Skip to content

Camilla Bernava

Camilla Bernava

Title: Ecological remarks on a planetary dimension From the biosphere to geophilosophy

Abstract: The global extent of the ecological crisis has brought out the importance of the category of planetarity
in the ecological debate (Chakrabarty 2021; Lovelock 1979; Latour 2015; Neyrat 2016). Images such
as those of Gaia, the Earth, and the World pervade humanities discourses and are generally recalled
in order to overcome the modern split between nature and culture (Latour 1991) from an ecological
perspective. However, far from being innocent, the connection between ecological thinking and
planetarity needs to be examined more carefully, especially in light of the implicit connection that
bonds a planetary perspective with natural sciences.

In order to critically address this nexus, the paper aims to develop a genealogical investigation
of planetarity within the science of ecology. Ecology stands as an interesting arena for examining this
issue since the merging between nature and culture, performed through a recall to planetarity, has
been conceptually foundational. The history of this planetary path can be traced back to the work of
Vladimir Vernadsky (1998) and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1955; 1965) on the concept of biosphere
and noosphere, frequently recalled in ecological literature. The paper will show the criticalities that
such a concept of planetarity produced in ecology, also by looking at the crossing between cybernetic
perspective and ecological theory (Odum 1971). In particular, it will be argued that this way of
overcoming the great divide produces either a naturalization of the cultural dimension or a
culturalization of the natural dimension, the two main paths that characterize modernity.

Finally, the paper will argue that, from an ecological perspective, for an overcoming of this
great divide it is fundamental to avoid these two paths, sketching differently the nexus between
ecology and planetarity. In particular, the paper will insist on the necessity of a geophilosophy
(Deleuze, Guattari 1991) focusing on heterogeneity and situatedness (Haraway 1988) as main
philosophical concepts instead of those of totality, holism, and synthesis.

Chakrabarty, D. (2021). The Climate of History in a Planetary Age, University of Chicago Press.
Deleuze, G. & Guattari, F. (1991). Qu’est-ce que la philosophie?, Edition de Minuit.
Haraway, D. (1988). Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of
Partial Perspective, «Feminist Studies», 14(3), 575–599.
Latour, B. (1991) Nous n’avons jamais été modernes. Essai d’anthropologie symétrique, La
Latour, B. (2015). Face à Gaïa: Huit conférences sur le nouveau régime climatique, La Découverte.
Lovelock J (1979). Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. Oxford University Press.
Neyrat, F. (2016) La part inconstructible de la Terre. Critique du géo-constructivisme. Seuil.
Odum, H. T., (1971). Environment, Power and Society, Wiley.
Teilhard de Chardin, P. (1955). Le Phénomène Humain, Seuil.
Teilhard de Chardin, P. (1965). La Place de l’Homme dans la Nature, Seuil.
Vernadsky, V. I. (1998). The Biosphere, Springer.

Bio: Camilla Bernava is a Ph.D. student at the University of Naples L’Orientale. She holds an MA in
Philosophy (Complutense University of Madrid) and a 1st level Master’s degree in Gender Studies
and Politics (Roma Tre University). She is interested in feminist philosophy of science, feminist
epistemologies, and in the intersection of these fields with environmental humanities