3 of 3 – EcoSex @ U Conn – Margulis and Sagan’s Symbiotic Planet – Student Responses: Adam’s Take
The EcoSex course at U Conn is in process. It’s a great experience. We are reading amazing books. Thinking out of the box and across disciplines. Students are sending their responses in, with discussion questions. In class, we connect the dots: a holograph of what we’ve read together, the “required readings.” Multiple perspectives and good synergy. Here, we offer a glimpse. Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan’s Symbiotic Planet was one of two theory-of-sciencebooks. We got three responses: from Alexandra, John, and Adam.
As someone who values and appreciates scientific inquiry and exploration, I was delighted by “Symbiotic Planet, A New Look At Evolution”, by Lynn Margulis. An exceptional writer, Margulis is able to artfully and intelligibly pen parallel stories with an impressive fluidity; the tales of her commencement into the world of science and subsequent career, and her knowledgeable explanations of evolution, meiotic sex, the flexibility of taxonomy, serial endosymbiosis theory, etc., transition and intersect gracefully in a way that gripped me without difficulty.
I have a decent understanding of biology, geology, chemistry, bacteriology, ecology, and evolutionary theories, but I was still challenged by this book. I have never thought about science in a romantic, chimerical way, but Margulis required that I do so to comprehend her points. I had never heard of Gaia Theory before, and to view the Earth as an actual physiological system, as a geophysiological entity with a consciousness and attributes like that of a living body, rather than as merely a platform on which chemical and physical changes occur, was a bit of a stretch for me. Margulis offers a fierce, highly educated defense for her theories though, and I found it impossible to refute her hypotheses through cursory conjecture.
Another thing I found interesting is the different way in which we can view evolution that Margulis advocates throughout the book; rather than evolution being solely a ‘kill or be killed’, brutal method of survival, she makes the distinction that evolution is just as much learning to co-exist and benefit from what something else has to offer, much more so than merely killing off opposition, as we usually perceive evolution.
My discussion question is this: can humans have a positive impact on Gaia (Earth systems, etc.) outside of just being more energy efficient? I refer to genetic engineering, etc. Or is meddling with Earth’s natural systems something to be wary of?
Let “nature” be your teacher in the arts of love. Education is the heart of democracy, education to love. Come back for more wonders: Students Responses to appear every Tuesday. Book Reports scheduled every other Thursday. Check out our summer offerings: Ecosexuality in Portland, OR, July 17-21. Info and Registration here!
Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio, PhD
Gilf Gaia Extraordinaire
Author of Gaia,Eros, and many other books about love Professor of Humanities