- Kenneth E. Boulding
Kenneth Ewart Boulding (
January 18 1910– March 18 1993) was an economist, educator, peace activist, poet, religious mystic, devoted Quaker, systems scientist, and interdisciplinary philosopher. He was cofounder of General Systems Theoryand founder of numerous ongoing intellectual projects in economicsand social science. He was married to Elise M. Boulding.
Boulding was born in
Liverpool, Englandin 1910. He graduated from Oxford University, and was granted United Statescitizenship 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. For Boulding, economics and sociologywere 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. See Kenneth Boulding's Evolutionary Perspective.
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 Committeein 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.
Boulding emphasized that human economic and other behavior is embedded in a larger interconnected system. To understand the results of our behavior, economic or otherwise, we must first research and develop a scientific understanding of the
ecodynamicsof the general system, the global society in which we live. Boulding believed that in the absence of a committed effort to the right kind of social science research and understanding, the human species might well be doomed to extinction. But he died optimistic, believing our evolutionary journey had just begun.
"Psychic capital" is a term first used by Boulding (1950). Capital is an accumulation of wealth, and with psychic capital, the accumulation is one of desirable mental states, which admittedly are highly transitory in nature. The mental states could be
memoriesof pleasure, success, achievement, recognition, and the desire to add to psychic capital is likely to be a powerful motivating force. Exchanges involving increases or decreases of psychic capital are likely to occur at any time, either through decision or through the turn of events. Fact|date=February 2007
failurein a task could also lead to a depletion of psychic capital. An accumulation of negative memories of failures, disasters, , or perceived injustices and indignities (as either recipient or perpetrator) could be called negative psychic capital. Negative psychic capital can also be a powerful motivating factor, in the pursuit of satisfaction through revengeor a settling of scores. In either of its forms as positive or negative psychic capital, this package of collective memoryis an essential link between collective memory and collective mental state.Fact|date=February 2007
The concept is somewhat more specific than
social capital, which focuses on social networks rather than mental states.
Boulding was the founder of the evolutionary economics movement. In his “Economic Development as an Evolutionary System,” Boulding suggests a parallel between economic development and biological evolution.
“They, economics and evolution, are both examples of a larger process, which has been at work in this part of the universe for a very long time. This is the process of the development of structures of increasing complexity and improbability. The evolutionary process always operates through mutation and selection and has involved some distinction between the genotype which mutates and the phenotype which is selected. The process by which the genotype constructs the phenotype may be described as "organization". Economic development manifests itself largely in the production of commodities, that is, goods and services. It originates, however, in ideas, plans, and attitudes in the human mind. These are the genotypes in economic development. This whole process indeed can be described as a process in the growth of knowledge. What the economist calls "capital" is nothing more than human knowledge imposed on the material world. Knowledge and the growth of knowledge, therefore, is the essential key to economic development. Investment, financial systems and economic organizations and institutions are in a sense only the machinery by which a knowledge process is created and expressed.” -- Kenneth E. Boulding
* The World is a very complex system. It is easy to have too simple a view of it, and it is easy to do harm and to make things worse under the impulse to do good and make things better. [ Boulding, Kenneth E., 1986, "Proceedings of the 7th Friends Association for Higher Education Conference, Malone College, 1986, p. 4, quoted in
Debora Hammond, The Science of Synthesis, Colorado: University of Colorado Press, 2003.]
* Boulding's 1st Law: "Anything that exists is possible."
* "Theories without facts may be barren, but facts without theories are meaningless." [Kenneth E. Boulding. Economic Analysis: Microeconomics. New York: Harper &Row. 1966. p.5.]
* "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."
* "Mathematics brought rigor to Economics. Unfortunately, it also brought mortis."
* "Economists are like computers. They need to have facts punched into them."
* "We make our tools, and then they shape us."
* "Nothing fails like success because we don't learn from it. We learn only from failure."
* "There is no such thing as economics, only social science applied to economic problems."
*"On Behaviourism:" :"That is considered wisdom, which,": "describes the scratch and not the itch."
