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Norwegian Philosopher Arne Naess Dies at 96

by Doug Mellgren

OSLO, Norway  - Norwegian philosopher, writer and mountaineer Arne Naess, best known for launching the concept of "deep ecology," has died, his publisher said Tuesday. He was 96.

A 2004 file picture of Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess, who died Monday, Jan 12, 2009, at the age of 96. Naess was widely regarded as the foremost Norwegian philosopher of the 20th century, and was the founder of 'deep ecology'. His philosophical work focused on Spinoza, Buddhism and Gandhi. He was the youngest person to be appointed full professor at the University of Oslo. (AP Photo / Erlend Aas / Scanpix Norway) Naess is credited with creating the deep ecology concept, promoting the idea that Earth as a planet has as much right as its inhabitants, such as humans, to survive and flourish. He cited the 1962 book "Silent Spring," by Rachel Carson as a key inspiration.

Naess' publisher, Erling Kagge, told The Associated Press that the philosopher died in his sleep Monday.

"Naess' ecological philosophy is still important to Greenpeace," said Truls Gulowsen, leader of the group's Norwegian division. He said Naess was the first chairman of Greenpeace Norway when it was founded in 1988.

Arne Dekke Eide Naess was born on Jan. 27, 1912 in Oslo, the son of banker and businessman Ragnar Naess and Christine Dekke.

He earned a doctorate at the University of Oslo and, at age 27, became its youngest professor. He wrote numerous books and articles, including what the University of Oslo called his key work "Interpretation and Preciseness."

Naess was also a driven mountaineer, and led the first expedition to conquer the 7,708 meter (25,289 foot) mountain Tirich Mir in Pakistan in 1954. He led a second Norwegian expedition up the mountain in 1964.

After stepping down from his university post in 1970, he became active in protecting the environment, writing extensively on the subject and joining protests.

Funeral plans have not yet been released.

 

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