Kenneth E. Boulding quotes

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Kenneth E. Boulding

Birthdate: 18. January 1910
Date of death: 18. March 1993

Kenneth Ewart Boulding was an English-born American economist, educator, peace activist, poet, religious mystic, devoted Quaker, systems scientist, and interdisciplinary philosopher. He published over three dozen books and over one-hundred dozen articles. Current Contents found him to be one of those rare authors of a "Citation Classic." Indeed, even more rare, he was the author of two Citation Classics: The Image: Knowledge in Life and Society and Conflict and Defense: A General Theory . He was cofounder of General Systems Theory and founder of numerous ongoing intellectual projects in economics and social science. He was married to Elise M. Boulding.

„[Peace praxis is] a peace process that deals with conflict integratively.“

—  Kenneth E. Boulding

Source: 1980s, Three Faces of Power, 1989, p. 140 as cited in: Joseph De Rivera (2008) Handbook on Building Cultures of Peace. p. 243

„Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.“

—  Kenneth E. Boulding

Attributed to Kenneth Boulding in: United States. Congress. House (1973) Energy reorganization act of 1973: Hearings, Ninety-third Congress, first session, on H.R. 11510. p. 248
1970s
Variant: Anyone who believes in indefinite growth in anything physical, on a physically finite planet, is either mad or an economist.

„Economic development does not consist merely in the piling up of things, but in the accumulation of new kinds of things“

—  Kenneth E. Boulding

Source: 1960s, The meaning of the twentieth century: the great transition, 1964, p. 116. partly cited in: (2013) " What Boulding Said Went Wrong with Economics, A Quarter Century On http://www.deirdremccloskey.com/editorials/boulding.php"
Context: The success of Japanese development is due simply to the fact that Japan devoted a substantial portion of its resources to the growth industry, and particularly to the human resources and then commended Max Weber's emphasis on hard work and thrift.
All the law and the prophets of economic development can be summed up in the old proverb that "where there's a will there's a way". The way indeed is absurdly easy and is well known. It consists merely in putting resources into growth. What could be simpler and easier! the problem however, is the will, and this. I think, we understand very little. The whole cultural milieu of society plays a role in the process of developing its will, and it is hard to separate the determining factors. A widespread puritan ethic, as Max Weber pointed out, is undoubtedly an asset, if this leads people to place a high value on hard work and thrift. On the other hand, puritanism often goes along with a resistance to social change and an unwillingness to innovate outside a narrow field of technology, and thrift alone can often lead to uncreative forms of accumulation or even to unemployment and depression. Mere accumulation is not enough. Economic development does not consist merely in the piling up of things, but in the accumulation of new kinds of things.

„The process of consumption… is the final act in the economic drama“

—  Kenneth E. Boulding

Source: 1940s, Economic Analysis, 1941, p. 614 (rev. ed. 1948) as cited in: Andrew McMeekin (2002) Innovation by Demand. p. 131

„[The information available within a system constitutes what Boulding (1978) calls the noosphere. It is constituted by the collection of plans, of representations, of procedures, of ideas for the construction of objects or of instructions to realize certain interaction patterns, including] the totality of the cognitive content, including values, of all human nervous systems, plus the prostatic devices by which the system is extended and integrated in the form of libraries, computers, telephones, post offices, and so on.“

—  Kenneth E. Boulding

Source: 1970s, Ecodynamics: A New Theory Of Societal Evolution, 1978, p. 122, cited in: Jorge Reina Schement, Brent D. Ruben (1993) Information and Behavior - Volume 4. p. 517
Robert A. Solo (1994) " Kenneth Ewart Boulding: 1910-1993. An Appreciation http://www.jstor.org/stable/4226892" commented: "The image appears as crucial in Boulding's treatment of societal evolution. Here the record is in human artifacts, not only in material structures such as buildings and machines, telephones and radios, but also in organizations including the extended family, the tribe, the nation, and the corporation. All such artifacts originate in and are sustained by images in the human mind. Civilization and civilized man, in the language that he knows, the skills he acquires, the whole heritage of tradition and manners he has learned, are human artifacts."

„Knowledge exists in minds, not in books. Before what has been found can be used by practitioners, someone must organize it, integrate it, extract the message“

—  Kenneth E. Boulding

Attributed to Kenneth Boulding (1976) in John T. Partington, Terry Orlick, John H. Salmela (1982) Sport in perspective. p. 94
1970s

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„Economists can take a good deal of credit for the stabilization policies which have been followed in most Western countries since 1945 with considerable success. It is easy to generate a euphoric and self-congratulatory mood when one compares the twenty years after the first World War, 1919-39, with the twenty years after the second, 1945-65. The first twenty years were a total failure; the second twenty years, at least as far as economic policy is concerned, have been a modest success. We have not had any great depression; we have not had any serious financial collapse; and on the whole we have had much higher rates of development in most parts of the world than we had in the 1920’s and 1930’s, even though there are some conspicuous failures. Whether the unprecedented rates of economic growth of the last twenty years, for instance in Japan and Western Europe, can be attributed to economics, or whether they represent a combination of good luck in political decision making with the expanding impact of the natural and biological sciences on the economy, is something we might argue. I am inclined to attribute a good deal to good luck and non-economic forces, but not all of it, and even if economics only contributed 10 percent, this would amount to a very handsome rate of return indeed, considering the very small amount of resources we have really put into economics.“

—  Kenneth E. Boulding

Source: 1960s, The economics of knowledge and the knowledge of economics, 1966, p. 9

„[Even the mechanism can be endowed with an image. Thus] the thermostat has an image of the outside world in the shape of information regarding its temperature. It has also a value system in the sense of the ideal temperature at which it is set. Its behavior is directed towards the receipt of information which will bring its image and its value systems together“

—  Kenneth E. Boulding

Source: 1950s, The Image: Knowledge in Life and Society, 1956, p. 22 as cited in: Robert A. Solo (1994) " Kenneth Ewart Boulding: 1910-1993. An Appreciation http://www.jstor.org/stable/4226892". In: Journal of Economic Issues. Vol. 28, No. 4 (Dec., 1994), pp. 1187-1200

„The social system tends to be dominated by images… especially of the future, which act cybernetically, constantly guided by perceived divergences between the real and the ideal“

—  Kenneth E. Boulding

Source: 1970s, Toward a General Social Science, 1974, p. vii as cited by Debora Hammond (1995) "Perspectives from the Boulding files". In: Systems Research Vol. 12 No. 4, p. 281-290

„We should always bear in mind that numbers represent a simplification of reality.“

—  Kenneth E. Boulding

Source: 1980s, Three Faces of Power, 1989, p. 96 quoted in: Andrew Mearman (2011) " Three cheers for Kenneth Boulding! http://www.ntu.ac.uk/nbs/document_uploads/109014.pdf"

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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