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Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas
Including portraits of Linnaeus, Gilbert White, Darwin and Thoreau as well as key twentieth-century ecologists, this wide-ranging investigation of the field of ecology's past shows how it in turn has shaped the modern perception of our place in nature.
Paperback, 526 pages
Published June 24th 1994 by Cambridge University Press
(first published 1977)
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Nov 30, 2014 Adam rated it really liked it
In a narrow sense, Nature's Economy could be considered a counterpart to Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. While Kuhn looks at evolution of scientific knowledge from the inside, looking for moments when accumulated evidence pushes scientists to a new paradigm, Worster looks at the mind of the scientist, examining how his (well over 90% of the players in the book are male) own predilections and his cultural frame guide his work. I found this fascinating, because it reveals that para ...more
We don't hear it as much these days, but the notion that we are living in an Age of Ecology persists. Why don't we hear of it more often? Why doesn't it feel like we're living in an Age of Ecology when the effects of other Ages--the Industrial Age, for instance--offered far more tangible experiences? Because, as Worster outlines here, the idea of ecology itself still lacks consensus regarding its fundamental claim: that people and their environments are codependent. And it's not just a matter of ...more
In his 1977 work Nature’s Economy Donald Worster traces the development of the scientific discipline of ecology, which he broadly defines as the systematic thinking about the interrelationships of organisms. Noting the prestige of ecology in American thought and policymaking following the victories of the Environmental Movement Worster noted that his aim was “not so much to account for the appeal of ecology to our own time as to understand what this field of study has been prior to its recent as ...more
Worster’s book compartmentalizes his subject and fails to draw upon sources that reach beyond spheres that work for his purposes alone. His summarization of Christianity (in two pages) inadequately blames Christians for abusing the environment. Although, Worster is clearly written in a linear text-book fashion, my dissatisfaction with the book is outweighed by all other considerations.