implementation of militant activism and 'monkeywrenching" techniques in defense of the wilderness .4 Media attention to their activities, as well as the ever-growing body of work that has been published by Deep Ecologists, has made Deep Ecology one of the more popular activist movements in the United States since the 1960s. A favorite issue among Deep Ecologists, the "population problem," is often cast by them as a central causal factor in the destruction of the biosphere and wilderness areas in particular. The relevance of the size of human population in the consideration of global environmental destruction and species depletion cannot be denied by environmentalists. However, I believe the positions of leading Deep Ecologists on the human overpopulation issue provide a stunning example of Deep Ecology's failure to probe deeply into the causes and factors creating environmental problems. Here I wifl lay out and criticize some Deep Ecological views on human population and use them as a point of contrast from which to consider ecofeminist alternatives.

Deep ecology on human population

Part of Naess's eight-point Deep Ecology platform is a commitment to reduced human population. His fifth principle states, 'The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease" (Naess 1990: 30). Elsewhere he asserts that, 'it is recognized that excessive pressures on planetary life stem from the human population explosion' (Naess 1987). Naess's principle rests on the belief that human population must be reduced because of the limitations of the Earth's 'carrying capacity.' He has the followirg to say about a United Nations study of optimal human population, which asks:

"Given the present world-wide industrial and agricultural capacity, technological development, and resource exploita tion, how many people could be supported on earth today with the standard of living of the average American? The answer is just 500 million." Agreed, but the question raised refers only to humans. How about the other living beings? If their life quality is not to be lowered through human dominance, for instance agriculture, are not 500 million too many? Or: are cultural diversity, development of the sciences and the arts, and of course the basic needs of humans not served by, let us say, 100 million? ... [Some] brush the ques tion away as 'academic," "utopian." They immediately think of the difficulties of reduaion in a bumane way [emphasis mine]. (Naess 1990: 140-1)

Naess is dissatisfied with the study's anthropocentric focus on human well-being and neglect of other living beings, and hence rejects its numerical recommendations. Furthermore, he finds fault with those who dismiss the question because they think it unrealistic and because they think humanely. From a Deep Ecological perspective, thinking bumanely is problematic insofar as doing so is human centered. Of course, if humaneness is merely kindness and compassion, it is not anthropocentric to reflect or act humanely. Naess seems here to conflate humaneness with human-centeredness, as though application of the ethics of human interactions with each other (such as being kind) is anthropocentric. Is this merely a matter of interpretation? It is true that the overall tone of Naess's work evidences benevolent foundations; his reader would be surprised to find that he would condone inhumane methods of population reduction. My point is to identify a vagueness, or a lack of clarity in Deep Ecological thinking concerning human interactions with each other. Despite Naess's apparent benevolent sensibilities, the writings and recommendations of a number of Deep Ecologists have sometimes verged on the inhumane, and others have put forth the view that phenomena such as the global AIDS epidemic and Third World famine are 'necessary solutions' to the "population problem."' George Bradford (1989) has ruminated on the implications of the varying political perspectives of Deep Ecologists, a truth iuustrated in Dave Foreman's claim that "Earth First! is not left or right; we are not even in front' (Foreman 1993: 424). If Deep Ecology has room for such a broad range of political perspectives, and demands few positions on human social matters, it may not provide a sufficiently substantive foundation for considering interpersonal ethics. This is relevant to its adequacy as an environmental ethic, as the ethics of human interactions with each other determine, are determined by, and are necessarily related to the ethics of human interactions with our environment and its members. Ecofeminists argue that these ethical spheres are inseparable (Griffin 1989; King 1989). A central, and related, problem with Deep Ecology is evident in Deep Ecologists' one-dimensional characterization of the upopulation problem.' Naess and other Deep Ecologists, in their relative silence concerning the issues underlying population size, appear to register the fll-effects of an enormous human population as part of a battle between the human species and the Earth. In this scenario, 'humans,' due to their lack of appreciation of the ontological (and hence ethical) status of "nature,' selfishly reproduce more of their species than can be supported by a healthy, whole, biosphere. Sorely lacking is critical analysis of the universe of human social factors, many of which are related to issues of gender and oppression, contributing to the size of human population, and of the assumptions about the nature of human impact on environments that ground many scientific theories about 'carrying capacity" and 'standard of riving." In contrast, ecofeminists might consider the "carrying capacity" of the planet to be, not a biological fact, but an estimate that depends on our assumptions about how humans will impact on the land, other species, and the biota in general. Conceptions of 'carrying capacity' are often based not on ecosystemic givens but on ideological inclinations. A large, low-impact human community may be more environmentally feasible than a smaller high-impact community if the large community is based on ecologically sound principles and practices. Human lifestyle and 'standard of living" ne not biological givens, and any theory which posits recommendadons for the future of human communities must be specific about the ideal types recommended or assumed, as well as the problems inherent in present human conununities. Deep Ecology does not provide such a theory. Deep Ecologists' characterization of the facts of human population and the simplistic solutions recommended by some Deep Ecologists mark its analysis as shallow. Dave Foreman, Deep Ecologist and founder of Earth First!, writes:

There are far too many human beings on Earth .... Although there is obviously an unconscionable maldistribution of wealth and the basic necessities of life among humans, this fact should not be used as some leftists are wont to do to argue that overpopulation is not the problem. It is a large part of the problem .... Even if inequitable distribution could be soived, six billion human beings converting the natural world to material goods and human food would devastate natural diversity. (Foreman 1993: 423)

Note Foreman's reduction of (all) human beings into mere 'convertors,' and 'leftists' into simple-minded egahtarians. It is nonsensical to attempt to understand human population size without considering the specific ways in which natural objects are converted, exactly who is demanding and benefiting from such conversions, which humans are paying the price for those demands, and whether there is a history of resistance among the oppressed. Despite the fact that the imperatives "No Exploitation!' and 'SelfRealization!' are emphasized in Naess's philosophy, and Foreman recognizes that social factors contribute to population, neither believes attention to these factors, especially those concerning exploitation and oppression of humans, is central to understanding and undoing environmental destruction (Foreman 1993: 422). Ecofeminists, on the other hand, make the connections between human, women, environmental exploitation central to their position and aim toward an analysis that is inclusive of the many, related forms of domination. An ecofeminist analysis of the causes and effects of a large human population rests not only on ecological facts about the devastation of nonhuman populations by that human population, but also on feminist analyses of scientific models (like the ones used and cited by Naess), human reproduction and sexuality, race and ethnicity, histories of class oppression and economic exploitation, gender roles and the [email protected], and the psychological disempowerment of the oppressed. Examples of such work covers a broad range, from the Unity Statement of the Women's Pentagon Action, in which ecofeminist activists marked connections among women's reproductive freedom, militarism, depletion of resources, and racism, to Karen J. Warren's essay 'Taking empirical data seriously,' in which she argues that environmental theories and movements cannot ignore the overwhelming scientific evidence of connections among the oppressions of women, people of color, people who are poor, children, and nature (Warren 1994). The careful attention in ecofeminist work to the details and complexities of environmental issues illuminates huge, problematic gaps in approaches like Naess's and Foreman's. Deep Ecologists tend to view humans as an undifferentiated, monolithic species, and hence to regard environmental destruction as resulting from "human' action, 'human" attitudes, or even a 'human' teleology which aims inevitably toward total dominion over and exploitation of the nonhuman realm. Anarchist George Bradford points out how Deep Ecology 'takes the technocratic reduction of nature to resources for an undifferentiated species activity based on supposed biological need' (Bradford 1989: 10), and social ecologist Murray Bookchin remarks on Deep Ecologists' tendency to regard human beings as a species "rather than as beings who are divided by the oppressions of race, sex, material means of life, culture, and the fike" (Chase 1991: 32). In fact, when we take into account the differences mentioned by Bookchin, it seems plausible that members of different classes, cultures, or genders have different ethical responsibilities with regard to their roles in reducing human population. It is not unreasonable to argue, for example, that members of high-impact technological societies have a greater moral obligation than less destructive societies to minimize their own growth.6 Bookchin's point also makes clear that the presumption of one universal "standard of living" (as in Naess's criticism of the UN study) ignores important human [email protected] In addition to questioning some basic presuppositions in Deep Ecological characterization of human population, such as the notion that it is unproblematic to talk of 'human' as an undifferenhated species and hence disregard the particularities of gender and other specificities, ecofeminist analysis probes more deeply by asking basic questions about the history, context, and institutionalization of population growth and density pattems. Instead of beginning where Naess starts, with the question of the carrying capacity of the planet, a primary question for ecofeminists considering the issue of human population should be, 'Why do women bear many children, even in areas or communities where high population density impacts on individual fives very directly, through overcrowding, shortages of food and other necessities, poor health and hygiene, and the obvious destruction of local land and species?". In order to answer such a question, ecofeminism entails consideration of at least the following complex and intersecting factors.


Although women must be a central focus of any study or analysis of human population size and growth, it is imperative that this be done in a way that does not 'blame the victim.' The systematic oppression of women and girls in patriarchal societies cannot be ignored by environmentalists concemed with the problems associated with a large and growing human population. Women are devalued in nearly every society on the planet, and this devaluation is conceptually related to devaluation of the natural envirorunent and its members.7 One consequence of women's oppression is sexual disempowerment. That is, many women are unable (physically or conceptually) to refuse sex with male partners. Glorification of male sexual prowess and virility, a recurrent expression of sexism, associates male social prestige with reproductive capacities and the abundance of offspring. When women cannot refuse heterosex and men demand it for reasons which supersede their desire for space and abundant local species, women's sexual disempowerment feeds population growth, even in squalor.' Furthermore, until women control their own reproductive fives, it will be nearly impossible to decrease the human reproduction rate by instituting birth control programs which are targeted primarily at females, as the vast majority so far have been. Such attempts at population control place responsibility in the hands of women who are often not, in fact, responsible for reproductive decision-making. Women's sexual empowerment is a feminist imperative; it is also an ecological one if one is to take overpopulation seriously.


Many feminist theorists have written about the oppression of women through the institution of motherhood.9 Others have attempted to reconceptualize aspects of mothering away from the sexism and labor divisions under which motherhood has been constructed.'o Proponents of either approach to motherhood agree that when female identity is bound intricately with motherhood, or when motherhood is presented as the only or best way to have meaningful lives, women's life options are severely limited. The acts of bearing and caring for children get packed with meanings and importance that make the rejection of motherhood difficult, if not impossible. An ecofeminist analysis of the matter of human population, which centers so dramatically on issues of human reproduction and its meanings in social and political contexts, must include an analysis of the many forms of motherhood and their relations to women's oppression.

Racism and class or caste oppression

These forms of oppression intersect with women's oppression in ways that make issues of reproductive freedom even more complex for women of color, poor women, and women living in the "Third World.' The legacy of industrial imperialism includes a disastrous level of poverty among people of color which has led to increased birth rates. In some societies, having many children is tantamount to creating a large familial work force. Economic stresses in such contexts intensify the immediate need for children and hence overshadow the supposed importance of "family planning.' A global history of racist and other imperialist, genocidal policies (such as coercive sterilization programs) inevitably results in a justified lack of trust toward Western health care providers and birth control programs.11 Feminist analysis of oppression and its stance against all forms of oppression entails a conunitment to multiculturalism and against racism and classism. This position grounds ecofeminist concern with environmental racism and environmental classism or the fact that certain forms of ecological destruction (such as the dumping of toxic waste) occur disproportionately in locations occupied by people of color and people who are poor. 12 The coincidence of overpopulation, poverty, and race cannot be treated as a trivial matter by theorists and activists interested in population. Conneclions must be explicitly analyzed and addressed.

Cultural factors

How do cultural beliefs and values, which are often dictated by male members of society, contribute to and/or create context in which human reproductive capacities and the practice of having children are highly prized or left unquestioned? Certain forms of birth control may be religiously prohibited or considered by members of some cultures to be a sign of collusion with upper classes or imperialists. The history of the birth control movement in the United States and England, and its powerful opposition (whose influence is still felt in the opposition to sex education in US schools) is indicative of how cultural norms and mores can have great effects on the distribution and acceptance of birth control methods, even in 'developed" countries. Presumptions about the value of the traditional nuclear family, such as the belief that it is the only or best child-rearing option or human bonding unit, lie beneath much reproductive behavior and attempts to understand or change that behavior. Any theory which purports to offer understandings of and alternatives to ecological problems resulting from a large, high-impact human population must seriously examine the social and ecological value of family units. These presumptions, and their relation to institutions of gender, are of central concem to many ecofeminists, and are mostly left unquestioned by Deep Ecologists.

Health issues and sexuality

Because of the intersections of the oppression of women and of afl human physical 'nature,' females are often alienated from their own bodily functions and processes. In industrial societies, where gynecology and other allopathic medicines have replaced more holistic medical models, somatic alienation is augmented by epistemic alienation from ancient wisdom about human, and particularly female, bodies and health care. This alienation and lack of knowledge puts the power over women's bodies into the hands of professionals and feeds nonprofessional women's ignorance about birth control as wefl as nonheterosexual options. Such purposeful ignorance enabled a long global history of women being offered unsafe, impractical, and disempowering birth control methods and health care. 13 Of course, women's health and sexuality has also been a primary site for the exercise of patriarchal and racist political power. As Ronnie Zoe Hawkins has argued, reproductive choice is an ecological and an ecofeminist issue.

Finally, in societies which create mystique and taboo around sexuality, active heterosexuality is constructed as a way to become adult, to prevent boredom, or to rebel against authority. Heterosexual intercourse is often conceptually separated from its likely consequence: pregnancy. Talk of population reduction must occur in the context of discussions of the many aspects of human reproduction, heterosexuality and heterosexism among them.

The depth of ecofeminism

Warwick Fox argues that ecofeminism is shallow because it is 'logically and empirically simplistic,' positing (presumably of so-caned women's perspective) that 'one particular perspective of human society identifies the real root of ecological destruction" (Fox 1989). Ecofeminists, he believes, do not look at the complex network of factors which result in ecological destruction. He concludes:

Logically, such thinking is simplistic (and thus facile) because it implies that the solution to our ecological problems is close at hand all we have to do is remove "the real root" of the problem ... (Fox 1989)

But does a focus on human social concems imply anthropocentrism? Not if that focus occurs within a wide lens, enabling a consideration of how social concems are interrelated with environmental and ecological problems. Ecofeminists do focus on issues of human oppression, but this focus is not exclusively central to ecofeminist thought. In fact, Karen J. Warren points out that a basic implication of nearly all ecofeminist projects is that to treat human social concems and environmental issues as disparate is to misconceive the character of such issues since they are intrinsically, historically, practically, and conceptually related (see especially Warren 1990). Given the intricate interrelatedness of so-called feminist and environmental issues, especially evident in conceptual connections, ecofeminist activism aims at all times to dismantle the oppressive frameworks which harm humans and nonhumans @arly. In 'Ecofeminism and feminist theory,' Carolyn Merchant illustrates how ecofeminists from a variety of perspectives prioritize political issues in which female and ecological degradation intersect in very obvious, material ways (Merchant 1990). These include:

Women [who] argue that male-designed and -produced tech nologies neglect the effects of nuclear radiation, pesticides, hazardous wastes, and household chemicals on women's reproductive organs and the ecosystem. (Merchant 1990: 102).

