April 29, 2017

The Way—An Ecological Worldview

Special (3rd) Edition

‘A unique, extraordinary, and profoundly challenging book . . . destined to disturb the dogmatic slumbers of all the conventional philosophies.’

Prof. John Gray (Times Literary Supplement)

 

Why high-technology can’t save the world . . .

EDWARD GOLDSMITH argues that there are no technological fixes for the crises facing society and the natural world today — no technology that can restore a family, restabilise society, repair the climate, or regenerate an ecosystem. Only the innate self-organising processes of society and the nat­ural world can restore themselves — if allowed to do so.

Bringing together insights from a broad range of subjects — from ecology, anthropology, and economics, to epistemology and systems theory, along with a wealth of examples and quoted sources — Goldsmith outlines the general behaviour of living systems at all levels of the biosphere, how they naturally maintain their stability and that of the larger living systems of which they are part, and how in turn those larger systems maintain and regulate them.

Noting this tendency of the biosphere to maintain its stability in the face of external challenges, Goldsmith shows how the modern industrial world — or technosphere — with its unbridled economic growth and unceasing technological expansion, embodies just such a challenge that is directly threatening the biosphere’s survival and hence our own.

From this, the author explains how today’s industrial society — contrary to popular opinion — is not the solution to but the very cause of our social, economic, and environmental problems, and which can thereby only fail to sustain itself in the long run. Consequently, the author turns to the wis­dom of traditional peoples — rather than to ideological utopias — for the underlying blueprint to our future on this planet.

 

‘This is simply the most devastating critique we have had in recent years of the mainstream scientific enterprise and of modernism generally . . . should be read by ecologists, environmentalists, and virtually everyone who has an interest in the earth and its future.’

Prof. Donald Worster (author of Nature’s Economy)


ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED in 1992, this 2009/14 edition is the third and final version of the author’s magnum opus (ISBN 9780957631502).

The details below are taken from the third edition – first published by Veltune Publishing, 8th November 2014 (593 pp).


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Contents

 

Introduction

PART I. THE NATURE OF ECOLOGY

  1. Ecology is holistic
  2. Ecology studies the purpose inherent in living things
  3. Ecology studies living things in their natural context
  4. Ecology explains things in terms of their role within the biosphere
  5. Ecology seeks to describe the order of nature
  6. Ecology is a unified organisation of knowledge
  7.  

    PART II . THE NATURE OF KNOWLEDGE

  8. Human beings are cognitively adjusted to the world in which they evolved
  9. Primary knowledge of the world is inherited
  10. Primary knowledge is provided by our instincts, intuition, and our innate sense of æsthetics
  11. Understanding develops by organising knowledge in the mind
  12. The knowledge organised in the mind constitutes its worldview and
    life strategy
  13. A proposition can only be verified in terms of the worldview of which
    it is part
  14. Ecology is qualitative
  15. Only qualitative knowledge can provide the basis for adaptive behaviour
  16. Ecology is subjective
  17. Ecology is emotional
  18. Ecology is a faith
  19. Ecology reflects the values of the biosphere
  20.  

    PART III . THE NATURE OF LIVING THINGS

    A) STABILITY

  21. Stability rather than change is the basic feature of the living world
  22. Life processes seek stability
  23. Life processes seek a stable course of development
  24. Life processes develop sequentially towards the most stable state
  25. Internalising coordination leads to greater stability
  26. Increasing complexity leads to greater stability
  27. Increasing diversity leads to greater stability
  28.  

    B) INITIATIVE

  29. The processes of the biosphere are not random
  30. The processes of the biosphere are inherently purposive
  31. Living things possess initiative
  32. Living things are creative
  33. Living things have foresight
  34. Living things seek to understand their relationship with the world
  35. Living things are intelligent
  36. Consciousness is not a prerogative of human beings
  37. There is no fundamental barrier separating human beings from other
    forms of life
  38.  

    PART IV. THE NATURE OF THE BIOSPHERE

    A) UNITY

  39. The biosphere is one
  40. The biosphere is a continuum
  41. It is the biosphere as a whole that undergoes evolution
  42. The biosphere is alive
  43. The biosphere is the source of all benefits
  44. The biosphere displays order
  45. The order of the biosphere is critical
  46. The biosphere is a holarchical organisation of living processes
  47. The behaviour of living things is coordinated by the holarchy of relationships of which they are part
  48. Cooperation is the primary relationship of the biosphere
  49. Competition is a secondary relationship of the biosphere
  50.  

    B) INTEGRITY

  51. Living things seek to maintain the integrity of the whole
  52. When the integrity of the whole breaks down, behaviour becomes disordered
  53. Living things are only able to maintain the integrity of the whole within their tolerance range
  54. The tolerance range of living things is their natural habitat or ‘field’
  55. As natural habitats diverge from the optimum, biological disorders increase
  56. As natural habitats diverge from the optimum, social disorders increase
  57. As natural habitats diverge from the optimum, cognitive disorders increase
  58. The worldview of modern science is maladjusted to human beings
  59.  

    PART V. THE NATURE OF TRADITIONAL SOCIETIES

  60. In a traditional society, technology is in accord with the needs
    of the biosphere
  61. In a traditional society, settlements are in accord with the needs
    of the biosphere
  62. In a traditional society, the economy is in accord with the needs
    of the biosphere
  63. In a traditional society, money is in accord with the needs
    of the biosphere
  64. In a traditional society, the economy is localised and hence self-supporting
  65. In a traditional society, education is in accord with the needs
    of the biosphere
  66. In a traditional society, the community is in accord with the needs
    of the biosphere
  67. Traditional people follow the Way
  68. For traditional people, to increase their stock of ‘vital force’ is to
    follow the Way
  69. For traditional people, to serve their gods is to follow the Way
  70.  

    PART VI . THE PROBLEM OF MODERN SOCIETY

  71. To maintain the Way, a community must be able to correct any
    divergence from it
  72. Modern progress is anti-evolutionary and is the anti-Way
  73. The Great Transformation requires a return to the worldview
    of ecology

 

Invocation

 

APPENDICES

Appendix One Does the entropy law apply to the real world?
Appendix Two What is information?
Appendix Three A biospheric ethic
Appendix Four The need for a feedback process linking behaviour to evolution
Appendix Five Two worldviews
Appendix Six Two ways of seeing

 

REFERENCES

Glossary

Bibliography

Notes

Name Index

Subject Index



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