Proclus’ interpretation of the Timaeus confronts the question of whether the living being that is the Platonic cosmos percieves itself. Since sense perception is a mixed blessing in the Platonic tradition, Proclus solves this problem by differentiating different gradations of perception. The cosmos has only the highest kind. This paper contrasts Proclus’ account of the world’s perception of itself with James Lovelock’s notion that the planet Earth, or Gaia, is aware of things going on within itself. This contrast illuminates (...) several key differences between contemporary theories of perception and the neoplatonic world view. In particular, it argues that the neoplatonists had a radically different view of these matters because they assigned the property of truth not only to representations, but to objects as well. (shrink)
Proclus' interpretation of the Timaeus confronts the question of whether the living being that is the Platonic cosmos perceives itself. Since sense perception is a mixed blessing in the Platonic tradition, Proclus solves this problem by differentiating different gradations of perception. The cosmos has only the highest kind. This paper contrasts Proclus' account of the world's perception of itself with James Lovelock's notion that the planet Earth, or Gaia, is aware of things going on within itself. This contrast illuminates (...) several key differences between contemporary theories of perception and the neoplatonic world view. In particular, it argues that the neoplatonists had a radically different view of these matters because they assigned the property of truth not only to representations, but to objects as well. (shrink)
Anthropocentrism is the view that the only things valuable in themselves are: human beings; their desires, needs, and purposes; and the satisfaction of those. In turn, Gaia theory holds that the Earth and all creatures on it constitute something akin to a super-organism—a vast living being. This paper aims to show that if Gaia theory is true, then it is likely that anthropocentrism is false. Hence, in the words of green politician Jonathon Porritt (1987, 207), “Were such a (...) hypothesis [confirmed], it would certainly put the kibosh on any lingering anthropocentric fantasies!” Let us call this, in honor of Porritt and other Green publicists, “the Kibosh Thesis.” The Thesis has incurred considerable .. (shrink)
«Questo è il vero fenomenalismo e prospettivismo, come lo intendo io», scrive Nietzsche in FW 354, chiudendo una lunga riflessione sul tema della coscienza e del bisogno di comunicazione dell’uomo. Mantenendo sullo sfondo le questioni più strettamente legate alla dimensione psicologica, vorrei partire da questa dichiarazione per considerare alcuni aspetti della teoria della conoscenza di Nietzsche ed intervenire in una nuova determinazione del suo carattere prospettico. In particolare, vorrei soffermarmi sul tema del gregge umano e della specie come reale soggetto (...) della visione prospettica, per poi discutere il riferimento al fenomenalismo rintracciabile in alcuni appunti dedicati ad una declinazione del Wille zur Macht come conoscenza. (shrink)
In this article, the author describes his sense of synchronicity with Edgar Morin's concepts of complexity. Although Morin only briefly addresses Gaia per se, the implications of Morin's work may reveal the Gaia concept as an element of the general breakthroughs of complexity science. Morin demonstrates a phase transition that is gaining momentum right now, whereby the new, more benign science is overwhelming the old Cartesian world.
Gaia is a cornerstone European Space Agency astrometry space mission and a successor to the Hipparcos mission. Gaia will observe the whole sky for 5 years, providing a serendipitous opportunity for the discovery of large numbers of transient and anomalous events, e.g. supernovae, novae and microlensing events, gamma-ray burst afterglows, fallback supernovae, as well as theoretical or unexpected phenomena. In this paper, we discuss our preparations to use Gaia to search for transients at optical wavelengths, and briefly (...) describe the early detection, classification and prompt publication of anomalous sources. (shrink)
Advances in analytical understanding of the biosphere’s biogeochemical cycles have spawned concepts of Gaia and noosphere. Earlier in this century, in concert with the Jesuit paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the natural scientist Vladimir Vernadsky developed the notion of noosphere-an evolving collective human consciousness on Earth exerting an ever increasing intluence on biogeochemical processes. More recently, the chemist James Lovelock postulated the Earth to be a self-regulating system made up of biota and their environment with the capacity to maintain (...) a planetary steady state favorable to life. This is the Gaia hypothesis. To many, Gaia and noosphere represent contradictory interpretations of humanity’s relation to planetary ecology. Noosphere emphasizes a free will and obligation to shape the destiny of humanity on Earth through technology and new kinds of social relations. In contrast, Gaia invokes mysterious mechanisms of planetary evolution that lie beyond human control and understanding. I argue that if brought together, noosphere and Gaia can provide a useful symbol for guiding human interventions in global ecology because the contradictions of a nature-centered view of Gaia and a human-centered view of noosphere are coming to be irrelevant with the emergence of an analytical science of the biosphere. (shrink)
Introductory All through my boyhood I had aprofound conviction that I was no good. that I was wasting my time, wrecking my talents, behaving with monstrous folly and wiclwlness and ingratitude-am'l all this, it seemed, was inescapable, ...
