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THE GURUs

Murray Bookchin

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Murray BookchinMurray Bookchin (January 14, 1921 – July 30, 2006)[5] was an American libertarian socialist author, orator, and philosopher. A pioneer in the ecology movement,[6] Bookchin was the founder of the social ecology movement within anarchist, libertarian socialist and ecological thought. He was the author of two dozen books on politics, philosophy, history, and urban affairs as well as ecology. In the late 1990s he became disenchanted with political Anarchism and founded his own libertarian socialist ideology called Communalism.[7]

Bookchin was an anti-capitalist and vocal advocate of the decentralisation of society along ecological and democratic lines. His writings on libertarian municipalism, a theory of face-to-face, assembly democracy, had an influence on the Green movement and anti-capitalist direct action groups such as Reclaim the Streets.

Life and writings

Bookchin was born in New York City to the Russian Jewish immigrants[8] Nathan Bookchin and Rose (Kaluskaya) Bookchin. He grew up in the Bronx, where his grandmother, Zeitel, a Socialist Revolutionary, imbued him with Russian populist ideas. After her death in 1930, he joined the Young Pioneers, the Communist youth organization (for children 9 to 14) [9] and the Young Communist League (for older children) in 1935. He attended the Workers School near Union Square, where he studied Marxism. In the late 1930s he broke with Stalinism and gravitated toward Trotskyism, joining the Socialist Workers Party. In the early 1940s he worked in a foundry in Bayonne, New Jersey where he was an organizer and shop steward for the United Electrical Workers as well as a recruiter for the SWP. Within the SWP he adhered to the Goldman-Morrow faction, which broke away after the war ended. He was an auto-worker and UAW member at the time of the great General Motors strike of 1945-46. With the failure of the proletariat to fulfil the revolutionary role in which Marxism had cast it, Bookchin realized that the working class was not a revolutionary force and broke with Marxism-Leninism.

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David Abram

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David AbramDavid Abram (born June 24, 1957) is an American philosopher, cultural ecologist, and performance artist, best known for his work bridging the philosophical tradition of phenomenology with environmental and ecological issues. He is the author of Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology, published in 2010[1] and of The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World,[2] for which he received, among other awards, the international Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction. Abram is founder and creative director of the Alliance for Wild Ethics (AWE); his essays on the cultural causes and consequences of ecological disarray have appeared often in such journals as Orion, Environmental Ethics, Parabola, Tikkun, and The Ecologist, as well as in numerous anthologies.

Biography

Born on Long Island, Abram grew up among the marshes and creeks that wind through coastal suburbia. David's mother is a performing concert pianist. He began practicing sleight-of-hand magic during his high school years in Baldwin, which sparked his ongoing fascination with perception. In 1976, he began working as "house magician" at Alice's Restaurant in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, and soon was performing at clubs throughout New England while studying at Wesleyan University. He took a year off from college to journey as a street magician through Europe and the Middle East; toward the end of that journey, in London, he began exploring the application of sleight-of-hand magic to psychotherapy under the guidance of Dr. R. D. Laing. After graduating summa cum laude from Wesleyan in 1980, Abram traveled throughout Southeast Asia, living and studying with traditional, indigenous magic practitioners in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Nepal. When he returned to North America he became a student of natural history and ecology while continuing to perform in Canada and the United States. A much-reprinted essay written while studying at the Yale School of Forestry in 1984 — entitled "The Perceptual Implications of Gaia" — brought Abram into association with the scientists formulating the Gaia Hypothesis, and he was soon lecturing in tandem with biologist Lynn Margulis and geochemist James Lovelock in Britain and the United States. In the late nineteen-eighties, Abram turned his attention to exploring and articulating the decisive influence of language upon the human senses and upon our sensory experience of the land around us. Abram received a doctorate for this work from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, in 1993.

