Todays Subject: Kenneth E. Boulding
Profile: Ken was an economist, educator, peace activist, poet, religious mystic, devoted Quaker, systems scientist, and interdisciplinary philosopher.
He was educated at oxford and spent his adult life as a professor at universities in michigan and colorado. He was the first person to use the term “psychic capital” which he defined as the accumulation of desired mental states.
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 ecodynamics of the general system, the global society in which we live. Boulding also 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.
“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.”