ABSTRACT

This chapter revisits the legacy of two of the most 'whole world' of the whole world sciences: ecology and cybernetics. In 'An Introduction to the Cybernetics of the Ecosystem: The Trophic-Dynamic Aspect', Patten borrowed concepts from cybernetics to analyze the life-sustaining organization of ecosystems. Ecology developed at the beginning of the twentieth century at the intersection of biology, natural history, and botany. In the Cold War climate of the 1950s, political and environmental threats to the cessation of life on a planetary scale gave ecological and cybernetic projects a sense of urgency. Cybernetics, or 'the entire field of control and communication theory, whether in the machine or in the animal', coalesced into a research paradigm during World War II. In 1968 cyberneticist Gregory Bateson convened a conference aimed at addressing the problem of balancing runaway human-ecological systems.