Lecture 3 - The Puzzling Face of a Secular Gaia

Distinctions of this lecture

Sublunar vs superlunar

The Shifting of Views of World and Worldviews

Latour begins with a story that shows historical shifts in what the Earth was to us, and thus how our world showed up to us:



We were a people of Religion 1, a unified, perfect God that lived outside the Earth. Earth was small and lowly, the center of a sphere, surrounded by concentric circles of increasing perfection - the heavenly bodies, the stars, and then the all-perfect God. There is no escape from the dark center that we were stuck on except through the superlunar regions where the incorruptible truths could be found. The Earth has a very small extension.

Post Galileo

Galileo's_sketches_of_the_moon.pngIn 1609, Galileo looks up to the sky from a small instrument at the moon and what does he find? Mountains and valleys. Look, there are similarities between our Earth and the heavenly bodies. Can we now say things about them that we can also say about the Earth. Is one falling body no different than any other? Our world, our cosmos, our nomos has expanded into the heavens. And with this comes a new ontology, a new superlunar view. You could now generalize about the entire cosmos: what is true here is remarkably similar everywhere. New narratives from people like Kepler, Newton, Descartes appear which seek for generalized truth and knowledge.


  • Lovelock at the Pasadena Jet Propulsion Lab in 1965 was involved in the question of whether there was life on Mars looked down from the heavenly bodies and satellites and increased the difference between Earth and the heavenly bodies