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The term comprehensivism was first coined by R. Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller, a brilliant scientist, ingenious inventor, insightful philosopher, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and prolific author. I have included several characteristics of Bucky's comprehensivist perspective and approach to helping humanity, as well as some of my own characteristics and examples.

Part of this section, and all of the next section of this page, describes a different approach, perhaps at the other end of the spectrum: Specialization. I do believe that we need both comprehensivists and specialists, but specialization seems to be the dominant thinking trend.

Comprehensivists' Beliefs and Methods

Typical Cultural Beliefs and Methods

Comprehensivists see whole systems and understand how the parts work and interact. They are needed to optimize whole systems. Start with the biggest view possible, and then look at the details of the most important situations.

Specialists are used to improve specific system aspects. They see a narrow, detailed view. (Specialist roles were initially assigned to prevent more intelligent people from having a fuller view, thereby keeping them "divided and conquered".) They often don't see the big picture, thinking that is the responsibility of politicians.

Intuition is the first step of great discoveries and inventions. All great self-educated individuals intuitively derived what and when to learn. Comprehensivists often create their own experiments to explore new or verify current assumptions.

Logic, memorization, and micro-skills are the foundations of most educational methods. Students are given few opportunities to use their big-picture skills while integrating all of the facts and micro-skills.

Realistic accounting of wealth---not as material possessions, but "Wealth is our organized capability to cope effectively with the environment in sustaining our healthy regeneration and decreasing both the physical and metaphysical restrictions of the forward days of our lives." (Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, p. 85)

Materialistic accounting of wealth---most economists are focused on unemployment and Gross National Product and productivity measured in terms of manufacturing outputs. There is little, if any, accounting for the knowledge and skills of workers, human satisfaction, etc. etc.

Design-science revolution is the best way of improving mankind's situation. We should focus not on weaponry but on "livingry", which are tools to expand our ability to support life. We have sufficient resources to live abundantly

Political & economic control is usually expected to improve the human situation. When political leaders have different opinions about how a country (or world) ought to be managed, they resort to producing weaponry for war. Most leaders (and their followers) have a scarcity mentality based on the belief that "there is not enough for us all, so we have to compete for the insufficient amounts of our resources". I believe it is this mentality that breeds fear and feuding.

Global problems are best solved "through total democratic society's becoming thoroughly and comprehensively self-educated ... sort out and put those problems into order of importance for solution in respect to the most fundamental principles governing humanity's survival and enjoyment of life on Earth" (Critical Path, p. 266). And a complementary quote, from the same book, "do things that you see need to be done, and that no one else seems to see need to be done" (p. xxxviii).

Two of the most urgent world problems, in my mind, are pollution and ignorance-produced fear.

Global problems don't seem to be "owned" by anyone, and are addressed by only a few, poorly funded organizations with little power to produce changes. The 100+ nations each focus on their own problems, and are not investing much on our common problems such as global warming, ozone-layer depletion, deforestation, AIDS, hunger, etc.


I recall a saying that goes something like this: "A man ought to know how to cook, deliver a baby, fix a car, teach a child, etc. etc. Specialization is for insects."

(I'll add more content here soon.)

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