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Shiva, Gould, Environment, ecology, gaia

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metaphors of nature

Metaphors of Nature

Shiva and Gould

botkin on metaphor
Botkin on Metaphor

“We need not only new knowledge, but also new metaphors…evolving from the old machine idea that we have been accustomed to using for the past 200 years.” (Botkin, 28)


Facts provide a basis for science, but a narrative integrates facts with knowing how to behave in response to the facts. A metaphor provides a visual narrative of sorts, a way of seeing things in view of the narrative.

shiva integrated whole
Shiva: Integrated Whole

Like husband and wife living as “one flesh,” as diverse and equal, so too humanity and nature are inseparable though different.

Nature as Prakriti is characterized by:

  • Creativity
  • Diversity
  • Connectedness
  • Continuity
  • Sanctity
2 the earth is a living thing gaia hypothesis
(2) The earth is a living thing:Gaia Hypothesis
  • A living thing is a self-regulating complex system influence by its environment.
  • The planet earth is a self-regulating complex system influence by its environment.
  • So, the planet earth is a living thing
2 the planet earth is a self regulating complex system influence by its environment
2) The planet earth is a self-regulating complex system influence by its environment.
  • homeostatic balance is actively pursued with the goal of keeping the optimal conditions for life, even when terrestrial or external events menace them.
  • Ocean salinity is constant at 3.2%, required for cellular development of ocean life, but remains a scientific mystery.
  • Atmospheric conditions remain in a dynamic steady state, even though the energy provided by the sun has increased by 5% since life on earth began.

Shiva: From Mater to Matter

Nature as Prakriti:




Continuous with Humanity


Nature as environment and resource:

1) infertile without humanity

2) mechanistic

3) fragmented

4) separated from humanity

5) inferior


“The Ecological Crisis is, at its root, the death of the feminine principle, symbolically….”

(Shiva, 30)

mater to matter to it doesn t matter
Materto Matter to ‘It Doesn’t Matter”

“We are virtually powerless over the earth at our planet’s own geological time scale. All the megatonnage in our nuclear arsenals yield but one ten-thousandth the power of the asteroid that might have triggered the Cretaceous mass…” (Gould, 31)

gould s scale argument
Gould’s “Scale Argument”
  • Human meaning and purpose requires having an impact on those around us.
  • Humanity is a blip impact on the scale of life and a completely insignificant impact on the scale of existence.
  • Thus, Humanity has no meaning and purpose to life or existence.
example climate change only harms ourselves linking shiva and gould
Example: Climate change only harms ourselves.[Linking Shiva and Gould]

‘Each species to a greater or lesser degree modifies its environment to optimize its reproduction rate. Gaia follows from this by being the sum total of all of these modifications and by the fact that all species are connected, for the production of gases, food and waste removal, however circuitously, to all others. (120, Lovelock)

Sum: Gaia is harmed by climate change insofar as humanity is a life and life is part of Gaia.

metaphors of nature shiva and gould
Metaphors of Nature: Shiva and Gould

Humanity is not meaningful UNLESS we view ourselves as part of something greater: our earth and its relationship to everything else in our system, galaxy, and universe.