“Extending the Domain of Freedom, or Why is Gaia so Hard to Understand?”

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“Extending the Domain of Freedom, or Why is Gaia so Hard to Understand?” application/pdf icon
2018

“Extending the Domain of Freedom, or Why is Gaia so Hard to Understand?” with Timothy Lenton, accepted for publication in Critical Inquiry

Abstract

In this paper, two specialists of Gaia theory, one from the humanities and the other from Earth System Science (Exeter University), make a sustained effort to list the misunderstandings created by those who have either rejected or accepted Gaia too readily. They argue that the uniqueness of the phenomenon and of the arguments made by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, has been under-recognized. Neither mechanical nor organismic metaphors can render justice to the originality of Gaia. They show that the core of the discovery is to grant agency back to life forms and that Gaia is the highly complex result of their extension in space and duration in time. They conclude that Gaia is different from the concept of nature, difference that opens a new way to look at the connection between biology and politics which they define as extension of the domain of freedom.