24 Random Quotes from the Library's collection

Communication does not include any transfer of products or knowledge from one system to another, but is based on the reorientation of the indigenous processes—in other words, the cognitive domain, or the mind—of a system by the self-presentation of another system and the processes which are indigenous to it. The verbal description of a colorful sunset transmits nothing of the real experience, if not by way of remembering a comparable experience of one’s own. In other words, cognition falls here together with re-cognition, presentation becomes re-presentation.
The mystery of consciousness, to me, is not, “Isn’t it wonderful that we’re conscious?” but it’s the opposite: “Isn’t it wonderful that we can do things like talk and walk and understand, without having the slightest idea of how it works?” And so that’s the mystery—not that there’s some magic that brings everything together, but that the mind is really incoherent in a sense. We don’t know how we work, and yet the thing works. It’s like a big corporation with no one in charge, and I think it’s wonderful.
Marvin Minsky
After having been completely occupied for a long time in the work of constructing organisms, life is only now beginning to see to its internal dispositions; it is concentrating its attention and care on advances and refinements of a finally perfected consciousness. At present, evolution is continuing much more through improvements of the psychological order than through organic transformations.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Cosmic Life (1916)
The clue that something weird is going on on this planet is ourselves. Obviously! I mean, we are like a fart at the opera. Everything else makes sense; we don’t make sense. And the speed with which the human type emerged from the protohominids is unparalleled in the evolutionary history of life. Edward O. Wilson called the doubling of the human brain size in under three million years the most rapid doubling of organ size in a major animal in the entire history of life on this planet. Us! There’s something weird about human beings.
Terence McKenna
On the one hand, you do not and actually cannot do anything: it is all happening, as the stream flows of itself. On the other hand, you yourself are no other than this stream—however much you may feel yourself to be some distinct entity in the stream, occasionally controlling it, though mostly driven helplessly along.
I felt a larger meaning of my own self when the barrier vanished between me and what was beyond myself.
Rabindranath Tagore
That civilization perishes in which the individual thwarts the revelation of the universal.
Rabindranath Tagore
Neither the physicist’s description, nor that of the physiologist, contains any trait of the sensation of sound. Any description of this kind is bound to end with a sentence like: those nerve impulses are conducted to a certain portion of the brain, where they are registered as a sequence of sounds. We can follow the pressure changes in the air as they produce vibrations of the ear-drum, we can see how its motion is transferred by a chain of tiny bones to another membrane and eventually to parts of the membrane inside the cochlea, composed of fibres of varying length, described above. We may reach an understanding of how such a vibrating fibre sets up an electrical and chemical process of conduction in the nervous fibre with which it is in touch. We may follow this conduction to the cerebral cortex and we may even obtain some objective knowledge of some of the things that happen there. But nowhere shall we hit on this ‘registering as sound,’ which simply is not contained in our scientific picture, but is only in the mind of the person whose ear and brain we are speaking of.
Erwin Schrödinger
That we must proceed slowly and critically in this attempt to construct an “anatomy” of society is evident.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Man overcomes his feeling of dividedness or separateness—not only from himself as the higher controlling self against the lower controlled self, but also from the total universe of other people and things.
Consciousness properly so-called is the property specific to very large complexes; it is a result of them.
What would you do if you were God? Or let me put it in a simpler way: supposing that every night you could dream any dream you wanted to dream. What would you do? Well, first of all, I’m quite sure that most of us would dream all the marvelous things we wanted to happen. We would fulfill all our wishes. And we might go on that way for months. Besides, you could make it extraordinarily rich by wishing to dream 75 years in one night full of glorious happenings. But after you had done that for a few months, you might begin to get a little tired of it. And you would say, “What about an adventure tonight in which something terribly exciting and rather dangerous is going to happen? But I’ll know I’m dreaming, so it won’t be too bad. And I’ll wake up if it gets too serious.” So you do that for a while. You rescue princesses in distress from dragons, and all sorts of things. And then, when you’ve done that for some time, you say, “Now, let’s go out a bit further. Let’s forget it’s a dream and have a real thrill!” Ooh! But you know you’ll wake up. And then, after you’ve done that for a while, you get more and more nerve until you sort of dare yourself as to how far out you can get. And you end up dreaming the sort of life you’re living now.
Alan Watts
The brain had lost all its responses; it was only an instrument of observation, it was seeing, not as the brain belonging to a particular person, but as a brain which is not conditioned by time-space, as the essence of all brains.
Jiddu Krishnamurti
Relationship is the fundamental truth of this world of appearance.
Rabindranath Tagore
To do something for its own sake seems quite difficult and almost undesirable. Social values are based on doing something for the sake of something else. This makes for barren existence, a life which is never complete, full.
Jiddu Krishnamurti
A multitude of cells were bound together into a larger unit, not through aggregation, but through a marvellous quality of complex inter-relationship maintaining a perfect co-ordination of functions. This is the creative principle of unity, the divine mystery of existence, that baffles all analysis.
Rabindranath Tagore
Electric circuitry is Orientalizing the West. The contained, the distinct, the separate—our Western legacy—are being replaced by the flowing, the unified, the fused.
Marshall McLuhan
This experience is the real substance of Indian philosophy as a whole, both Hindu and Buddhist. It is called mokṣa, which roughly means ‘liberation.’ Liberation from the hallucination that you are just “poor little me.” To wake up from that kind of hypnosis and discover that you are simply something—your organism, your physical body, your conscious attention (which is your ego)—that you are something being done by this vast, indescribable Self.
Man has to realize that he is an integral part of nature.
All those creatures that we talk about themselves contain description; that the DNA are descriptive prescriptions, injunctions, for how to make a bird or a man or whatever. And these injunctions themselves contain epistemology. They contain a theory of the nature of description implicitly. And you can never get away from theories of the nature of description wherever you have descriptions. All descriptions are based upon a theory of how to make descriptions.
Gregory Bateson
There is, as yet, no really serious program at the government level to do anything radical about the pollution of water, the waste of water, the pollution of air, and the general ravaging of the United States of America. I’m amazed that congressmen can pass a bill imposing severe penalties on anyone who burns the American flag, whereas they are responsible for burning that for which the flag stands: the United States as a territory, as a people, and as a biological manifestation That is an example of our perennial confusion of symbols with realities.
I think that this is something of very great importance to the Western world today, because we have developed an immensely powerful technology. We have stronger means of changing the physical universe than has ever existed before. How are we going to use it? There is a Chinese proverb that if the wrong man uses the right means, the right means work in the wrong way. Let us assume that our technological knowledge is the right means. What kind of people are going to use this knowledge? Are they going to be people who hate nature and feel alienated from it, or people who love the physical world and feel that the physical world is their own personal body? An extension: the whole physical universe, right out to the galaxies, is simply one’s extended body.
Alan Watts
Technology is also changing the substance of what we can see. Thanks to Metaman, a pervasive layer of technology between us and the physical world extends our senses into realms never before penetrated by humans.
When every certainty is shaken and every utterance falters, when every principle appears doubtful, then there is only one ultimate belief on which we can base our rudderless interior life: the belief that there is an absolute direction of growth, to which both our duty and our happiness demand that we should conform; and that life advances in that direction, taking the most direct road.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Cosmic Life (1916)