The Council for Eco-Philosophy

An anthology commemorating the development of Norwegian eco-philosophy and how in embracing the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv – in just being engaged in nature more – we can be both better prepared to protect it and also see hope and joy in an increasingly bleak climate change narrative.

In the year 2000 the Dalai Lama said that seeking happiness is ‘in our nature’, and yet biodiversity – free nature – and the climate threat are some of the fundamental anxiety and stress inducing existential problems of Modernity. In the three decades since its inception, the global UN climate summits (COPs) have not achieved much more than ‘greenwashing’.

Now the Council for Eco-Philosophy from the “Happiest Country in Europe”* offers Nature & Culture: A Change Empowered by Joy!, an anthology of writing from some of the key figures in the Norwegian eco-philosophy movement which argues that the reason we are failing is because the solutions being offered are too closely tied to the issues which created the situation and what we actually need is a new pattern of thought. This can be found in the Norwegian tradition of eco-philosophy and the concept of friluftsliv, or just being in nature in an active way. Something 90%b pf Norwegians participate in.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––*according to the NEF Happy Planet Index

Eco-philosophy was born from friluftsliv in the 1960s, as Norwegian mountaineers, visiting their beloved peaks after WW2, again and again came across razed watercourses. One of these mountaineers was world renowned ecologist Arne Naess who always travelled with a copy of Baruch Spinoza’s Ethics in his backpack. Arne brought Spinoza’s philosophy of joy together with natural science ecology to create a philosophy of free nature as a governing pattern of thought, a ‘making friends with nature’ project emerged with civil disobedience as a practice for the protection of free nature becoming a key tool of the movement. This movement eventually contributed to the successful creation of green culture in Norway during the 1970s culminating in a non-violent confrontation with a workforce, heavily armed with bulldozers up-streams of the Mardalsfossen waterfall. After two weeks, the campaigners lost the struggle, but won ‘the hearts and minds’ of their countrymen eventually making the concept ‘eco-philosophy’ well known across the nation

Nature & Culture is an anthology which provokes us to take a hard look at greenwashing and why it is that many western nations are part of the problem. It includes essays by accomplished academics, politicians and NGOs on how to change an oil-driven, neo-liberal state into a nature-friendly society – empowered by joy – as envisioned by Spinoza all those years ago.

Essentially, however, this is an anthology of hope to anyone who finds the current disaster narrative upsetting and anxiety inducing.

About the editors

Members of Council for Eco-philosophy, established 2008, were: Børge Dahle (initiator of the project), Sigmund Kvaløy Setreng (1934 – 2014), Nils Faarlund, Siri Næss, Øystein Dahle, Finn Wagle and Aage Jensen.

Coordinating editors for the book have been Aage Jensen, Nils Faarlund and Torbjørn Ydegaard. Finn Wagle, Øystein Dahle and Nils Faarlund have been honored by many awards, including Norway’s St. Olav’s Order, for their work.

Nature & Culture: A Change Empowered by Joy! is published By Clink Street Publishing on 9 February 2022 RRP £17.99 paperback, £6.99 eBook. Available to buy online from retailers including and can be ordered from all good bookstores.

For a review copy or interview request please contact:

Kelly Pike, Publicist at Authoright / 0207 993 4438 /

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