Note: This last week of the course will be devoted to the biosphere, the whole of life and its physical surround. The biosphere is enormously complex, and we are just beginning to grasp its properties and processes.
To date, this course has focused in each mod on a supposedly separate Principle of Ecology. These categories are analytic, or reductionist, of necessity because ecology is so complex and because our understanding of it is quite limited. You know, of course, that any such divisions of a living whole are not real, but are conveniences to help us think. But there is a cost to our habit of analysis: we are good at taking things apart, but we are not very skilled at putting them back together.
The opposite of analysis is synthesis, putting together. One goal of this course is that you will achieve a synthesis, a holistic view of the biosphere. One way to do this is to consciously try to think in large-scale wholes, which is difficult for everyone not culturally attuned to this habit of mind.
I hope that spending this week immersing yourself in the biosphere will help you toward this holistic and synergetic way of perceiving Nature, or the Biosphere, (or Gaia, if you are so inclined.) I have found it useful to present on separate pages several aspects of the biosphere, even though such analytic separations may seem contradictory. But I am engaged in helping you learn, and I think, so far, that this is the most effective way to present to you
the Biosphere, the Whole that is