Life is a very ancient phenomenon and its origin must imply a very considerable sequence of successive instabilities.

Order Through Fluctuation (1976)

Portrait of Ilya Prigogine

Ilya Prigogine

Physical Chemist
January 25, 1917 – May 28, 2003

Viscount Ilya Romanovich Prigogine was a physical chemist best known for his definition of dissipative structures and their role in thermodynamic systems far from equilibrium, a discovery that won him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1977. In summary, Ilya Prigogine discovered that importation and dissipation of energy into chemical systems could result in the emergence of new structures (hence dissipative structures) due to internal self reorganization. In his 1955 text, Prigogine drew connections between dissipative structures and the Rayleigh-Bénard instability and the Turing mechanism.

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The Chaotic Universe

Art Meets Science and Spirituality, Part 2

In this fascinating tape, composer/artist John Cage, thermodynamic physicist Ilya Prigogine, and philosopher/comparative religion teacher Huston Smith are interviewed. Artists, scientists, spiritual leaders and economists gathered in Amsterdam in 1990 to explore the emerging paradigm of a holistic world view and the implications for a global economy. The five day conference was inspired by the artists Joseph Beuys and Robert Filliou, and manifested by Louwrien Wijers, who called it a "mental sculpture."

Cover image for From Being to Becoming: Time and Complexity in the Physical Sciences

From Being to Becoming

Time and Complexity in the Physical Sciences

How has order emerged from chaos? In this book, intended for the general reader with some background in physical chemistry and thermodynamics, Ilya Prigogine shows how systems far from equilibrium evolve elaborate structures: patterns of circulation in the atmosphere, formation and propagation of chemical waves, the aggregation of single-celled animals. In an effort to understand these phenomena, he explores the philosophical implications of the work for which he received the 1977 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. From Being to Becoming explains how order can develop and offers a new approach to the asymmetry between past and future—the irreversibility of time. Prigogine presents an evolving rather than static world. This imaginative work is sure to arouse controversy and may change the way that the reader sees the laws of science and the world that those laws seek to explain.

Order Through Fluctuation

Self-Organization and Social System

A thorough mathematical analysis of the spontaneous arising of new order in a fluctuating system, and how insights from dissipative chemical systems may be applied to large-scale social contexts.

Cover image for Order out of Chaos: Man's New Dialogue with Nature

Order out of Chaos

Man's New Dialogue with Nature

Belgian philosopher Isabelle Stengers and Ilya Prigogine, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1977 for his work on the thermodynamics of non-equilibrium systems, make their ideas accessible to a wide audience in this book, which has engendered massive debate in Europe and America. Stengers and Prigogine show how the two great themes of classic science, order and chaos, which coexisted uneasily for centuries, are being reconciled in a new and unexpected synthesis.

Cover image for The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature

The End of Certainty

Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature

Time, the fundamental dimension of our existence, has fascinated artists, philosophers, and scientists of every culture and every century. All of us can remember a moment as a child when time became a personal reality, when we realized what a "year" was, or asked ourselves when "now" happened. Common sense says time moves forward, never backward, from cradle to grave. Nevertheless, Einstein said that time is an illusion. Nature’s laws, as he and Newton defined them, describe a timeless, deterministic universe within which we can make predictions with complete certainty. In effect, these great physicists contended that time is reversible and thus meaningless.

Mentioned in 24 documents

Terence McKenna

Appreciating Imagination

Join Terence McKenna in this weekend workshop as he takes us on an imaginative journey into the depths of human creativity. Through eloquent exploration of psychedelics, virtual worlds, and shamanic states of consciousness, McKenna reveals how embracing our imagination allows us to envision and manifest alternate realities beyond cultural conditioning. By cultivating our creative faculties with mathematical reasoning, intuition, and immersion in nature, he guides us toward transcending ideological limits into an enlightened future of compassion. Ultimately, breaking boundaries through the power of imagination will inspire us to reach new heights of understanding and connectivity.

Daniel Schmachtenberger and Nate Hagens

Artificial Intelligence and the Superorganism

Daniel Schmachtenberger and Nate Hagens discuss a surprisingly overlooked risk to our global systems and planetary stability: artificial intelligence. Through a systems perspective, Daniel and Nate piece together the biophysical history that has led humans to this point, heading towards (and beyond) numerous planetary boundaries, and facing geopolitical risks all with existential consequences. How does artificial intelligence not only add to these risks, but accelerate the entire dynamic of the metacrisis? What is the role of intelligence versus wisdom on our current global pathway, and can we change course? Does artificial intelligence have a role to play in creating a more stable system, or will it be the tipping point that drives our current one out of control?

Terence McKenna

Build Your Own Damn Wagon

"Do not watch, do not consume," implores Terence McKenna, inviting us on a thought-provoking journey to reclaim our humanness. By building our own conceptual wagons, rather than riding ready-made vehicles of meaning, we can travel along unique paths of critical thinking. Once within our own virtual worlds, the wonder of our distinctive minds will be open for discovery.

Barbara Marx Hubbard

Conscious Evolution

Barbara explored the ideas of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and the possibilty of humanity gradually giving birth to a new planetary-scale consciousness, which she called Homo universalis.

Terence McKenna

Culture and Ideology are not Your Friends

Delivered at the Whole Life Expo, Terence focuses on one of his favorite questions: what does it mean to be human in this cosmos?

Erich Jantsch and Conrad Hal Waddington

Evolution and Consciousness

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.

