Although he is known primarily as the inventor of the phrase "deep ecology," Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess's thoughts and approaches have waded through all the major streams and events of our times. From a childhood during World War I through the study of psychoanalysis in Freud's Vienna, through the midcentury hardening of ideologies to the most recent decades with the emergence of ecology as a political force, his life in the throes of nature has always fuelled a will to espouse precise and clear thinking in the face of the great contemporary dilemmas. Through a series of conversations covering the whole span of Naess's rich and complex life, David Rothenberg presents the grand old man of natural philosophy in his own words. What emerges is the personal vision of a life imbued with ecology, which reveals in the most human terms how respect for and contact with the natural world can provide the foundation for a total view of the vast problems of humanity and our place in the world. "Is it Painful to Think?" reveals insights and inspiration, hypotheses and conclusions, but above all paradox, as the difference between ideas and events comes to the surface.
These are issues that all philosophers of nature must come to terms with, and this unconventional book seeks not to provide answers as much as stir discussion and reflection. This, says Naess, is where philosophy differs from religion, where conversation veers from pronouncement.