Other ecofeminist movements confront examples of environmental destruction which affect disproportionate numbers of poor women and women of color (Merchant 1990). Such ecofeminist analysis of and attention to the intersections of oppressions imply that Fox's claim that ecofeminism recommends working on interhuman problems to solve environmental issues is a simplification of ecofeminist analysis. His simplification rests on a lack of attention to various forms and mechanisms of oppression, devaluation, and degradation, and a consequent ignorance of the intersections of and relationships among systems of domination. Ile stance of prominent ecofeminists on the value of nonhuman entities is clear, as are their positions on human-centered thinking. Susan Griffin writes,

just as the Earth is not the center of the solar system, so the biosphere is not centered on the human species nor circumscribed by human culture. (Griffin 1989: 11)

And in 'Loving your mother: on the woman-nature relationship,' in which Catherine Roach is critical of environmental theories which naturalize the relationships between women and nature, the following critique of anthropocentrism is offered:

Any understanding of the world that posits an important or unbridgeable difference between the realm of the human and the nonhuman risks creating a gulf between the two in which the human [is] more highly valued than the nonhuman .... Such an understanding must be rejected as environmentally unsound. (Roach 1991: 54)

According to Ame Naess's own criteria, ecofeminism is not shallow insofar as it is anti-anthropocentric and acknowledges the moral value of nonhuman entities apart from their usefulness to humans.11 Although ecofeminists do place primary emphasis on the role of patriarchy in the creation and propagation of ecological oppression, patriarchal thinking is not necessarily considered the root cause of anything. In fact, patriarchal attitudes and practices interact with other systems and logics of domination (as Karen J. Warren has aptly named them) and oppression, such as racism, anthropocentrism, classism, and heterosexism to form a decentered matrix of oppressive attitudes, theories, and practices (Warren 1"0). Every aspect of this matrix has been constructed within a complex network of historical, economic, political, and environmental factors. Those ecofeminist writers who have explored the complexity of the connections and relationships among various oppressions and social constructions, who are largely ignored by Fox, do not claim that 'woman's perspective' provides the perfect vantage point to determine the causes of ecological destruction because they realize, and in fact assert, that no such unitary perspective exists. The arguments of many prominent ecofeminists do rest on the fact that the perspectives of females, people of color, and members of other historically disenfranchised groups are virtually missing from the history of academic thought, and also that certain theoretical and ethical insights may be gained by giving attention to these many perspectives and voices. Although Arne Naess asserts that a theory is deep insofar as it refuses to ignore 'troubling evidence" about the roots of ecological destruction, Deep Ecologists tend to ignore the troubling fact that anthropocentrism and other oppressive attitudes toward the nonhuman realm actually feed and are fed by human oppression and subjugation (including sexism, racism, ethnocentrism, etc.). Deep Ecologists ignore a significant facet of the matrix of oppression and domination in so far as they ignore the extent to which human interactions with each other determine and are determined by human interactions with the nonhuman realm.

Concluding thoughts

Given the complexities of an ecofeminist analysis of the problem I.of human population, the formation of practical solutions and an ethics that addresses the many facets of the problem will be equally 'complex and multifaceted. One imperative that emerges is the ,recogrution of the ethical necessity of women's empowerment. 'Such an imperative cannot emerge from a one-dimensional Deep Ecology analysis which views anthropocentrism as the sole root of environmental destruction and which posits humans as an undifferentiated species. Women must be empowered with regard to their own bodies, their role as creators of culture, about their role and power in sexuality, and about their self-creation of identities other than as mother. An ethic that addresses the complexities of the human population problem will include an acknowledgment and analysis of the empowerment of women and the need for economic empowerment of the poor, and will offer a thorough critique of genocidal and racist programs and policies. A medical ethic which addresses the need for safe, practical, nonpaternalistic health care options for women and the poor is a necessary aspect of any theory which addresses the issue of human population. Some Deep Ecologists, and even some ecofeminists, have argued that Deep Ecology and ecofeminism are theoretically similar, share common goals, and/or are in agreement concerning the positive program of radical ecology. 16 But the differences between the two are not superficial, and they mark serious disagreement concerning the basis of ethics, contextualization of ethical issues, and the interrelationship of ethical issues seemingly confined to the human sphere with those that obviously involve nonhuman entities.' Deep Ecology and ecofeminism differ greatly as theoretical systems or paradigms, and hence as ethical frameworks. However, if what I have said is correct, then there is a respect in which ecofeminism is a kind of deep ecology. It is not shallow; it is anti-anthropocentric, acknowledges the moral value of the non-human realm, and engages in extensive, if not bottomless, questioning about the many factors which contribute to our present environmental dilemmas.

Warren, Karen 1996 Ecological Feminist Philosophies,
Indiana Univ. Pr., Bloomington 137 ISBN 0-253-21029-1

Deep Ecology versus Ecofeminism-. Healthy Differences or Incompatible Philosophies?
from: Ecological Feminist Philosophies ROBERT SESSIONS


One measure of the strength and importance of the feminist movement is the extent to which philosophers from a broad spectrum-from conservatives to radicals or from historians of ancient philosophy to deconstructionists-now see the discussion of gender issues as an important part of their discipline. Using a parallel yardstick, the environmental movement has grown rapidly in strength and importance: the range of philosophers who address environmental issues is probably as broad as that discussing gender. Given this rapid and dramatic rise of philosophical concern for environmental issues, we should expect and welcome serious disagreements about both the underlying conceptual and historical reasons for human destruction of the environment and the proposed solutions. In this essay I will focus on the debate between deep ecology and ecofeminism, two of the several philosophies that criticize and attempt to supplant the prevailing environmental philosophies. The controversy between deep ecology and ecofeminism has been going on for nearly a decade.' On the positive side, many thinkers from these two camps have helped each other understand better their own views and those they oppose, and they have deepened their own and our understanding of the difficult issues we face. In contrast, some of the exchanges have been rather rancorous: some deep ecologists have accused ecofeminism of shallowness, anthropocentrism, shortsightedness, and environmental naivete, while various ecofeminists have called their accusers sexist, shallow, ahistorical, stoical, and even fascist. In this essay I will attempt to show how and why deep ecology and ecofeminism are at odds, and I will examine whether and how these differences could be overcome. I will conclude with a discussion of the key issues and differences that I believe need further attention if the "versus" in the title of this essay is to be replaced by a more compatible relationship.

According to Arne Naess, who coined the "deep ecology" label and who is looked upon by most deep ecologists as a seminal thinker in this tradition, deep ecology has eight basic characteristics, the first four of which he claims are conceptually fundamental: "(1) The well-being and flourishing of human and non-human Life on Earth have value in themselves. These values are independent of the usefulness of the non-human world for human purposes. (2) Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves. (3) Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to sarisfy vital needs. (4) The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of non-human life requires such a decrease" (Naess 1986, 14). Naess and the many deep ecologists who agree with him begin by asserting the fundamental equality and inherent value of all beings and then draw inferences for human action from their original anti-anthropomorphism. Warwick Fox sums up deep ecology as wanting to encourage an egalitarian attitude that "within obvious kinds of practical limits, allows entities (including humans) the freedom to unfold in their own way unhindered by the various forms of human domination" (Fox 1989, 6). This central concern with "ecocentric egalitarianism" (Fox's label) leads deep ecologists to oppose, above all else, the historical Western propensity to place humans at the center of the moral universe (to be anthropocentric). Deep ecologists trace most environmental destruction to the anthropocentric attitude that says (1) nonhuman nature has no value in itself, (2) humans (and/or God, if theistic) create what value there is, and (3) humans have the right (some would say the obligation) to do as they please with and in the nonhuman world as long as they do not harm other humans' interests. Thus deep ecologists criticize the human centeredness of prevailing Western attitudes and ethics by claiming that there are no good reasons in general for valuing a member of a species or a whole species over another individual or species or over any given ecosystem. They are not against human flourishing, but deep ecologists believe that this flourishing can generally occur without the destructive domination of nonhuman nature by humans, and insofar as it can, it should. Naess and other deep ecologists believe we need an ethic that is not a mere extension of existing humanist ethics. Animal liberationist Peter Singer, for example, argues that we can provide a theoretical basis for vegetarianism by extending utilitarianism to include all sentient beings. Deep ecologists criticize Singer and other "extensionists" for holding onto "an increasingly arbitrary perspective in an age when the ecological imagination can shift reference points within the system and imagine the world to some extent from the standpoint of the muskrat and its environment" (Naess 1973, 96). Extensions of human-centered ethics perpetuate an unjustifiable bias humans have toward their own. Thus, just as an ethic that begins with men as distinct from women is sexist, utilitarianism (the best of the humanistic lot in this regard) and other Westem ethics are 11 speciesist." Deep ecology tries to begin with a foundation that does not arbitrarily set "man apart" (to borrow a phrase from Robinson Jeffers). Hans Jonas puts the difference between shallow and deep ecology this way: "Only an ethic which is grounded in the breadth of being, not merely in the singularity or oddness of man, can have significance in the scheme of things" (jonas 1983, 284). The critical side of deep ecology, then, is aimed at anthropocentric domination of nature. The alternatives to anthropocentrism it recommends vary, depending on the non-domination-of-nature tradition(s) to which particular deep ecologists turn . We will look at some of these frameworks briefly at the end of this essay; for now three points are important. First, given the very general nature of the change in attitude deep ecologists desire-from anthropomorphism to egalitarianism-we find greater diversity in the prescriptions given by deep ecologists to solve the problems caused by anthropocentric philosophies and practices than in the diagnosis of the sources of the problems. Deep ecologists are more unified in their analyses of the problem than in their recommended solutions. Second, while no specific prescription necessarily follows from the diagnosis, a type of alternative is demanded-one that eliminates anthropocentric domination. Finally, while the alternatives offered by deep ecologists are fairly diverse, they tend to be characterized as proposing that we seek a higher unity in the diversity of the world: for example, Naess often tums to Buddhism for a higher Self that transcends the ego-self of the individual; Fox talks of the transpersonal; and Devall and Sessions look to the unity of Spinoza's philosophy (see note 2). When we examine the disputes between deep ecology and ecofeminism, it is crucial to separate their critiques of anthropocentric and androcentric environmental frameworks from their positive alternatives, for disapproval of one or several (or even all?) of deep ecology's positive frameworks is not to dismiss that movement's analysis of the domination of nature. On the other side, a dismissal of antianthropocentrism is to reject deep ecology. I hope to show that ecofeminism at most modifies (in important ways) deep ecology's negative analysis, and that while the tendency of ecofeminist solutions is perhaps contrary to the standard interpretations of deep ecology's images of unity, they are not logically incompatible with the negative side of the deep ecological framework, and they may not be incompatible with certain versions of the positive side either.


Finding a spokesperson for ecofeminism is more difficult, and this difference from deep ecology is not insignificant. While both men and women are to be found within each of these varieties of environmental philosophy, most deep ecologists are men, while women make up the strong majority in ecofeminism (see note 1). Part of the ecofeminist critique of deep ecology is that the masculinist nature of deep ecology can be seen in its rather unified program as well as in its use of language and logical style. I will return to this issue briefly at the end of this essay; for now bear in mind that the diversity of thought seems much greater in ecofeminism than in deep ecology. As a starting point I will use Ynestra King and Karen J. Warren as examplars of ecofeminist thought: they have both written a number of influential articles on ecofeminism, and they both identify strongly with this movement, as illustrated by their ardent defenses of ecofeminism against feminist as well as deep ecologist critics. Warren says that ecofeminism is based on the following general claims: "(1) There are important connections between the oppression of women and the oppression of nature. (2) Understanding the nature of these connections is necessary to any adequate understanding of the oppression of women and the oppression of nature. (3) Feminist theory and practice must include an ecological perspective. (4) Solutions to ecological problems must include a feminist perspective" (Warren 1987, 4-5). She further contends that what feminism today needs is to be "transformative," to move beyond the current debate over the four leading versions of feminism (liberal feminism, traditional Marxist feminism, radical feminism, and socialist feminism) "and make an ecofeminist perspective central to feminist theory and practice" (1987, 5). Ecofeminism contains both a critique of the dominant "patriarchal conceptual framework" and offers a feminist framework that is "grounded in familiar ecological principles." The former, according to Warren,

is one which takes traditionally male-identified beliefs, values, attitudes, and assumptions as ... the standard; it gives higher status or prestige to what has been traditionally identified as It male" than to what has been traditionally identified as "fe male". . . . A patriarchal conceptual framework is characterized by value-hierarchical thinking.... Such ... thinking gives rise to a logic of domination ... which serves to legitimate inequality when, in fact, prior to the metaphor of Up-Down one would have said only that there existed diversity. (1987, 6-7)

For Warren, the ecofeminist critique of patriarchy is grounded in ecological principles: "Everything is interconnected with everything else; all parts of an ecosystem have equal value; there is no free lunch; 'nature knows best'; healthy, balanced ecosystems must maintain diversity; there is unity in diversity" (1987, 7). Warren believes this critique must embrace feminism because otherwise "the ecological movement will fail to make the conceptual connections between the oppression of women and the oppression of nature (and to link these with other systems of oppression)" (1987, 8).

Warren sharpens this analysis in a recent article (1990) by showing the parallel structures between the domination of nature by humans and the domination of women by men. Her version of the logic of the domination of nature (anthropocentrism) has five steps:

Warren next shows how women can be (and have been) substituted for plants and rocks in this argument and how women are identified with nature and men with mind. Thus (Al) becomes (Bl): "Women are identified with nature and the realm of the physical; men are identified with the 'human' and the realm of the mental" (1990, 130). She goes on to argue that the second and fourth premises are unwarranted value assumptions and that without them the arguments for domination of nature and women fail. Warren contends that this ecofeminist analysis not only exposes and successfully criticizes the domination of nature but also shows that the same logic is used to dominate women. Therefore, she argues, feminism is (should be) ecological (against naturism), and those who oppose naturism are (should be) simultaneously against sexism. King emphasizes a further dimension of ecofeminism by showing that ecofeminism is naturally closely aligned with the peace movement and other struggles to end domination of people as well as nature. In a classic essay (1981) she calls ecofeminism "cultural feminism," which rejects both the denial of the nature/woman link (rationalist feminism) and the belief that women are more 11 natural" than men (radical feminism). King claims that "both these positions are unwittingly complicit with the nature/culture dualism. Women's oppression is neither strictly historical nor strictly biological. It is both" (King 1981, 13). Moreover, King believes that

gender is a meaningful part of a person's identity.... As women we are naturalized culture in a culture defined against nature. If the nature/culture antagonism is the primary contradiction of our time, it is also what weds feminism and ecology and makes women the historic subject. Without an ecological perspective which asserts the interdependence of living things, feminism is disem bodied. (1981, 15)

Ecofeminism's critique of predominant Western environmental attitudes is at least in part quite like that of deep ecology: the central fault is an attitude, logic, and practice of dominating nature. Deep ecology's anthropocentrism and Warren's naturism appear to be the same. The central difference between their negative analyses seems to be that while deep ecology focuses exclusively on human domination of nature, ecofeminism insists that a proper analysis must also emphasize the intimate logical and historical connections between the various forms of domination-the same logic and attitudes of superiority and practices of domination humans (men?) display in their relations toward the nonhuman dimensions of the world are found in men's relations to women and in imperialistic, racist, and classist structures and practices. Some ecofeminists claim that deep ecologists reveal their male chauvinism when they at most allude to the connections among these various forms of domination, and they emphasize the deeply masculinist nature of all these interconnected forms of domination by proposing that the central problem is androcentrism rather than anthropocentrism.'


In this section I will address this central ecofeminist criticism of deep ecology that it is androcentric. I will also examine the counterclaims by some deep ecologists that ecofeminism is shallow-that it does not get to the heart of environmental issues because it focuses on the connections among the various forms of domination rather than on the domination of nature itself. At the core of deep ecology is the call for a new (or the return to an old) sensibility. Modern humans have lost touch with nature and thus with their own natures-we no longer feel the rhythms of nature within ourselves, we have split ourselves from the world (dualism), and we live at a distance (alienation) from what is natural, leaving us fearful (insecure) and able to deal with the world only on our own terms (control). We have become insensitive to ourselves and others by losing our natural sensibilities. Deep ecologists thus look to premodern and/ or holistic traditions for suggestions about how to experience the world-to American Indians, Buddhism, Spinoza and others (see note 2), or to the science of ecology. I In short, their critique focuses on the bifurcation of humans and nature that has its sources far back especially in Western history and deep within many inherited philosophies, and the basic strategy deep ecologists recommend for ending the domination of nature is to somehow reverse this dualism, to join together what humans have split asunder. As we have seen, ecofeminists agree that domination of nature is much the issue, and many of them would further agree that historically the dualism of humans and nature is a major part of the mental substructure undergirding that domination. But they would not agree that this is the whole story. Warren, for example, says that "deep ecology makes a big conceptual error in supposing that the way to reduce a bad dualism is to affirm the neglected or historically undervalued member of the pair! The bad dualism is the problem, not simply what got undervalued."' She raises a parallel challenge to radical feminism, which wants to frame "the feminist debate over ecology in terms of the question 'Are women closer to nature than men?' In order for the question to be meaningfully raised, one must presuppose the legitimacy of the nature-culture dualism" (Warren 1987, 15). Ecofeminists such as Warren are concemed that nature has become a disconnected abstraction (and in some cases an obsession) for deep ecologists, with the result that although they are devoted to "nature," they relate to nature in a way parallel to that of the dualists they oppose-nature is a lost part of one's self (or one's self is a lost part of nature) that needs to be rejoined. Jim Cheney puts it this way:

In discussing naturalism, it is natural and to a large extent unavoidable to rely on the familiar terminology of philosophical tradition to explain it. Since a considerable amount of that terminology is the product of dualism, the question arises as to whether this language can be used effectively to convey the different perspective of naturalism. Although philosophy has always involved a great deal of innovation in new terminology, the defenders of ordinary language argue that philosophical meaning can be adequately expressed in everyday terms. But what if the ordinary view of the world which is embedded in ordinary language is what one wants to avoid and wants to correct? (Cheney 1987, 1 1 1)

Throughout his article Cheney tries to paint a different picture of how we might conceive of our relationships with humans and nonhumans alike. He turns for his inspiration to the rich material to be found in recent feminist literature about friendship, love, care, and gifting.6 Cheney believes deep ecologists reveal their ties to the patriarchal traditions they are trying to overcome by the sources and images they use for "reversing" the bifurcation of culture and nature. Despite its sincere concerns, deep ecology remains androcentric, and androcentrism is the real culprit. Thus deep ecology does not, according to this ecofeminist criticism, transcend the perspective it criticizes.

