Biology and politics have always been permeable to one another, trading metaphors back and forth. This is nowhere more blatant than when people claim to talk about ‘the planet’ as a whole. James Lovelock’s concept of Gaia has often been interpreted as a godlike figure. By reviewing in some detail a critical assessment of Lovelock’s Gaia by one scientist, Toby Tyrrell, the paper tries to map out why it is so difficult for natural as well as social scientists (...) not to confuse Gaia with some sort of Providence. (shrink)
Neste artigo, discutimos o papel das explicações teleológicas na teoriaGaia. Mostramos que seu principal proponente, James Lovelock, pretendeevitá-las devido a uma interpretação equivocada da natureza de taisexplicações. Na tentativa de evitar compromissos com a teleologia,Lovelock recorre ao conceito de propriedades emergentes. Esta não é,contudo, uma saída consistente, porque os conceitos de propriedadesemergentes e teleologia não são mutuamente excludentes. Discutimostambém as dificuldades de uma interpretação de Gaia de uma perspectivateleonômica, considerando problemas como o da noção de superorganismo.Para avaliar o estatuto (...) das explicações teleológicas em Gaia, examinamoso caso da interação entre algas e nuvens, que resultou num novo campo depesquisas e expõe as contribuições teóricas e empíricas que Gaia podeoferecer. Com base nos argumentos apresentados ao longo do artigo,sugerimos uma reorganização da estrutura do programa de pesquisa Gaia,visando à continuação de seu progresso teórico e empírico.In this paper, we discuss the role of teleological explanations in Gaia theory.We show that its main proponent, James Lovelock, intends to avoid themdue to a misinterpretation of the nature of teleological explanations. Inorder to avoid a commitment to teleology, Lovelock appeals to the conceptof emergent properties. This is not a consistent solution, however, since the concepts of emergent properties and teleology are not mutuallyexclusive. We also discuss difficulties in an interpretation of Gaia from ateleonomic perspective, discussing problems such as that of the notion ofsuperorganism. In order to appraise the status of teleological explanationsin Gaia, we examine the case of the interaction between algae and clouds,which gave birth to a new research field and show the theoretical andempirical contributions that Gaia can bring. Based on the argumentsdeveloped in the paper, we suggest a reorganization of the structure ofGaia research program, in order to go on with its theoretical and empiricalprogress. (shrink)
At its inception innocent of philosophical or metaphysical designs, the Gaia hypothesis of James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis was soon liberated from the precincts of scientific cultivation to enter into cultural free association. Nonetheless, scientific and scholarly attention and debate have long precipitated a bona fide discourse of Gaia theory. Moreover, intellectually serious extra-scientific figures of Gaia have also been on the rise in the last decade. This essay treats a selection of these newer Gaian figures, specifically, (...) Isabelle Stengers’s Gaia the Intruder and Bruno Latour’s secular Gaia, in relation to Lovelock’s Gaia and Lynn Margulis’s evocations of autopoietic Gaia. When nuanced through second-order systems theory, the discourse of autopoietic Gaia satisfies Stengers’s and Latour’s demands for a non-holistic, heterogeneous yet coherent Gaia concept fit for communicative efficacy in the so-called Anthropocene epoch. (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, ...
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)
This essay brings the work of Isabelle Stengers into the fold of feminism to propose a feminist politics of the earth that disrupts the fantasy of human exceptionalism underpinning much Anthropocene discourse. I begin by situating Stengers’s political use of Gaia theory in current debates on the Anthropocene. Next, I show how Stengers’s reworking of Gaia helps in reconsidering the relations between two bodies of feminist theory—Deleuzian feminism and Marxist ecofeminism—that are rarely brought into conversation. On this basis, (...) I explore what a feminist politics of composition with the earth might look like. (shrink)
This article is a first assessment of the Italian Code of deontology for nurses (revised in 1999) on the basis of data collected from focus groups with nurses taking part in the Ethical Codes in Nursing (ECN) project. We illustrate the professional context in which the Code was introduced and explain why the 1999 revision was necessary in the light of changes affecting the Italian nursing profession. The most remarkable findings concern professional autonomy and responsibility, and how the Code is (...) thought of as a set of guidelines for nursing practice. We discuss these issues, underlining that the 1999 Code represents a valuable instrument for ethical reflection and examination, a stimulus for putting the moral sense of the nursing profession into action, and that it represents a new era for professional nursing practice in Italy. The results of the analysis also deserve further qualitative study and future consideration. (shrink)
Nigel Clark’s ‘ex-orbitant globality’ concerns the incalculability of other-than-human forces we typically fail to acknowledge, yet which haunt all considerations of environmental change. This article considers Gaia theory as a useful heuristic to register the ubiquity of bacteria to environmental activity and regulation. Bacteria are Gaia theory’s fundamental actants, and through symbiosis and symbiogenesis, connect life and matter in biophysical and biosocial entanglements. Emphasizing symbiosis might invoke the expectation of a re-inscription of the human insofar as the ubiquitous (...) inter-connectivity of life ultimately connects everything to the human. I want to argue toward the opposite conclusion: that bacterial liveliness suggests a profound indifference to human life. As such, symbiosis does not efface difference, nor its vigorous refusal to be absorbed within human formulations of world-remaking, including environmental change. Bacterial indifference’s radical asymmetry suggests the need for non-human centred theories of globality. (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)
