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Praet, I. The Global Biosphere and Its Metaphysical Underpinnings: Ecumenical Alternatives in Animism and Astrobiology. Sociologus, 71(1), 55-72.
Praet, Istvan "The Global Biosphere and Its Metaphysical Underpinnings: Ecumenical Alternatives in Animism and Astrobiology" Sociologus 71.1, , 55-72.
Praet, Istvan: The Global Biosphere and Its Metaphysical Underpinnings: Ecumenical Alternatives in Animism and Astrobiology, in: Sociologus, vol. 71, iss. 1, 55-72, [online]


The Global Biosphere and Its Metaphysical Underpinnings: Ecumenical Alternatives in Animism and Astrobiology

Praet, Istvan

Sociologus, Vol. 71 (2021), Iss. 1 : pp. 55–72

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Istvan Praet, University of Roehampton, Whitelands College, Holybourne Avenue, London SW15 4JD, United Kingdom.


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The term biosphere designates the “zone of life” on Earth. Outside this sphere, everything becomes “alien.” In this view of things, which I take to be canonical in the modern West, terrestrial life and biosphere overlap more or less neatly. Yet this idea of an almost perfect convergence is not the only view possible. This study presents two anthropological cases which demonstrate, a contrario, that the modern tendency to envisage the biosphere as “our home environment” or as “our familiar world” is in many ways a historical accident. Other ecumenical possibilities (by which I refer to the ancient Greek notion of the “inhabited world,” the oikumene) are by no means unthinkable. Examining the ecumenical originality of two communities that at first sight seem unrelated – Chachi indigenous people in Ecuador and scientists involved in the search for extraterrestrial life – will allow us to cast new light on the metaphysical underpinnings of the modern biosphere concept.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Istvan Praet: The Global Biosphere and Its Metaphysical Underpinnings: Ecumenical Alternatives in Animism and Astrobiology 1
Abstract 1
1. Introduction 1
2. Chachi Animism 4
3. Astrobiology and Saturn’s moon, Titan 9
4. Conclusion 1
References 1