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Date of Award

Spring 1993


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Document Type

Thesis: EWU Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA) in Interdisciplinary Studies


Interdisciplinary Studies


The preeminence of nature, an intolerance of tyranny, the use of empirical inquiry and the pursuit of happiness: four ideas -- a quartet -- are woven into the fabric of the Declaration of Independence, American culture and other cultures. This exploration of the powerful and useful quartet of ideas opens with how these four ideas were adapted by Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration, for Jefferson's times and circumstances and closes with how the quartet can be fashioned to work with nature for a humane 21st century. A Natural Quartet adds depth to the meanings of each element of the four ideas by examining some of the people that influenced Jefferson and Jefferson's use of the quartet, and how they adapted these ideas to respond to the challenges they faced. A brief view of the diffusion of the quartet throughout past millennia yields additional insights about how people fashioned these ideas to meet challenges of their times. A model of the quartet presents some of the inter-relationships of the four ideas. The use of the quartet for planning is explored by examining how great planners have adapted the quartet for their times and circumstances. The great planners include Patrick Geddes, Frederick Law Olmstead and John Law Olmstead, Lewis Mumford and Ian McHarg among others. From the perspective of the quartet, contemporary planning techniques of working with nature are examined. Examples of how the quartet can be used as a quantitative, prose and poetic measure are discussed. The concluding chapters look toward adapting the quartet to work with nature for a humane 21st century.