While there are intimate ties between analysis and solution, let us begin sorting out this dispute by differentiating deep ecology's diagnosis from its prescriptions to see just where and how ecofeminists find deep ecology lacking. Warren's analysis of the logic of domination concentrates on the diagnosis, while Cheney's alternative to deep ecology's images of unity is concerned mainly with prescriptions. At first glance Warren's analysis seems to add to or extend the basic critical analysis of deep ecology. Warwick Fox quotes "one ecofeminist-cum, deep ecologist" who read Warren's 1987 article and wondered "why she doesn't j ust call it [Warren's transformative feminism] deep ecology?" (Fox 1989, 14). For what Warren does, says Fox, is to show that the logic of domination that deep ecology sees as the source of naturism has its parallels in sexism, racism, and classism. According to Fox, anthropomorphism is what deep ecologists call this logic and attitude ("ideology") in human/nature relationships (Fox 1989, 19). He further contends that deep ecologists encourage an attitude of egalitarianism It toward all entities in the ecosphere-including humans" (1989, 21). Moreover, deep ecologists "completely agree with ecofeminists that men have been far more implicated in the history of ecological destruction than women. However, deep ecologists also agree with similar charges derived from other social perspectives: for example, that capitalists, whites, and Westemers have been far more implicated in the history of ecological destruction than pre-capitalist peoples, blacks, and non-Westerners" ( 1 989, 14). Human centeredness, not a particular group of humans, is the target of deep ecology; thus, Fox claims that contrary to Cheney and other ecofeminists, deep ecologists are not androcentric. Is Fox correct in his contention that the crucial difference between deep ecology and ecofeminism is a matter of focus-that deep ecology has its eye on environmental relations while ecofeminism is more concerned with how the logic of domination is also played out on women? Not according to Warren. She believes that the gendered nature of the logic of domination is more than an accident of history. She believes that feminism should be ecological at its core because the domination of nature and the domination of women are parts of a whole, and she believes that any satisfactory environmental philosophy must be feminist for the same reasons. She gives three arguments for the latter claim: (1) for the sake of historical accuracy we must "acknowledge the feminization of nature and the naturalization of women as part of the exploitation of nature"; (2) the oppressive dual dominations of women and nature at least in the West are "located in [a] patriarchal conceptual framework," and to ignore this connection is to give, at best, "an incomplete, inaccurate, and partial account of what is required of a conceptually adequate environmental ethic"; and (3) at least in contemporary culture the word feminist helps to clarify how the domination and liberation of nature are conceptually linked to patriarchy and its demise. Warren adds that "without the addition of the word'feminist,'one presents environmental ethics as if it has no bias, including male-gender bias, which is just what ecofeminists deny: failure to notice the connections between the twin oppressions of women and nature is male-gender bias" (Warren 1990, 144). This exchange between Fox and Warren, who are in many ways quite close in their concerns and analyses, helps to pinpoint what seems to be a critical difference between ecofeminism and deep ecology with regard to their diagnoses of the philosophical sources of environmental destructiveness. Warren and Cheney talk about this difference by emphasizing that the logic of domination is accompanied by a set of values:

The third feature of oppressive conceptual frameworks is the most significant. A logic of domination is not just a logical structure. It also involves a substantive value system, since an ethical premise is needed to permit or sanction the "just" subordination of that which is subordinate. (Warren 1990, 128)

According to this ecofeminist criticism, Fox, like Naess and other deep ecologists, emphasizes an abstract equality between humans and all other beings, while ecofeminism is against the logic of domination and the particular historical values that result in the domination of a particular set of entities. Fox defends deep ecology against this line of criticism by arguing that anthropocentrism is the most "fundamental kind of legitimation" that has been used to justify domination, whether of nature, of women, or of particular groups of people or nonhumans (Fox 1989, 21-25). He believes that "these classes of social actors have not sought to legitimate their positions on the grounds that they are, for example, men, capitalists, white or Western per se, but on the grounds that they have most exemplified whatever it is that has been taken to constitute the essence of humanness.... [They] have ... habitually assumed themselves to be somehow more fully human than others, such as women, the 'lower' classes, blacks, and non-Westemers" (1989, 22). Fox further defends deep ecology as non-sexist by pointing out that ecofeminists can be guilty of overemphasizing the domination of women and its link to the domination of nature. Since the logic of human centeredness can be used to justify domination of anything or anyone deemed lacking the magic essence, why don't ecofeminists give equal weight to the domination of people of color, aboriginal people, or poor people? In Fox's view:

There appears to be two reasons for this. First, to do so would detract from the priority that ecofeminists wish to give to their own concern with androcentrism. Second, and more signifi cantly, these charges could also be applied with equal force to the ecofeminist focus on androcentrism itself. (Fox 1989, 14)

At the very least, this exchange and others like it in the literature serve to warn us to be careful to understand these philosophies before criticizing them; but such debates also highlight that the process of exchange itself is formative of the positions. Given these caveats, what are we to make of the current exchange? Is deep ecology sexist? Is deep ecology's analysis fundamental? Is ecofeminism simplistic on both empirical and logical grounds" (Fox 1989, 15)? My answers to these questions will in certain ways support both contingents. First, I think that Warren's analysis of the logic of domination shows that at least one ecofeminist understands clearly that what Fox calls "human centeredness" is the problem: the logical strategy is to place some person(s) in domination over other persons or entities based on the in-group possessing a special quality exclusively or more fully than the others. Thus I do not see that Fox levels a telling criticism of ecofeminism by insisting that anthropocentrism is fundamental; ecofeminists don't disagree, as far as that logical point goes. Second, while it is important to understand the logic of domination, it is also important to understand how, where, and on what it has been used. To simply insist that the logic of anthropomorphism is the problem is like criticizing technology for extending human control over nature without looking at which technologies are used in which ways to do what for or to whom. Furthermore, just as uses of technologies can be good or bad, not all forms of domination are bad, and not all bad forms are equally bad. To ignore the particular uses of the logic of domination is to be guilty of ahistorical and possibly essentialist philosophizing. Thus it is no accident that the characteristics of ecofeminism given by Warren emphasize context and process. Third, the supposed sexism of deep ecology is no simple matter. Fox and others are quite emphatic that the scope of their ecocentric egalitarianism includes all humans as well as nonhumans. In theory, they are not androcentric or misogynistic. Is this a situation where, as Warren claims, not to be for us is to be against us? Fox does not think so-he sees nothing in the logic or values of deep ecologists that precludes them from being concerned about sexism. But that is not the same as being actively concerned about the actual victims of dominance, nor is it to be sensitive to the particular uses to which the logic of domination has been put. Deep ecologists perhaps do not deserve to be put into the same camp as those who practice the logic of domination on women, but they are guilty of complicity if they do not recognize the particular dominations of the day and work to alleviate them at least by revealing the common logic and values of sexism and naturism. In summary, while I can see why a deep ecologist might wonder why Warren does not call herself a deep ecologist since she begins with the logic of domination, at least with regard to the negative analysis of naturism, I think one could as easily wonder why deep ecologists like Fox don't call themselves ecofeminists. For ecofeminism not only comprehends the problem of anthropocentrism, but adds the crucial dimension of historythe actual ways in which the logic of domination has been used against particular beings and systems. A central tenet of ecofeminist thought is the rejection of either/or thinking; thus a good ecofeminist would say that both anthropocentrism and androcentrism are the problem.

Fox contends that ecofeminists can be guilty of the same transgressions of which they accuse deep ecologists if ecofeminists assert that androcentrism is the problem and mean that men are by nature or in history the only ones who have used or can use the logic of domination. I believe Fox is correct about this, as does Warren: "matriarchy is not the solution to patriarchy any more than saving nature and letting humans die is the solution to the problem of environmental destruction. 117 As demonstrated by the foregoing quotations from Warren and King, however, ecofeminists take pains to distinguish themselves from radical feminists in denying the very strategy Fox accuses ecofeminists of being tempted to adopt. Furthermore, it is important to note that the culprit is patriarchy, not all men, and the evidence from historians and anthropologists alike indicates that male dominance is ubiquitous if not universal. Another of Fox's charges is that ecofeminists need to avoid overemphasizing the oppression of women and ignoring the domination of people of color, poor people, and aboriginal peoples. I believe Fox is again correct in asserting that this exclusion could happen as ecofeminists attempt to link feminism with ecological concerns; but again, the evidence from even the few quotations above shows that this warning has been heeded. If anything, deep ecologists are less prone than ecofeminists to take seriously the connections between the domination of nature and other forms of domination.' The most serious challenge deep ecologists raise to ecofeminist thought is that it is "shallow." Arne Naess says that a philosophy is deep when it has "ultimate premises" (the "deepest") from which a system of belief and action flow (Naess, 1986, 28). Fox contends that ecofeminists show their lack of "depth" when they criticize deep ecology for not seeing that the root cause of environmental destruction is androcentrism rather than anthropocentrism:

Empirically [ecofeminism] is simplistic (and thus descriptively poor) because it fails to give due consideration to the multitude of interacting factors at work 'tn any given situation.... Such thinking fails ... to adopt an ecological perspective with respect to the workings of human society itself. Logically, such thinking is simplistic (and thus facile) because it implies that the solution to our ecological problems is close at hand-all we have to do is remove "the real root" of the problem-when it is actually perfectly possible to conceive of a society that is non androcentric, socioeconomically egalitarian, nonracist, and non imperialistic with respect to other human societies, but whose members nevertheless remain aggressively anthropocentric in collectively agreeing to exploit their environment for their col lective benefit in ways that nonanthropocentrists would find thoroughly objectionable. (Fox 1989, 15)

Fox seems to be asserting that the nature/woman connection is an historical accident that, if it had not been made by patriarchy, would leave ecofeminism indistinct from other feminist philosophies. The ecology-feminism link is accidental because it does not flow from the philosophical foundations of ecofeminism; instead, ecofeminists are concemed about ecology because history has linked women to nature. Is this criticism sound? We have already seen that the ecofeminist critique of "shallow" environmental perspectives shares deep ecology's rejection of human centeredness and that it adds a crucial historical dimension. Thus if ecofeminism is shallow in its critique, deep ecology is as well. Furthermore, deep ecologists should be careful not to confuse abstractness with depth. For a critique to be historical and include details of the sort ecofeminism adds to the analysis of the logic of domination is not to destroy the purity of a conceptual discussion, it is to tie that discussion to the real world. The fact that particular women (or trees or aboriginal people) have suffered from an "application" of the logic of domination should be understood by deep ecologists as a reminder that only in Platonic realms of ideas are logics separable from historical realities, rather than as a lack in ecofeminist thinking. Ecofeminism is, I believe, on solid ground against the deep ecologist's challenge that it is shallow, if we are speaking of ecofeminism's critique. What of the depth of various ecofeminist alternatives to naturist frameworks? And can deep ecology respond adequately to ecofeminist challenges to its "unity" solutions to the dualism deep ecology finds at the heart of anthropocentric environmental frameworks?


While space does not permit a thorough examination of the postttve envtronmental philosophies proposed by deep ecology and ecofeminism, I believe the following points help clear the way for well-focused discussions of the crucial issues. The most serious challenge by ecofeminists to deep ecology's "unity" alternatives to anthropocentric environmental frameworks seems to be that these proposals remain trapped within the dualistic mode of thinking they reject-in seeking unity nature becomes an abstract and glorified "other" with which one becomes unified in some kind of self-transcending love. The major challenge deep ecology raises to ecofeminism's "solidarity" proposals is that they are shallow-they do not encompass the breadth of perspective necessary to transcend the anthropocentrism they should oppose. I hope to suggest how both of these criticisms mainly miss the mark, and that the real work to be done is in articulating and justifying environmentally egalitarian communities. What ecofeminists like King and Warren seem to object to in the deep ecology unity proposals is the assumption that the best way to solve our environmental problems is to rejoin the poles of a faulty duality. For not only does this strategy accept this dualism as definitive of how we relate to the world, but in seeking this unity, differences-the crucial and manifold features of the world-become obliterated. Is this [email protected] the deep ecology quest to transcend dualism and its unhappy consequences logically entail or otherwise imply destruction (or at least ignoring) of difference? Naess says that his environmental philosophy, Ecosophy T, has as its fundamental norm "Self-realization":

But I do not want to give this expression any narrow, individualist sense. I want to give it an expanded meaning based on the distinction between Self and self conceived in certain Eastern traditions of "atman". . . . [My maxim is: ] maximum (long range, universal) Self-realization.

[This philosophy has three crucial implications: ] first, a some what extreme appreciation of diversity ... ; enthusiasm for "the mere" diversity of species or varieties within a genus of plants or animals.... Secondly, I have a somewhat extreme appreciation of what Kant calls beautiful actions in contrast to dutiful ones ... maturity in humans can be measured along a scale from selfishness to Selfishness, that is, broadening and deepening the self, rather than measures of dutiful altruism.... Thirdly, I believe that many-sided, high level Self-realization is more easily reached through a "spartan" life-style than through the material standard of average citizens of industrial states. (Naess 1986, 28-9)

If we add to this Naess's statement quoted earlier that we must learn to use our "ecological imagination [to] shift reference points," I do not believe deep ecology is necessarily guilty of the charge some ecofeminists level against it. For throughout the literature of deep ecology there is not only affirmation of Naess's commitment to this "extreme appreciation of diversity" but also much discussion (and practical attempts to intervene on behalf) of actual and diverse entities and systems. Thus if unity means obliteration of diversity (or disrespect for diversity), then deep ecologists are thinking and acting inconsistently. More likely, I believe, is that deep ecologists do not, as discussed in the previous section, pay enough attention to the complexity and diversity of human ecology, and furthermore they need to communicate more clearly what they mean by things like "unity" and "Self-realization." I am not saying that deep ecologists have not attempted to articulate their positive philosophies. My suggestion is more specific: they need to attend to the question of the compatibility of diversity and unity. Naess's idea of imaginative variation of perspective takes us partway toward this goal in that it indicates an understanding that unity is one among many possible standpoints we can (and should, deep ecologists argue) take. And just as ecofeminists warn us not to take only a holistic view lest we forget the diversity of the world, deep ecologists believe we (in the West especially) have forgotten the whole and the links between the parts. Bear in mind too that deep ecology is urging a shift in attitude (sensibility) as well as in paradigms. Thus, while we should not ignore the values of (and differences among) individuals, we should also train our imaginations insofar as we can to observe, evaluate, and experience from (as?) the whole. Finally, I believe Fox's emphasis on egalitarianism helps to clarify this issue for deep ecology. Equality does not mean identity and does not imply ignoring of differences. In fact, egalitarianism seems to be precisely what ecofeminists desire when they advocate difference but not distinction. In the previous section I argued that ecofeminism's negative critique is no shallower than that of deep ecology. What of its positive proposals? Recall that "depth" is a kind of code word for being antianthropocentric and also for thinking ecologically. When ecofeminists talk about community, solidarity, and unity in diversity, are they measuring up to this yardstick? First, I believe it is important to avoid beating people up with a yardstick, especially (if I may mix my metaphors) with a vague one. Surely the "breadth of being" deep ecologists wish to be considered in any deep ecology can be discussed in terms of community as well as in terms of unity. If anything, the science of ecology uses the language of community much more than referring to unity or wholeness. Furthermore, many images of community can focus our attention on the interrelationships among the diverse elements of the whole better than can many images of the whole. The real complaint of those accusing ecofeminism of shallowness seems to be a caution not to forget the nonhuman world and the complex and intimate human relationships with it when discussing sexism, racism, and other forms of domination. There are many perspectives, such as radical feminist or socialist frameworks, in which people end up slighting the domination of nature. While these examples point to a real danger, there is nothing in the logic or details of ecofeminism which would encourage such a lapse, and in fact many ecofeminists take pains to criticize socialist and radical feminism precisely for this oversight. Furthermore, ecofeminists such as Warren insist on the intimate connections between the domination of women, blacks, and others with the domination of nature. The real challenge to ecofeminism, I believe, is to articulate notions of community that include, in a comprehensible way, nonhuman nature. Spotted owls and aquifers are not our literal relatives, at least not in precisely the same ways as other humans can be. How are we to comprehend our relationships with the elements and inhabitants of the nonhuman world such that they are equal but different? This is the task to which ecofeminists and deep ecologists alike should turn, and the spatial metaphor of depth is not a particularly helpful guide in this part of the project.

