In 1939, Næss was the youngest person to be appointed full professor at the University of Oslo and the only professor of philosophy in the country at the time. He was a noted mountaineer, who in 1950 led the expedition that made the first ascent of Tirich Mir (7,708 m). In 1958, he founded the interdisciplinary journal of philosophy Inquiry.
Professor Arne Næss campaigning for the Norwegian Green party in 2003 and 2005. In 1970, together with a large number of protesters, he chained himself to rocks in front of Mardalsfossen, a waterfall in a Norwegian fjord, and refused to descend until plans to build a dam were dropped. Though the demonstrators were carried away by police and the dam was eventually built, the demonstration launched a more activist phase of Norwegian environmentalism.
In 1996, he won the Swedish Academy Nordic Prize, known as the 'little Nobel'. In 2005 he was decorated as a Commander with Star of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav for socially useful work.
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