Devall and Sessions' discussion of nature : the role of romanticism in their deep ecology
This PhD looks at the way Devall and Sessions discuss nature in two of their books,
Deep Ecology: living as ifnature mattered and Simple in Means Rich in Ends. This
task is important for two reasons. First, nature is a core concept in environmental
literature. Second, failure to clearly understand how writers use key concepts means
their arguments are often misunderstood and misrepresented. Devall and Sessions
were chosen because they are well known, if sometimes controversial, environmental
writers; because they exemplify an important strand of environmental philosophy
known as deep ecology; and because their work highlights the role nature plays in
environmental thought generally. I will argue in this thesis that Devall and Sessions
draw on certain ideas within romanticism and science to develop their claims about
nature. Consequently, their deep ecology cannot be taken as a radical break with
Western philosophy or attitudes towards nature.
This thesis is distinctive because it dissects Devall and Sessions' work in a new way.
This is because I evaluate their arguments by drawing upon romantic and scientific
literature; and by locating their arguments within a specific cultural, national and
historical framework. As a result one can clearly see how they have developed and
legitimated their deep ecological prescriptions by drawing on values and perceptions
already articulated in Western philosophy.