Here I advance two related evolutionary propositions. (1) Natural selection is most often considered to require competition between reproducing “individuals”, sometimes quite broadly conceived, as in cases of clonal, species or multispecies-community selection. But differential survival of non-competing and non-reproducing individuals will also result in increasing frequencies of survival-promoting “adaptations” among survivors, and thus is also a kind of natural selection. (2) Darwinists have challenged the view that the Earth’s biosphere is an evolved global homeostatic system. Since there is only (...) one biosphere, reproductive competition cannot have been involved in selection for such survival-promoting adaptations, they claim. But natural selection through survival could reconcile Gaia with evolutionary theory. (shrink)
“The Gaia Hypothesis: Science on a Pagan Planet tells a story that comes out of the 1960s, a story that reflects all of the beliefs and enthusiasms and tensions of that decade.” So begins Michael Ruse’s fascinating, if at times puzzling, exploration of James Lovelock’s famous idea that our planet is, in a serious scientific sense, a living organism with a tendency of taking care of self. But why tell this particular story, especially considering that Gaia hardly makes (...) an appearance in today’s scientific or philosophical publications, and doesn’t even seem quite that popular with the lay public as it used to be? Because, as Ruse tells us near the end of the book, at the onset of chapter seven: “the paradox .. (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.
This study relies on environmental stewardship, a stakeholder-enlarged view of stewardship theory, and institutional theory to analyze the relationship between CEO compensation and firms’ environmental commitment in a worldwide sample of 520 large listed firms. Our findings show that environment friendly firms pay their CEOs less total compensation and rely less on incentive-based compensation than environment careless firms. This negative relationship is stronger in institutional contexts where national environmental regulations are weaker. Our findings have important theoretical meaning and practical implications. (...) Results show that CEOs do not necessarily act opportunistically; rather some of them may be willing to act as stewards of the natural environment and accept a lower, less incentive-based compensation from environment friendly firms. This study also provides evidence of the important influence of the institutional context in setting-up CEO compensation as the relationship is stronger when national environmental regulations are weaker. Our findings question the universal validity of agency theory in explaining CEO compensation. Compensation based on pecuniary incentives might be less indicated to motivate CEOs who feel rewarded by playing a stewardship role for environment friendly firms. When designing compensation for CEOs, compensation committees and external compensation advisors should consider psychological and institutional factors that might affect CEO motivation. (shrink)
First, we will address the unnecessary link between symbio-studies and Gaia, asking for the historical and epistemological reasons why they become associated. In particular, we contend that the association is mediated by the common interest in large-scale physico-chemical and biochemical patterns, rather than by an emphasis on harmony, equilibrium, and cooperation (Visvader 1992). Second, we will ask what Gaia is in a metatheoretical sense: is it a scientific hypothesis, a theory, a metaphor, an inspired invention, or a resurgence (...) of antiscientific attitude? After examining some alternatives that show the importance of metatheorizing, we will define Gaia a ‘scientific narrative’, this being a technical term in a sketchy metatheory. Let us just say, for now, that by narrative we don’t mean fairytale or artistic fiction, but rather a way of telling the history of our planet. We are not going to answer the question whether or not we should ban Gaia from any scientific discourse, nor the question how symbio-students should deal with the traditional association of their field with Gaia. But we hope to frame the dilemma in which symbio-students and the scientific community at large are held in a better way than simply insisting on classic demarcations between science and non-science. (shrink)
Nurses are responsible for the well-being and quality of life of many people, and therefore must meet high standards of technical and ethical competence. The most common form of ethical guidance is a code of ethics/professional practice; however, little research on how codes are viewed or used in practice has been undertaken. This study, carried out in six European countries, explored nurses’ opinions of the content and function of codes and their use in nursing practice. A total of 49 focus (...) groups involving 311 nurses were held. Purposive sampling ensured a mix of participants from a range of specialisms. Qualitative analysis enabled emerging themes to be identified on both national and comparative bases. Most participants had a poor understanding of their codes. They were unfamiliar with the content and believed they have little practical value because of extensive barriers to their effective use. In many countries nursing codes appear to be ‘paper tigers’ with little or no impact; changes are needed in the way they are developed and written, introduced in nurse education, and reinforced/implemented in clinical practice. (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)
