Critical Path Critical Context - Essay

R. Buckminster Fuller

Critical Context

Critical Path might be seen as the culminating statement of a cluster of ideas which Fuller first began to articulate in the late 1920’s. His writings did not receive widespread attention until the 1960’s; in fact, several of his books published in that decade, including Untitled Epic Poem on the History of Industrialization (1962) and Ideas and Integrities (1963), were written entirely or substantially in the 1940’s. His visibility increased when the Whole Earth Catalog introduced him to many readers; his books Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1969) and Utopia or Oblivion (1969) became campus best-sellers. These books were intended for a popular audience; in Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (1975), written with E. J. Applewhite, Fuller essayed the first systematic, technical exposition of his theories. In all of these works and others as well, Fuller argued the same basic principles, drawing on new information, altering emphases as he addressed different audiences, yet never essentially departing from the approach to the natural world and to humanity’s needs which he had formed early in his career.

Fuller himself considered Critical Path to be his most important work, a plan for the future of mankind. As a humanist-scientist, he made a lasting impression upon the twentieth century: Against a chorus of doomsayers his prognostications of an anti-Malthusian future promise continued technological wonders in a world of optimistic goodwill. While the success of Critical Path lies in these revelations, it also lies in the revelation of the hero-author himself, Buckminster Fuller.