How have sociologists responded to the emergence of environmentalism? What has sociology to offer the study of environmental problems? This uniquely comprehensive guide traces the origins and development of environmental movements and environmental issues, providing a critical review of the most significant debates in the new field of environmental sociology. It covers environmental ideas, environmental movements, social constructionism, critical realism, "ecocentric" theory, environmental identities, risk society theory, sustainable development, Green consumerism, ecological modernization and debates around modernity and post- modernity. Philip (...) Sutton adopts a long-term view, which focuses on the relationship between ideas of nature and environment, ecological identities and social change, providing a framework for future research. Bringing environmental issues into contact with sociological theories, Nature, Environment and Society provides an up-to-date introduction to this important new field. It will be essential reading for all students of sociology, environmental studies and anyone interested in understanding environmental problems. (shrink)
Considers that in ecosystem, landscape and global ecology, an energetics reading of ecological systems is an expression of a cybernetic, systemic and holistic approach. In ecosystem ecology, the Odumian paradigm emphasizes the concept of emergence, but it has not been accompanied by the creation of a method that fully respects the complexity of the objects studied. In landscape ecology, although the emergentist, multi-level, triadic methodology of J.K. Feibleman and D.T. Campbell has gained acceptance, the importance of emergent properties is still (...) undervalued. In global ecology, the Gaia hypothesis is an expression of an organicist metaphor, while the emergentist terminology used is incongruent with the underlying physicalist cybernetics. More generally, an analytico-additional methodology and the reduction of the properties of ecosystems to the laws of physical chemistry render purely formal any assertion about the emergentist and holistic nature of the ecological systems studied. (shrink)
Since the 1970s, many Anglo-American studies have investigated the theme of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and its costs and benefits. Most studies have tried to test, largely in samples of multiple industries, the relationship between corporate social performance (CSP) and corporate financial performance (CFP). These analyses, however, have produced conflicting results and any attempt to give a generalized and coherent conclusion has proved inadequate. This article examines the ways CSP can be proxied and investigates the possible relationship between CSP (measured (...) by ethical rating) and CFP (measured by market and accounting ratios) in the banking sector using correlation methodology. It emerges that there is no statistically significant link between CSP and CFP. (shrink)
Introduction: The problem of vitalism : active/passive -- Brain, system, model : the affective turn -- Vitalism and theoria -- Inorganic art -- Inorganic vitalism -- The vital order after theory -- On becoming -- Living systems, extended minds, gaia -- Conclusion.
Chinese environmentalists have called for an ecological civilization. To promote this, ecology is defended as the core science embodying process metaphysics,and it is argued that as such ecology can serve as the foundation of such a civilization. Integrating hierarchy theory and Peircian semiotics into this science,it is shown how “community” and “communities of communities,” in which communities are defined by their organization to promote the common good of theircomponents, have to be recognized as central concepts not only of ecology, but (...) of life itself. This perspective is used to defend Lovelock’s “Gaia” hypothesis and the call of Prugh, Costanza, and Daly for strong democracy. An ethics and political philosophy is sketched based on “eco-poiesis” or “home-making,” which is equated with augmenting the life of communities, both human and non-human. (shrink)
The character of the current controversy over geneticallymodified (GM) agriculture, typified by protesters' use of emotivesymbolism, has been largely inspired by the Green movement'snon-governmental organizations and political parties. This articleexplores the deeper philosophical and spiritual motivations of the Greenmovement, to inquire why it is implacably opposed to GM agriculture. TheGreen movement's anti-capitalism, exemplified by the hate-symbol statusof Monsanto as the company pioneering GM crops, is viewed within thewider context of alienation in the modern era. A complex of meanings isseen in (...) Frankenstein as the focal symbol of GM protests, includingperceptions of risk, fears of the remixing of living identities seen ingenetic engineering, and resentment at the spiritual nihilism of thereduction of life to the digital code of DNA. By contrast, RobertGoodin's Green Theory of Value, which postulates the deep psychologicalimportance of nature in locating the self in a meaningful context largerthan ourselves, can explain the power of the Green symbol of thethreatened environment, Gaia. The advent of GM agriculture seems toimply that capitalism and technology can now enframe nature itself,leaving a world devoid of natural myth or meaning, with no escape fromthe alienation and nihilism of modernity. The central question posed forprotagonists of the GM debate is whether their agenda is based on thesepowerful but mythical conceptions of the environment, or whetherpreservation of the real environment is their primary ethic. (shrink)
Although Heidegger thinks cybernetics is the “supreme danger,” he also thinks that it harbours within itself poiēsis, the “saving power.” This article providesa justification of this position through an analysis of its relation to Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela’s Santiago theory of cognition and James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis’ Gaia theory. More specifically, it argues that Maturana and Varela’s criticism of cybernetics and their concomitant theory of “autopoiesis” constitutes the philosophical disclosure of “Being itself,” and that the extension of (...) Santiago theory’s various different conceptualizations of poiēsis to Gaia theory makes possible the rise of the “saving power.”. (shrink)
James Lovelock’s “Gaia hypothesis”-the suggestion that life on Earth functions in essential ways as one organism, as a single living entity-is extraordinarily suggestive for environmental philosophy. What exactly it suggests, however, is not yet so clear. Although many of Lovelock’s own ethical conclusions are rather distressing for environmental ethics, there are other possible approaches to the Gaia Hypothesis. Ethical philosophers might take Gaia to be analogous to a “person” and thus to have the same sorts of values (...) that more familiar sorts of persons have. Deep ecologists might find in the Gaia hypothesis a means by which to transform and reunderstand our concrete experience of the world. This essay canvasses some of the strengths, weaknesses, and possibilities of each approach. (shrink)
In The Revenge of Gaia, James Lovelock provides a memorable description of what the future might hold for us in a world severely blighted by climate change. In this scenario the human population has been pushed to the high Northern latitudes: Meanwhile in the hot arid world survivors gather for the journey to the new Arctic centres of civilization; I see them in the desert as the dawn breaks and the sun throws its piercing gaze across the horizon at (...) the camp. The cool fresh night air lingers for a while and then, like smoke, dissipates as the heat takes charge. Their camel wakes, blinks and slowly rises on her haunches. The few remaining members of the tribe mount. She belches, and sets off on the long .. (shrink)
You first quote Brief History : "Gaia's main problems are not industrialization, ozone depletion, overpopulation, or resource depletion. Gaia's main problem is the lack of mutual understanding and mutual agreement in the noosphere about how to proceed with these problems.".
