Biocivilisations A New Look at the Science of Life, reviewed

We look at this new and challenging book. It’s author Dr Predrag Slijep?evi? urges us to look at life on earth from a much wider, and less human-centric perspective. You can see more about the book on the Chelsea Green Publishing website here.

Biocivilisations A New Look at the Science of Life, reviewed

The concept of Gaia is never a million miles away from the thinking in this book, that the earth is a connected and self regulating entity. It is not here to serve humanity, and, if we, as a species, render it uninhabitable for ourselves, the wide planet will continue, albeit perhaps diminished by the damage that humans have do to the earth. Either way though the earth, and it’s Gaian existence will continue, adapting to a post human phase, much is it spent millennia prior to the emergence of humans too.

Slijep?evi? is a thoughtful and informative writer, and he makes his case well and explains why he has come to the perspective that he now holds. In an interest explanation to his motivation for writing the book he says that he had been interested in writing something along this lines several decades earlier in his career but was strongly advised against doing so. Such is the strength of a more human-centric view of life on earth. The author now feels the time is right, with a wider alliance of other scientists also sharing his point of view to articulate this perspective and explain why we need to see things from a much wider point of view.

This ensures that the book is provocative and stimulating. The world wide wood is touched upon, which, as we has covered in other book reviews, illustrates that there is much more out there that we still need to come to understand. Slijep?evi? is a sympathetic and helpful guide on this journey, making this book well worth reading.

More about the book

Biocivilisations is an important, original rethinking of the mystery of life and its deep uncertainty, exploring the complex civilisations that existed on Earth long before humans.

What is life? Many scientists believe life can be reduced to ‘mechanistic’ factors, such as genes and information codes. Yet there is a growing army of scientists, philosophers and artists who reject this view. The gene metaphor is not only too simplistic but deeply misleading. If there is a way to reduce life to a single principle, that principle must acknowledge the creativity of life, turning genetic determinism on its head.

The term biocivilisations is the acknowledgement of this uncertainty of life, as opposed to a quasi-certainty of the human position governed by a narrow time window of the scientific revolution. Life existed without humans for more than 99.99 percent of the Earth’s existence. Life will also continue without humans long after our inevitable extinction.

In Biocivilisations, Dr Predrag Slijep?evi? shows how bacteria, amoebas, plants, insects, birds, whales, elephants and countless other species not only preceded human beings but demonstrate elements of how we celebrate human civilisation – complex communication, agriculture, science, art, medicine and more.

Humans must try to adopt this wisdom from other biocivilisations that have long preceded our own. By rethinking the current scientific paradigm, Dr Slijep?evi? makes clear that a transformation – from a naïve young species into a more mature species in tune with its surroundings – will save us from our own violence and the violence we inflict on the rest of our living planet.

Predrag Slijepcevic  / Biocivilisations

Author and scientist

Predrag Slijepcevic, a Senior Lecturer at Brunel University, is part of an army of scientists who reject the mechanistic view on the science of life, arguing that if there is a way to reduce life to a single principle, that principle must acknowledge the creativity of life. In his book Biocivilisations Predrag shows how civilisations have existed on Earth long before humans, and can be found in a wide array of life forms, from bacteria to amoebas, plants, insects, birds, whales, elephants and countless other species. He shares how animals create art, how insects practice medicine, how trees perform their own research, how slime moulds build networks as complex as our modern transportations systems and much more.

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