How To Do A Chicago Style Citation For A Book Ecology: The Ascendent Perspective By Robert Ulanowicz (1997) – Book Review

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Ecology: The Ascendent Perspective By Robert Ulanowicz (1997) – Book Review

This is a book review Ecology: The bottom-up perspectiveby Robert E. Ulanowicz.

Brief description:

Ecology: The Ascendent Perspective, first published in 1997, is in many ways a more accessible and more philosophical follow-up to Ulanowicz’s innovative but highly technical. Growth and Development (1986), and can also be seen as an intermediate book between this earlier technical text and his later book. A Third Window: Natural Life Beyond Newton and Darwin (2009), which is fundamentally philosophical. It is intended for a scientific audience, and is not a pop science book, but it is quite accessible and will be an easy read for scientists in any field, as well as motivated, science-minded undergraduates.

The book describes the fundamental aspects of Ulanowicz’s network-based theory of how ecological systems grow and develop, but without going so deeply into the mathematics. It is above all a book of ideas. The book also explores the philosophical and historical underpinnings of the ideas, which I personally think are far more important than the specific theories themselves. Ulanowicz seems to know very well that his theories are a bit crude and unrefined, but I think the philosophical points he makes are rock solid and show a deep insight that goes far beyond what most scientists have to offer. While there are many reasons to criticize Ulanowicz’s theories, it is hard to argue with the general themes he presents, which show a keen awareness of cultural and social influences on scientific inquiry and the innate limitations on what kinds of questions. it can be asked and answered fruitfully in a scientific context.

A personal story:

My story of reading this book is quite personal and strange.

In the fall of 2001, I enrolled at Oberlin College, where I was a senior, majoring in mathematics. This semester, I have been doing a private reading in the Biology department, on the topic of systems theory as it applies to biology and ecology. On September 11, 2001, early in the morning, I secluded myself in one of the top floors of Oberlin and began to read this book. I read a large part of this book in one sitting and I can say that it produced a revolution in my view of the world, a development of new ideas that has continued to this day. As I left the building for a lunch break, I was shocked to hear about the recent terrorist attacks. This day was truly a world-changing day for me, in more ways than one.

My recommendations:

I recommend this book as a must-read for anyone studying any of the following subjects: ecology, networks, philosophy of sciencee systems theory. The book will be of particular interest to anyone interested in questioning the dominant paradigms of science, and to anyone who wants to become a systems thinker or who wants to think more in terms of networks. The book may even be useful for economists or people interested in taking a more systems-based approach to business, public policy, or other fields involving people systems. The style is lively and the book provokes reflection. And it’s a surprisingly easy read, considering how deep the ramifications of the ideas contained are.

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