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Gaia and Philosophy

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The Gaia theory states that on Earth, life interacts with and eventually becomes its own environment. Gaia is a holistic perspective asserting that the Earth is a self-regulating complex system, resonant with the ancient magico-religious understanding that all is one.

Innovated by the atmospheric chemist James Lovelock, supported by microbiologist Lynn Margulis and named by novelist William Golding, Gaia states that the temperature and composition of the Earth's atmosphere are actively regulated by the sum of life on the planet, which, seeking a physical and chemical environment optimal for contemporary life, influences the physical attributes of Earth on a planetary scale. In the way that the human mind extends DNA, the atmosphere is an extension of the biosphere: as above, so below.

Fusing science, mathematics, philosophy, ecology and mythology, Gaia and Philosophy challenges the anthropocentrism of Western rationalist thought to propose a symbiotic planet. In its striking philosophical conclusion – that the cybernetic control of the Earth's surface by its organisms calls into question the alleged uniqueness of human intelligent consciousness – the revolutionary Gaia paradigm holds important implications not only for understanding life's past but for shaping its future.