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Thinking Like a PlanetThe Land Ethic and the Earth Ethic$
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J. Baird Callicott

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199324880

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199324880.001.0001

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The Earth Ethic: A Critical Account of Its Scientific Metaphysical Foundations

The Earth Ethic: A Critical Account of Its Scientific Metaphysical Foundations

(p.179) 7 The Earth Ethic: A Critical Account of Its Scientific Metaphysical Foundations
Thinking Like a Planet

J. Baird Callicott

Oxford University Press

P. D. Ouspensky’s metaphysics is undisciplined. V. I. Vernadsky’s concepts of the biosphere and noösphere, his science of biogeochemistry, and his metaphysics of living matter and its local Riemannian geometry better undergirds Leopold’s contemporaneous speculations about a conscious living Earth. Vernadsky eschewed vitalism, espousing a strict materialism. He recognized that living matter has transformed the chemistry not only of the Earth’s atmosphere and hydrosphere, but also of its lithosphere. He regarded human brains linked by communications technologies generating scientific knowledge to constitute the noösphere. G. E. Hurtchinson became acquainted with Vernadsky, adopted his concept of the biosphere, and developed his science of biogeochemistry, incorporating it into ecosystem ecology. The biosphere concept was reified by the photographs of the Earth taken from the moon in the late 1960s. James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis developed the Gaia Hypothesis beginning in the 1970s, later becoming Gaia Theory and now Earth Systems Science.

Keywords:   Leopold, Ouspensky, Vernadsky, Hutchinson, Lovelock, Margulis, biosphere, noösphere, biogeochemistry, living matter

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