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 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. I ve long been fascinated with the Gaia hypothesis I ve been curious about the scientific angle as well as the broader cultural import of Gaia I ve read some of Lovelock s popular work, as well of some of his critics However, I lack the necessary training to follow the technical discourse in scientific journals Therefore, I read this book by Michael Ruse with great relish Perhaps you re familiar with the academic discipline known as the History and Philosophy of Science That s his approach, and it is comprehensive, going all the way back to Thales and Plato Especially Plato Always coming back to Plato It s like an obsession He also doesn t shy away from venturing outside the domain of science to consider Pagans like Oberon Ravenheart Zell, though his humor seems a bit patronizing.What I gained most here was a better understanding of James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, their work and their personalities, how they collaborated on the idea of Gaia and what their individual contributions and differences were, how the work was received by the larger scientific community, how they responded, and how all this has evolved over time, right up to the present day I also learned a nifty new word hylozoism, the idea that the world or the universe is alive As Ruse would have it, there s a deep and fundamental divide with mechanisti
While getting too technical and dry in places, The Gaia Hypothesis remains a solid and readable exploration of the story of the titular hypothesis It provides a good explication of the personalities of Lovelock and Margulis and the intellectual currents that led them to their controversial hypothesis of the biosphere as behaving as a single, self regulating organism The chief focus, however, is Ruse attempt to understand why the public so embraced the hypothesis while the scientific establishment greeted it with scorn, at best In short, the Gaia hypothesis spoke and speaks to a deep current of thought in philosophy, religion, and approach to nature going back to Plato and earlier that sees and seeks to understand the world as a sinuous whole, while science has developed primarily along lines of mechanism and reductionism In short, the Gaia hypothesis was born with considerable, though not necessarily understood, metaphysical baggage that made it suited for the environmental consciousness and desire to understand humanity as part of a whole of the time, while being rather poor science I have heard critics of the book complain that Ruse is too sympathetic to the hypothesis, but I don t think this is so Ruse is a philosopher with strong but fairly conventional views and deep understanding of science, but he is a man who always tries to understand the subject with which he is dealing and the mindset
I never read anything by Ruse but found this book in my research of Gaia The author wraps up the history of Gaia, pointing out that the idea of Gaa existed long before James Lovelock To me, he makes Lovelock seem small and Lynn Margulis even smaller.Ruse quotes from other scientists such as Brockman 1995 who agrees the Earth is an ecosystem not an organism Brockman explains why Lovelock might have used the word Organism to get people thinking It is interesting that William Golding and Lovelock were neighbours and had pub nights chattering away Gaia or what Never having been fascinated with novel, Lord of the Flies, my interest is even less now Ruse speculates on what might have happened if Richard Dawkins and Lovelock were neighbours Why did Lovelock take so long he is in his 90s now to speak his truths Perhaps money and finances perhaps his family r
I kind of expected this to be a whole different book entirely It read like a history book when I expected philosophy and I can t really come out having read it with any clear idea of it s objective Just really wasn t for me.
- 272 pages
- The Gaia Hypothesis
- Michael Ruse
- 17 July 2018 Michael Ruse