Plumwood, Val 1993
Feminism and the Mastery of Nature,
Routledge, London ISBN 0-415-06810-X

Plumwood, Val 1993
Feminism and the Mastery of Nature,

Val Plumwood is a forest activist, forest dweller, bushwalker, crocodile survivor, and wombat mother. (The Plumwood is a beautiful local rainforest tree.) She is part of a Green women's network in Canberra. Her book on ecofeminism, Gender, Ecology, and Identity, is to be published by Routledge in their feminist series, 'Opening Out."

Mainstream environmental philosophy is problematic not just because of restriction in ethics but also because of restriction to ethics. Most mainstream philosophers continue to view environmental philosophy as primarily concerned with an extension of existing ethical frame- works. For example, instrumentalism is viewed as a problem in ethics, and its solution seen as setting up a theory of intrinsic value. But this neglects the key further aspects we have been examining, of dualism and the account of the self and of human identity as hyperseparated from nature, the connection between this and the instrumental view of nature, as well as the broader historical and political aspects of the critique of dualism and instrumentalism. As an alternative to this impoverished conception, deep ecology has had some success in broade- ning the conception of the problem to include issues concerning the human self and questions of human identity and discontinuity from nature. Feminist theory has revealed many of the buried links between conceptions of ethics and conceptions of selfhood, and thus has a very useful contribution to make to the discussion of both these approaches. In many crucial respects deep ecology does not present a very thoroughgoing alternative to extensions of mainstream ethics. In its dominant forms deep ecology continues to suffer from problems associated with unresolved human/nature dualism and other dualisms. If mainstream environmental ethics suffers from the kind of distor- tions of difference which attend the problematic of individualism and rational egoism, deep ecology tends to suffer from the obverse kind of distortion of difference associated with incorporation. As we saw in the last chapter, major forms of deep ecology fail to acknowledge difference and continue to conceive nature in ways which reflect dualism and, in some cases, male domination (Cheney 1987; 1989; Kheel 1990; Plumwood 1991a). Although deep ecology contrasts with the mainstream in emphasis- ing connections with the self and the continuity between humans and nature there remain severe tensions between some forms of deep ecology and feminist perspectives. These forms have not satisfactorily identified the key elements in the traditional framework, or noted their connections with rationalism and the master identity. As a result they fail to reject adequately rationalist assumptions, and indeed often provide their own versions of rationalist accounts of self, universalisa- tion and the discarding of particular connections. The analysis of human/nature and other dualisms I have presented here has stressed the importance of affirming both difference and continuity, and of maintaining the balance between them. Respect for others involves acknowledging their distinctness and difference, and not trying to reduce or assimilate them to the human sphere. We need to acknowledge difference as well as continuity to overcome dualism and to establish non-instrumentalising relationships with nature, where both connection and otherness are the basis of interaction. The failure to affirm difference is characteristic of the colonising self which denies the other through the attempt to incorporate it into the empire of the self, and which is unable to experience sameness without erasing difference. Major forms of deep ecology have tended to focus exclusively on identification, interconnectedness, sameness and the overcoming of separation, treating nature as a dimension of Self, for example, in the concept of self-realisation and in the extension of ego psychology to nature. Foundational deep ecologist Arne Naess, whose concept of self- realisation, as I will argue later, also has elements of the relational self, urges a way of thinking and feeling which 'corresponds to that of the enlightened, or yogi, who sees "the same" '; Naess quotes the Bhagavadgita:

He whose self is harmonised by yoga seeth the Self abiding in all beings and all beings in Self; everywhere he sees the same. (Naess 1985: 260)

Since ethics is normally viewed as concerned with the relation of self to other, Naess's substitution of the 'maxim of "self-realisation" ' for an account of ethical relations to nature is a symptom of the death of the other in the theoretical framework of deep ecology.' Even though 'the self' in such an account is not to be interpreted as the 'egoic or biographical self' or 'the personal ego', such a framework must lose the possibility of providing a dynamic or interactive account, which requires diversified elements. The loss by the account of the 'essential tension between self and other' appears in the fact that the theory does not see itself as concerned with relations between diverse interacting elements, self and other, humans and nature, but basically only with one element, the self. In terms of a role in the theory, nature as other is erased, and in Warwick Fox's account seems to disappear entirely as a focus of concern:

the appropriate framework of discourse for describing and present- ing deep ecology is not one that is fundamentally to do with the value of the non-human world ... but rather one that is fundamentally to do with the nature and possibilities of the Self, or, we might say, the question of who we are, can become, and should become in the larger scheme of things. (Fox 1986: 85)

The proper study of the deep ecologist, it seems, is Tautology', and the other is of concern for what it reflects back about the self; the other is made an 'instrument of self-definition' (Kheel 1990: 136). The proper comparison for such an account of the liberation of nature is not with a theory of opposition to sexism that is also concerned with the behaviour and interests of men, as Fox claims in response to criticism of this self- preoccupation (Fox 1990: 242), but with one that sees it as 'fundamentally' concerned only with the behaviour and interests of men. It is ironic that a position clai ' ming to be anti-anthropocentric should thus aim to reduce questions of the care and significance of nature to questions of the realisation of the human self (or Self). The denial of difference is also reflected in the use by some deep ecologists of a 'transpersonal' version of ego psychology, in which the self as isolated subject incorporates or internalises outside objects in nature, assimilating them to self (or Self). Hidden at the foot of the tree of transpersonal psychology lie the liberal-individualist roots of humanistic psychology.-' As Fox explains, transpersonal psychology arose from humanistic ego psychology through Sutich's conviction that the personal ego was too small, was 'no longer comprehensive enough' (Fox 1990: 293). The'big "Self" ' was the answer. But on an interactive account, the loss of the essential tension between different and alike is characteristic of domination and instrumentalisation, which involves the erasure of the other as an external limit and its reappearance as a projection of self (Benjamin 1988: 53, 73). In the domination frame- work, the entire dynamic of interaction takes place within the self, rather than between the self and the external other. The framework on which deep ecology draws here represents such a psychology of incorporation, in which 'our sense of self can expand to include aspects of both the mind and the world that we usually regard as "other" ' (Fox 1990: 299). Even if the direction of travel is reversed so as to absorb self in world rather than world in self, the result is still not a framework which allows for the tension of sameness and difference or for the other to play an active role in the creation of self in discovery and interaction with the world; rather it is one that, like ego psychology itself, conceives the self as a closed system. As Benjamin says of ego psychology:

Within this closed system, the ego invests objects with his desire and takes in these objects to further his autonomy from them. This conception of the individual cannot explain the confrontation with an independent other as a real condition of development and change. It does not comprehend the simultaneous process of transforming and being transformed by the other. (Benjamin 1988: 49)

These problems over difference emerge especially in deep ecological accounts of separation, the self and the chameleon term'identification'. Deep ecology locates the key problem area in human-nature relations in the separation of humans and nature, and it provides a solution for this in terms of the 'identification' of self with nature. 'Identification' is usually left deliberately vague, and corresponding accounts of identification and of self are various and shifting, and not always compatible.' There seem to be at least three different accounts of self involved - indistinguishability, expansion of self, and transcendence of self - and practitioners appear to feel free to move among them. Much of the appeal of deep ecology rests on the failure to distinguish between them. As I shall show, all are unsatisfactory, both from a feminist perspective and from that of obtaining a satisfactory environmental philosophy.


The indistinguishability account rejects boundaries between self and nature. The universe is said to be a seamless whole, and according to Fox (1984: 7), the central intuition of deep ecology is that'We can make no firm ontological divide in the field of existence ... there is no bifurcation in reality between the human and non-human realms ... to the extent that we perceive boundaries., we fall short of deep ecological consciousness'. This seems like a firm rejection of human/nature dualism and hyperseparation, but much more is involved here than the rejection of radical exclusion between humans and nature. Leading deep ecologists go on to deny separation entirely, and to replace the human-in-environment image by a holistic or Gestalt view which 'dissolves not only the human-in-environment concept, but every compact-thing-in- milieu concept' - except when they are talking at a superficial level of communication (Fox 1984: 1). These deep ecologists insist on a cos- mology of 'unbroken wholeness which denies the classical idea of the analysability of the world into separately and independently existing parts' (Naess 1973: 96). They are strongly attracted to a variety of mystical traditions and to the Perennial Philosophy, where the self is merged with the other -'the other is none other than yourself'. As John Seed puts it: 'I am protecting the rainforest' develops into 'I am part of the rainforest protecting myself. I am that part of the rainforest recently emerged into thinking' (Seed et al. 1988: 36). According to Joanna Macy: 'In the web of relationships ... there are no clear lines demarcating a separate, continuous self'(Macy 1989: 205). Macy thinks that 'the notion of an abiding individual self ... is the foundational delusion of human life' (1989: 207). There is 'no separate experiencer, no permanent self' (1989: 207). There are many problems here. It is not merely that the dissolution of boundaries of which deep ecologists speak stands in need of much more clarification; it is also that it does the wrong thing. The real basis of hyperseparation lies in the concept of an authentic human being, and in what is taken to be valuable in human character, society and culture, as exclusive of what is taken to be natural. Instead of healing this dualism, deep ecology proposes a 'unifying process', a metaphysics which insists that everything is really part of, indistinguishable from, everything else. This is not only to employ overly powerful tools, but ones that do the wrong job, for the origins of the particular opposition involved in human/nature dualism remain unaddressed and unanalysed. This overreaction results from the confusion of separation and hyperseparation, radical exclusion and non-identity. The confusion is clear in Fox, who proceeds from the ambiguous claim that there is no 'bifurcation in reality between the human and non-human realms' (which could be taken as a rejection of human discontinuity from nature) immediately to the conclusion that what is needed is that we embrace an indistinguishability metaphysics of unbroken wholeness in the whole of reality. But the problem must be addressed in terms of this specific dualism and its connections. Instead this form of deep ecology proposes the obliteration of distinction. It is unclear how such a solution to removing human/nature dualism, by obliterating any human/nature distinction and dissolving self boundaries, is supposed to provide the basis for an environmental ethic. The analysis of humans as metaphysically unified with the cosmic whole will be equally true whatever relation humans stand in with nature - the situation of exploitation of nature exemplifies such metaphysical unity equally as well as a conserver situation, and the human self is just as indistinguishable from the bulldozer and Coca Cola bottle as the rocks or the rainforest. What John Seed seems to have in mind here is that once one has realised that one is indistinguish- able from the rainforest, its needs will become one's own. But there is nothing to guarantee this - one could equally well take one's own needs for its. And some pronouncements indicate clearly that this is what happens. Thus John Seed's 'I remain in awe of the perennial power of humans joining together in worship of our Earth and the way that the Earth always responds. Of course She hears! For She? It? (words fail), is us' (Seed 1991: 2). The question of just whose response counts for both of us has important political implications. The problem points towards a general set of boundary problems encountered by forms of deep ecology which dissolve or expand the self in this way. There is an arrogance in failing to respect boundaries and to acknowledge difference which can amount to an imposition of self. Deep ecologists see themselves as'empowered to act on behalf of other beings' by claims of merging (Macy 1989: 210). One may in certain situations claim without arrogance to act in solidarity with or on behalf of another through one's own (always imperfect) understanding of that other's situation, but one may not without arrogance assume that one is that other or knows that situation as does the other, that the other is transparent and encompassable by self without residue. Acknowledg- ing the other's boundary and opacity of being is part of respect for the other. It is the master consciousness which presumes to violate boundaries and claims to subsume, penetrate and exhaust the other, and such treatment is a standard part of subordination; for example, of women, servants, the colonised, animals. Similarly, respecting the needs of the other involves acknowledging the difference as well as the connection between our needs. We need to recognise not only our human continuity with the natural world but also its distinctness and independence from us and the distinctness of the needs of things in nature from ours. As Jean Grimshaw writes of a related feminist account implying the indistinctness of persons (the acceptance of the loss of self boundaries as a feminine ideal):'

Certain forms of symbiosis or connection with others can lead to damaging failures of personal development ... because care for others, understanding of them, are only possible if one can adequately distinguish oneself from others. If I see myself as indis- tinct from you, or you as not having your own being that is not merged with mine, then I cannot preserve a real sense of your well- being as opposed to mine. Care and understanding require the sort of distance that is needed in order not to see the other as a projection of self, or self as a continuation of the other. (Grimshaw 1986: 182)

These points seem to me to apply as much to caring for other species and for the natural world as they do to caring for our own species. But just as hyperseparation is confused with separation, so self/other merger is taken to be the only alternative to egoistic accounts of the self as without essential connection to others or to nature. Fortunately, this is a false choice; it is neither helpful nor necessary to opt for merger to realise an account of the ecological self as connected to nature in non- instrumental ways.


In fairness to deep ecology, it should be noted that it often tends to vacillate between mystical indistinguishability and the other accounts of self, especially between the merged self and the expanded Self. Vacillation occurs often by way of slipperiness as to the meaning of the identification of self with other, a key notion in deep ecology. This slipperiness reflects the coniusion previously noted between separation and hyperseparation, but also seems to reflect a desire to retain the mystical appeal of indistinguishability while avoiding its many difficulties. Where 'identification' is used equivocally to mean both 'identity' and something like 'sympathy' or 'empathy', identification with other beings leads to an expanded self which encompasses all those we empathise with. According to Arne Naess, 'The self is as comprehensive as the totality of our identifications.... Our Self is that with which we identify' (Naess 1985: 261). This larger self (or Self to Deep Ecologists) is something for which we should strive'insofar as it is in our power to do so' (Fox 1986: 13-19). And according to Fox we should strive to make it as large as possible. But this expanded Self is not the result of a critique of egoism; rather, it is an enlargement and an extension of egoism (Cheney 1989). It does not question the structures of possessive egoism and self-interest; rather, it tries to allow for a wider set of interests by an expansion of self. The motivation for the expansion of self is to allow for a wider set of concerns while continuing to allow the self to operate on the fuel of self-interest (or Self-interest). This is apparent from the claim that 'in this light ... ecological resistance is simply another name for self defence' (Fox 1986: 60). Fox quotes with approval John Livingstone's statement, reminiscent of knightly vows: 'When I say that the fate of the sea turtle or the tiger or the gibbon is mine, I mean it. All that is in my universe is not merely mine; it is me. And I shall defend myself. I shall defend myself not only against overt aggression but also against gratuitous insult' (Fox 1986: 60). Joanna Macy also invokes the Self- interest model in an expanded form, calling on us to be 'a little more enlightened about what our self-interest is' (1989: 210), while Arne Naess says: 'The requisite care flows naturally if the self is widened and deepened so that protection of free nature is felt and conceived of as protection of our very selves' (Seed et ai. 1988: 29). The expanded Self version of deep ecology misconceives identification (Blum 1980: 75) and arises from failure to question fully the problematic of rational egoism. It continues to subscribe to two of the main tenets of the egoist framework - that human nature is egoistic and that the alternative to egoism is self-sacrif ice.' The concept of Self-realisation also inherits the Nietzschean framework of egoist assumptions inscribed into humanistic psychology and the human potentials movement (Grimshaw 1986: 146-53). Given these assumptions about egoism, the obvious way to obtain some sort of human interest in defending nature is both through the expanded Self operating in the interests of nature, and along the familiar lines of self-interest.' Once the assumptions of rational egoism are questioned it is unnecessary to expand the Self in order to extend consideration to the other. The expanded Self strategy might initially seem to be just a dramatic but harmless way of saying that humans empathise with nature. But the strategy of transferring the structures of egoism is both unnecessary and highly problematic, for (as noted in Cheney 1989), the widening of interest is obtained at the expense of failing to recognise unambiguously the difference and independence of the other. Others are recognised morally only to the extent that they are incorporated into the self, and their difference denied. And the failure to critique rationalism, dualism and the structures of egoism means a failure to draw connections with other contemporary critiques. One of the effects of the shift in focus towards the critique of dualism and rationalism is to make the connections of the environmental critique with other critiques, especially feminism, central rather than peripheral or accidental as they tend to be seen by deep ecologists. There are places, especially in Arne Naess's more recent work, where the assumptions of egoism are called clearly into question and appeal is made to what appears to be a version of the relational account of self (Naess 1988; 1990). If 'identification' is interpreted to mean simply I empathy' or the assuming of the other's interests as one's own, as Naess suggests in his response to Reed (Naess 1990: 187), then the self which identifies with the other will be a version of the relational self, albeit a version which is interpreted in an unnecessarily holistic way as interest-identity, the assumption by the self of all the interests of the other. But the problem for deep ecologists in treating the relational self as a further, fallback interpretation of the Self is that it makes the whole problematic and cumbersome account of ecological selfhood as self-expansion and Self-realisation entirely unnecessary, along with the claim that the Self is the totality of its identifications. And it is also inconsistent with these frameworks, for the relational self framework must readmit the other, which the self-realisation strategy of deep ecology, especially with respect to the dissolution of ethics, depended upon absorbing into Self.


