Patrick Geddes (1854-1932) was a man of diverse interests and talents. Today he is probably best known as a town planner, but he has also been described as a biologist, sociologist, conservationist, educationist, and ecologist.
He did much to improve the living conditions in his local environment, but he was also a figure of international importance who travelled widely and who corresponded with key thinkers and writers of the time such as Charles Darwin and Mahatma Gandhi.
Geddes became a demonstrator in practical physiology at University College London, and in 1879 he travelled to Mexico to collect biological specimens. Whilst there, he suffered temporary blindness and this left him with permanently weakened eyesight. It was during this period that he discovered his ‘thinking machines’ – a visual method of presenting and connecting facts and ideas to aid thought.
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