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)
This article on the epistemology of computational models stems from an analysis of the Gaïa hypothesis. It begins with James Kirchner’s criticisms of the central computational model of GH: Daisyworld. Among other things, the model has been criticized for being too abstract, describing fictional entities and trying to answer counterfactual questions. For these reasons the model has been considered not testable and therefore not legitimate in science, and in any case not very interesting since it explores non actual issues. This (...) criticism implicitly assumes that science should only be involved in the making of models that are “actual” and “specific”. I challenge both of these criticisms in this article. First by showing that although the testability—understood as the comparison of model output with empirical data—is an important procedure for explanatory models, there are plenty of models that are not testable. The fact that these are not testable has nothing to do with their being “abstract” or “what-if” but with their being predictive models. Secondly, I argue that “abstract” and “what-if” models aim at epistemic purposes distinct from those pursued by “actual and specific models”. Abstract models are used to propose how-possibly explanation or to pursue theorizing. What-if models are used to attribute causal or explanatory power to a variable of interest. The fact that they aim at different epistemic goals entails that it may not be accurate to consider the choice between different kinds of model as a “strategy“. (shrink)
I define the Gaia hypothesis as the descriptive claim, supposedly supported by biology and the earth sciences, that there's a fitness for one-and-all, and the owner of that fitness is Gaia. Much of the argument for Gaia turns on the supposed discovery of negative feedback loops serving its fitness. I present an argument against such a fitness, and so against Gaia. I distinguish two types of negative feedback systems. Systems in the engineering sense are information exploiters, (...) whereas systems in the Boolean sense are simply producers of stability. I address three arguments presented by the advocates of Gaia for thinking that they have discovered a special variety of the Boolean system that is most supportive of Gaia's reality. I show that these arguments are specious. Furthermore I show that systems in the engineering sense would be the most supportive of the Gaia hypothesis, and no global feedback systems of that type have ever been found. These analyses have a constructive consequence of fundamental importance to biology: a theory of the way negative feedback, taken in the purely quantitative sense of information theory, comes to acquire the semantic character of being information about various features of an organism's niche. (shrink)
In _Between Gaia and Ground_ Elizabeth A. Povinelli theorizes the climatic, environmental, viral, and social catastrophe present as an ancestral catastrophe that Indigenous and colonized peoples have been suffering through for centuries. In this way, the violence and philosophies the West relies on now threatens the West itself. Engaging with the work of Glissant, Deleuze and Guattari, Césaire, and Arendt, Povinelli highlights four axioms of existence—the entanglement of existence, the unequal distribution of power, the collapse of the event as (...) essential to political thought, and the legacies of racial and colonial histories. She traces these axioms' inspiration in anticolonial struggles against the dispossession and extraction that have ruined the lived conditions for many on the planet. By examining the dynamic and unfolding forms of late liberal violence, Povinelli attends to a vital set of questions about changing environmental conditions, the legacies of violence, and the limits of inherited western social theory. _Between Gaia and Ground_ also includes a glossary of the keywords and concepts that Povinelli has developed throughout her work. (shrink)
La criatura viva más grande de la tierra es la Tierra. La hemos visto en las fotografías: esfera de zafiro entre vellones blancos y relucientes casquetes blancos en sus polos. La nueva noción de Gaia -una Tierra viviente. El planeta Tierra, un solo ser vivo todo él. Lo era mucho antes que en su superficie hubiera «vida». No hay donde vivir sino en el cielo, así pues, salido de la región ecuatorial del sol se hizo redondo para girar. Ser (...) vivo que no necesitaba piernas ni brazos ni boca ni ano .. (shrink)
In 2017, Bruce Clarke proposed that Gaia, the mythological goddess repurposed in the 1970s by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis as geobiological trope, and later adapted for twenty-first century environmental discourse by Bruno Latour and Isabelle Stengers, is a vital resource in the cultivation of a “planetary imaginary” which attends to “our systemic entanglements”. Contemporary forms of Gaia discourse, Clarke argues, are “fit for communicative efficacy in the so-called Anthropocene epoch”. In an era marked by scalar and communicative (...) disjunctions, Clarke’s claim is significant. Whilst ultimately he deviates from Stengers and Latour, arguing that neither addresses “the cybernetics of Gaia” and... (shrink)
Nietzsche calls himself a “psychologist [Psychologe]” in a few passages of his published works. Furthermore—and mainly due to his intense interest in the scientific debates of his time, which involved figures such as Hartmann, Schopenhauer, Gerber, Helmholtz, and Zöllner—Nietzsche’s early philosophical thought can be regarded as clearly “permeated” by his concern with the unconscious. The combination of psychology and this concern with the unconscious..