October 23, 2017

Towards a Unified Science

Contents page for the online version of Towards a Unified Science by Edward Goldsmith, The Ecologist, 1970-73.

“Towards a Unified Science” was the first published version of Edward Goldsmith’s general theory of behaviour—an “ecological worldview” as he would later refer to it—largely derived from “The Theory of Unified Science”, an unpublished manuscript that Goldsmith finished in 1967, in which he originally formulated his ideas.

See the note below for further information.


Goldsmith read Philosophy Politics and Economics (PPE) at Oxford University, a subject intended to provide a broad understanding of the workings of society. It was in response to these ideas that he sought a more satisfactory answer to the age-old problem of ‘the well ordered society’.

This took him away from the conventional thinking of Oxford academia into the realms of cybernetics, general systems theory, ecology, and anthropology. The resulting alternative worldview was initially published in The Ecologist between 1970 and 1973, in a series of articles under the title “Towards a Unified Science”, reproduced here.

Later, in 1974, he brought these diverse strands together into a comprehensive summary: “The Behavioural Basis of Culturalism” (1974).

Later revisions would appear as The Stable Society (Wadebridge Ecological Centre, 1978), and finally, in greatly expanded form, as The Way: an ecological worldview (Rider Books, 1992).

It is important to understand that Goldsmith’s whole way of thinking about environmental and societal issues stemmed directly from the logical implications of his general theory of behaviour – a theory that had already formed clearly in his mind before the first issue of The Ecologist appeared in July 1970.


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