*On love::We are not sent into this world to walk it in solitude. We are born to love, as we are born to breathe and eat and drink. The babe is hardly separated from his mother’s womb before he stretches out a tiny clasping hand, and from that time forth he will constantly stretch out to touch the world that lies about him and the folk that dwell therein. The purpose of our growth in life is to bring us into unity with the universe into which we are born, to make us aware that we are not lonely individual meteors hurtling blindly through an abysmal dark, but living parts of a living whole. As we grow we learn to love more and more: first ourselves; then the family within the small kingdom of the home; then the school, the wider circle of friends, the home community, the college, and the still wider community of the nation; and finally, the greatest country of all, which has no boundaries this side of Hell, and perhaps not even there. In some this process of enlargement is arrested at an intermediate stage, and then love turns in upon itself and becomes sour. Some have never truly loved anything but themselves - perhaps because their first outreachings were received with coldness and lack of sympathy and then love quickly turns putrid, and becomes greed, and lust, and turns even to self- disgust. Some confine their love to the narrow limits of the family, and then too love decays into sentimentality, or hardens into indifference. The couple that are wrapped up in themselves soon find the parcel uncomfortably tight; the mother who pours out her love on her child till both are smothered in a cocoon of sentiment soon tastes the bitter worm of ingratitude and ruins the very object of her love. There are few more depressing spectacles than the perennial “old grad,” who has never broken the bonds of collegiate enthusiasm or developed beyond the throaty lore of Alma Matriolatry. And the present day provides us with the awful spectacle of what an ingrown love of country can do, what fanatical hatreds and cruelties it can engender, and how again it can destroy the very object of its love. [Boulding, Kenneth, "The Practice of The Love of God", William Penn Lecture, delivered at Arch Street Meetinghouse, Philadelphia, 1942.]
Boulding published some thirty books and hundreds of articles:
* 1941, "Economic Analysis", Harper & Brothers.
* 1945, "The Economics of Peace", Prentice Hall.
* 1945, "There is a Spirit: The Nayler Sonnets," Fellowship Publications.
* 1950, "A Reconstruction of Economics", J. Wiley.
* 1953, "The Organizational Revolution: A Study in the Ethics of Economic Organization", Harper & Brothers.
* 1956, "The
* 1958, "The Skills of the Economist", Cleveland: Howard Allen.
* 1958, "Principles of Economic Policy", Prentice-Hall, 1958.
* 1962, "Conflict and Defence: A General Theory", Harper & Bros.
* 1964, "The Meaning of the Twentieth Century: the Great Transition", Harper & Row.
* 1966 "The Impact of the Social Sciences", Rutgers University Press
* 1966, “The Economics of Knowledge and the Knowledge of Economics.” American Economic Review, 16 (May): 1-13
* 1968, "Beyond Economics: Essays on Society, Religion, and Ethics", (University of Michigan Press
* 1969, “The Grants Economy,” Michigan Academician (Winter) [ Reprinted in Collected Papers of Kenneth Boulding: Vol. II: Economics. Ed. Fred R. Glahe. Boulder, CO: Colorado Associated University Press, 1971: 177-85.]
* 1970, "Economics as a Science", (McGraw-Hill, 1970).
* 1970, "A Primer on Social Dynamics: History as Dialectics and Development", (Free Press, 1970).
* 1971, "Economics", Colorado Associated University Press, 1971.
* 1973, "Political Economy", Colorado Associated University Press, 1973.
* 1973, "The Economy of Love and Fear: A Preface to Grants Economics", Wadsworth.
* 1974, "Toward a General Social Science", Colorado Associated University Press.
* 1975, "International Systems: Peace, Conflict Resolution, and Politics", Colorado Associated University Press.
* 1975, "Sonnets from the Interior Life, and Other Autobiographical Verse", Colorado Associated University Press.
* 1978, "Stable Peace", University of Texas Press.
* 1978, "Ecodynamics: A New Theory of Societal Evolution", Sage.1980s - 1993:
* 1980, "Beasts, Ballads, and Bouldingisms: A Collection of Writings", Transaction Books.
* 1981, "Evolutionary Economics", Sage
* 1981, A Preface to Grants Economics: The Economy of Love and Fear. New York: Praeger.
* 1985, "Toward the Twenty-First Century: Political Economy, Social Systems, and World Peace", Colorado Associated University Press.
* 1985, "Human Betterment", Sage.
* 1985, "The World as a Total System", Sage.
* 1986, "Mending the World: Quaker Insights on the Social Order", Pendle Hill Publications.
* 1989, "Three Faces of Power", Sage.
* 1992, "Towards a New Economics: Critical Essays on Ecology, Distribution, and Other Themes", Edward Elgar.
* 1993, "The Structure of a Modern Economy: the United States, 1929-89", Macmillan.
* "Three Scientists and Their Gods: Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information" by Robert Wright, HarperCollins, 1989. Lengthy profiles of Edward Fredkin, Edward O. Wilson, and Kenneth Boulding.
Holism in science
Distance in military affairs
Loss of Strength Gradient
* [http://www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/d/x/dxl31/research/otherstuff/boulding.html An overview of Boulding's major contributions by David Latzko]
* [http://dieoff.org/page160.htm Boulding's 1966 essay "The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth"]
* [http://www.colorado.edu/econ/Kenneth.Boulding http://www.colorado.edu/econ/Kenneth.Boulding]
* [http://www.wholeterrain.org/bio.cfm?Contributor_ID=142 Whole Terrain] link to Boulding's articles published in
* [http://www.kysq.org/fra.pdf The Feather River Anthology (1966)]
* [http://webshells.com/jdoug/kb.html The Common Sense of Kenneth Boulding]
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