life (GAIA)

jayakumar jakku at mrna.tn.nic.in
Tue Jan 5 12:16:01 EST 1999

Dear Ariel/Jaime
   Namaste to you too...:-)   Great to know that there are still some people
interested in metaphysics and such , or shall we call it metabiology (beyond
biology).  From your mail, I suspect that you may have come across
"Perennial Philosophy" written by Alvin toffler.  If not you should try
reading it.  It is a very good study on religion ( Please note that I mean
religion not in relation to God but in a philosophical point of view.)  I
came across this Gaia hypothesis when I was doing my B.Sc. during the late
80s.  But I too, like you, could not get enough books on it. Later on, I
came across an article in one of our newspapers regarding this.  The
hypothesis borders on the philosophical and I found it very thought
provoking.  Imagine comparing all life forms as parts of a larger macrocosm,
all symbiotically inclined towards each other.  After all symbiosis is
always a preferred trait in evolution rather than parasitism.  James
Lovelock and Lyn Margulis tries to define evolution itself as a saga of
trials and errors in Gaia's attempts to find a perfect symbiotically working
megaorganism which will balance itself out.  So evidently human beings are
not exactly what Gaia needs.  Anyway, we have been here only for a short
time,  and Lovelock argues that if we prove to be the spanner in the works,
Gaia will remove us to be replaced with some other more compatible unit,
just like we remove a thorn from our leg.  One of Issac Asimov's last books
on the "foundation" series is based purely on this hypothesis.  I have the
book with me.
    for an answer to all your questions, I think you should try to read the
Bhagwadh Gita, which itself is nothing but philosophy.  You will be able to
understand, that the purpose of life is not just to pray and believe in God
and such.  Actually you need not even be a God believer to be a good man.
The whole purpose is defined in several of the yogas or duties or sacrifices
defined in it.  Gita defines life as nothing but an illusion (maya).  You
should try to read the book "illusions" by Richard Bach regarding this.
After all,isn't all existance nothing but the sum total of our senses?  If
our senses do not exist, will we know whether we exist or whether even the
universe exists? I don't think we can.  This may be from the philosophers
point of view.  But from the biological point of view, life is still a sum
total of the senses.  The purpose of life in any organism is the
perpetuation of the organism and its survival.  Anything else we do, like
inventions, wars, peace, studies, reproduction, space travel etc. etc.. all
go towards this end, and to the final purpose of Gaia and its search for
equilibrium among the life units
    I think you can suggest me some website where I can get more information
regarding this hypothesis.  I am very interested in this but not getting any
information from the net.
R. Jayakumar, CSIR-SRF,
School of Biotechnology,
Madurai Kamaraj University,
Madurai - 625021.
tel: +91-452-858464(hostel), 858471(ask for 374 to lab)
fax: +91-452-859105
email: jakku at mrna.tn.nic.in
VISIT MY WEBSITE AT http://members.tripod.com/~jakspage
-----Original Message-----
From: Ariel / Jaime Finguerut <ariel.finguerut at merconet.com.br>
To: jayakumar <jakku at mrna.tn.nic.in>; microbio at net.bio.net
<microbio at net.bio.net>
Date: Tuesday, January 05, 1999 3:46 AM
Subject: Re: life (GAIA)

>Helo Jayakumar:
>I am studying the Gaia hypothesis as a lay person for some years now,
>reading almost everything there is about it, including the works of
>Lovelock, Margulis and others.
>I feel fascinated by this idea and it is related to old traditions and
>perennial philosophy.
>I would add that life can also be seen as matter that organize itself, as a
>wonderful "dissipative" structure that adapts constantly to the changing
>There are some other lists discussing some of these ideas such the Gaia
>list, the autopoiesis list and the wholesys list.
>Unfortunately I don't have here any information about the lists but perhaps
>you can search at Altavista or other search machine.
>Please keep this Gaia subject at this list to feel how a microbiologist
>reacts to a great idea and a new paradigm.
>Jaime Finguerut
>Av. Dona Lidia, 900 apto 34
>Piracicaba S.P. BRAZIL 13405-130
>-----Mensagem original-----
>De: jayakumar <jakku at mrna.tn.nic.in>
>Para: microbio at net.bio.net <microbio at net.bio.net>
>Data: Domingo, 3 de Janeiro de 1999 16:45
>Assunto: Re: life
>>Nice explanation of life, with that philosophical twist.  I would try to
>>define the purpose of life in the words of James lovelock the propounder
>>the now famous Gaia hypothesis.  Isn't all forms of life parts of a larger
>>macrocosm, or shall we say a larger megaorganism?  All life units (the
>>living things on this planet) may be but functional and constitutive part
>>this larger megaorganism.  After all aren't we affected by everything
>>us and isn't everything affected by everything else?  So can't we call it
>>close knit community of living organisms, interacting actively with one
>>another -whether they may be animate or inanimate?  Instead of considering
>>the individual purposes of each of these life units, I think we should
>>explain life in the light of this larger macroorganism.  James Lovelock
>>calls this "gaia" (in sanskrit, this simply means mother earth).
>>    It will beinteresting if I could get some more viewpoints on this
>>R. Jayakumar, CSIR-SRF,
>>School of Biotechnology,
>>Madurai Kamaraj University,
>>Madurai - 625021.
>>tel: +91-452-858464(hostel), 858471(ask for 374 to lab)
>>fax: +91-452-859105
>>email: jakku at mrna.tn.nic.in
>>VISIT MY WEBSITE AT http://members.tripod.com/~jakspage
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: L.R.L. <lrl at altavista.net>
>>To: bionet.microbiology mail newsgroup <bionet-news at dl.ac.uk>
>>Date: Sunday, January 03, 1999 4:08 AM
>>Subject: Re: life

>>>>How do you define life ?
>>>Obviously, life is birth and death separated by activities concerned with
>>>converting matter into cellular fuel and or procreating.
>>>Beyond these basics however, lies a powerful question.
>>>If life were simply those items above then one or more of them must be
>>>very purpose of life.  I don't believe life or existence exists simply
>>>because it is.  That's as empty as saying "I think therefore I am".  Nice
>>>words but void of meaning.
>>>I personally prefer to believe that there's a greater purpose than the
>>>basics.  Religions and Philosophies have attempted to determine the
>>>of life long before Mendel made his mark and, I believe, without
>>>success.  Accordingly, I'm still trying to figure out what the meaning of
>>>'is' is -- from an existence point of view.
>>>You can start with the big bang or before and work your way through
>>>atomic attractions and such but you're still left with the question of
>>>existence (whatever that means) is better than non-existence or why the
>>>existence of anything is necessary (or real) in the first place.  'Life'
>>>its definitions are simply a part of this bigger question.  If you don't
>>>have an answer to the bigger question, how can you solve the 'life'
>>>or any other question pertaining to a subset of all existance.
>>>Hopefully, somebody smarter than I can shed some light on the primary
>>>purpose of all life -- animal, vegetable and, yes, mineral.  Then,
>>>we can better understand the answer to this particular question.

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