Ludwig von Bertalanffy

General System Theory

In his seminal work, biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy outlines a theory of systems that breaks down disciplinary boundaries and argues that there are general principles and laws applicable to systems of all kinds. He contends that phenomena should be viewed not in isolation but as components of systems interacting with their environments. Bertalanffy proposes that there are commonalities across biological, physical, and social systems that can be explored through systems thinking. He suggests the need for an overarching systems science to uncover these universal system principles. The book develops key concepts like open and closed systems, steady states, growth, feedback, homeostasis, differentiation, hierarchy, and emergence. General System Theory was groundbreaking in its interdisciplinary approach and helped foster the growth of systems theory across academia and society.

Terence McKenna

Hot Concepts and Melting Edges

A weekend workshop held at Esalen, with the alternate titles of Deeper and Broader Questions and Eros, Chaos, and Meaning's Edge.

Terence McKenna

In the Valley of Novelty

Journeying through multiple dimensions of psychedelic consciousness, Terence McKenna's visionary weekend workshop invites us on an entheogenic voyage to the frontiers of the mind and its imminent conquering of matter. Blending scientific insights with shamanic wisdom, McKenna argues that natural plant medicines like psilocybin and DMT provide portals into mystical realms and alien dimensions, catalyzing revelations about nature, reality, and the human psyche. He urges us to courageously explore these consciousness-expanding substances, seeking the gratuitous beauty and truths they unveil. For McKenna, the psychedelic experience holds secrets to our world and ourselves—if only we dare lift the veil.

Terence McKenna

Man Thinks God Knows, God Knows Man Thinks

What if language could be seen instead of heard? McKenna fancies a linguistic lark where lexicon becomes a dance of light. Words incarnate as rainbow octopi, their very skin shimmering significance. In the verbosity vortex we spin, until, lo, meaning and matter tango into one, with word becoming flesh and flesh becoming word in the ultimate semantic samba.

Terence McKenna, Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham

Metamorphosis

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.

Heinz von Förster

On Self-Organizing Systems and Their Environments

An adaptation of an address given at The Interdisciplinary Symposium on Self-Organizing Systems in Chicago, Illinois. Von Förster argues self-organizing systems don't exist in isolation but require an environment to draw energy and order from. He defines measures of order and mechanisms whereby order arises, including via internal "demons" that decrease system entropy and external "demons" that increase maximum possible entropy. Overall, some noise helps systems remain adaptable.

Terence McKenna

Permitting Smart People to Hope

McKenna traipses through a mélange of scientific and technological folderol—the detection of the top quark, swift progress on sequencing the human genome, newfangled theories about the origin of the moon, quantum bafflements like non-locality, the proliferation of the internet and information technology, speculations on the nature of time from Prigogine, and sundry other bamboozlements. He elucidates how these breakthroughs in diverse fields might converge to profoundly transform human civilization, culture, and consciousness in the imminent future.

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!

Ludwig von Bertalanffy

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.

Terence McKenna

Spirituality and Technology

Terence McKenna discusses psychedelic philosophy and the interconnectedness of all things, referencing Moby Dick as an allegory for the quest for transcendental truth.

Paolo Soleri

Technology and Cosmogenesis

A hopeful antidote to the destruction of man's environment caused by technology divorced from spirituality. Paolo Soleri, the renowned architect, urban planner, process philosopher and alchemist of the new spirituality of science and technology, challenges us to let go of our absolutized views of human life and creation. By this release, he holds that we can be healed by a cosmos in the process of becoming divine.

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.

Michael Levin

The Computational Boundary of a “Self”

All epistemic agents physically consist of parts that must somehow comprise an integrated cognitive self. Biological individuals consist of subunits (organs, cells, and molecular networks) that are themselves complex and competent in their own native contexts. How do coherent biological Individuals result from the activity of smaller sub-agents?

Francis Heylighen

The Global Superorganism

The organismic view of society is updated by incorporating concepts from cybernetics, evolutionary theory, and complex adaptive systems. Global society can be seen as an autopoietic network of self-producing components, and therefore as a living system or “superorganism”.

Erich Jantsch

The Self-Organizing Universe

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.

Lancelot Law Whyte

The Universe of Experience

Modern experience forces philosophy and social thought to confront the basic problems of value. Is this life worth caring about? How can we find a way between the deceit of fanatical belief and despair? In the view of Lancelot Law Whyte, the essential challenge to mankind today is an underlying nihilism promoting violence and frustrating sane policies on major social issues. Avoiding the seductive trap of utopianism, Whyte approaches this challenge by defining the terms of a potentially worldwide consensus of heart, mind, and will.

Fritjof Capra

The World is a Network

In this discussion, Fritjof Capra discusses systems thinking, the cognitive dimension of life, nonlinear causality, emergence of novelty in living systems, ethics, world problems and solutions, transformative learning, and the importance of community. He covers the systems view of life from his book and emphasizes relationships, interconnectedness, and sustainability.

Terence McKenna

Understanding and Imagination in the Light of Nature

The Great Mystery whispers through psychedelics as it unfurls revelations beyond language’s grasp. Here, ego-bound shells crack open as cosmic minds reborn beyond confines of space and time. We thus commune with the endless Imagination—holographic spirit-stuff whereof worlds are wrought. Invariants of the eternal suffuse temporal shadow-play, the mundane ever aflame in subtler dimensions. All form awakens, ascends, drawn unto consummate transcendence as history’s fever dream blossoms into timeless infinitude.