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

— Kenneth E. Boulding

The most useful Kenneth E. Boulding quotes to discover and learn by heart

Every culture, or subculture, is defined by a set of common values, that is, generally agreed upon preferences. Without a core of common values a culture cannot exist, and we classify society into cultures and subcultures precisely because it is possible to identify groups who have common values.

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The human condition can almost be summed up in the observation that, whereas all experiences are of the past, all decisions are about the future. It is the great task of human knowledge to bridge this gap and to find those patterns in the past which can be projected into the future as realistic images.

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Economics has been incurably growth-oriented and addicted to everybody growing richer, even at the cost of exhaustion of resources and pollution of the environment.

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A world of unseen dictatorship is conceivable, still using the forms of democratic government.

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If the society toward which we are developing is not to be a nightmare of exhaustion, we must use the interlude of the present era to develop a new technology which is based on a circular flow of materials such that the only sources of man's provisions will be his own waste products.

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Are we to regard the world of nature simply as a storehouse to be robbed for the immediate benefit of man? ... Does man have any responsibility for the preservation of a decent balance in nature, for the preservation of rare species, or even for the indefinite continuance of his race?

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In 1859 the human race discovered a huge treasure chest in its basement.

This was oil and gas, a fantastically cheap and easily available source of energy. We did, or at least some of us did, what anybody does who discovers a treasure in the basement - live it up, and we have been spending this treasure with great enjoyment

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Equilibrium is a figment of the human imagination.

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

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DNA has been aptly described as the first three-dimensional Xerox machine.

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It is almost as hard to define mathematics as it is to define economics, and one is tempted to fall back on the famous old definition attributed to Jacob Viner, "Economics is what economists do," and say that mathematics is what mathematicians do. A large part of mathematics deals with the formal relations of quantities or numbers.

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There is a quiet, open place in the depths of the mind, to which we can go many times in the day and lift up our soul in praise, thankfulness and conscious unity. With practise this God-ward turn of the mind becomes an almost constant direction, underlying all our other activities.

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About Kenneth E. Boulding

Quotes 116 sayings
Profession Economist
Birthday January 18, 1910

A somewhat casual observer from outer space might well deduce that the course of evolution in this planet had produced a species of large four-wheeled bugs with detachable brains; peculiar animals which rested when they sent their brains away from them but performed in rather predictable manner when their brains were recalled.

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The world moves into the future as a result of decisions, not as a result of plans. Plans are significant only insofar as they affect decisions.

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Even personal tastes are learned, in the matrix of a culture or a subculture in which we grow up, by very much the same kind of process by which we learn our common values. Purely personal tastes, indeed, can only survive in a culture which tolerates them, that is, which has a common value that private tastes of certain kinds should be allowed.

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The World is a very complex system. It is easy to have too simple a view of it, and it is easy to do harm and to make things worse under the impulse to do good and make things better.

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Private property is a means, and neither its abolition nor its unrestricted right should be an end in itself.

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The perception of potential threats to survival may be much more important in determining behavior than the perceptions of potential profits, so that profit maximization is not really the driving force. It is fear of loss rather than hope of gain that limits our behavior.

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There is no such thing as economics, only social science applied to economic problems.

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Perhaps the most difficult ethical problem of the scientific community arises not so much from conflict with other subcultures as from its own success. Nothing fails like success because we don't learn from it. We learn only from failure.

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Nothing fails like success because we don't learn from it. We learn only from failure.

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Accounting for the most part, remains a legalistic and traditional practice, almost immune to self-criticism by scientific methods.

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The evolutionary vision is agnostic in regard to systems in the universe of greater complexity than those of which human beings have clear knowledge.

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With laissez-faire and price atomic, ecology's uneconomic, But with another kind of logic economy's unecologic.

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Are we to regard the world of nature simply as a storehouse to be robbed for the immediate benefit of man?

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The tourist business is a trap, it is a tained honey;

Man clearly should have stayed in bed, and not invented money.

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In any evolutionary process, even in the arts, the search for novelty becomes corrupting.

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Mathematics brought rigor to Economics. Unfortunately, it also brought mortis.

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The love of God again makes us free, for it draws us to set a low value on those things wherein we are subject to others - our wealth, our position, our reputation, and our life - and to set a high value on those things which no man can take from us - our integrity, our righteousness, our love for all men, and our communion with God.

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Conflict may be defined as a situation of competition in which the parties are aware of the incompatibility of potential future positions, and in which each party wishes to occupy a position that is incompatible with the wishes of the other.

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We never like to admit to ourselves that we have made a mistake.

Organizational structures tend to accentuate this source of failure of information.

1

The ability to work with systems of general equilibrium is perhaps one of the most important skills of the economist - a skill which he shares with many other scientists, but in which he has perhaps a certain comparative advantage.

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Physicists only talk to physicists, economists to economists-worse still, nuclear physicists only talk to nuclear physicists and econometricians to econometricians. One wonders sometimes if science will not grind to a stop in an assemblage of walled-in hermits, each mumbling to himself words in a private language that only he can understand.

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[There will be movement toward] behavioral economics.

.. [which] involves study of those aspects of men's images, or cognitive and affective structures that are more relevant to economic decisions.

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The right to have children should be a marketable commodity, bought and traded by individuals but absolutely limited by the state.

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Economic problems have no sharp edges.

They shade off imperceptibly into politics, sociology, and ethics. Indeed, it is hardly an exaggeration to say that the ultimate answer to every economic problem lies in some other field.

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... the fouling of the nest which has been typical of man's activity in the past on a local scale now seems to be extending to the whole world society.

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One of the most important skills of the economist, therefore, is that of simplification of the model. Two important methods of simplification have been developed by economists. One is the method of partial equilibrium analysis (or microeconomics), generally associated with the name of Alfred Marshall and the other is the method of aggregation (or macro-economics), associated with the name of John Maynard Keynes.

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[The question for the behavioral disciplines is simply] what is better, and how do we get there?

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It is much more accurate to identify the factors of production as know-how (that is genetic information structure), energy, and materials, for, as we have seen, all processes of production involve the direction of energy by some know-how structure toward the selection, transportation, and transformation of materials into the product

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Economists are like computers. They need to have facts punched into them.

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It is absurd to suppose we can think of nature as a system apart from knowledge, for it is knowledge that is increasingly determining the course of nature.

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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.

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I have been gradually coming under the conviction, disturbing for a professional theorist, that there is no such thing as economics - there is only social science applied to economic problems.

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The greater the penalties laid on sellers in the black market... the higher the black market price.

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In calling society an ecological system we are not merely using an analogy;

society is an example of the general concept of an "ecosystem" that is, an ecological system of which biological systems - forests, fields, swamps - are other examples.

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The human experience can almost be summed up in the observation that, whereas all decisions are of the past, all decisions are about the future. The image of the future, therefore, is the key to all choice-oriented behavior. The character and quality of the images of the future which prevail in a society is therefore the most important clue to its overall dynamics.

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As far as many statistical series that are related to activities of mankind are concerned, the date that divides human history into two equal parts is well within living memory. The world of today is as different from the world I was born in as that world was from Julius Caesar s. I was born in the middle of human history, to date, roughly. Almost as much has happened since I was born as happened before.

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The evolutionary vision is agnostic in regard to systems in the universe of greater complexity than those of which human beings have clear knowledge. It recognizes aesthetic, moral, and religious ideas and experiences as a species, in this case of mental structures or of images, which clearly interacts with other species in the world's great' ecosystem.

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