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Macdonald, Copthorne 1936-

Macdonald, Copthorne 1936-


Born March 12, 1936, in Chicago, IL; dual citizen of Canada and the United States; son of Donald and Jane Macdonald; married Ann Caroline Olney, 1952 (divorced); married Beverly Mill-Stetson, 1998; children: (first marriage) Anne Elizabeth. Ethnicity: "Mixed European." Education: University of Kentucky, B.S., 1958. Politics: "Policies that consider the well-being of people seven generations from now." Religion: "The evolving universe is the great wonder, and we are it." Hobbies and other interests: "Getting to know more of the world."


Home—Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.


International Telegraph & Telephone Laboratories, Nutley, NJ, design engineer, 1958-59; Westinghouse Electric Corp., project manager in Elmira, NY, and Pittsburgh, PA, 1959-65; Ball Brothers Research Corp., Boulder, CO, manager of electronic design department, 1965-68; Vidcom Electronics, New York City, director of research, 1968-70; CQ: Radio Amateur's Journal, columnist, 1972-75; Mother Earth News, columnist, 1973-83; Prince Edward Island Energy Conservation Program, coordinator, 1980-84; writer. New Directions Radio (network), founder, 1972; member of editorial board, Integralis: Journal of Integral Studies. In the late 1970s, worked as a hospital orderly and with the aged.


Engineers without Borders, Association of Professional Engineers of Prince Edward Island, Prince Edward Island Writers' Guild, Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu.


Energy Technologies: Options for Prince Edward Island, two volumes, with workbook, Department of Energy and Forestry (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada), 1990.

Toward Wisdom: Finding Our Way to Inner Peace, Love, and Happiness, Hounslow Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1993, Hampton Roads Publishing (Charlottesville, VA), 1996.

Getting a Life: Strategies for Joyful and Effective Living, Hounslow Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1995.

Bridging the Strait: The Story of the Confederation Bridge Project, Dundurn Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1997.

Matters of Consequence: Creating a Meaningful Life and a World that Works, Big Ideas Press (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada), 2004.

Contributor to books, including Specialized Communication Techniques, American Radio Relay League (Newington, CT), 1975; and Radical Technology, edited by Godfrey Boyle and Peter Harper, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1976. Contributor to magazines, including Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science.


Copthorne Macdonald once told CA: "Engineers have a reputation for narrowness, and during my twenties I was as narrow as any. At age twenty-nine, however, this began to change when I encountered Abraham Maslow's theory of motivation and psychological growth. I found Maslow's concept of self-actualization exciting, and as I entered my thirties the need to develop and broaden myself became strong. I wanted to become all I was capable of becoming, and I began to venture out from my self-imposed shell of electronic and personal concerns. My range of interests began to widen, and I began searching for a ‘best fit’ between my capabilities and what seemed worth doing.

"The tale of the ensuing development process is told briefly in the preface to Toward Wisdom: Finding Our Way to Inner Peace, Love, and Happiness. My interest in long-distance communication under personal control continues. In 1972 I started New Directions Radio, an international network of ham radio operators concerned with using the ham radio medium to foster personal growth and social change. Today, I see the Internet as the communication tool of choice for similar purposes.

"My recent reading and close-to-the-heart writing is concerned with the nature of wisdom and the process of becoming wise; the nature of reality (including brain/mind relationship and function); and the problem of creating a sustainable future for humanity and other life here on earth. My interest in new descriptions of reality arose out of my need to make sense of two widely different poles of personal experience. As an electronic design engineer I had developed confidence in the validity of science and the intellect. Science works. By following scientific laws I had been able to design sophisticated physical systems that never before existed. Then I discovered meditative practice, a quiet mind, and the deep intuitive side of myself. In the process of spending several thousand hours intently watching mental happenings, certain truths about subjective experience became equally clear, equally persuasive. I found myself with one foot in each of two very different worlds. I reasoned that if both worlds were grounded in reality then it should be possible to find (or create) a paradigm capable of encompassing both. Eventually, key pieces (some from communications engineering) fell into place, and the result was the medium/message, or carrier/information interpretation of reality presented in Toward Wisdom and the Zygon paper, and in greatest detail in Matters of Consequence: Creating a Meaningful Life and a World that Works."



Copthorne Macdonald's Home Page, (March 13, 2008).

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