The Gaia Hypothesis: Science On A Pagan Planet

Hardcover | September 25, 2013

byMichael Ruse

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In 1965 English scientist James Lovelock had a flash of insight: the Earth is not just teeming with life; the Earth, in some sense, is life. He mulled this revolutionary idea over for several years, first with his close friend the novelist William Golding, and then in an extensive collaboration with the American scientist Lynn Margulis. In the early 1970s, he finally went public with the Gaia hypothesis, the idea that everything happens for an end: the good of planet Earth. Lovelock and Margulis were scorned by professional scientists, but the general public enthusiastically embraced Lovelock and his hypothesis. People joined Gaia groups; churches had Gaia services, sometimes with new music written especially for the occasion. There was a Gaia atlas, Gaia gardening, Gaia herbs, Gaia retreats, Gaia networking, and much more. And the range of enthusiasts was—and still is—broad.
           
In The Gaia Hypothesis, philosopher Michael Ruse, with his characteristic clarity and wit, uses Gaia and its history, its supporters and detractors, to illuminate the nature of science itself. Gaia emerged in the 1960s, a decade when authority was questioned and status and dignity stood for nothing, but its story is much older. Ruse traces Gaia’s connection to Plato and a long history of goal-directed and holistic—or organicist—thinking and explains why Lovelock and Margulis’s peers rejected it as pseudoscience. But Ruse also shows why the project was a success. He argues that Lovelock and Margulis should be commended for giving philosophy firm scientific basis and for provoking important scientific discussion about the world as a whole, its homeostasis or—in this age of global environmental uncertainty—its lack thereof.
           
Melding the world of science and technology with the world of feeling, mysticism, and religion, The Gaia Hypothesis will appeal to a broad range of readers, from students and scholars of the history and philosophy of science to anyone interested in New Age culture.

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From the Publisher

In 1965 English scientist James Lovelock had a flash of insight: the Earth is not just teeming with life; the Earth, in some sense, is life. He mulled this revolutionary idea over for several years, first with his close friend the novelist William Golding, and then in an extensive collaboration with the American scientist Lynn Margulis...

Michael Ruse is the Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and director of the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science at Florida State University. He is the author or editor of nearly thirty books, including Science and Spirituality and The Darwinian Revolution, the latter published by the University of Chicago Press. ...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 1.1 inPublished:September 25, 2013Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226731707

ISBN - 13:9780226731704

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface
A Note on Interviews and Other Sources
INTRODUCTION
1 THE GAIA HYPOTHESIS
2 THE PARADOX
3 THE PAGAN PLANET
4 MECHANISM
5 ORGANICISM
6 HYLOZOISM
7 GAIA REVISITED
8 UNDERSTANDING
ENVOI
References
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Michael Ruse has a habit of tackling big ideas in the history and philosophy of science, and there is hardly any idea bigger than the Gaia hypothesis. Ruse situates James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis’s theory of Earth as a living, self-regulating organism within several contexts, ranging from their personal biographies to the long history of mechanism and organicism in the life sciences. The trek through the past helps make sense of both the immense popularity of Gaia among the lay public and the hostility it faced from professional scientists, as Ruse contends that they are both part of the same process.”