Gaia and Philosophy

Gaia and Philosophy


In the 1970s, microbiologist Lynn Margulis and atmospheric chemist James Lovelock developed the Gaia theory. Embracing the circular logic of life and engineering systems, the Gaia theory states that Earth is a self-regulating complex system in which life interacts with and eventually becomes its own environment

Gaia describes a living Earth: a body in the form of a planet. For billions of years, life has created an environment conducive to its continuation, influencing the physical attributes of Earth on a planetary scale. An idea with precedents in natural science and philosophy for millennia, Gaia resonates with the ancient magico-religious understanding that all is one: as above, so below. 

Fusing science, mathematics, philosophy, ecology and mythology, Gaia and Philosophy, with a new introduction by Dorion Sagan, challenges Western anthropocentrism to propose a symbiotic planet. In its striking philosophical conclusion, the revolutionary Gaia paradigm holds important implications not only for understanding life's past but for shaping its future. 

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Lynn Margulis (1938–2011) was an interdisciplinary evolutionary biologist, author and educator. She was the primary intellectual force in the 20th and early 21st century responsible for the acceptance of the role of symbiogenesis (of archaea and bacteria) played in the evolution of the eukaryotic cells (cells with nuclei) that became plants, animals, and fungi. She also, by underscoring the roles of gas-exchanging bacteria, helped turn James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis that the reactive gases of Earth's atmosphere were physiologically regulated by life away from thermodynamic equilibrium, into a full on theory. Her books, often written in collaboration with her son Dorion Sagan, include Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Evolution from Our Microbial Ancestors (1987), Mystery Dance: On the Evolution of Human Sexuality (1991) and Slanted Truths: Essays on Gaia, Symbiosis, and Evolution (1997).2023

Adult Non Fiction

Mind, Body and Spirit

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