Shared and Complementary Perspectives

Michael J Lannoo

in Leopold's Shack and Ricketts's Lab

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780520264786
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520946064 | DOI:
Shared and Complementary Perspectives

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It is curious that although Aldo Leopold and Edward F. Ricketts were superb field biologists and took similar, highly detailed notes, their views of science could not have been more different. Ricketts viewed science as a process, whereas Leopold chose to personify science. Neither Leopold nor Ricketts trusted the growing scientific trend toward specialization. When viewing Leopold's and Ricketts's contributions to the early science of ecology and an approach to living based on a fundamental knowledge of natural history, it is clear that there were shared emphases. As Eric Engles has pointed out, both men understood that we must rely on science, done right, to show the way. They also had grave suspicions about an emphasis on reductionism at the expense of holistic understanding. Leopold, anchored by his science of wildlife ecology, sought to achieve a method for balancing human needs with those of other organisms. Ricketts, with his talented friends and broad interests spanning science, art, and literature, emphasized the whole picture.

Keywords: Aldo Leopold; Edward F. Ricketts; ecology; science; natural history; reductionism; wildlife ecology

Chapter.  2761 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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