To the extent that the expanded Self requires that we detach from the particular concerns of the I narrow, biographic self' (a relinquishment which despite its natural difficulty we should, according to Fox, struggle to attain), expansion of self to Self also tends to lead into the third position, and to become the transcendence or overcoming of self, the conquest of 'the personal ego'. Thus Fox urges us to strive for impartial identification with all particulars, the cosmos, discarding our identifications with our own particular concerns, personal emotions and attachments (Fox 1989: 12; 1990). Fox presents here the deep ecology version of universalisation, with the familiar emphasis on the personal and the particular as corrupting and self-interested ('the cause of possessiveness, war and ecological destruction' [1989: 121), and of particulars as inferior to the larger whole. This treatment of particularity, the devaluation of personal relation- ships and of an identity tied to particular parts of the natural world as opposed to an abstractly conceived whole, the cosmos, inherits the rationalistic preoccupation with the universal and its account of ethical life as oppositional to the particular. Fox (1989: 12) reiterates (as if it were unproblematic) the view of particular attachments as ethically suspect and opposed to genuine, impartial 'identification', which necessarily falls short with all particulars. The framework of detach- ment, impartiality and impersonality which this form of deep ecology takes over so uncritically from rationalist ethics and from some eastern thought, has been seen by many feminists as deeply problematic since, as Gilligan puts it, 'it breeds moral blindness or indifference - a failure to discern or respond to need' (1987: 24). The analogy in human terms of impersonal love of the cosmos is the view of morality as based on universal principles, or the impersonal and abstract 'love of man' detached from any particular caring relationships. As Marti Kheel writes: 'This preference for identification with the larger "whole" may reflect the familiar masculine urge to transcend the concrete world of particularity in preference for something more enduring and abstract' (1990: 136). Because it carries this extra freight of devaluation of the area of particularity which has been associated with women, 'transpersonal ecology' represents a significant increase in theoretical masculinisation over and above the earlier forms of deep ecology.'o Because this 'transpersonal' identification is so indiscriminate and denying of particular meanings, it cannot allow either for the deep and highly particularistic attachment to place which has motivated both the passion of many modern conservationists and the love of many indigenous peoples for their land" (which much deep ecology in- consistently tries to treat as exemplifying its modal). In addition to the love of the land as kin, noted earlier, particularistic care emerges clearly in the statements of many indigenous peoples; for example, in the moving words of Cecilia Blacktooth explaining why her people would not surrender their land:

You ask us to think what place we like next best to this place where we always lived. You see the graveyard there? There are our fathers and our grandfathers. You see that Eagle-nest mountain and that Rabbit-hole mountain? When God made them, He gave us this place. We have always been here. We do not care for any other place.... We have always lived here. We would rather die here. Our fathers did. We cannot leave them. Our children were born here - how can we go away? If you give us the best place in the world, it is not so good as this.... This is our home.... We cannot live anywhere else. We were born here and our fathers are buried here.... We want this place and no other. (McLuhan 1973: 28)

These are very specific and local responsibilities of care. In inferiorising such particular, emotional and kinship-based attachments, deep ecology gives us another variant on the superiority of reason and the inferiority of its contrasts, failing to grasp yet again the role of reason and incompletely critiquing its influence. To obtain a more adequate account than that offered by mainstream ethics and deep ecology it seems that we must move towards the sort of ethics much feminist theory has suggested, which can allow for both continuity and differ- ence, and for ties to nature which are expressive of a rich variety of relationships of care, kinship and friendship, rather than towards increasing abstraction and detachment from relationship.


A major motivation for the self-realisation account of deep ecology is that it supposedly makes it possible to dispense with appeals to ethics and morality in ecological matters and to replace them with Self- interest, from which care flows naturally. On this deep ecology account, ethics and morality are equated with duty, sermonising and self-sacrifice, in effect Kantian ethics, which operates as a prohibition on desire (Naess 1988b; Macy 1989: 210). But this form of ethics is only one variety of ethical account of relationship to nature, and there are other types of ethical experience and theory which do not take such a prohibitory form. Virtue accounts, for example, are based on a set of commitments inherent in a particular type of identity, and from them care does'flow naturally', that is, it expresses what that individual wants to do, as that particular sort of individual, rather than what he or she is constrained to do through duty (Poole 1991: 55; Mclntyre 1982). Deep ecology often operates with a covert version of a virtue-based account of the ecological self; thus Naess writes: 'We need not say that today man's relation to the non-human world is immoral. It is enough to say that it lacks generosity, fortitude, and love'(Naess 1980: 323). Were the use of such a virtue-based account to be explicitly admitted by deep ecology, it would be unnecessary to incur the many problems of Self-interest, especially the denial of difference, in order to find a basis for consideration of others in nature which flows from the self and is not based on prohibition. There are many good reasons to avoid building an account of ecological morality on ethics in its usual rationalist conception, and to

-inspired move in the direction of an ethics of virtue . Rationalist ethical concepts are highly ethnocentric and cannot account adequately

for the views of many indigenous peoples. The attempted application of these rationalist concepts to their moral life tends to lead to the view that they lack a real ethical framework (Plumwood 1990). Alternative virtue-based concepts such as care, respect, gratitude, sensitivity, reverence and friendship seem more applicable." Such concepts are more resistant to analysis along the lines of reason/emotion dualism, and their construal along these lines has involved confusion and distortion (Blum 1980). They are moral 'feel- ings' but they involve both cognitive elements, ethical elements and emotion in ways that do not seem separable. These are more local concepts, which allow for particularity and do not require either assimilation or, mostly, reciprocity. They are also concepts many feminist philosophers have argued should have a more significant place at the expense of abstract concepts of mainstream western ethics such as rights and justice (Gilligan 1982; 1987; Benhabib 1987). The feminist suspicion is that no abstract morality can be well founded that is not grounded in sound particularistic relations to others in personal life, the area which brings together in concrete form the intellectual with the emotional, the sensuous and the bodily. Such an approach treats ethical relations as an expression of identity; for example, maternal care as an expression of self-in-relationship (Gilligan 1987: 24) rather than as the discarding, containment, or generalisation of a self viewed as self-interested and non-relational, as in the conventional ethics of prohibition or universalisation. From this perspective, rationalist ethics provides an account suited to governing the relations of egoist stranger to egoist stranger (Benhabib 1987; Poole 1991: 61), rather than one suited to a richer and more particular form of relationship. If the grounding of virtue in the commitments of identity can provide the terra firma of valuation which floundering ethical theories have long sought, it also provides its own problems. Identities themselves must be subject to ethical assessment, and may be morally problematic (Poole 1991: 61); alongside the identity and virtue of the mother must be placed that of the soldier. Indeed many moral issues are simply displaced on to issues of the morality of being that kind of person, having that identity. But the argument I have developed in this book has shown that these issues of human identity and relationship to nature are among the key issues which need to be addressed in any new approach to nature. It is not, then, that we need to abandon ethical aspects of envir- onmental philosophy, or opt for an entirely contextual ethics. 1 4 Rather environmental ethics needs a different and richer understanding of ethics, one which gives an important place to the issues surrounding human identity, allows for ethical concepts owning to emotionality and particularity, and abandons the exclusive focus on the universal and the abstract associated with egoism, and the dualistic and oppositional accounts of the reason/emotion and universal/particular contrasts given in rationalist accounts of ethics. Deep ecology has some excuse for the identification of ethics with those rationalist forms of it based on the concept of moral rules restraining the rational ego. For this has been the conception cor- responding to dominant forms of modern market rationality and social life. Rationalism, the prestige of reason and the kind of egoist and instrumental identity demanded by the public sphere have influenced not only the concept of what morality is and of what is central to it, but also what count as moral concepts. Virtue-based concepts such as friendship, love, respect, care, concern, gratitude, community and compassion are in conflict with the rational instrumentalism of the public sphere, in which they have no place. As the main ethical concepts of society, they correspond to a different conception of (social) moral life which is now, as Mclntyre argues, a residue. Excluded from the public, these concepts appear today mainly in the practices and relation- ships of the private sphere, and of women especially as the representa- tives of that sphere (Gilligan 1987: Poole 1991: 59). Motherhood and friendship represent perhaps the clearest examples of relational selfhood, and an identity expressed in caring practices which treat the other non-instrumentally. As we saw in chapter 6, the ecological self can be interpreted as a form of mutual selfhood in which the self makes essential connection to earth others, and hence as a product of a certain sort of relational identity. In expressing that identity, the individual fulfils his or her own ends as well as those of the other (one meaning of 'self-realisation'). He or she stands in particular relations, which may be those of care, custodianship, friendship, or various diverse virtue concepts, to that other, who is treated as deserving of concern for its own sake, and hence as intrinsically worthy or valuable. The relational self and intrinsic value are, therefore, essential theoretical complements of a virtue account of ecological selfhood. I have tried to show how they can be accounted for in ways that enable them to apply to the natural world without problematic assumptions about difference or egoism. On their own, however, they do not delineate the precise content of that relationship, except as one of essential and non-instrumental concern, one of regard for beings for their own sake. Since virtue accounts are based on a set of commitments inherent in a particular type of identity (Mclntyre 1982; Poole 1991), an essential further ingredient in putting flesh on the bones of an alternative conception of care for nature is that of human identity. I have stressed the origins and defects of the traditional western account which defined human virtue in terms of the radical exclusion of the contrast class of nature, and which, as we have seen, treats the human relation to it as one of domination and instrumentalism. Any new conception of human identity would need to make allowance for the variety of human commitments to and human caring relations for the limitless variety of beings in nature, as well as providing for alternative visions and ethical frameworks which may be highly regionalised and particularised. lt is unlikely that any single conception would cover a ground of such diversity. However, if care and friendship are seen as generic or determinable concepts, there is a range of determinate relationships and caring virtues on which such a practice of human virtue in relation to nature might draw. Many of the more specific virtues which might be drawn upon for a new human identity in relation to nature have already emerged from the debate. Some of them are the general virtues of friendship, such as openness to the other (Macy 1989: 211), generosity (Naess 1980), leaving space for the other, the ability to put oneself in the place of the other and to respond to the other's needs. With nature, as with the human sphere, the capacity to care, to experience sympathy, under- standing and sensitivity to the situation and fate of particular others is an index of our moral being. Other virtues would express recognition of specific relations of dependency, responsibility, continuity and interconnection, as well as those of difference (including human difference) and of respect for the independence and boundlessness of the other. An important ground of certain caring relations would be a locally particularised identity involving commitment to a particular place and its non-human as well as its human inhabitants. This is advocated by bioregionalism. But any attempt to rekindle such an alternative conception of human identity must confront the loss in modern urban life of much of the basis of that identity, and the loss of the particular practices of care through which commitment to particular places is expressed and fostered. For most people in industrial society such virtues are, tragically, indeed a residue. This is not just a feature of modernity; it is a feature of the mobility and instrumental- ism of market society. Although a virtue ethics is usually now exemplified in relations in the private sphere, a private construction of ecological selfhood (for example, as personal 'care' or as the Self) does not go far enough. Rather such an ethical commitment should be thought of as a form of resistance to dominant instrumental constructions of public and social life. Any attempt to work towards a different conception of the human self and to construe its relations to nature along these lines as non- instrumental will have to confront the problem of the dominance of instrumental relationships in the public sphere. Although ecological selfhood has private aspects, it cannot satisfactorily be construed as a purely private practice, like personal friendship or motherhood, which does not impinge on the public sphere, or challenge its dominant instrumentalism. Hence ecological selfhood cannot be conceived in terms of the thunderclap of personal conversion to an after-hours religion of earth worship, tacked on to a basically market-orientated conception of social and economic life. Nor, as Poole argues against McIntyre, should it be tied to the attempt to resurrect past social forms. It must be seen rather as an attempt to obtain a new human and a new social identity in relation to nature which challenges this dominant instrumental conception, and its associated social relations. Hence it is a practice of opposition which parallels that of the attempt to retain and expand other non-instrumental forms of social and economic life in the face of relentless instrumentalising pressure. Part of overcoming the influence of dualism in ethics is the dissolu- tion of the false opposition rationalist ethics assumes between particularistic relations of concern and more general moral concern. There can be opposition between particularity and generality of concern, as when concern for particular kin is accompanied by exclusion of others from care or chauvinistic attitudes towards them (Blum 1980: 79, 80). But this does not happen automatically. Emphasis on oppo- sitional cases obscures the frequent and important instances in which care for particular others is essential to a more generalised morality. Special relationships, which are treated by universalising positions as at best morally irrelevant, and at worst a positive hindrance to the moral life, are thus mistreated. For as Blum stresses (1980: 78- 83), special relationships inevitably must form the basis for much of our moral life and concern. Special relationships with, care for or empathy with particular aspects of nature as experienced, rather than with nature as abstraction, are essential to provide a depth of concern. Under appropriate conditions, experience of and care and responsibility for particular animals, trees, rivers, places and ecosystems which are known well, are loved and are appropriately connected to the self, enhance rather than hinder a wider, more generalised concern for the global environment. This helps to explain why global moral concern should not be and does not have to be abandoned in such a framework. Certainly, we cannot treat the entire universe as if it were our nearest and dearest, although saints sometimes try, and certainly, moral concern cannot exclude strangers and distant others. Moral concern cannot just be particularistic, but at the same time it cannot be based satisfactorily on a universalism which denies and devalues particularised moral commit- ments and the relevance of personal experience. Nor can they just be tacked on, as some accounts suggest (the 'adding women's experience' solution). For we have to address not only the omission of the voice of love and care but also the opposition between the universalising voice and the caring voice, as well as the latter's subordination. And this in turn is part, not just of ethics, but of re-evaluating and realigning the relations of the public and private sphere on which these different voices have been based. Still, there is scope here for a different account of universalisation which is not based on devaluation of the personal and particular. It would make wider concern a question not of transcending or detaching the self from particular, personal moral commitments, but in part at least of understanding or coming to see the relationship between these particular commitments and local situations and those of distant others. You can come to understand the relationship between your own loss and that of others, the degradation of your own local ecosystem and that of the global ecosystem, the impoverishment of social and natural life-forms and that of your own life and the lives of those you know. Such wider forms of care can be expressed in political consciousness and social action with as much force and validity as in personal relationships. The implication of this form of empathic generalisation, in contrast to Kantian universalisation, is that the more strongly you feel about your own commitments and attachments the more basis you should have for expanding concern to others. This is not to assume that everyone makes such connections, but rather to shift the moral focus from supposed oppositional relations, between particular and general concern, to the conditions of social and political life which produce such opposition and which hinder such empathic generalisation. These conditions will often be those which construct the other as alien, and include especially the web of dualism and hierarchy. However, an ethic of care speaks not in one voice but in a number of different political voices, both particularised ones of concern for family and immediate others, and more general forms voicing concern for nature and wider social groups. These voices will not necessarily be in harmony. To expect that they would be so would be to mistake what such voices have to offer us. The voices of care are non-instrumentalis- ing voices, but they can carry widely different political messages. There cannot be a single answer to the question of whether the ethics of care is socially progressive or socially regressive - it is a determinable whose determinates can be either. The care which women provide in the context of the family in market society typically has an incompleteness and an ambiguity, the more so to the extent that it is controlled and structured by its larger context. Often the ethics of care is contained and adapted to a supportive role, that of supplying the care and the human values omitted from the public sphere and so making life tolerable or possible, or that of providing the co-operatively socialised individuals on which the public sphere relies but which it could not itself provide. Thus familial care can support a conservative value system resisting extension of care to non-familial or 'undeserving' others or working to disadvantage women by denying them equal participation in the public arena (Bacchi 1990: 244-5); the mother working in the munitions factory can give care for 'the boys' as the justification for work supporting militarism (Ruddick 1989: 87). Or, in the ecological case, a woman can give care for a husband's or son's welfare and employment as the reason why she thinks a logging practice, which will destroy an endangered species, should continue. But despite these ambiguities, the care model has a major contribu- tion to make to understanding alternatives to the dominant instrumental models. The association of the virtues of personal care with women is historical and contingent rather than essential."5 It does not reflect women's unique or innate suitability for their practice so much as the exclusion of these non-instrumentalising virtues and practices from the public sphere. It is in these wider contexts especially that the practices and virtues of care, long contained in the private sphere, realise their subversive and oppositional potential. Women indeed have something highly valuable to offer in these non- instrumentalising voices, as 'custodians of a story about human attach- ment and interdependence' (Gilligan 1987: 32), a story increasingly driven from the world at large, both as human care and in the form of care for the earth.