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Garrett James Hardin

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Garrett James Hardin Garrett James Hardin (April 21, 1915 – September 14, 2003) was an America ecologist who warned of the dangers of overpopulation and whose concept of the tragedy of the commons brought attention to "the damage that innocent actions by individuals can inflict on the environment".[1] He was most well known for his elaboration of this theme in his 1968 paper, The Tragedy of the Commons.[2] He is also known for Hardin's First Law of Ecology, which states "You cannot do only one thing", and used the familiar phrase "Nice guys finish last" to sum up the "selfish gene" concept of life and evolution.[3]

Contents

  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Publications
    • 2.1 Books
    • 2.2 Selected journal articles
    • 2.3 Chapters in books
    • 2.4 Awards
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links

Biography

Hardin received a B.S. in zoology from the University of Chicago in 1936 and a PhD in microbiology from Stanford University in 1941. Moving to the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1946, he served there as Professor of Human Ecology from 1963 until his (nominal) retirement in 1978. He was among the first members of the Society for General Systems Research.

A major focus of his career, and one to which he returned repeatedly, was the issue of human overpopulation. This led to writings on controversial subjects such as abortion, which earned him criticism from the political right, and immigration and sociobiology, which earned him criticism from the political left. In his essays he also tackled subjects such as conservation and creationism.

In 1974, he published the article "Living on a Lifeboat" in BioScience magazine, arguing that contributing food to help the Ethiopian famine would add to overpopulation, which he considered the root of Ethiopia's problems. Despite his lifelong insistence that population must be curbed to avoid disaster, Hardin himself had four children.

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FRITJOF CAPRA

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Fritjof Capra Fritjof Capra (born February 1, 1939) is an Austrian-born American physicist. He is a founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, California, and is on the faculty of Schumacher College.

Born in Vienna, Austria, Capra attended the University of Vienna, where he earned his Ph.D. in theoretical physics in 1966. He conducted research in particle physics and systems theory at the University of Paris (1966–1968), the University of California, Santa Cruz (1968–1970), the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (1970), Imperial College, London (1971–1974), and the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (1975–1988). He also taught at U.C. Santa Cruz, U.C. Berkeley, and San Francisco State University.

He has written popular books on the implications of science, notably The Tao of Physics, subtitled An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism. The Tao of Physics makes an assertion that physics and metaphysics are both inexorably leading to the same knowledge. He is fluent in German, English, French, and Italian.

After touring Germany in the early 1980s, Capra co-wrote a book on Green Politics with ecofeminist author Charlene Spretnak called Green Politics, in 1984.

Capra contributed to the screenplay for the 1990 movie Mindwalk, starring Liv Ullman, Sam Waterston, and John Heard, which was loosely based on his book, The Turning Point.

 

In 1991 Capra coauthored Belonging to the Universe with David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk. Using Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions as a stepping stone, their book explores the parallels between new paradigm thinking in science and religion that together offer what the authors consider remarkably compatible view of the universe.

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Barbara Mary Ward (23 May 1914 – 31 May 1981)

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Barbara Ward

Barbara Mary Ward (23 May 1914 – 31 May 1981), in later life Baroness Jackson of Lodsworth, was a British economist and writer interested in the problems of developing countries. She urged Western governments to share their prosperity with the rest of the world and in the 1960s turned her attention to environmental questions as well. She was an early advocate of sustainable development before this term became familiar and was well-known as a journalist, lecturer and broadcaster. Ward was adviser to policy-makers in the UK, US and elsewhere.

Contents

  • 1 Education and early career
  • 2 International influence, and marriage
  • 3 Environmental concerns
  • 4 Later life
  • 5 UN conferences
  • 6 Selected works
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links

Education and early career

Barbara Ward was born in Heworth, Yorkshire on 23 May 1914, but her family soon moved to Felixstowe. Her father was a solicitor with Quaker tendencies, while her mother was a devout Catholic. Barbara went to a convent school before studying in Paris: first at a lycée, then for some months at the Sorbonne before going on to Germany. Though she had once planned to study modern languages, her interest in public affairs led to a degree course in politics, philosophy, and economics at Somerville College, Oxford University, from which she graduated in 1935.

She did post-graduate work on Austrian politics and economics. After witnessing antisemitism there and in Nazi Germany she began to help Jewish refugees, and mobilise Catholic support for any forthcoming UK war effort, although she had initially been "sympathetic to Hitler".[1] With Christopher Dawson, the historian, as leader and Ward as secretary, the Sword of the Spirit was established as an organisation to bring together Catholics and Anglicans opposing Nazism. It became a Roman Catholic group whose policies were promoted by the Dublin Review which Dawson edited, and for which Ward wrote regularly.

