Mind Matters Series 2023

Gaia: Gateway to the Climate Conversation


The Mind Matters Series, initiated in 2020, provides an interdisciplinary online platform for some of the world’s preeminent voices in the field of contemplative science. This year at MLE, at the most general level of our programming, we have chosen to focus on “Caring for Life,” and it is from within this perspective that we are taking up the Gaia hypothesis as a nodal point for the Mind Matters Series. Perched on the ever more perilous horizon of the Anthropocene, we need more than ever to reflect critically on the precipitous disintegration of the planet’s habitability, and, crucially, on our participation in this disintegration. What can our work at MLE – informed as it is by science, philosophy, and the wisdom traditions – contribute that is unique to the ongoing global conversation?

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Previous Events

February 15th, 2023 

Bruce Clarke & Sébastien Dutreuil: 'Gaia’s Voices: The Scientific Collaboration of James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis'

Watch the recording here!

Bruce Clarke & Sébastien Dutreuil: 'Gaia’s Voices: The Scientific Collaboration of James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis'


About this event: This talk will aim to provide a clear picture of Gaia’s emergence and growth as a scientific and cultural concept, as these developments were brought forward by the British inventor and atmospheric chemist James Lovelock (1919-2022), and his first and foremost collaborator on Gaia, the American evolutionary theorist Lynn Margulis (1938-2011). We will observe the progress of Gaia from its initial status as a radical scientific hypothesis and its subsequent elaboration along diverse conceptual lines, leading to its later mainstreaming as Earth System Science and its eventual reception in and beyond scientific practice as a contemporary philosophy of nature. But our primary focus here will be on the evocation of Gaia’s original voices, Lovelock’s and Margulis’s collaborative conversations, in their published work and especially in their working correspondence, as we have now been able to transmit them through the Cambridge University Press volume we coedited and published last fall, Writing Gaia.

About the speakers: 

Sébastien Dutreuil is a research fellow in history and philosophy of science. After training in Earth sciences, he defended a thesis on the history of the Gaia hypothesis and the Earth system sciences (2016). He works on the articulations between scientific representations of the Earth and philosophies and politics of nature.

Bruce Clarke is Paul Whitfield Horn Distinguished Professor of Literature and Science in the Department of English at Texas Tech University. He has been a Baruch S. Blumberg/NASA Chair in Astrobiology at the Library of Congress; a Senior Fellow at the Center for Literature and the Natural Sciences, Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg; and a Senior Fellow at the International Research Institute for Cultural Technologies and Media Philosophy, Bauhaus-University Weimar. He coedits the book series Meaning Systems, published by Fordham University Press. His research focuses on modern literature, cybernetics and systems theory, narrative theory, and Gaia theory. His latest books are Writing Gaia: The Scientific Correspondence of James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, coedited with Sébastien Dutreuil (Cambridge 2022), and Gaian Systems: Lynn Margulis, Neocybernetics, and the End of the Anthropocene (Minnesota 2020). Other books include Neocybernetics and Narrative (Minnesota 2014), Posthuman Metamorphosis: Narrative and Systems (Fordham 2008), and Energy Forms: Allegory and Science in the Era of Classical Thermodynamics (Michigan 2001). He is the editor or co-editor of seven essay collections, most recently Posthuman Biopolitics: The Science Fiction of Joan Slonczewski (Palgrave Macmillan 2020), and with Manuela Rossini, The Cambridge Companion to Literature and the Posthuman (Cambridge 2017).


Watch the recording here!