The resolution of human/nature dualism is closely linked with the resolution of other closely associated reason/nature dualisms, such as the reason/emotion dualism. We have seen how reason/emotion dualism fits the model of denied dependency, especially in the ratio- nalist conception of the ethical. We have noticed how emotion is constructed as the opponent and dualised underside of reason, so that it is identified as an unreliable, unreflective, irrational and sometimes uncontrollable force reason must dominate. We should certainly challenge the narrowing and dominating role of reason. But what is contra-indicated by the analysis of reason/emotion dualism is the replacement of the affirmation of reason by the affirmation of the dualised conception of emotion (as in parts of the Romantic and current New Age traditions). Emotion, like other areas reason has excluded, can be treated affirmatively, as a crucial and creative element, but in doing this we affirm neither the irrational nor the anti-rational. Since overcoming dualism does not imply dissolving difference, there may still be a point in recognising a distinction between reason and emotion. But the distinction should not be treated in terms of radical exclusion: emotions need not be treated as so unreasonable, nor reason as so divorced from emotion, as they are in dualistic construction; nor need they be construed as necessarily oppositional, but as capable of a creative integration and interaction (Blum 1980). The anti-dualist programme implies a politics which can create a different, non- hierarchical and integrative role for rationality in developing and articulating perceptions, feelings and values (Midgley 1981: 3), in grounding and establishing a basis for human existence on the earth which is not based on illusions of the master. In a properly grounded human life, reason could act as the facilitator for the faculties, rather than the dictator, and play this role both in its relation to other elements in individual life and in the many social forms and institutions in which the hierarchical construction of reason is still embedded. An honoured, rather than a denigrated, place could be given to engaged forms of reason which acknowledge and are faithful to their value commitments, and to a conception of social and public life governed by the values of care for and commitment to the other which have been stripped from it and confined to the private. The expulsion of the master identity from the western construction of reason requires not the abandonment of reason itself, but an effort to instal another, less hierarchical, more democratic and plural identity in its place.

Diamond, Irene and Orenstein, Gloria (ed) 1990 Reweaving the World,
Sierra Club Books, San Francisco ISBN0-87156-623-0



IT IS A SAD IRONY that the destruction of the natural world appears to be proceeding apace with the construction of moral theories for how we should behave in light of this fact. Unable to trust or draw upon a felt sense of connection, most environmental theorists endorse reason as the sole guide in our dealings with the natural world. The vast majority of theories that constitute the field of environmental ethics are thus axiological or value theories whose primary purpose is the rational allotment of value to the appropriate aspects of the natural world. Both ecofeminism and deep ecology share in common an opposition to these value theories with their attendant notions of obligations and rights. The emphasis of both philosophies is not on an abstract or "rational" calculation of value but rather on the development of a new consciousness for all of life. Both ecofeminism and deep ecology may therefore be viewed as "deep" philosophies in the sense that they call for an inward transformation in order to attain an outward change. Deep ecologists employ the notion of self-realization to describe this inward transformation. As environmental philosophers Bill Devall and George Sessions explain, this process:

begins when we cease to understand or see ourselves as isolated and narrow competing egos and begin to identify with other humans from our family and friends to, eventually, our species. But the deep ecology sense of Self requires a further maturity and growth, an identification which goes beyond humanity to include the nonhuman world.

There is a significant distinction between ecofeminism and deep ecology, however, in their understanding of the root cause of our environmental malaise. For deep ecologists, it is the anthropocentric world-view that is foremost to blame. The two norms of deep ecology self-realization and biospherical egalitarianism-are thus designed to redress this self-centered world-view. Ecofeminists, on the other hand, argue that it is the androcentric world-view that deserves primary blame .2 For ecofeminists, it is not just "humans" but men and the masculinist world-view that must be dismantled from their privileged place.

The key to understanding the differences between the two philosophies thus lies in the differing conceptions of self that both philosophies presuppose. When deep ecologists write of anthropocentrism and the notion of an "expanded Self", they ostensibly refer to a gender-neutral concept of self. Implicit in the feminist analysis of the androcentric world-view, however, is the understanding that men and women, under patriarchal society, experience the world, and hence their conceptions of self, in widely divergent ways. Whereas the anthropocentric world-view perceives humans as the center or apex of the natural world, the androcentric analysis suggests that this world-view is unique to men. Feminists have argued that women's identities, unlike men's, have not been established through their elevation over the natural world. On the contrary, under patriarchal society, women have been identified with the devalued natural world, an identification that they have often adopted as well.

One of the most thoroughgoing analyses of the masculine and feminine conceptions of self was formulated by Simone de Beauvoir in her monumental work The Second Sex (New York: Vintage, 1974). According to de Beauvoir, under patriarchal society, women's sense of self is inextricably tied to her status as the "other."

For de Beauvoir, the facts of pregnancy, menstruation, and childbirth have historically confined women to the world of immanence and contangency, a state of being in which life "merely" repeats itself. Authentic subjectivity is achieved to the extent that one raises oneself above biological necessity and hence above the animal world. Men have historically transcended the world of contingency through exploits and projects, that is, through attempts to transform the natural world. Thus, selfhood is an identity that emerges through an antagonistic relation to an "other." In order for women to achieve full human status or selfhood, they must join with men in exploits and projects that express this opposition to the natural world.

De Beauvoir developed her concept of the other from the writings of both Hegel and Sartre. Both of these philosophers considered antagonistic consciousness to be necessary for the establishment of the self. For Hegel, consciousness could only be achieved through recognition from an other. If the truth of self-certainty-the sustained sense of oneself as a part of the world -was to be achieved, the other must be overcome. This contradictory need for both recognition from and negation of the other could result in only two possible outcomes: the death of the other or the subjection of the other in the relation of master and slave.

Sartre went on to develop the notion of the antagonistic nature of consciousness with his concept of the "look." The struggle between two consciousnesses thus becomes one of competing looks. When one is looked at, according to Sartre, one becomes objectified; one is no longer the center of infinite possibilities. Each self struggles to attain transcendence by turning the other into an object.

De Beauvoir's contribution to Sartre's thought was to show that it was women, under patriarchal society, who had been assigned the role of the looked upon other.

While agreeing with much of de Beauvoir's analysis, many contemporary feminists reject the masculine norm of autonomy that she endorsed. The notion of an autonomous (masculine) self, established through the defeat of a female-imaged other, is viewed by many feminists as a central underpinning of the patriarchal world. Feminists have shown that many of the world's most sacred traditions depict stories of struggle and conquest. Typically, the conquest is of darkness or Chaos, usually symbolized by a female-imaged animal form -frequently a serpent or a snake. Through this struggle against unruly nature, the world of light and order is born.

The psychoanalytic theory of object relations presents a modern-day rendition of the same heroic struggle of the masculine self in opposition to the female world. According to this theory, both boys and girls experience their first forms of relatedness as a kind of merging with the mother figure. The child then develops a concept of self through the process of disengaging from this figure. Unlike girls, boys have a two-stage process of disidentification. They must not only disengage from the mother figure, but in order to identify as male, they must deny all that is female within themselves. The self-identity of the boy child is thus founded upon the negation and objectification of an other. 3 Dorothy Dinnerstein extends this analysis to the masculine mode of interacting not only with women but with all of the natural world.4 For Dinnerstein, since a child's self-identity is originally viewed as indistinct from the surrounding world, later self-identity is founded not only upon the notion of not being female but upon the notion of not being nature as well. Thus, object relations theory provides another interpretation of why the masculine self is conceived as the negation of both women and the natural world.

If men in our society are socialized to perceive their identity in opposition to a devalued, female-imaged world, we might expect that the process of reinstituting this forbidden identification might be fraught with problems along the way. At the very least, we might expect that such a process of identification would not be experienced in identical ways for women and men. The writings of three prominent male philosophers, who claim that their process of self-realization occurs through the act of hunting and killing animals, are suggestive in this regard.

According to the philosopher/biologist Randall Eaton:

To hunt is to experience extreme oneness with nature.... The hunter imitates his prey to the point of identity.... hunting connects a man completely with the earth more deeply and profoundly than any other human enterprise. Paradoxical as it may appear at first glimpse, the hunter's feeling for his prey is one of deep passion, ecstasy and respect.... The hunter loves the animal he kills.5

Let us recall that according to psychoanalytic theory, the boy's yearning to identify with the mother figure is fuelled by his feelings of alienation and the consequent urge to reexperience the original state of union. Eaton's words convey such a longing, which may be viewed as a longing for the original self:

What do I mean at the deepest level when I say I want to know the behavior of the tiger? I really mean that I have affection for tigers and that I want to see the essential nature or being of the tiger. If the truth be known, I want to be a tiger, to walk in his skin, hear with his ears, flex my tiger body and feel as a tiger feels.6

Jose Ortega y Gasset, a well-known Spanish philosopher, reflects a similar urge toward unification with the animal, which he sees as a unification with the animal within himself. In his words: "Man cannot re-enter Nature except by temporarily rehabilitating that part of himself which is still an animal. And this, in turn, can be achieved only by placing himself in relation to another animal . 7

For men such as Eaton and Ortega, the ultimate purpose of the hunt appears to be this reversion to an earlier state of being in which one's separateness not only from women, but from animals, has not yet occurred. Ortega, in fact, refers to hunting as a kind of "vacation from the human condition through an authentic 'immersion in Nature."' He goes on to explain: "In that mystical union with the beast a contagion is immediately generated and the hunter begins to behave like the game . The erotic undertones of hunting can be found in sensuous descriptions of the hunt. Thus, the prominent environmental writer Aldo Leopold writes that he "tingled" at the recollection of the big gander that sailed honking into his decoys,9 and Ortega writes of the "exquisite" feel of the air that "glides over the skin and enters the lungs."10 At other times, both write of hunting in more heated terms, using such words as "hunting fever" and the "drama" and "contagion" of the hunt. Indeed, Ortega goes so far as to assert the "unequalled orgiastic power" of blood, contending that wildlife photography is to hunting what Platonic love is to the real thing.11

According to both object relations and Jungian theory it is the ongoing denial of the original union with the mother figure that creates the lifelong yearning to experience this original state. Hunting is, in fact, described by these writers as a permanent or instinctive longing. According to Ortega, sport hunting is "however strangely a deep and permanent yearning in the human condition.12 And according to Leopold: "The instinct that finds delight in the sight and pursuit of game is bred into the very fiber of the human race. 13 Desire for hunting, according to Leopold, lies deeper than other outdoor sports: "Its source is a matter of instinct as well as competition.... A son of Robinson Crusoe, having never seen a racket, might get along nicely without one, but he would be pretty sure to hunt or fish whether or not he were taught to do so."14 In other words, a boy instinctively wants to hunt and kill!

It must be emphasized here that all three writers describe hunting not as a necessary means of subsistence but rather as a desire that fulfils a deep psychological need.

At times Leopold is unclear as to whether this instinct is universally held by all humans or only by men and boys. He writes that: "A man may not care for gold and still be human but the man who does not like to see, hunt, photograph or otherwise outwit birds and animals is hardly normal. He is supercivilized, and I for one do not know how to deal with him. 15 In order to understand how the act of identification can coexist with the desire to kill the being with whom one identifies, it is important to understand the ambivalent nature of the hunt. Ortega refers to the "ambivalence" felt by every hunter, an ambivalence that results from "the equivocal nature of man's relationship with animals." As he explains: "Nor can it be otherwise, because man has never really known what an animal is. Before and beyond all science, humanity sees itself as something emerging from animality, but it cannot be sure of having transcended that state completely."16

The hunter is thus driven by conflicting desires to both identify with the animal and to deny that he is an animal himself. The "drama" of the hunt thus enables the hunter to experience both the yearning for a return to unity, while ensuring, through the death of the animal, that such a unification is never attained.

Deep ecologists caution that identification must entail a recognition of the "relative autonomy" of the other being, but it is precisely this autonomous existence that the above writers have failed to convey. According to object relations theory, it is only when the boy child transforms his mother into an object that his identity can be formed. In a similar way, animals have become objects in the eyes of these men. In fact, Leopold openly expresses this urge to reduce animals to object status: "Critics write and hunters outwit their animals for one and the same reason-to reduce that beauty to possession. 17 Interestingly, the original title of his famous Sand County Almanac was "Great Possessions."18

The significance of the reduction of the animal to object status is that the relationship to the animal becomes more important than the animal itself. The feelings of yearning for union, the urge to "outwit" all these take precedence over the living being that will be killed. The animal is swallowed up in the act of merging. Even the death of the animal is considered incidental -it is a by-product of the more important desire that finds its expression in the hunt. As Ortega explains:

To the sportsman the death of the game is not what interests him; that is not his purpose. What interests him is everything he had to do to achieve that death-that is the hunt. Therefore, what was before only a means to an end is now an end in itself. Death is essential because without it there is no authentic hunting. To sum up, one does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted.19

Deep ecologists argue that a widened identification will ensure that one will want to minimize harm to individual beings, in that they will be viewed as part of the all-inclusive Self. However, it seems clear from the above examples of self-realization that for these men this was not the case. For all three, the killing of animals was an integral part of the process of self-realization. For them, the animal is seen not as a unique, living being but rather as a means to achieve a desired psychological state. The animal is thus reduced to the status of object or symbol.

For all three writers the desire to hunt is clearly of greater importance than the life of the animal they kill. For Leopold, the urge to hunt was strong enough to merit its enshrinement as an inalienable right. In his words:

Some can live without the opportunity for the exercise and control of the hunting instinct, just as I suppose some can live without work, play, love, business or other vital adventure. But in these days we regard such deprivation as unsocial. Opportunity for the exercise of all the normal instincts has come to be regarded more and more as an inalienable right. 211

Aldo Leopold is considered by many a pioneer of deep ecology and eco-philosophy. He is perhaps best known as an early promulgator of an ethic of non-anthropocentrism and biocentric equality. What is not widely recognized, however, is how paramount the hunting instinct was to Leopold's philosophy and to the land ethic for which he is so well known. Right after he writes of the inalienable right for the free exercise of the "normal" instinct to hunt, he goes on to deplore the fact that "The men who are destroying our wildlife are alienating one of these rights and doing a good job of it. 1121 In other words, wildlife must be conserved not because of the animals' inalienable right to life but rather because of "man's" inalienable right to hunt and kill! As Leopold elaborates:

His instincts prompt him to compete for his place in the community but his ethics prompt him also to cooperate (perhaps in order that there may be a place to compete for) [emphasis added].... An ethic ecologically is a limitation on freedom of action in the struggle for existence. An ethic philosophically is a differentiation of social from anti-social conduct. These two are two definitions of one thing. Good social conduct involves a limitation of freedom .22

Leopold's land ethic is thus conceived as a necessary restraint for a self that is driven by an inherently aggressive drive. All three of the above writers see such aggression and struggle as a fundamental fact of life. In Ortega's words: "Life is a terrible conflict, a grandiose and atrocious confluence."13 This notion of life's inherent conflict can be understood as the result of the male's ongoing internal struggle to maintain his self-identity as distinct from the female-imaged natural world. This internal conflict then becomes projected onto the "outside" world. But not everyone's concept of self entails such an aggressive drive. For many women ' this is, in fact, clearly not the case. Such women's process of identification and widening of the self finds expression in different ways. For many women, identification with animals entails not an aggressive drive but rather the desire to avoid causing them harm. At times deep ecologists would seem to express this feeling as well. Thus, the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess writes that: "There is a basic intuition in deep ecology that we have no right to destroy other living beings without sufficient reason. Another norm is that, with maturity, human beings will experience joy when other life forms experience joy, and sorrow when other life forms experience sorrow . '114 This statement, however, appears to be contradicted by Devall and Sessions, who suggest in Deep Ecology that hunting, along with such diverse activities as surfing, sailing, sunbathing, and bicycling, is "an especially useful activity" that, with the "proper attitude," can help encourage "maturity" of the self . 2, In order to understand this seeming contradiction, we must recall that it is the widest sense of identification that deep ecologists ultimately call for -that is, an identification not with individual beings but rather the larger biotic community or whole. Australian environmental philosopher Warwick Fox expresses this relative prioritizing when he states that: "In terms of the wider identification approach, then, it can be seen that there is a strong sense in which community (e.g., the species or the ecosystem) is even more important than the individual expressions that constitute it since the community itself constitutes an entire dimension of the world with which I identify, i.e., of my self. 21

And the poet Robinson Jeffers, whom deep ecologists cite with approval, expresses this relative prioritizing in even stronger terms: "I believe the universe is one being, all its parts are different expressions of the same energy, and they are all in communication with each other, therefore parts of an organic whole.... It seems to me that this whole alone is worthy of the deeper love [emphasis added]."27

Deep ecologists maintain that this primary identification with the whole" is not at the expense of the individual beings since they, too, must be seen as part of the same all-inclusive Self. But, as we have seen, the danger with widening one's identification to the "whole" or biotic community (as in the case of Leopold) is that one may widen it beyond the reach of individual beings. 21 This preference for identification with the larger "whole" may reflect the familiar masculine urge to transcend the concrete world of particularity in preference for something more enduring and abstract.

