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Ursula Goodenough

My first post in this conversation, back in April, ended as follows. Seems time for a re-post.



Here’s where I come out in general. I’ve not been resonant with any Gaia-premised understandings of nature from the get-go, where Duane’s expansion of the concept to the universe is even less appealing to me. To my ears, those proposing Gaia-like worldviews are motivated, whether consciously or not, by the premise that to call something alive, or some process a living process, is to enhance its value, to increase our affinity towards it. This is the outcome, I would say, of our negative view of matter (Loyal Rue makes this point in some of his books as well, calling it the “grunge theory of matter”). So we hear such phrases as “only matter” or “mere matter” or “just matter,” whereas we don’t hear only/mere/just life. 


I would say that the project to helping humans feel at home in the universe needs to include a celebration of all the wondrous things that matter does and can do when it’s not included in a life process, using the nouns and verbs we have for these things, rather than according them life-process nouns and verbs.