During the Second World War, she worked for the Ministry of Information and travelled in Europe and the US. Partly on the strength of her 1938 book, The International Share-out, Geoffrey Crowther, editor of The Economist, offered her a job. She left the magazine in 1950 having risen to foreign editor, but continued to contribute articles throughout her life. As well as writings on economic and foreign policy, her broadcasts on Christian values in wartime were published as The Defence of the West by Sword of the Spirit. During this time she was also president of the Catholic Women's League and a popular panel member of the BBC programme The Brains Trust which answered listeners' questions. In 1946 she became a governor of the BBC and of the Old Vic theatre.

After the war, Ward was a supporter of the Marshall Plan, of a strong Europe, and of a European free trade area.

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Kenneth Ewart Boulding

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Kenneth BouldingKenneth Ewart Boulding (January 18, 1910 – March 18, 1993) was an economist, educator, peace activist, poet, religious mystic, devoted Quaker, systems scientist, and interdisciplinary philosopher.[1][2] He was cofounder of General Systems Theory and founder of numerous ongoing intellectual projects in economics and social science. He was married to Elise M. Boulding.

Contents

Biography

Boulding was born in Liverpool, England in 1910. He graduated from Oxford University, and was granted United States citizenship in 1948. During the years 1949 to 1967, he was a faculty member of the University of Michigan. In 1967, he joined the faculty of the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he remained until his retirement.

Boulding was president of numerous scholarly societies including the American Economic Association, the Society for General Systems Research, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was not only a prolific writer and a creative integrator of knowledge, but an academician of world stature—indeed, a magisterial figure in the discipline of social science.[3] For Boulding, economics and sociology were not social sciences—rather, they were all aspects of a single social science devoted to the study of human persons and their relationships (organizations). Boulding spearheaded an evolutionary (instead of equilibrium) approach to economics.[4] 

Boulding, with his wife Elise, was an active member of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers. He took part in Quaker gatherings, served on committees, and spoke to and about the Friends. The two were members of meetings in Nashville, Tennessee, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Boulder, Colorado. Interestingly, although he stuttered, when he ministered in a Friends meeting, he spoke clearly. In March 1971, he even conducted a silent vigil at the headquarters of the American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia to protest what he considered its distancing itself from Quakers. He penned the widely circulated "There is a Spirit," a series of sonnets he wrote in 1945 based on the last statement of the 17th century Quaker James Nayler. 

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Ludwig von Bertalanffy

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Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Born              19 September 1901(1901-09-19)
Vienna, Austria
Died 12 June 1972(1972-06-12) (aged 70)
Buffalo, New York, USA
Fields Biology and systems theory
Alma mater University of Vienna
Known for General System Theory
Influences Rudolf Carnap, Gustav Theodor Fechner, Nicolai Hartmann, Otto Neurath, Moritz Schlick
Influenced Russell L. Ackoff, Kenneth E. Boulding, Peter Checkland, C. West Churchman, Jay Wright Forrester, Ervin László, James Grier Miller, Anatol Rapoport

Ludwig von BertalanffyKarl Ludwig von Bertalanffy (September 19, 1901, Atzgersdorf near Vienna, Austria – June 12, 1972, Buffalo, New York, USA) was an Austrian-born biologist known as one of the founders of general systems theory (GST). GST is an interdisciplinary practice that describes systems with interacting components, applicable to biology, cybernetics, and other fields. Bertalanffy proposed that the laws of thermodynamics applied to closed systems, but not necessarily to "open systems," such as living things. His mathematical model of an organism's growth over time, published in 1934, is still in use today.

Von Bertalanffy grew up in Austria and subsequently worked in Vienna, London, Canada and the USA.

