International Colloquium The Thousand Names of Gaia:
From the Anthropocene to the Age of the Earth
September 15-19, 2014
Casa de Rui Barbosa, Rio de Janeiro
Departamento de Filosofia da PUC-Rio
PPGAS do Museu Nacional – UFRJ
There is a growing sentiment in contemporary culture that ‘humankind’ and ‘the world’ – the species and the planet, societies and their environments, but also subject and object, thought and being – have been for some time, though now with increasingly threatening evidence, in a nefarious cosmological conjuncture, most frequently associated with the controversial names ‘Anthropocene’ and ‘Gaia’. The first of these would indicate a new time, or rather, a new concept and experience of temporality, in which the chronological scales of human history, on the one hand, and evolutionary biology and geophysics, on the other, have come dramatically closer to each other, if not changed positions altogether – the (physical and biotic) environment changing faster than ‘society’, and the near future becoming, as a consequence, ever more unpredictable and ominous. The second term, ‘Gaia’, would name a new way of occupying and imagining space, drawing attention to the fact that our world, the Earth, having become at once fragile and confined, susceptible and implacable, has come to seem a threatening Power evoking those indifferent, arbitrary and inscrutable deities from our archaic past. Unpredictability and inscrutability, the sensation of panic in the face of our loss of control, all of which lead to a profound hopelessness1: here, no doubt, we find novel challenges to Modernity’s proud intellectual security and intrepid historical optimism. The title of this colloquium, The Thousand Names of Gaia: From the Anthropocene to the Age of the Earth, is thus a reference to these two emblematic concepts in what we would call the contemporary thought of the crisis.