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adjective - [ˈbʌɪə(ʊ)ˈfɪlɪk]

What is the biophilic hypothesis?

In his work ‘The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness’ (1973) psychoanalyst Erich Sellgmann Fromm (born March 23, 1900, Frankfurt am Main, Germany—died March 18, 1980, Muralto, Switzerland) first coined the term Biophilia. He described biophilia as ‘the passionate love of life and of all that is alive’.


Later, American biologist Edward Osborn Wilson (born June 10, 1929, Birmingham, Alabama, US) used the term in his work Biophilia (1984) to describe the innate human tendency to affiliate with nature and other life-forms having a genetic basis. 


Although the biophilic gene has not been identified, there is anecdotal, qualitative and indirect evidence that is supportive of the strength and value of the human relationship with nature. Oddly enough, the strongest evidence of that powerful relationship is to be found in the phenomenon of biophobia, the fear of nature. Rooted in human evolution the fear of snakes, spiders, lightning and such were necessary tools for survival of the species. The measurable psychological responses to these are indeed proof of a deep and vital relationship to nature. 

On the less fearful side of things, spending time in nature is beneficial for human health. For adults, this results in improved mental and spiritual health. For children, being out in nature has been found to encourage physical activity and play.     


Technology is seemingly at odds with biophilia, but within the context of biophilic architecture, they are considered an extension of each other. 

NEXT: What is biophilic architecture?

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