Contents

  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Work
    • 2.1 The individual growth model
    • 2.2 Bertalanffy Module
    • 2.3 General System Theory (GST)
    • 2.4 Open systems
    • 2.5 Systems in the social sciences
  • 3 See also
  • 4 Publications
    • 4.1 By Bertalanffy
    • 4.2 About Bertalanffy
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links

Biography

Ludwig von Bertalanffy was born and grew up in the little village of Atzgersdorf (now Liesing) near Vienna. The Bertalanffy family had roots in the 16th century nobility of Hungary which included several scholars and court  officials.[1] His grandfather Charles Joseph von Bertalanffy (1833–1912) had settled in Austria and was a state theatre director in Klagenfurt, Graz, and Vienna, which were important positions in imperial Austria. Ludwig's father Gustav von Bertalanffy (1861–1919) was a prominent railway administrator. On his mother's side Ludwig's grandfather Joseph Vogel was an imperial counsellor and a wealthy Vienna publisher. Ludwig's mother Charlotte Vogel was seventeen when she married the thirty-four year old Gustav. They divorced when Ludwig was ten, and both remarried outside the Catholic Church in civil ceremonies.[2]

Ludwig von Bertalanffy grew up as an only child educated at home by private tutors until he was ten. When he went to the gymnasium/grammar school he was already well trained in self study, and kept studying on his own. His neighbour, the famous biologist Paul Kammerer, became a mentor and an example to the young Ludwig.[3] In 1918 he started his studies at the university level with the philosophy and art history, first at the University of Innsbruck and then at the University of Vienna. Ultimately, Bertalanffy had to make a choice between studying philosophy of science and biology, and chose the latter because, according to him, one could always become a philosopher later, but not a biologist. In 1926 he finished his PhD thesis (translated title: Fechner and the problem of integration of higher order) on the physicist and philosopher Gustav Theodor Fechner.[3]

Von Bertalanffy met his future wife Maria in April 1924 in the Austrian Alps, and were almost never apart for the next forty-eight years.[4] She wanted to finish studying but never did, instead devoting her life to Bertalanffy's career. Later in Canada she would work both for him and with him in his career, and after his death she compiled two of Bertalanffy's last works. They had one child, who would follow in his father's footsteps by making his profession in the field of cancer research.

Von Bertalanffy was a professor at the University of Vienna from 1934–48, University of London (1948–49), Université de Montréal (1949), University of Ottawa (1950–54), University of Southern California (1955–58), the Menninger Foundation (1958–60), University of Alberta (1961–68), and State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY) (1969–72). In 1972, he died from a sudden heart attack.

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Buckminster Fuller

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Buckminster Fuller

Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller (July 12, 1895 – July 1, 1983)[1] was an American engineer, author, designer, inventor, and futurist.

Fuller published more than 30 books, inventing and popularizing terms such as "Spaceship Earth", ephemeralization, and synergetics. He also developed numerous inventions, mainly architectural designs, the best known of which is the geodesic dome. Carbon molecules known as fullerenes were later named by scientists for their resemblance to geodesic spheres.

Contents

Biography

Fuller was born on July 12, 1895, in Milton, Massachusetts, the son of Richard Buckminster Fuller and Caroline Wolcott Andrews, and also the grandnephew of the American Transcendentalist Margaret Fuller. He attended Froebelian Kindergarten. Spending much of his youth on Bear Island, in Penobscot Bay off the coast of Maine, he had trouble with geometry, being unable to understand the abstraction necessary to imagine that a chalk dot on the blackboard represented a mathematical point, or that an imperfectly drawn line with an arrow on the end was meant to stretch off to infinity. He often made items from materials he brought home from the woods, and sometimes made his own tools. He experimented with designing a new apparatus for human propulsion of small boats.

Years later, he decided that this sort of experience had provided him with not only an interest in design, but also a habit of being familiar with and knowledgeable about the materials that his later projects would require. Fuller earned a machinist's certification, and knew how to use the press brake, stretch press, and other tools and equipment used in the sheet metal trade.[2]

Academia

Fuller was sent to Milton Academy, in Massachusetts, and after that, began studying at Harvard. He was expelled from Harvard twice: first for spending all his money partying with a vaudeville troupe, and then, after having been readmitted, for his "irresponsibility and lack of interest." By his own appraisal, he was a non-conforming misfit in the fraternity environment.[2] It was to be many years before he received a Sc.D. from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

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