“There is a Great Joy that Comes from the Wild Creatures:” Greening Happiness across Cultures and Disciplines





Biophilia, Ecocriticism, Ecology, Environmentalism, Happiness


In recent years, the relationship between human happiness and the natural environment has become the object of considerable research, debate and contention. In this essay I first discuss two powerful concepts with distinctly different national, cultural and disciplinary origins, namely E. O. Wilson’s concept of biophilia and the Bhutanese concept of Gross National Happiness, which have both stirred considerable debate and contributed to shifting contemporary thinking about happiness in a more ecocentered direction. Subsequently I present a “eudaimonic” (happiness-oriented) reading of a significantly older literary text—the French writer Jean Giono’s novel Joy of Man’s Desiring (1935)—that contests the dominant happiness ideologies of the twentieth century but resonates strongly with still-emerging twenty-first-century paradigms of understanding. The essay’s discussions are chosen, organized and prioritized to highlight the multidisciplinary and transnational nature of the new green discourse on happiness, and to exemplify how literary and cultural studies may contribute to this. Focusing on happiness, I suggest, offers an alternative and potentially productive way to engage with questions of environmental crisis and human-natural relationships more generally.




How to Cite

Mortensen, P. (2020). “There is a Great Joy that Comes from the Wild Creatures:” Greening Happiness across Cultures and Disciplines. Ecocene: Cappadocia Journal of Environmental Humanities, 1(2), 5–18. https://doi.org/10.46863/ecocene.1



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