The Phenomenon of Man
Visionary theologian and evolutionary theorist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin applied his whole life, his tremendous intellect, and his great spiritual faith to building a philosophy that would reconcile religion with the scientific theory of evolution. In this timeless book (whose original French title better translates to ‘The Human Phenomenon’), Teilhard argues that just as living organisms sprung from inorganic matter and evolved into ever more complex thinking beings, humans are evolving toward an "omega point"—defined by Teilhard as a convergence with the Divine.
Process and Reality
One of the major philosophical texts of the twentieth century, Process and Reality is based on Alfred North Whitehead’s influential lectures that he delivered at the University of Edinburgh in the 1920s. In it, he propounds a philosophy of organism (or process philosophy), in which the various elements of reality are brought into a consistent relation to each other. It is also an exploration of some of the preeminent thinkers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, such as Descartes, Newton, Locke, and Kant.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Delivered at the eleventh Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, about seven months before King's assassination.
The Ultimate Unity for Thought is the Society of Minds
This lofty philosophical treatise passionately argues that the pinnacle of thought and being is a divine society of free spirits in fellowship, whose joyful self-realization through mutual service and growth comprises the final purpose of all creation. Our supreme hope is participation in this Community of Minds.
The Human Rebound of Evolution and its Consequences
This essay, published in Revue des Questions Scientifiques in 1948 and reprinted in The Future of Man, follows Teilhard's train of thought on the aftermath of a potential fusing-together of humanity.
Power of Space
Weaving connections between Eastern thought and modern science, Alan Watts explores the wonder of space. For him, space is no mere emptiness but a cosmic tapestry integral to existence. He draws parallels between space and the Buddhist void, seeing both as the interwoven ground of being that allows consciousness to emerge.
The Chief Characteristics and Doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism
In this paper, written for G. W. Davis’s course History of Living Religions at Crozer Theological Seminary, King explores the tenets of Mahayana Buddhism and implicitly associates that religion’s morality and popular appeal with the ideals of Christianity. King drew chiefly on S. Radhakrishnan’s Indian Philosophy and J. B. Pratt’s The Pilgrimage of Buddhism. (King later met Radhakrishnan during his 1959 trip to India.) Davis gave King an A for the paper, calling it “a clear statement,” and a B+ for the course overall.
Interview with Erik Davis
The final recorded interview of Terence McKenna, conducted by Erik Davis for Wired magazine.
The Ultimate Revolution
Huxley outlines what society’s ultimate revolution would look like: a scientific dictatorship where people will be conditioned to enjoy their servitude, and who will pose little opposition to the ruling oligarchy, as he puts it. He also takes a moment to compare his book Brave New World to George Orwell’s 1984, and considers the technique in the latter too outdated for actual implementation.
A Psychedelic Point of View
Buck the status quo! Rebel philosopher Terence McKenna shook things up in this closing speech after a month of being scholar-in-residence at Esalen, arguing that reality escapes our rational grasp. He chided science and philosophy's paltry models that diminish nature's infinitude. Seeking to spur his audience from passive acceptance, McKenna called to revere expanded consciousness. He urged toppling the assumptions bolstering dominator culture to midwife more liberated, psychedelically-attuned societies. By trusting our intuition's cosmic tether, we can transform reality into something stranger and more wonderful than we suppose.
Psychotherapy and Metaphysics
This seminar explores the concept of consciousness and its limitations. Watts discusses the lack of depth in certain analytical approaches, highlighting the need for individuals to find harmony with life and death. He emphasizes the enrichment that comes from realizing the significance of everything and the potential healing effects of altering our state of consciousness. Watts also touches on the influence of scientific naturalism on modern psychiatry and shares a personal account of a transformative experience.
Mind and Nature
Renowned for his contributions to anthropology, biology, and the social sciences, Bateson asserts that man must think as Nature does to live in harmony on the earth and, citing examples from the natural world, he maintains that biological evolution is a mental process.
On Nature and Media
Marshall McLuhan explains the effects of accelerating communication speeds on human society.
On Second-Order Observation and Genuine Pretending:
This paper discusses the meaning of the concept of ‘second-order observation’ used by Niklas Luhmann (1927–1998). Luhmann identifies second-order observation as a defining characteristic of modern world society. According to Luhmann, all social systems construct a social reality on the basis of the observation of observations. Rating agencies in the economy or the peer-review process in the academic system are examples of social mechanisms manifesting second-order observation. Social media also represent organized second-order observation. The paper suggests that in a society based on second-order observation, ‘genuine pretending’ is an adequate mode of existence. This notion is derived from the Daoist text Zhuangzi. It indicates a disassociation from social roles which allows their performers to exercise these roles with ease and, at the same time, maintain a state of sanity. (Published in Thesis Eleven 2017, Vol. 143(I) 28–43.)
Robots, Men, and Minds
Based on lectures delivered as The Inaugural Lectures in The Heinz Werner Lecture Series at Clark University (Worcester, Mass.) in January 1966, the book introduces new conceptions of humans and their world. After discussing the advantages and drawbacks of humanity's propensity for the symbolic construction of reality, it focuses on the systems approach to an understanding of the species. The author warns against the common error of identifying cybernetics with general systems theory. No matter how complex the cybernetic system, it "can always be resolved into feedback circuits" and thought of in terms of "linear causality." The regulative behavior of general systems is determined by goal-directed, dynamic interaction between many forces and variables in an open system. Bertalanffy points out that "no comprehensive theory of systems exists today." As a model, however, the approach has many advantages, such as obviating the need for the "ghost in the machine" and suggesting some solutions to the mind-body problem.
The Omega Seed
The Ωmega Seed brings together Paolo Soleri’s writings on eschatology, that branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or of mankind. Soleri believes that the simulation of the divine will provide man with a blueprint for creation not only of our physical environment but also of a new stage in the evolution of mankind. His work is against the things of a materialistic society, toward a redesigning of the urban civilization of Earth.
Vertigo at History's Edge
As we approach history's climax, McKenna heralds the inevitable complexification of existence. He foretells technology and pharmacology's fusion into higher consciousness and collective awakening through boundary dissolution. Still, the human spirit yearns freedom from constraints of belief, non-experience. McKenna beckons: reclaim your mind, body, and world! Destiny awaits our willful shaping. The cosmic hourglass empties; shall we awaken?