WESTERN CIVILIZATION IN BIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE

Patterns in Biohistory

Stephen Boyden

Oxford, 1987.


Anyone familiar with the ideas of Buckminster Fuller should find this book especially congenial, as there are discussions of many themes recurrent in his work, such as energy-accounting and energy slaves. There are also conceptual schemes concerning life conditions and human needs, including intangible factors, which will can be usefully compared with Fuller's Universal Requirements of a Dwelling Advantage.

Boyden's remarks on educational comprehensiveness are also in line with Fuller's:

"extraordinarily little effort is devoted in education to the intellectual process of integration and to attempts to improve understanding of the dynamic interrelationships between the different aspects of reality - aspects which are studied independently in the different areas of specialism and which are covered separately in different courses." (p.299)

The book gives an account of the stages of civilization, from the primeval and early farming stages to the current high-energy phase, discussing economics, health and disease, and ecology. From the viewpoint of this web-site, the author's concluding remarks in the penultimate chapter are especially welcome:

"artistic creativity has an important potential role to play in promoting health and well-being in human populations. In my view any society that fails to provide appropriate incentives and opportunities for creative behaviour and consequently deprives the majority of its members of this kind of experience is performing a serious disservice to humanity. Most contemporary high-energy societies fall into this category." (p.304)


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