Mankind is not redeemed by a god but redeems itself.

The Self-Organizing Universe (1980)

Portrait of Erich Jantsch

Erich Jantsch

Astrophysicist, Engineer, and Systems Theorist
January 8, 1929 – December 12, 1980

Erich Jantsch was an Austrian-born American astrophysicist, engineer, educator, author, consultant, futurist, and systems theorist especially known for his work in the social systems design movement in Europe in the 1970s. He was a leading figure in the field of complexity science and is best known for his work on self-organizing systems and the concept of autopoiesis.

Jantsch lectured widely in Europe, North and South America, Near East and Japan. He was visiting lecturer of Planning and Research Planner of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley. In 1974, Jantsch stayed at the Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, "where he was one of the first distinguished residents invited by the Rockefeller Foundation". He was also Research Associate at MIT, where he studied the future of MIT and the American University.

He was also an advisor to twenty governments, several international organizations, and research institutes. Among others he was "consultant to the Directorate of Scientific Development of the O.E.C.D. and as a member of the executive committee of the Club of Rome." As consultant to OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development); prepared studies on the world food problem, technological forecasting, higher education, etc. In 1971 he was the Austrian delegate to the first session of the UN Committee on Natural Resources.


5 Documents






Word Count


Cover image for Evolution and Consciousness: Human Systems in Transition

Evolution and Consciousness

Human Systems in Transition

Evolution and Consciousness is one of the first, still rare, truly transdisciplinary books: it deals with a totality, not a sector of it. Therefore, it defies any disciplinary labeling. It is a scientific book, yet also deals with topics until now reserved for books of mysticism and poetry. It bridges the gap between science and other forms of knowledge. It deals not just with scientific questions, but with existential questions which concern all mankind, such as the meaning of life and the evolutionary significance of human design and action. It challenges the whole dominant Western world view: process thinking instead of structural thinking, dynamic instead of static, evolution instead of permanency.

For a Science of Man

Erich Jantsch Interviewed by G. R. Urban

As humanity hurtles toward ecological calamity, Erich Jantch and G. R. Urban probe whether our irrational “protective mechanisms” can evolve quickly enough. While centralized systems stifle, democratic structures may channel youthful angst toward collective responsibility. By living the paradoxes, embracing ambiguity, and synergizing art with science, we may just surprise ourselves. But first, a jolt to shake us from our slumber.

Inter- and Transdisciplinary University

A Systems Approach to Education and Innowation

Erich Jantsch proposes a radical transformation of universities to increase society’s capacity for self-renewal. This requires reorganizing around interdisciplinary approaches bridging empirical, pragmatic, normative, and purposive knowledge. Jantsch envisions a “transdisciplinary” structure with systems design labs, function-oriented departments, and discipline-focused departments—enabling universities to actively shape the “joint systems” of society and technology, not just serve them.

Cover image for The Self-Organizing Universe: Scientific and Human Implications of the Emerging Paradigm of Evolution

The Self-Organizing Universe

Scientific and Human Implications of the Emerging Paradigm of Evolution

The evolution of the universe—ranging from cosmic and biological to sociocultural evolution—is viewed in terms of the unifying paradigm of self-organization. The contours of this paradigm emerge from the synthesis of a number of important concepts, and provide a scientific foundation to a new world-view which emphasizes process over structure, nonequilibrium over equilibrium, evolution over permanency, and individual creativity over collective stabilization. The book, with its emphasis on the interaction of microstructures with the entire biosphere, ecosystems etc., and on how micro- and macrocosmos mutually create the conditions for their further evolution, provides a comprehensive framework for a deeper understanding of human creativity in a time of transition.

Unifying Principles of Evolution

In the light of the emerging self-organization paradigm, principles may be found which unify the description of evolution in two important dimensions: (1) across the hierarchy of evolutionary dynamics from ontogeny through phylogeny to anagenesis (the evolution of new levels of evolutionary dynamics), and (2) across domains of reality from the physical (cosmic) through the biological (sociobiological, ecological) to the sociocultural domain. Ten such principles, partly containing each other, are tentatively proposed here: Non-equilibrium, spontaneous symmetry breaking, self-reference, self-transcendence, irreversibility, metastability (complementarity of stochastic and deterministic factors), epigenealogical process (cognition and memory), autonomy, symbiosis, and indeterminacy (openness). Examples are provided which are suggestive of the applicability and unifying quality of these principles along the two dimensions.

Mentioned in 13 documents

Terence McKenna

A Calendar for the Goddess

Beginning with a comparison of reason and logic to intuition, Terence works his way towards exploring the idea of a purposeful goal in the universe which evolution is progressing towards, and humanity's role in this journey. Next, in a nod to the solstice which occurred at the time of the lecture, he plays with the idea of a precessional calendar and argues that it would remind us of the one constant in life, which is flux. Q&A topics include future social myths, morphogenesis, globalization, and psychedelic encounters with the dead.