Deep ecologists would have us believe that self-relation is a simple process of expanding one's identification to all of the natural world. But when deep ecologists write of expanding the self, ecofeminists must be prepared to examine more deeply the unconscious drives that fuel the self that one seeks to expand. We have seen that women and animals have been utilized as psychological instruments for the establishment of the masculine self. The conquest of the snake, the dragon, and other female-imaged monsters reflects the inner drives and needs of the masculine self. What we witness in the experiences of the writers discussed here is the same conquest mentality now operating on a seemingly "higher" plane. Nonetheless, animals are still used as instruments of self-definition-they are killed not in the name of an individual, masculine ego but instead in the name of a higher, abstract self. But whether one is establishing the self writ small or large, the experience of the animal the loss of her or his life remains the same.

The danger of an abstract identification with a larger "whole" is that it fails to recognize or respect the existence of independent, living beings. This has, in fact, been a major failing of both environmental philosophy and the environmental movement. By alternately raising the ecosystem or an aggrandized self to the level of supreme value, they have created a holism that risks obliterating the uniqueness and importance of individual beings. The disillusionment of many animal liberationists with both the environmental movement and environmental philosophy is a consequence of this fact.

Ecofeminist philosophy must be wary of a holistic philosophy that transcends the realm of individual beings. Our deep, holistic awareness of the inter-connectedness of all of life must be a lived awareness that we experience in relation to particular beings as well as the larger whole.

If, as object relations theory argues, women's self-identity, unlike men's, is not bound up with the urge to negate one's dependence on the natural world, then we should not be surprised to find that women's experiences with nature may differ from those of men. Although it cannot be claimed that no women hunt or perhaps experience their sense of nature in the ways described by the writers discussed here, most people, I think, will recognize such behavior as primarily characteristic of men .29 Throughout history hunting has, in fact, been an activity that has been pursued by and large by men.

Many women have found other ways to experience their oneness or identification with nature. Charlene Spretnak writes that women often have such experiences through the "body parables" -"reclaimed menstruation, orgasm, pregnancy, natural childbirth and motherhood. 30 It is out of women's unique, felt sense of connection to the natural world that an ecofeminist philosophy must be forged. Identification may, in fact, enter into this philosophy but only to the extent that it flows from an existing connection with individual lives. Individual beings must not be used in a kind of psychological instrumentalism to help establish a feeling of connection that does not, in fact, exist. Our sense of oneness with nature must be connected with concrete, loving actions.

Ecofeminism and deep ecology have suggested, at times, that what each refers to is a consciousness of love. As we have seen, however, love can mean many things and be expressed in a variety of ways. As ecofeminism develops in relation to other philosophies, it must carefully examine the practical consequences of all abstract ideals. Only then will ecofeminism know how far our own identification can go.

Diamond, Irene and Orenstein, Gloria (ed) 1990 Reweaving the World,
Sierra Club Books, San Francisco ISBN0-87156-623-0

Michael E. Zimmerman


IN THE SPRING OF 1987, a barge loaded with garbage from Islip, New York, made international headlines as it searched in vain for a place to dump its unwanted load. The garbage barge was a striking symbol for and symptom of the behavior of "advanced" industrial societies, which are poisoning themselves and the biosphere by their own wastes. One of today's leading issues is whether we can survive the very industrial practices that we have relied upon for material "progress." Some people, including deep ecologists and ecofeminists, maintain that the set of Western categories responsible for this "progress" must be transformed if we are to learn to dwell upon the Earth in an appropriate way. In what follows, I shall examine how deep ecologists, on the one hand, and ecofeminists, on the other, would explain how these Western categories have shaped society in a way that almost inevitably led to the appearance of the garbage barge. But despite apparent similarities in their critical appraisal of Western culture, the deep ecological and the ecofeminist views are not entirely in harmony. Ecofeminists argue that deep ecologists overlook the real source of the domination of nature: patriarchy. In developing a critical exchange between deep ecology and ecofeminism, my intention is to strengthen and to further the important dialogue that has been initiated between these two opponents of the domination of nature, of our own bodies, and of woman and man.'

DEEP ECOLOGY Deep ecology, a radical stream of the environment movement, maintains that the environmental crisis is the inevitable outcome of the history of Western culture. A primary distinction between deep ecology and reform environmentalism is that the former is non-anthropocentric in its attitude toward the natural world, while the latter is anthropocentric. It would be incorrect, however, to lump into one undifferentiated group all forms of environmentalism that are not "deeply" ecological. Environmental philosopher John Rodman, for example, differentiates four stages in ecological consciousness: (1) resource conservation, (2) wilderness preservation, (3) moral extensionism, and (4) ecological sensibility (Rodman's term for deep ecology).2

Resource conservation is the most obviously human-centered version of reform environmentalism. From its viewpoint, we must conserve "resources" because of our obligation to future generations of humanity. Although widespread, resource conservation is by no means universally accepted. Some people argue, for example, that we not only have no obligations to the natural world, we also have no obligations to so-called future generations of people.

Wilderness preservation seems at first glance to be oriented not toward human beings but instead toward protecting the wilderness itself from human "development." Rodman argues, however, that wilderness preservationists remain anthropocentric since they aim at protecting wilderness as the site for aesthetic or religious experiences in the grandeur of unspoiled wild places. Wilderness preservation, then, turns out to be subtly anthropocentric: we are to preserve the wilderness not so much for its own sake as for the sake of the experiences people have in it.

The third version of reform environmentalism is moral extensionism.' According to this approach, the environmental crisis stems in part from our unethical treatment of nonhuman beings. One way to protect the nonhuman world from human exploitation is to show that some (or perhaps all) nonhuman beings are worthy of moral "concern" and/or legal "standing." But there are problems with this approach, too. For example, the standards used to determine whether a nonhuman entity is morally "worthy" are all too often derived from criteria considered definitive of humanity, such as sentience, or consciousness. Anthropocentrism raises its ugly head once again.

Rodman's fourth stage of ecological consciousness is ecological sensibility, or deep ecology. While there are various approaches to deep ecology, there is one major issue on which virtually all deep ecologists agree: the industrial pollution, species extinction, biospheric degradation, and nuclear annihilation facing the Earth are all symptoms of anthropocentrism. Only by recognizing that humanity is no more, but also no less, important than all other things on Earth can we learn to dwell on the planet within limits that would allow other species to flourish and to follow out their own evolutionary destiny. Anthropocentric hierarchies would be replaced by biocentric egalitarianism. Disputes would necessarily arise in the face of difficult decisions ("Should these trees be cut down for the sake of building these houses?"), but such disputes would not paralyze human activity. The disputes would take place with the presupposition that all entities concerned have "rights" that must be taken into account during the decision-making process. According to the Norwegian philosopher and naturalist Arne Naess, living according to deep ecological principles would bring about the fulfilment of human existence as well as liberating nature from human exploitation.4 Humanity's highest possibility is to bear witness to and to participate in the great process of life itself. Supposedly, only deep ecology points the way beyond abuse toward appreciation, beyond anthropocentrism toward a mature humanity living within appropriate limits that enable other entities to thrive as well.

According to the Australian environmental philosopher Warwick Fox, the "central intuition" of deep ecology is that there is no absolute divide between humanity and everything else.' Western humanity tends to think in terms of dualisms, such as that between mind and body, or between humanity and nature. Such dualism leads Western humanity to split off its "dark side"-its mortality, dependence, and finitude-and to project it upon the body and nature, which it then attempts to "dominate" and "control." Deep ecology, by way of contrast, thinks non-dualistically; it looks instead to the rich internal relations that constitute the universe. Deep ecology also proposes an alternative to Newton's atomistic conception of the physical world, a conception that was extended by Hobbes and Locke into the social world. Far from being a social atom that is wholly independent of other people and the natural world, the human being is a "node" in the internal relations that compose everything.6 A mature humanity would understand its interrelationship with everything else.

Many deep ecologists maintain that their view is consistent with both Eastern religions and mystical traditions within Western religions, namely, that the I and the not-I are ultimately a unity. Such realization also involves direct insight into the limitations of subject/object dualism and its calculating rationality. Rationality, according to deep ecology, is an important way of interpreting the world, but it is often used destructively in the service of the ego striving to deny its mortality by controlling all things. An enlightened humanity would use rationality in accordance with a more profound understanding or sensibility that transcends subject/object dualism. The discovery that all things are internally related would lead us to treat each other as well as the nonhuman world with profound respect instead of merely as raw material to enhance human power.

Deep ecology, then, seeks to overturn the major Western categories that are apparently responsible for humanity's destruction of the biosphere: anthropocentrism, dualism, atomism, hierarchalism, rigid autonomy, and abstract rationalism. A deep ecologist would see the garbage barge as merely the tip of the waste-and-pollution iceberg that is threatening the biosphere. The huge quantities of poisonous industrial and municipal wastes, the nuclear weapons, the destruction of the living Earth-all are manifestations of what amounts to human self-worship. Having "killed" God, humanity arrogated to itself the Divine position in the Great Chain of Being. Human beings became the origin and measure for all value, truth, and meaning. A "thing" had "value" only in economic or pragmatic terms -in relation to human needs. And because nature reminds us of our dependence on the body, we must 11 conquer" nature to reassure ourselves of our immortality. White West-

ern humanity believes it has the "right" to dump its waste wherever it wants, instead of curbing its lavish consumption and recycling its wastes. The abstract, linear rationality at work in modern economies (be they capitalist or socialist) cannot comprehend the essentially cyclical character of natural processes. Despite the findings of the science of ecology, Western society plunges blindly ahead toward disaster in the name of infinite progress. Science can be an important part of the solution to anthropocentrism, but only if it is freed from its current enslavement to economic and nationalistic interests.

Deep ecologists agree that reform environmentalism -including stiff international laws against pollution, annihilation of species, expansion of human population, destruction of rain forests and marshes, nuclear power and nuclear weapons, and so on -is necessary in the short run. In the tong run, however, mere reformism will not be sufficient to prevent the destruction of the Earth. Only a revolution in humanity's understanding of itself and its place within nature will bring about the dramatic changes in human behavior that are necessary at this critical juncture in human and terrestrial history.


At first glance, ecofeminism and deep ecology share many points in common. Both are critical of atomism, dualism, hierarchalism, rigid autonomy, and abstract rationality. According to feminist critics, however, because deep ecology has been formulated almost entirely by men, it is characterized by unintended patriarchal prejudices. Whereas the deep ecologist speaks of the drawbacks of anthropocentrism or human-centeredness, the ecofeminist speaks of the drawbacks of androcentrism or man-centeredness. According to many ecofeminists, patriarchalism leads to the destruction of the Earth.7 Because deep ecologists fail to understand the fundamental role of patriarchy in the development of atomism, dualism, hierarchalism, rigid autonomy, and abstract rationality, deep ecologists mean something different by these categories than do ecofeminists. Ecofeminists believe that only when deep ecologists learn to appreciate the effects of patriarchal culture on their own awareness, only when they discover the extent to which their conceptions of self, body, nature, and other are shaped by patriarchal categories, will their ecology become truly deep.

Contemporary feminism is an extraordinarily complex movement. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, many Western feminists saw the problem as women being systematically denied the educational and economic opportunities necessary for them to compete on an equal footing with men. Feminism meant fighting for equal rights in the political and economic arenas. Gradually, however, feminists began to see that it might be unwise for women to emulate roles that had been defined and structured by and for men. Feminist theorists began to emphasize the differences between men and women. Still later, some feminists began to conclude that not only are women different from men, they are better than men. Whereas earlier feminists had insisted that differences between men and women were cultural in origin, some feminists now began taking an "essentialist" position, according to which patriarchal culture distorts or conceals the essential feminine that is the birthright of every woman.

Other feminists have been quick to point out the problems with this position. First, it seems to confirm the misogynist's viewpoint that women are essentially or naturally or biologically different. The misogynist concludes that such "natural" differences make women "inferior," while the feminist concludes that they make women "superior." And any talk of female "superiority" reinstalls the very hierarchy that feminists found and fought against in patriarchy. Some ecofeminists even speak as if men are so flawed that only women can solve the environmental crisis because women are more attuned to the cycles of nature and to their own feelings than are men. But women are also distorted by patriarchy, and some men are deeply appreciative of their relationship to the natural world. Most ecofeminists acknowledge that what is needed is the transformation of women and men. Ecofeminists, however, may be able to make a contribution that many men cannot because the marginal place of women in the history of patriarchy may have protected them from some of the crippling effects that it has had on so many men.

Many ecofeminists agree that the technological assault upon the Earth is the culmination of a direction in human history that took a particularly virulent form in Europe.8 In the Europe of several thousand years ago, before the emergence of agriculturally based cities and before the onslaught of the Goddess-slaying, Sky-Father-worshipping nomadic horsemen, there was no patriarchy. Society was apparently non-hierarchical, non-authoritarian, and non-dualistic. Human worship was directed at the Goddess, the female divinity regarded by women and men alike as the source of all life and bounty and goodness. Gradually, however, the Goddess was displaced by the new Father God. Feminists have often interpreted this new God as the projection of the male's hierarchical, patriarchal, domineering, and authoritarian attitude. While the Goddess affirmed the goodness and primacy of the body and the Earth, the God affirmed the goodness and primacy of the spirit/soul and heaven. But this is not the only possible interpretation of the Father God.

C. G. Jung and psychotherapist Erich Neumann have argued that the emergence of the Father God was consistent with the development of human consciousness from out of a relatively collective state to one of increasing individuation.9 They see the solar God as representing the clarity of the free-willed, self-assertive, rational ego-self. For this kind of individuated selfhood to be possible, according to Jung, the heroic ego had to escape from the embrace of the Great Mother, who represents both the organic-bodily and the subconscious domain of human existence. Transpersonal psychologist Ken Wilber, however, argues that the emergence of the Father God amounted to a new level in humankind's understanding of divinity, a level consistent with and made possible by the Great Goddess-IO Wilber sees the Great Mother as representing early humanity's conception of "Mother Nature" as the now-bountiful, now-withholding source of life and death, who must be placated by ritual and blood sacrifice, while the Great Goddess represents the insight of a few into the transcendent Divine Unity that constitutes the creative source of all things. That is, the Great Goddess is the unifying principle of transcendence-in-immanence that makes even the Great Mother possible. Unlike the Great Mother, who demands ritual sacrifice, the Great Goddess requires not sacrifice of the body, but instead sacrifice or surrender of the separate self to the Divine Unity which is its source.

Rightly understood, the great Father can be regarded as a further development of the individuating and transcendent principles that first emerged with the Great Goddess. God did not necessarily have to become the basis for patriarchy. But as men became individuated by their identification with the Father God, the terror of individuation led them to construe him as an all-powerful, separate, other-worldly self. Men made God in their own image. This conception of God led men to dissociate themselves from women, from nature, and from their own bodies -from everything that reminded them of dependence. Hence, whatever corresponding process of individuation that might have occurred for women in association with the Great Goddess was feared and repressed by the newly individuated men. Men justified their deeds by portraying women as being too bound up with the Great Mother, the Earth, and with the subconscious, prerational, collective, material, and emotional realms. Women were simply "unfit" to follow the path of individuation. Worshippers of the "jealous" Father God destroyed the temples and killed the worshippers of the "false" deities, the Great Mother and the Great Goddess.

Correctly intuiting that in some sense they shared in the eternal presence of what I prefer to call the God/dess, the ancient males mistakenly concluded that their own egos were immortal. Instead of surrendering their separate egos to the eternal God/dess, men embarked on what Wilber has called the "God project."Il They invented immortality substitutes and symbols, such as money, war, science, art, and other activities of culture. The ego's logical-rational discourse projected an infinite future for unfolding its immortality projects. Hungry for the power that promised immortality, the God-worshipping urban kings invented full-scale war. They projected death and guilt upon the enemy-by slaying the enemy, they would also slay death and guilt. And they projected mortality and limitation on women, whom they regarded as semi-natural beings incapable of participating in the "creative" domain of culture.

