Arne Naess died 12th January 2009

The Norwegian philosopher and environmentalist Arne Naess died on Monday, two weeks short of his 97th birthday. The Associated Press announcement, along with most of the tributes now being paid to Naess, focus on his ecological work and appropriately so; the ‘Deep Ecology’ movement, which he founded in 1970, is his greatest intellectual legacy. But Naess is also a significant figure in the history of analytic philosophy. He was the last surviving philosopher to have attended meetings of the Vienna Circle in the 1930s, and during the 1950s and 60s he was a sparrring partner for his near contemporaries such as A. J. Ayer and J. L. Austin. Perhaps most significantly, his dissatisfaction with logical positivism led him to pioneer methods of language study that prefigured developments in branches of linguistics such as sociolinguistics and corpus linguistics by some thirty years. He was a major intellectual figure of the twentieth century.