Kheper Home | Gaia Home | Topics Index | New or updated | Search

Gaia - the Living Earth


In the 1970s James Lovelock formulated and popularised the idea of the Earth - the collective atmosphere, oceans, lithosphere, and biosphere - as a single, cybernetically self-functioning superorganism, albeit one without self-consciousness (the latter being an "unscientific" concept).  This global entity he called "Gaia", after the old Greek Earth-Goddess.


Dr Lovelock propounded the Gaia hypothesis in a scientific manner and never intended to indicate that the Earth as a whole was self-conscious.  However his ideas and were enthusiastically taken up and a number of different Gaian paradigms and metaparadigms developed, some being much broader than his original formulation, a few more restricted.  As a result there is not one but many conceptions of what Gaia is and is not.  Here are some of the Various Interpretations of Gaia

The Weak Gaia hypothesis (non-homeostatic - Reductionist )
The Standard Gaia Hypothesis
(homeostasis) - e.g. "daisyworld"
The Strong Gaia theory
The Eco-Pagan and Eco-Pantheist position
(sentient - Goddess Earth)


Spheres of Gaia


Rather than being a simple entity, Gaia can be conceived of as consisting of distinct evolutionary layers, "spheres" as Teilhard de Chardin puts it, of geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, noosphere, etc.  Each further layer or sphere represents a further evolution in the totality of the entity that is Gaia



The Evolution of the Earth and Life through Geological Time

We measure our own lives in years or decades, and human history in centuries.  But the life span of Gaia has to be measured in hundreds of milllions, even in billions, of years.  We are talking serious deep time here.

Seven great periods or eons can be designated here - seven eras.  These are the Hadean, the Archaean, the Proterozoic, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, Cenozoic, and finally the future, which I have termed the Technozoic, which is post-singularity and stretches into the misty distance.

The following panel illustrates each of these stages.  Typical life forms from each stage are illustrated, with the exception of the Hadean (pre-biotic) and the future (technozoic).

age of early complex life
age of reptiles
age of mammals
the future

The evolution of the Earth and of Life through Geological Time is surely one of the most fascinating subjects that can be studied.  It is a process of constant self-unfolding, a subset of the evolution of the Cosmos, which is itself a subset of the evolution of the Godhead and unfolding of the All.

My original idea was to create a biography of Gaia, from her formation in the original planetary nebula, upto the present day - and beyond.  This biography would have detailed changes on both the inanimate, biotic, and noetic components of Gaia, relating them also into the wider phtylogeny of the Universe and of Absolute Consciousness itself.  In other words, matter, life, consciousness, civilisation, and the ultimate transformation of Gaia into a planetary godhead (the Theosphere).

This was however too ambitious a task, and the respectable scientific side of the Gaia Project became (with Toby White's "Vertebrate Notes") the Palaeos website. A more esoteric perspective will hopefully be incorporated in teh Kheper website


In Association with

Book Gaia : A New Look at Life on Earth by James Lovelock

Book The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Earth by James Lovelock

Book Gaia's Body : Toward a Physiology of Earth by Tyler Volk

Book Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe by by Peter Douglas Ward, Donald Brownlee

Book Chaos, Gaia, Eros : A Chaos Pioneer Uncovers the Three Great Streams of History by Ralph Abraham


Kheper index page
Topics index page
Gaia Home

Kheper Home | Gaia Home | Topics Index | New or updated | Search

images not loading? | error messages? | broken links? | suggestions? | criticism?
contact me

content by M.Alan Kazlev

"jungle mauve" bars by  Jelane -  Jelane's families of graphics
page uploaded 28 May 1998, last modified 19 August 2004