The "history of consciousness," then, has turned out to be the story of man's development. The heroic male struggles violently to free himself from the clutches of the subconscious and collective powers of the Great Mother. Only by the matricidal act of slaying the beast (representing the Great Mother) does the hero achieve individuation. The fierceness of the ego's repression of the female, the bodily, and the natural is directly proportional to the ego's recognition of its ultimate dependent status. But the anxious ego finally claims to be independent of everything, including t ' he Divine. The ego in effect declares itself to be God.

According to ecofeminists, modern technology is simply the culmination of this male quest to conquer death and limitation by dominating his environment, his own body (through military and scientific "disciplines"), his women, and all other "subhuman" (that is, nonruling-class) types. The garbage barge represents man's refusal to own up to his own wastes, the disposal of which he has usually consigned to women. Organic wastes in particular remind man of his mortality, his connection to the Earth and to woman. By hoping to dump the barge's garbage in the U.S. South and then in Mexico, wasteful patriarchal culture again revealed its exploitative attitude toward the poor and dark-skinned. Even if a woman had ordered the barge to head south, she herself would be a victim of patriarchal thinking. Female bureaucrats, too, can be taught to think in linear terms, to conceive of the Earth not as a living entity with cyclical patterns but instead as an infinite resource for human projects and an endless dumping ground for excrement.

One may readily discern important similarities in the deep ecological and the ecofeminist account of the garbage barge as a symptom of the illness of Western culture. Ecofeminists charge, however, that patriarchal culture is governed not only by the categories of dualism, abstract rationality, rigid autonomy, and atomism, but also by the crucial category of androcentrism or patriarchy. Despite the fact that, except for androcentricism, the same categories are mentioned in the deep ecological critique of Western culture, ecofeminists argue that there are significant differences between the deep ecological and the ecofeminist perspective. That is, because of profound differences in the male and female sense of self, men and women experience the world differently. In the following section, I shall examine this assumption.


One ecofeminist, Ariel Kay Salleh, maintains that deep ecologists propose enforced birth control to solve the ecocrisis.12 According to her, this drive to control reproduction betrays the long-standing patriarchal desire to dominate the female reproductive process. Moreover, she accuses deep ecologists of speaking in abstract terms, typical of males raised in patriarchy, instead of in terms of concrete, personal relationships to other people and to the Earth. Isolated from others and from nature, the alienated male ego invents deep ecology as another desperate attempt to become reattached to the world he denied during the matricidal process of individuation.

A male philosopher sympathetic to ecofeminism, Jim Cheney also argues that patriarchal categories can be discerned in the basic program of deep ecology. 13 For example, he notes that Arne Naess speaks about the importance of rights for all beings and about the inevitable conflict among bearers of such rights. But the vocabulary of rights is, according to Cheney, a conception of human beings seen as isolated, autonomous egos who choose to limit competition among themselves by according each other certain inalienable rights that each ego must respect. To conceive of biospheric egalitarianism in terms of rights, then, betrays an atomistic conception of human society that is inevitably linked to androcentrism and patriarchy.

Moreover, even the central intuition of deep ecology-the notion that we are all nodes in the fabric or web of internal relations-may be only apparently consistent with the view that while men think atomistically, women think relationally. What better way to overcome the effects of hierarchal and dualistic thinking than by doing away with atomism and by affirming a "contextual" metaphysics? While sympathetic to the aims of such an approach, Cheney maintains that it fails. For example, how are we to solve disputes among competing claims to rights? Ultimately, if it's a question of a human's right to life versus a squirrel's, won't we resort to some hierarchical consideration that undermines the commitment to biocentric egalitarianism?

The infusion of the web-of-life concept into deep ecological ethics, then, may be seen to promise ... a feminist ethical theory while in fact it serves either to flatten all issues of value and obligation into a normative egalitarianism which cannot serve to guide practice without reintroducing hierarchy or to shift the focus of ethical concern to the ecosystem as a whole, the result being a kind of ecological totalitarianism in which the good of individuals is subservient to the good of the whole. The concept of a moral community implied by the idea of a web-of-life in which selves are defined by means of relationships of care and responsibility cannot survive the attempt to fit it into the framework of a rights, whether it be of the individualistic or holistic variety. 14

Like Cheney, Marti Kheel maintains that we cannot solve the ecological crisis simply by ridding ourselves of metaphysical and social atomism and replacing such atomism with a metaphysical and social relationalism.15 It is important to remember that relationships can only obtain between individuals that have some measure of importance and reality of their own. If we reduce individuals merely to the status of 11 nodes" in a field of internal relations, we run the danger of removing all obstacles to regarding the nexus of internal relations (for example, some particular biome) as being more important than the individual nodes comprising the biome. That is, for the sake of the "overall good" of the whole set of internal relations, individuals could justifiably be sacrificed since after all they are only temporary coagulations of the dynamic patterns at work in the vibrant field of life.11

Feminists are calling for a new version of selfhood or individuation, one that avoids isolated egos on the one hand and unconscious blending on the other. Earlier, I noted the masculinist bias in the prevailing Western account of individuation. In their path-breaking analyses of such individuation, Jung and Neumann recognized the destructive character of the patriarchal repression of the female principles of nature and divinity. Most feminists, however, have concluded that Jung and Neumann's history of individuation, despite its critique of the lopsidedness of patriarchal consciousness, is itself so colored by masculinist categories that it cannot be of help in developing an alternative conception of individuation. Recently, however, feminist theologian Catherine Keller has reinterpreted the approach of depth psychology to individuation to make it compatible with her own version of a feminist understanding of individuation.17

According to Keller, Jung's major achievement was his "discovery and charting of a collective unconscious."18 Jung argued that the task of the ego in a person's later life was to reaffirm its relationship with the world, a relationship temporarily denied during the process of individuation:

Sacrificing its own illusory claims to autonomy, the ego's task becomes that of reconnecting with the depth and breadth of life from which it had so early cut itself off. For the mother archetype symbolizes the ego's relation to its own deeper psyche, the transpersonal or collective unconscious. By its very nature, it belies the separate ego of the warrior-hero.... Reintegration of the psyche on the basis of its own transpersonal scope requires the process Jung calls "individuation." Authentic individuality can be gained only when I experience myself as fundamentally connected to all of life: this is the wisdom of the Jungian outlook. An ego-transcending selfhood is massively relational, exposing the individuality of the ego as the sham of individualism and a fabrication of persona ... [Jung's] vision of a radical world-openness suggests the essence of a connective self.19

Where Keller speaks of the mother archetype as symbolizing the ego's relation to the transpersonal or collective unconscious, I would distinguish between the transpersonal and the collective unconscious. The transpersonal domain refers to the level of awareness opened up by the Great Goddess; the collective unconscious refers to the domain represented by the Great Mother. An integrated personality would be open to both domains. Both women and men are capable of such integration. Arguing against those feminists who adopt an essentialist view of the nature of woman and man, Keller maintains that women and men alike are originally relational beings. In early childhood, however, the boy is forced to separate in accordance with misguided patriarchal conceptions of individuation. But none of us is ever truly cut off from our relations with the world -the patriarchal quest to total autonomy and independence is an illusion. The task facing women and men today is to develop a non-patriarchal, non-matricidal version of individuation. Instead of slaying the "dragon," we need to integrate this disowned and denied aspect of ourselves:

This is not to step out of our skins, to subordinate gender-specific concerns to supposedly transcendent, humanistic ones, but rather to spin a meaning of self out of our femaleness, without reducing it to anything exclusively "feminine". . . . [W]e are searching for some path of differentiation in relation. This would permit women to remain faithful to the complex inner and outer connectivity that we may sense as integral to our selves, while liberating ourselves from the accompanying dependency and self-suppression. It would challenge males to modes of relatedness that require not the sacrifice of their maleness but of their ego rigidities and corollary manipulation of women. But then differentiation-becoming uniquely our selves-must not be cast in the category of separation.20

Deep ecologists understand the relationship between the separatistic, body-despising, "independent" ego-subject and the ego's quest to control nature by technological means. As an alternative to this separateness and its paranoid lust for power, deep ecologists have appealed to a wide variety of spiritual traditions, including Buddhism. As mentioned earlier, however, critics of deep ecology claim that such mystical traditions tend to "overcome" the dualism between self and other by expanding the self to the status of a transcendental Self which includes everything within itself. The danger of this transpersonal conception of enlightenment is twofold. First, the individual loses his or her integrity as an individual; hence, he or she can then justifiably be subordinated to the good of the "whole." Second, defining authentic selfhood in terms of the identity of self and Self seems to omit what many feminists regard as essential to selfhood: relationship.

While the Self spoken of by mystics and some deep ecologists may appear to be an inflated version of the male ego, I believe that at least some deep ecologists have something more in mind than this. Consider the contributions of the poet Gary Snyder to deep ecology .21 A long-time student of Zen Buddhism, Snyder takes seriously the Zen critique of the "inflated self" conception of enlightenment. For the Zen practitioner, insight into the Buddha-nature dwelling within all creatures frees a person from the dualistic-abstract domination imposed by the ego. Enlightenment involves entering everyday life more deeply than ever. Being awake means "chopping wood and carrying water." This commitment to everyday life is made possible by the paradoxical insight that as Buddha-nature, one is both this embodied person-inrelationship and the "openness/emptiness" (sunyata) in which all spatio-temporal events can unfold and thus "be." The more we surrender to the openness at work in us, the more we are liberated from the anxiety and insecurity produced by the illusion of radical separateness. The isolated ego defends itself against change and dependency; it despises the body as the bearer of limitation, sickness, and death. The Zen practitioner affirms and integrates the mortal-bodily realm and lives from the insight that "this very body is the body of Buddha." This leads to treating all creatures both with respect and with individualized attention. The Zen practitioner learns to care for each creature in a way consistent with its needs and possibilities. There is no abstract table of ethical judgments but a personalized compassion based upon insight into what is needed and into what can be done to help.

Such compassion provides the basis in which to situate the behavior of people toward each other and toward nonhuman beings. Compassion may begin with the members of one's own family; as it grows it may extend out to all our human sisters and brothers. Finally, it may extend to all beings. One may say that we should care for trees and plants, rocks and waters, animals and people because all things are both fundamentally related to each other and are manifestations of the same life principle. This compassion would be made concrete by reference to one's own particular geographical context and social history. Deep ecologists like Gary Snyder put such compassion into practice by attempting to "reinhabit" the land and to reestablish appropriate humanity-nature relationships in light of the particular character and possibilities of the area in which they find themselves. The bioregional movement, favored by deep ecologists, is an example of the growing conviction that only by living in a particular place, with particular relationships with people and the landscape, can humanity learn to produce goods and dispose of waste in ways that respect all who are affected.

Thus, discovering one's Buddha-nature means entering fully and deeply into one's particular body in particular relationships. Human beings are endowed with a degree of awareness and self-awareness that seems to differentiate us from the organic-biological realm in which animals dwell. Such awareness enables us to form a moral community to begin with, one that has the potential for expanding beyond the immediate limits of our own families and even of our own species.

The emergence of the Great Goddess and Father God can be regarded as crucial stages in the evolution of human awareness. The patriarchal perversion of this evolution, however, has led to terrible suffering for human and nonhuman beings alike. And yet, mystics in all religious traditions have known that no matter how profound our cosmic-transcendental insight might be, our understanding of ourselves and of the world in which we live is always a human understanding.

This insight, I assume, is behind Cheney's statement that "nonhuman nature must be located in the ethical space of the moral [human] community. 1122 At first glance, some deep ecologists might say that such talk smacks of anthropocentrism. In their desire to curb anthropocentrism, deep ecologists have often relied upon metaphysical schemes that argue for the relative unimportance of humanity in the cosmic scheme of things. On the basis of such metaphysics, deep ecologists have developed moral principles such as biocentric egalitarianism, which are to curb the human tendency toward hubris. Ecofeminists, however, are wary of metaphysical and moral principles that downplay the role of humanity in the world. Perhaps they retain a sense of their connectedness with others in a way that leads them to have fewer suspicions and doubts about "human nature." And perhaps they also retain a more profound relationship with their own bodies, so that they take seriously the idea that "this very body is the body of Buddha." To be sure, some deep ecologists maintain that humanity has a crucial role to play in the scheme of things, as the witness and participant in cosmic evolution. Nevertheless, they sometimes have difficulty in formulating humanity's place in the world, partly because they are so concerned about lapsing into anthropocentrism.

Ecofeminists maintain that since we are human beings, we can only understand how to behave toward nonhuman beings in terms of principles and insights that are derived from the particular character of our humanity. According to Cheney, maintaining the human/nonhuman distinction appropriately "does not maintain moral hierarchy; it builds moral community. 23 Only within a fully textured moral community can people become aware first of how they can care for other people and for themselves and then how they can care for nonhuman beings. The atomistic individualism of patriarchy destroys much of the fabric of the human community. Such a damaged community is incapable of understanding the needs of its own members, much less of the nonhuman world. Before we can respond to the needs of the nonhuman world appropriately, we need to reestablish the fully textured human community in such a way that we learn to care for each other once again. Ecofeminists argue that then, and only then, will we be capable of extending our concern appropriately to the needs of nonhuman beings. Cheney maintains that

just as an answer to the question of what one's responsibilities are to one's friends is a highly contextual matter involving a detailed under standing of the precise threads of connectedness and intimacy involved, so an answer to what might be our moral relationship to the nonhuman environment depends upon (i) a complex understanding of what it means to be a human being, what it is to respond to another as a human being (whatever that might turn out to be), and (2) an understanding of how those complex webs of relationships that constitute the human moral community might expand to include the nonhuman. This sort of expansion of the moral community is not the extension of moral privilege to nonhuman creatures just because they happened to resemble us in desirable ways.... Rather, it is simply (or complexly) a matter of trying to come to an understanding of what it might mean to care, to respond to something in the nonhuman environment as a member of one's moral community.24

From the ecofeminist perspective it makes no sense to speak of caring for nonhuman beings apart from our capacity to care for each other. The moral context in which we can become concerned about nonhuman beings is made possible by particular human beings with needs and the capacities to take care of those needs.

This capacity for a deeply textured understanding of our particular human and environmental situation is by no means restricted to women, though under patriarchy far fewer men than women have retained this capacity in a healthy way.

Cheney concludes that ecofeminism involves a highly contextual attempt to see clearly what a human being is and what the nonhuman world might be, morally speaking, for human beings-i.e., what kinds of care, regard, and responsiveness might be possible for us in relationship to the nonhuman world.... [T]he limits of moral regard are set only by the limitations of one's own (or one's species' or one's community's) ability to respond in a caring manner, which, in turn, are a function of the depth of one's own understanding of the human moral community and the clarity and depth of one's understanding of, and relationship to, the nonhuman world or elements of that world.25

The danger of this approach to humanity's place in nature is that it may be used to reinforce the relative lack of concern that many feminists have traditionally displayed toward environmental issues. It may be true that our capacity to care for nonhuman beings is at least partly grounded in the human community that we must reproduce and sustain in everyday life. Feminists have understandably focused upon the needs of those members of the human community who have suffered most from the history of patriarchy. Nevertheless, increasing numbers of feminists are discovering the needs of the nonhuman world and their capacity to care for it, even as they continue to repair the human world.


It appears then that the emergence of concern for the nonhuman world has coincided with the rediscovery of the Great Goddess in particular and of the Divine in general. In the quest to rectify the mistreatment of women, many feminists tended to neglect both the Earth and the Divine. To more and more women and men alike, however, it is becoming clear that the Divine cannot be identified with the patriarchal understanding of divinity. Moreover, we are beginning to realize that our capacity for caring for other human beings is somehow related to our capacity to appreciate the divinity at work in all of us. By appreciating the Divine God/dess, the origin and destiny of all things, we also appreciate more fully both our own bodies and the Earth upon which those bodies so depend. Surrendering to the Divine, we simultaneously surrender to and affirm our own embodiment. This Divine God/dess is simultaneously and paradoxically transcendent and immanent. Perhaps this concept of a post-patriarchal God/dess is necessary for women and men alike to develop a form of individuation that does not involve dissociation from the body, from nature, and from woman. This God/dess may then provide the understanding and compassion necessary for women and men to care for each other in a way that encourages us to care for other people and for the Earth as well.

In this essay, I have attempted to develop a dialogue between deep ecology and ecofeminism. No doubt, masculine bias and phrasing color the writings of many deep ecologists, but a generous and compassionate interpretation of their work reveals an authentic concern to heal men and women and to heal the Earth that has been wounded by men and in some cases by women. Women and men alike have been distorted by the effects of patriarchy. What we need now is cooperation and trust, not animosity and suspicion, between deep ecologists and ecofeminists. We need each other in our common search for a way to be mature and complete human beings, so that the Earth can be freed from the burden of domination and exploitation.