Bruno Latour has given the Gifford Lectures in Edinburgh in February 2013.
Bruno Latour has given the six Gifford Lectures on Natural Religion for 2013, under the title: Facing Gaia, Six Lectures on the Political Theology of Nature.
Those six lectures in ‘natural religion’ explore what it could mean to live at the epoch of the Anthropocene when what was until now a mere décor for human history is becoming the principal actor. They confront head on the controversial figure of Gaia, that is, the Earth understood not as system but as what has a history, what mobilizes everything in the same geostory. Gaia is not Nature, nor is it a deity. In order to face a secular Gaia, we need to extract ourselves from the amalgam of Religion and Nature. It is a new form of political power that has to be explored through a renewed attempt at political theology composed of those three concepts: demos, theos and nomos. It is only once the multiplicity of people in conflicts for the new geopolitics of the Anthropocene is recognized, that the ‘planetary boundaries’ might be recognized as political delineations and the question of peace addressed. Neither Nature nor Gods bring unity and peace. ‘The people of Gaia’, the Earthbound might be the ‘artisans of peace’.
The lectures are organized by groups of two, the two first ones deal with the question of Natural Religion per se and show that the notion is confusing because on the one hand 'nature' and 'religion' share too many attributes and, on the other, the two notions fail to register the originality of scientific practice and the specificity of the religious regime of enunciation.
Once out of nature’ — natural religion as a pleonasm. Monday 18th February 2013
A shift in agency — with apologies to David Hume. Gifford 2. Tuesday19th February 2013
Once the pleonasm of Natural Religion is pushed aside, it becomes possible to take up, in the next two lectures, the question first of Gaia as it has been conceived by James Lovelock and of the Anthropocene as it has been explored by geologists and climate scientists. It is thus possible to differentiate the figure of the Earth and of the agencies that populate it from the notion of nature and of the globe thus bringing to the fore the geostory to which they all belong.
The puzzling face of a secular Gaia. Gifford 3. Thursday 21st February 2013
The Anthropocene and the destruction of the image of the Globe. Gifford 4. Monday 25th February 2013
In the last two lectures, after the notion of Natural Religion has been put aside, and after the complete originality of Gaia and geostory have been foregrounded, it becomes possible to reopen the political question at the heart of what will be life at the Anthropocene. Once the key question of war has been introduced, the search for a peace along the delineations allowed by politically relevant 'planetary boundaries' to which Earthbound (the new word for Humans) accept to be bound become again possible.
War of the Worlds: Humans against Earthbound. Gifford 5. 26th of February 2013.
Inside the ‘planetary boundaries’: Gaia’s Estate. Thursday 28th February 2013.
They are accessible on the site of the Gifford Lectures and they incude the discussion times.
The text is accessible (slightly longer than the lectures) for discussion and comments to the author - not for quotation.