150 years Vernadsky

March 25th, 2013 by hofkirchner


during a visit to the Neue Synagoge in Berlin – at least, to what is left. second from the right, physicist Werner Ebeling whom i had the pleasure to meet since long. he was one of the reviewers of my habilitation (photo: Peter Kühn). 

on the occasion of the 150th birthday of Vladimir I. Vernadsky, the Leibniz-Sozietät der Wissenschaften convoked a conference together with several other scientific societies (see the programme and the abstracts). it took place in Berlin on 15th march 2013.

the title was programmatic: in english, “from the mineral to the noosphere”. by that it was an attempt to bridge the divide between natural and social sciences. this is exactly what Vernadsky tried. his idea was that humankind is a geological force as the biosphere is with regard to our planet. that’s why for him a noosphere is in the making which penetrates the biosphere (and the geosphere). interestingly, though he was a naturalist by education and profession, he did not commit the so-called naturalistic fallacy. that is, he did not reduce the noogenesis to, say, biological factors as many of today’s materialistic scientists are still used to doing. the noogenesis is rather due to human labour and human science and human technology, all of which are not ideational factors appearing like deus ex machina either – the culturalistic fallacy. in systems language of today, they pertain to the organisational relations humans produce through interaction and which, in turn, channel their actions when doing their metabolism via the detour of society. Vernadsky was not a a system theorist. however, his idea is implicitly system theoretical.

anyway, given this great idea, one question mark remains: is noogenesis already irreversible? does it not mean that societies have to reorganise such that they develop along a sustainable path? aren’t we still in a transition phase? is it not the case that despite all achievements of civilisation we might face exterminism as the majority of prehuman species did?

(my slides are available under “presentations“.)

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