A Unified Evolutionary Approach to the Biosphere and the Technosphere?

In current debates about the technosphere, human agency is often taken as a given: Humans are conceived as creators of the technosphere. Anthropocentrism seems also implicit in the term ‘anthropocene’, as many critics point out. One reason for this human-centred approach is that the evolutionary framework for analysing the technosphere is not well developed. Some …

Do humans have free will? Or are our actions merely manifestations of a thermodynamic imperative? Or are both views right in their own ways?

Figure: The human imprint on Earth can easily be seen at night. Is this imprint simply a manifestation of thermodynamics? Image source: NASA/NOAA. I really like to think that I am free to decide on what I like, want and what I do, manifestations of what one commonly refers to as free will. Or one …

Solving the Puzzle of Emergent Order: The Case for Maximum Entropy Thinking

In Andrew Jarvis’ previous post I read that on the one hand we might just observe evolutions that are “most likely”, and on the other hand that the economy is a “low-probability” structure. How can a low-probability structure be most likely? This apparent contradiction applies for all living systems. The Maximum Entropy approach to evolution …

Drivers wanted

Just because humans form part of this thing we generally call the 'economy', and may at times appear free to choose how to spend what income it affords them, we mustn't simply assume they sit in the driving seat. Economies are complex objects, and the defining feature of complex things is that the whole is …

The Challenge: Agency in the Technosphere

For some scholars, the technosphere should be approached as a physical phenomenon in the first place. For example, geologists would measure it in terms of artefacts that accumulate in layers of sediments, such as plastics, or Earth system scientists would approach it as the artefacts that make up the infrastructure of human societies, buildings, roads, …

Our goals

This blog was inspired by two workshops held in 2018 at Lancaster University and at Erfurt (Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies) devoted to agency and technosphere. The blog is managed by Carsten Herrmann-Pillath, Max Weber Centre, who is also a lead contributor, and is supported by a team of regular contributors: …