The Gaia narrative and its link with symbiosis and symbiogenesis

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First, we will address the unnecessary link between symbio-studies and Gaia, asking for the historical and epistemological reasons why they become associated. In particular, we contend that the association is mediated by the common interest in large-scale physico-chemical and biochemical patterns, rather than by an emphasis on harmony, equilibrium, and cooperation (Visvader 1992). Second, we will ask what Gaia is in a metatheoretical sense: is it a scientific hypothesis, a theory, a metaphor, an inspired invention, or a resurgence of antiscientific attitude? After examining some alternatives that show the importance of metatheorizing, we will define Gaia a ‘scientific narrative’, this being a technical term in a sketchy metatheory. Let us just say, for now, that by narrative we don’t mean fairytale or artistic fiction, but rather a way of telling the history of our planet. We are not going to answer the question whether or not we should ban Gaia from any scientific discourse, nor the question how symbio-students should deal with the traditional association of their field with Gaia. But we hope to frame the dilemma in which symbio-students and the scientific community at large are held in a better way than simply insisting on classic demarcations between science and non-science.
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Archival date: 2015-11-21
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