The Shift from a Mechanistic to an Ecological Paradigm

By David Grierson.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Following Kuhn (1962) paradigm shifts are described as discontinuous revolutionary breaks with earlier thoughts and experience. The mechanistic paradigm sees nature as a machine composed of related but discrete components. It helps support the idea that we humans are the crown of creation, the source of all value, the measure of all things. The ecological paradigm offers resistance to the mechanistic way of thinking and a rejection of the assumption of human self-importance in the larger scheme of things. Emphasis is placed on the whole and the view is described as holistic, organic, ecological or systemic. Physicist Fritjof Capra argues that society is embarking on a fundamental paradigm shift towards an ecological view of the world as an integrated network of all living and non-living entities (Capra, 1986). The paper identifies roots of both a mechanistic (or reductionist) and an ecological (or holistic) paradigm and describes significant aspects of a shift from one world view to the other, along with the importance of changing knowledge and values in contemporary and historical sustainability practices.

Keywords: Paradigm Shift, Mechanistic, Ecological

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.197-206. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.193MB).

Dr. David Grierson

Director of Postgraduate Research and Director of Sustainable Engineering, Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Dr. Grierson is both an architect and academic. He currently directs the Postgraduate Programme in Sustainable Engineering, at Strathclyde University and is a Director of the David Livingstone Centre for Sustainability. His teaching and research interests are in sustainable architecture and urban design. He is particularly active in the integration of teaching and learning activity across the postgraduate community, and the promotion of knowledge exchange and CPD through increased engagement with business, industry, the professions, and other institutions. Dr Grierson is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and a visiting lecturer in sustainability at Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Rome, and the University of Florence. His own architectural work has been exhibited at the Royal Academy Exhibition in London and he has gained a number of architectural awards including two Glasgow Institute of Architecture (GIA) Design Awards and a Sir Rowan Anderson Silver Medal for Architectural Design (RIAS). He has an active role in both the architectural and engineering professions, being listed on the UK Register of Architects (ARB), acting as the Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor (Engineering Design for Sustainable Development) contact for Faculty, and representing the University as a member of the Glasgow Urban Design Panel which advises Glasgow City Council's Planning Committee on planning decisions.


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