The way in which we have been accumstomed to think of ourselves as isolated, cerebral units standing above the natural world blocks our understanding of how deeply and directly what goes wrong with that world can concern us. Here I think that recent propaganda for individualism--most notably the sociobiological literature of 'selfishness'--is still dangerously distorting people's perceptions. A gquite different imagery is needed to make us grasp realistically that we are actually part of the natural world. I shall suggest that an excellent corrective here is the concept of Gaia--of the world as a self-maintaining whole, comparable to a single organism--a whole within which we, like all other creatures, are involved and play our part.
Mary Midgley, Science and Poetry