Resurrecting Gaia: harnessing the Free Energy Principle to preserve life as we know it

Caspar Montgomery, Inês Hipólito*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This paper applies the Free Energy Principle (FEP) to propose that the lack of action in response to the global ecological crisis should be considered a maladaptive symptom of human activity that we refer to as biophilia deficiency syndrome. The paper is organised into four parts: the characterisation of the natural world under the Gaia Hypothesis, the employment of the FEP as a description of the behavior of self-organising systems, the application of the FEP to Gaia to understand coupling dynamics between living systems and purportedly non-living planetary processes, and the offering of positive interventions for addressing the current state of ecological crisis under this framework. For the latter, we emphasize the importance of perturbing stuck states for healthy development, and the necessary appreciation of life existing as nested systems at multiple levels in a hierarchy. We propose the development of human biophilia virtue in accordance with the FEP as a practical intervention for treating biophilia deficiency syndrome and helping to safeguard the balance of planetary processes and the integrity of living systems that depend on them, offering some examples of what this might look like in practice. Overall, this paper provides novel insights into how to catalyse meaningful ecological change, proposing a deliberate and disruptive approach to addressing the dysfunctional relationship between humans and the rest of the natural world.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1206963
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2023. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • active inference
  • biophilia virtue
  • ecological crisis
  • Free Energy Principle (FEP)
  • Gaia Hypothesis (GH)
  • nature connectedness


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