Kenneth Boulding was an economist, educator, peace activist, poet, religious mystic, devoted Quaker, systems scientist, and interdisciplinary philosopher. He was cofounder of General Systems Theory and founder of numerous ongoing intellectual projects in economics and social science.

Boulding was president of numerous scholarly societies including the American Economic Association, the Society for General Systems Research, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was not only a prolific writer and a creative integrator of knowledge, but an academician of world stature. For Boulding, economics and sociology were not social sciences—rather, they were all aspects of a single social science devoted to the study of human persons and their relationships (organizations).

Boulding emphasized that human economic and other behavior is embedded in a larger interconnected system. To understand the results of our behavior, economic or otherwise, we must first research and develop a scientific understanding of the ecodynamics of the general system, the global society in which we live, in all its dimensions spiritual and material. Psychic capital is a term first used by Boulding (1950). Capital is an accumulation of wealth, and with psychic capital, the accumulation is one of desirable mental states, which admittedly are highly transitory in nature. He was also the key exponent of the evolutionary economics movement. In his “Economic Development as an Evolutionary System,” Boulding suggests a parallel between economic development and biological evolution.

His major work in economics was his introductory textbook, Economic Analysis, which first appeared in 1941. In addition to economics, Boulding made important and lasting contributions to the fields of political science, sociology, philosophy, and social psychology.

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