Terence McKenna

A Few Conclusions About Life

In his signature wide-ranging style, McKenna explores culture, shamanism, psychedelics, and humanity's collective journey through spacetime. He advocates embracing the ineffable mystery unfolding through us, moving toward a hyperspatial cyberculture. To rediscover our shared humanity, we must trust the transformative wisdom of psychedelic plants.

Terence McKenna

Alien Love

Terence explores “alien love” and humanity’s evolving relationship with the Other. He posits that psychedelic experiences, particularly those induced by psilocybin mushrooms, may be a form of extraterrestrial contact, and argues that as we venture into space and deepen our understanding of consciousness, we are collectively yearning for connection with something beyond ourselves. This cosmic eros could reshape our cultural and spiritual landscape, potentially leading to a transformative “marriage” with the alien Other that propels humanity into a new phase of evolution and understanding.

Terence McKenna

History Ends in Green

The coming together of dream, film, and psychedelics in the twentieth century set the stage for the archaic revival. McKenna gives us a look through the window of our potential as humans. He helps put the hysteria of our time into perspective and gives a path that could help us to deal with this strange and wonderful world we live in. A must-listen seminar for those interested in human potential.

Terence McKenna

Intentionality of Meaning

McKenna takes us on a mind-bending ride about language, questioning if words unveil reality or cloak it. He suggests peering behind the linguistic curtain with nature and psychedelics, helping reveal life's magical depths where fairies and elves await to make deals that unleash self-transforming possibilities. But he cautions, the storytelling mushrooms can dupe you with their wit. Tread lightly.

Terence McKenna, Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham


Join McKenna, Sheldrake, and Abraham on an imaginative journey into nature's creativity. Surfing the chaotic waters of psychedelic states, they catch glimpses of the Gaian mind behind Earth's being. Here, in imaginal realms beyond rationale, novelty is born. By relinquishing egoic control and surrendering to an unknowable creative force, we tap into the divine imagination—the eternal wellspring of nature's endless becomings. Immersing ourselves in this flow, we reunite with the cosmic creative essence.

Terence McKenna

Our Cyberspiritual Future

Terence holds court on our civilization's journey toward the eschaton at this weekend Esalen gathering. He riffs on topics from psychedelic states and alien intelligences to time travel and VR. McKenna argues we're evolving toward an unimaginable state of accelerating novelty, propelled by advancing technology. A mind-expanding ride for the open-minded psychonaut or armchair traveler, guided by one of the twentieth century's most eclectic thinkers.

Terence McKenna

Plan, Plant, Planet

McKenna urges us to look at plants more deeply and find within their biological organization a model for sustainable modern civilization.

Terence McKenna

Psychedelics in the Age of Intelligent Machines

Humanity is metamorphosing through the synergy of psychedelics and machines, transcending biological constraints to become a galactic, immortal intelligencia. Print defined our ego boundaries, but electronic media and plant allies are dissolving those illusions. Merging with superintelligent AIs, we’ll birth an alchemical singularity—a spiritual, universe-taming mind born from techno-shamanic ecstasy. History crumbles as novelty’s virus engulfs the old operating systems, unleashing our wildest potentials. The felt presence of boundless experience awaits!

Terence McKenna

The Birth of a New Humanity

Terence McKenna explored themes of accelerating complexity, impending radical shifts in human reality, and the continuity between our changing relationship with Earth and a new cosmic modality transcending our fragile ecosystem. He posited history as a self-limiting 25,000-year process reaching its climax, suggesting individual acts of “midwifery” can ease this epochal transition. He also cautioned about combining psychoactive compounds without proper expertise.

Terence McKenna, Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham

The Evolutionary Mind

What could have been the cause for the breakthrough in the evolution of human consciousness around 50,000 years ago? Part of the Trialogues at the Edge of the Unthinkable held at the University of California.

Terence McKenna, Ralph Abraham and Rupert Sheldrake

The Future of Humanity

McKenna, Abraham, and biologist Rupert Sheldrake contemplate humanity's bumpy ride towards transcendence. McKenna unveils his theory of an impending "eschaton" when history will culminate in a boundary-erasing recovery of unity, fulfilling religious anticipation. However, approaching this "zero point" will be increasingly chaotic. Abraham and Sheldrake greet McKenna's vision with skepticism tinged with hope. Probing global crises, the trio spiritedly grapple with miraculous visions for transforming society, from psychedelic revival to empowering women. Their speculative voyage reveals turbulence ahead, yet yields glimmers of our journey's destination.

Terence McKenna

Walking Out Of The Ordinary

Journey with Terence McKenna into the mystical depths of the psychedelic experience, where alien dimensions beckon and unseen vistas await. McKenna describes fantastical realms beyond ordinary conceptions of reality—worlds that hold promise for expanding human consciousness. He argues persuasively that plant medicines like psilocybin can serve as a key not only to self-knowledge, but to rediscovering our cosmic belonging. McKenna's uncanny ability to articulate the ineffable allows him to initiate audiences into the revelatory power of psychedelic states. Join him on this quest, and you too may glimpse the infinities within.