Responding to Elizabeth Rottenberg's invitation to consider good signs, I first raise a question about “good” and “too good” signs by referring to a letter of Louis Althusser's that describes the risk that “too good” signs will be misread. I then turn to the distinction Rottenberg makes between deconstructive signs and Immanuel Kant's historical signs. Borrowing an image from Jacques Derrida's The Animal That Therefore I Am (2008), I suggest that we think of the task of abolition of the death (...) penalty as requiring a particular kind of strangulation of Kantian discourse, a strangulation that would reach the center of its nervous system and disarm its powers without putting it to death. Finally, I turn to a recent initiative by a Belgian nongovernmental organization (Groupe d'action dans l'interet des animaux or Global Action in the Interest of Animals [GAIA]) in their campaign to abolish the practice of castrating piglets without anesthetic, reading it as an example of a strategy that mobilizes the discourse of rights while at the same time undermining the sovereign power that sustains it. This provides an image of the sort of stranglehold with a certain lightness of touch that, I argue, Derrida's work on the death penalty prescribes as the task for unconditional abolition. (shrink)
This article examines continuity and change in Star trek’s expression of the American Frontier Myth, moving from an American ideal of imperialist expansion across an unlimited feminized landscape and destruction of Indians and animals in the myth’s early form, to one of benevolent redemption of the Other as misguided or evil alien in the unlimited expanse of outer space in early Star Trek. Analysis of symbol and narrative in Star Trek Voyager show further change, as feminist and environmental ethics are (...) included. Now, movement is toward earth rather than away from it, raced and gendered Others are often internalized rather than projected onto Indians and aliens, and nature is vulnerable and spiritual rather than unlimited and inert. Though women and nature are still linked and idealized as selfless givers, progress is also made as women gain equal rank and air time and men take on some traditionally feminine roles. (shrink)
Using concepts from abstract algebra and type theory, I analyze the structural presuppositions of any holistic ethical theory. This study is motivated by such recent holistic theories in environmental ethics as Aldo Leopold’s land ethic, James E. Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis, Arne Naess’ deep ecology, and various aesthetic ethics of the sublime. I also discuss the holistic and type theoretic assumptions of suchstandard ethical theories as hedonism, natural rights theory, utilitarianism, Rawls’ difference principle, and fascism. I argue that although there (...) are several common senses of part-whole in ethical theory, the central sense of holism in ethics is that of a theory that defines its key moral idea as an emergent group property grounded in the relational properties of its individual constituents. Hedonism and Kantianism do not count as holistic in this sense. Natural rights theory does in adegenerate way. Utilitarianism and various environmental ethics are paradigm examples. I point out as a general structural weakness of environmental holistic theories that their first-order grounding in nonmoral vocabulary seems to preclude an explanation of many moral intuitions about human ethics. (shrink)
The evolutionary implications of environmental change due to organismic action remain a controversial issue, after a decades—long debate on the subject. Much of this debate has been conducted in qualitative fashion, despite the availability of mathematical models for organism–environment interactions, and for gene frequencies when allele fitness can be related to exploitation of a particular environmental resource. In this article we focus on representative models dealing with niche construction, ecosystem engineering, the Gaia Hypothesis and community interactions of Lotka–Volterra type, (...) and show that their quantitative character helps bring into sharper focus the similarities and differences among their respective theoretical contexts. (shrink)
The ecology movement has recently attempted to reinvigorate the image of Earth in terms of Lovelock and Epton’s “Gaia hypothesis.” I analyze the shortcomings of using Gaia imagery in the works of Lovelock, deep ecologists, feminists, and ecological poets, and conclude that while the hypothesis serves to alter consciousness, naming it Gaia reinforces the oppressive hierarchical patterns of patriarchal gender stereotypes that it opposes. We are moving toward a new paradigm of nonpatriarchal pluralistic co-evolution, but if deep (...) ecology is going to promote fully its development, it needs to recast or cast aside Gaia imagery. (shrink)