HARVEY WHEELER

1919-2004

Sirbacon.Org Salutes a Fond Farewell to a Great Scholar

 

Harvey Wheeler a life long scholar and admirer of Francis Bacon passed away on September 6th, 2004. He was a generous contributor to sirbacon.org. Gifted with a pragmatic intellect regarding humanitarian issues, Harvey Wheeler was most noted for the 1962 novel "Fail Safe" (described below) which sparked a national debate about whether a nuclear catastrophe could happen.
A few years ago, Harvey contacted me and wanted to have some of his Bacon essays regarding philosophy, law, and political science on sirbacon.org. This led to a fruitful email correspondencce. The last piece that Harvey wrote for sirbacon.org was in January 2004 which has a more personal touch where he shares the impact that Bacon's New Atlantis had upon him as a young man growing up during the Depression.
Late in his life, he helped teach an online course about Shakespeare at Carpinteria High School,CA. He was also compiling his own collected writings on Bacon at the time of his death. It was an honor to know this great writer and seminal thinker.--Lawrence Gerald

Harvey Wheeler's partial list of publications : http://www.sirbacon.org/wheelerbooks.html
For more of his essays search engine Harvey Wheeler www.sirbacon.org/toc.html

Los Angeles Times, Obituary

September 18, 2004

Harvey Wheeler, a writer and thinker whose work reflected an abiding concern for the future of humanity -- an intellectual focus that found popular expression in "Fail-Safe," the best-selling 1962 novel he co-wrote about an accidental nuclear attack on Russia -- died Sept. 6 at his home in Carpinteria, Calif., after a long battle with cancer. He was 85. "Fail-Safe," written with Eugene Burdick, was based on a short story Wheeler wrote in the 1950s. It inspired the 1964 movie, directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Henry Fonda and Walter Matthau, and a live teleplay on CBS in 2000 with George Clooney.

A political scientist by training and longtime fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara, Calif., Wheeler primarily wrote nonfiction. He wrote, edited or contributed to a dozen books, including "Democracy in a Revolutionary Era" (1968) and "The Virtual Library" (1987).

He also was an editor of the Journal of Social and Biological Structures. Born in Waco, Texas, Wheeler earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree at Indiana University in 1946 and 1947 and received a doctorate from Harvard University in 1950. He taught political science at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., before joining the Santa Barbara center in 1960. He remained there until 1975. Known as a forward thinker who trained his sights on the next big issue long before it became a mainstream concern, he sponsored discussions of the heath care system in the 1970s, for example, and of aging in the 1980s.

"Imagine what it would mean," he told a Santa Barbara symposium in 1982, "if people begin to think in terms of extended life instead of eventual death. Think of what this would mean to philosophy, politics, even interest rates. The advent of the biological revolution is going to be much more disturbing and unsettling than anything the world has known, even atomic energy."

He was profoundly influenced by World War II and the atomic bomb, which gave him "a presentiment of impending catastrophe" and the impetus to study political science. Survivors include his wife, Norene Burleigh Wheeler, three sons, 10 grandchildren and a half brother.

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