24 Random Quotes from the Library's collection

Many people seem absolutely certain that no computer could ever be sentient, conscious, self-willed, or in any other way “aware” of itself. But what makes everyone so sure that they themselves possess those admirable qualities?
Marvin Minsky
They made unlimited demands on the human spirit, and it does somehow respond to such demands. I doubt if any morality which does not do so will get the maximum response from man.
John Burdon Sanderson Haldane
Outer space is very much like what you see when you close your eyes in a dark room. It’s a vast unfilled void into which anything whatsoever can be projected. The hallucinations of the individual are the cultural artifacts of the species 500 years from now. I mean, all these visions and dreams that we have will be realized—in ways that we cannot imagine, but realized nevertheless. This has been consistently what has been going on. The alchemical dreams of the 16th century are fully realized in the 20th century, you know? And of course it has facets that they never imagined.
Terence McKenna
To be able to know that you know, to feel that you feel. And by possessing that faculty—which is self-consciousness; is being able to reflect upon one’s own life—we are able to become, as it were, to go to a level at which our own life is seen in its total context in the universe.
The center of Hinduism is an experience called mokṣa—‘liberation’—in which, through the dissipation of the illusion that each man and each woman is a separate thing in a world consisting of nothing but a collection of separate things, you discover that you are, on one level, an illusion, but on another level, you are what they call the Self, the one Self, which is all that there is.
There appears to be no doubt that in the almost indecipherable web of cultures, nations, states, etc., constantly being woven around us, we must see an organic system of perfectly ‘natural’ unities, issuing biologically from the normal play of chromosomes in an exceptionally ‘psychised’ milieu.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
The big bang is the birth of space, a convulsion that could also be the origin of the cosmos if not of reality itself. The big bang birth is the ongoing event that we earthlings measure in fourteen or so eons, evidently according to our way of measuring. We have no way of seeing the big bang in its early youth or in its old age. Being more, far more, acquainted with reality could allow us a way to measure the entropy drift and have some approximation of a possible (probable?) end of the big bang, its self-generation and self-creation, the unstoppable metamorphosis of itself, space in action.
Paolo Soleri
We are not trained to recognize the inevitable as natural, and so cannot give up gracefully that which has to go, but needs must wait till it is snatched from us. The truth comes as conqueror only because we have lost the art of receiving it as guest.
Rabindranath Tagore
See, all that’s holding together the illusion of the historical world is our inability to communicate with each other. Here is somebody over here. They are working on data encryption. Here is somebody who’s working on nanotechnology. Here’s starflight. Here, longevity. Here, cures for viral diseases. Well, none of these people talk to each other. None of them know of each other’s existence. And yet, one by one, they will arrive at their goals and this will all be fed together into a civilization that nobody is managing and nobody can imagine.
Terence McKenna
We are taught to think that if your life doesn’t have some purpose, you’re a washout; you’re just an idiot. But maybe it’s a very good thing to be an idiot, to be a complete fool, and simply to sit and watch the waves. You know how good a thing it is to sit on a beach and just watch waves breaking and dissolving? You can sit for hours completely fascinated. And children like to do this. They like to sit by a pond and drop pebbles into it and see all the concentric circles coming out of the plop. Why not? You could say: well, it’s much more important to go into business and achieve some substantial results, and raise a family—why? You’re just making a bigger splash, that’s all.
Nature works by steps. The atoms form molecules, the molecules form bases, the bases direct the formation of amino acids, the amino acids form proteins, and proteins work in cells. The cells make up first of all the simple animals, and then sophisticated ones…. The stable units that compose one level or stratum are the raw material for … the climbing of a ladder from simple to complex by steps, each of which is stable in itself.
I sought to accomplish whatever was to be accomplished for anyone in such a manner that the advantage attained for anyone would never be secured at the cost of another or others.
Richard Buckminster Fuller
Critical Path (1981)
We’re going to have to decide how much of the monkey we want to take with us into the future. We don’t want to take the homicidal killer, we don’t want to take the male dominator—but it would probably be a mistake to leave the body entirely behind. After all, the body gives us our orientation in the world, and our sense of ourselves as somehow coextensive with animal life. But how much of what we call human is really human is going to be major topic for discussion from here to the end of time.
Terence McKenna
By “technology” I don’t mean simply machines, I use McLuhan’s definition: technology is simply the extensions of Man. The extensions of Man. We are hardwiring the unconscious. We are shrinking the planet to a point. We are democratizing the availability of data. We are digitalizing our past so that it doesn’t decay. And we are triangulating and anticipating our future, and discovering it (as we live into it) to be more fun than we ever dared imagine, more psychedelic than we ever dared imagine.
Terence McKenna
No matter how private feeling is thought to be, the feelings for the beautiful receive a kind of universality through their objectification into the common world, and thus the improvement of the aesthetic taste and the deepening and purifying of the feeling for the beautiful as people advance in civilization can be accounted for.
Mankind has cosmic roots.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Human history is denied any relevance in the natural order. It is not part of the natural order. And even though we think we’re a secular society, our assumptions about history are straight out of Genesis. We do not think of history as a branch of biology, which it obviously is.
Terence McKenna
It is a matter of bringing together a large enough number of minds that are sufficiently open and in tune with influences of the cosmic order to perceive, record and amplify a movement of the noösphere in relation to itself.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
The entire concept of making a scientific theory and its originator morally culpable for misuses of the theory is deeply misguided.
When you have explored pleasure to its ultimate limit, the only thing you can get a kick out of is pain.
The concentration of a conscious universe would be unthinkable if it did not reassemble in itself all consciousnesses as well as all the conscious; each particular consciousness remaining conscious of itself at the end of the operation, and even (this must absolutely be understood) each particular consciousness becoming still more itself and thus more clearly distinct from others the closer it gets to them.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Don’t think that you’re being dehumanized when you try to understand yourself as a machine. In the past you’ve thought of yourself as a sort of jelly, a sort of unstructured thing which is just plain good, but no reason for it. I think it’s better, maybe for children, to think of yourself as a package of hundreds of skills.
Marvin Minsky
What we then see is a flood of sympathetic forces, spreading from the heart of the system, which transforms the whole nature of the phenomenon: sympathy in the first place (an act of quasi-adoration) on the part of all the elements gathered together for the general impulse that carries them along; and also the sympathy (this time fraternal) of each separate element for all that is most unique and incommunicable in each of the co-elements with which it converges in the unity, not only of a single act of vision but of a single living subject.
You identify with Houston, and then you identify with Los Angeles, and Phoenix, and New Orleans, and everything. And the next thing you recognize in yourself is: you’re identifying with North Africa. You look forward to that, you anticipate it. And there it is. And that whole process begins the shift of what it is you identify with. When you go around [the Earth] in an hour and a half, you begin to recognize that your identity is with that whole thing! And that makes a change.
Russell Schweickart