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la58

This one is for Don https://aeon.co/essays/the-gaia-hypothesis-reimagined-by-one-of-its-key-sceptics blockquote>Many of us, scientists included, harbour contradictory intuitions about Mother Nature. We can see that ecosystems often have an inherent ability to self-stabilise, and we know we wouldn’t be here if the planet hadn’t maintained conditions suitable for life for almost 4 billion years. One reaction is to claim that some Earth-wide equilibrium, though fragile, does exist, and reflects the fact that species have evolved to cooperate with one another. Another is to say that the first response is nonsense: organisms are ‘selfish’, and evolution isn’t cooperative but rather a brutish Darwinian competition that selects individual organisms based on their ability to survive and reproduce. The primordial balancing act performed by our biosphere, if it exists at all, is more or less a lucky accident.

The idea that the Earth itself is like a single evolving ‘organism’ was developed in the mid-1970s by the independent English scientist and inventor James Lovelock and the American biologist Lynn Margulis. They dubbed it the ‘Gaia hypothesis’, asserting that the biosphere is an ‘active adaptive control system able to maintain the Earth in homeostasis’. Sometimes they went pretty far with this line of reasoning: Lovelock even ventured that algal mats have evolved so as to control global temperature, while Australia’s Great Barrier Reef might be a ‘partly finished project for an evaporation lagoon’, whose purpose was to control oceanic salinity.

The notion that the Earth itself is a living system captured the imagination of New Age enthusiasts, who deified Gaia as the Earth Goddess. But it has received rough treatment at the hands of evolutionary biologists like me, and is generally scorned by most scientific Darwinists. Most of them are still negative about Gaia: viewing many Earthly features as biological products might well have been extraordinarily fruitful, generating much good science, but Earth is nothing like an evolved organism. Algal mats and coral reefs are just not ‘adaptations’ that enhance Earth’s ‘fitness’ in the same way that eyes and wings contribute to the fitness of birds. Darwinian natural selection doesn’t work that way.

I’ve got a confession though: I’ve warmed to Gaia over the years. I was an early and vociferous objector to Lovelock and Margulis’s theory, but these days I’ve begun to suspect that they might have had a point. So I’ve spent the past five years trying to ‘Darwinise Gaia’ – to see widespread cooperation as a result of competition occurring at some higher (even planetary) level. I can see a few paths by which a Darwinian might accept the idea that the planet as a whole could boast evolved, biosphere-level adaptations, selected by nature for their stability-promoting functions.

Don midwest
Don midwest

Thanks. I saw this as it was posted by twitter BrunoLatourAIME

I am reading a book by a literature professor, Bruce Clarke, who went all out in the scientific literature and especially the revolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis.

He follows through with what was a big thing in the 50 – 60 70’s. cybernetics . He calls his approach Neurocybernitcs Systems Theory, NST. He was getting material for his classes in literature and science, ran into chaos theory etc.

Here is a 4 min video of his

Bruce Clarke: Rethinking Gaia: Stengers, Latour, Margulis

Here is a larger video of his

15_Lynn_Margulis_Symposium_Clarke.mov

I have started his recent book ” Gaian Systems: Lynn Margulis, Neocybernetics, and the End of the Anthropocene”

He goes in a different direction than Latour with a lot of overlap.

A confession: He is into language and he criticizes Latour. Language is an integral part of this work and Latour uses semiotics. There are a couple of main threads of semiotics and they are key to human and non-human interaction. Title of a book by one in Latour’s community is “How Forests Think.”

My confession is that I am going to put his book aside for now because of what looks like very complicated language issues with various approaches to Gaia.

On the other hand, his is a serious approach and there are many in science and in the lay public that can better identify with a systems approach. I was a systems approach guy for 40 years myself.

orlbucfan

T and R, Ms. Benny!!☮️😊👍