Is cognition a planetary scale phenomenon ?


01 octobre 2021

14h00 - 16h00

Salle Ladrière, Collège Mercier, Place Cardinal Mercier, 14, Louvain-la-Neuve

Life and cognition seminar series 


Sergio Rubin (Georges Lemaître Centre for Earth and Climate Research,Earth and Life Institute, UCLouvain)

One of the biggest problems that the Gaia hypothesis has faced has been the disassembly of the supposed teleology indicated by its announcement: planetary homeostasis by and for the biosphere. However, the explanation of this ‘by’ and ‘for’ is not a problem of the Gaia hypothesis in itself, but of most of the present-day biology of which the Gaia hypothesis and its controversy looks like as a symptom. The fact is that biological science has accumulated sufficient evidence, which also has strong theoretical-mathematical support, that living beings are the repository of what Schrödinger called the new physics. This new physics embodied in the organization of living beings and their causal natural drift entails the reincorporation of the final cause in a formal and non-mystical way. That is, this biological physics is neither vitalistic nor mechanistic, neither supranatural nor mechanical, and that includes, above all, cognition, autonomy and anticipation. While this opens up a new causal understanding of living beings including that of the planet Earth, at the same time it limits any algorithmic approach, by showing that, in the current status quo of the biological sciences, the algorithmic approach is actually the symptom. So, in this talk, instead of answering the question of whether cognition is a planetary phenomenon, I am going to develop a series of arguments from the biology of cognition, the relational biology and the Gaia hypothesis to justify why it can be a well-posed question and what a possible affirmative answer might imply for the Anthropocene.

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Life and cognition seminar series, session 1, with Sergio Rubin

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