The Cycle of Life:
An History of Experimental Ecology

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Sterling Memorial
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Case 1

Carl Linnaeus, Nemesis Divina (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1996), ed. M. J. Petry.

In the mid-18th century, the Swedish botanist and physician Linnaeus (1707-1778) described nature as a Divinely-inspired harmonious system in which every organism fulfills a specific role to maintain the general balance. Linnaeus combined the age-old concept of the Great Chain of Being with the then prevalent idea of the Divine Economy of Nature:

"Everything the Almighty Creator has instituted on our globe occurs in such a wonderful order, that no thing subsists without the support of something else: The Globe itself, with all its Stones, Ore, and Gravel, is nourished and sustained by the Elements: Plants, Trees, Herbs, Grasses, and Mosses grow out of the Globe, and Animals eventually grow out of the plants. All of these are finally transformed back into their primary substances, the Earth feeding the Plant, the Plant the Worm, the Worm the Bird, and often the Bird the Beast of Prey; Then finally the Beast of Prey is consumed the Bird of Prey, the Bird of Prey by the Worm, the Worm by the Herb, the Herb by the Earth: Man indeed, who turns everything to his needs, is often consumed by the Beast, the Bird, or the Fish which preys on him, by the Worm or the Earth. It is thus that everything circulates."

In his Nemesis Divina (1758-1765), Linnaeus applied his natural theology to write an extensive moral lesson for his son.

Case 1
  William Paley, Natural Theology, 1794
  Carl Linnaeus, Nemesis Divina, 1758
  George Gregory, The Economy of Nature, 1804
Case 2
  Vladimir Vernadsky, Biosphere and Noosphere, 1939
  Pierre Teilard de Chardin, Human Energy, 1969
  Pierre Teilard de Chardin, The Heart of Matter, 1978
Case 3
  John Neale Dalton, The Book of Common Prayer, 1920
  Joan Halifax, The Fruitful Darkness, 1993
  Hans Dirk van Hoogstraten, Deep Economy, 2001
  Lynn Margulis and Dorian Sagan, The Garden of Microbial Delights, 1993
  Nina Witoszek and Andrew Brennan, eds., Philosophical Dialogues, 1999
  Roger S. Gottlieb, ed., This
Sacred Earth
, 2004
Lloyd Ackert
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