Literally the sphere of mind or intellect', the noosphere is part of the realm of the possible' in human affairs, where there is a conscious effort to tackle global issues. The history of this rich but poorly explored idea has significant contemporary resonance in understanding the evolution of human society and our position in the biosphere (the sphere of life). The noosphere concept captures a number of key comtemporary issues - social evolution, global ecology, Gaia, deep ecology and global environment change - contributing to ongoing dabates concerning the implications of emerging technologies. This Reader is the first comprehensive history of the noosphere and biosphere. Drawing on classical influences, modern parallels, and insights into the future, the Reader traces the emergence of noosphere and biosphere concepts within the context of environmental change.
Reproducing material from seminal works, both past and present, key ideas and writings of prominient thinkers are presented, including Bergson, Vernadsky, Lovelock, Russell, Needham, Huxley, Medawar, Toynbee and Boulding, and extensive introductory pieces by the editors draw attention to common themes and competing ideas. Focussing on issues of origins, theories, parallels and potential, the discussions place issues in a broad context, compare and contrast central comcepts with those of the Gaia hypothesis, sustainability and global change, and examine the potential application of noospheric ideas to current debates about culture, education and technology in such realms as the Internet, space exploration, and the emergence of super-consciousness.