The real (universe in its totality) is a “scientific” system gazing upon itself by way of man’s intellect (reflection.)

Paolo Soleri

Arcology

1969

Cosmology

Cosmology is the study of the origin, evolution, and eventual fate of the universe. Modern cosmology grew from ideas before the twentieth century, but made huge strides when Albert Einstein published his theory of general relativity in 1915. General relativity explains gravity and the structure of spacetime. It allows cosmologists to build mathematical models that describe the whole universe and track its changes over time, starting from the first moments after the Big Bang around 13.8 billion years ago.

One major area of research in cosmology is understanding the universe’s beginning. Evidence shows the universe expanded rapidly from an extremely hot, dense state into the current cooler cosmos we observe. Important clues about these first moments come from the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation, which is leftover heat from early universe. Precision maps of this radiation made in the past thirty years reinforce the Big Bang theory and give cosmologists better tools to test ideas. Other active research looks into dark matter, dark energy, the formation of the first stars and galaxies, and the eventual fate of the universe. Improved observations and complex simulations on powerful computers will help reveal more secrets of outer space and our place within its grand scale.

Documents

Terence McKenna   (1989)

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.

Stuart Kauffman   (1996)

At Home in the Universe

The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity

Stuart Kauffman’s At Home in the Universe unveils a scientific revolution centered on spontaneous order in complex systems. Kauffman argues that complexity itself triggers self-organization, revealing life as a natural outcome rather than a chance event. From cell development to cultural evolution, he explores how this principle shapes diverse phenomena. Praised as a visionary by Stephen Jay Gould and Philip Anderson, Kauffman’s work extends Darwin’s theory and offers profound insights into the essence of life.

Terence McKenna   (1990)

Awakening to Archaic Values

A weekend workshop in which Terence encourages humanity to return to harmonic habits which have been lost in the tide of time.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin   (1965)

Building The Earth

A visionary and hopeful book on humanity's future relationship to the planet from which it arose, Teilhard outlines a new psychological state of awareness in which individual humans unite into planetary Personhood. Paragraphs are arranged in verse and interspersed with delicate graphic illustrations.

Richard Buckminster Fuller and Kiyoshi Kuromiya   (1992)

Cosmography

A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity

An ambitious synthesis of Fuller’s lifetime of interdisciplinary work, spanning geometry, systems theory, design, and cosmology. He outlines synergetic principles underlying natural structures, sustainable architecture like geodesic domes, and humanity’s potential through whole systems thinking and technologies in equilibrium with the universe’s finite resources. Dense but visionary, it encapsulates Fuller’s goal of developing a “Cosmography”—a coordinated model for all knowledge.

Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan   (1980)

The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean

Cosmos, Episode 1

Carl Sagan opens the program with a description of the cosmos and a “spaceship of the imagination” shaped like a dandelion seed. The ship journeys through the universe’s hundred billion galaxies, the Local Group, the Andromeda galaxy, the Milky Way, the Orion Nebula, our solar system, and finally the planet Earth. Eratosthenes’ successful calculation of the circumference of Earth leads to a description of the ancient Library of Alexandria. Finally, the “Ages of Science” are described, before pulling back to the full span of the cosmic calendar.

Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan   (1980)

One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue

Cosmos, Episode 2

Sagan discusses the story of the Heike crab and artificial selection of crabs resembling samurai warriors, as an opening into a larger discussion of evolution through natural selection (and the pitfalls of intelligent design). Among the topics are the development of life on the Cosmic Calendar and the Cambrian explosion; the function of DNA in growth; genetic replication, repairs, and mutation; the common biochemistry of terrestrial organisms; the creation of the molecules of life in the Miller-Urey experiment; and speculation on alien life (such as life in Jupiter's clouds). In the Cosmos Update ten years later, Sagan remarks on RNA also controlling chemical reactions and reproducing itself and the different roles of comets (potentially carrying organic molecules or causing the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event).

Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan   (1980)

Harmony of the Worlds

Cosmos, Episode 3

Beginning with the separation of the fuzzy thinking and pious fraud of astrology from the careful observations of astronomy, Sagan follows the development of astronomical observation. Beginning with constellations and ceremonial calendars (such as those of the Anasazi), the story moves to the debate between Earth and Sun-centered models: Ptolemy and the geocentric worldview, Copernicus' theory, the data-gathering of Tycho Brahe, and the achievements of Johannes Kepler (Kepler's laws of planetary motion and the first science-fiction novel).

Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan   (1980)

The Edge of Forever

Cosmos, Episode 10

Beginning with the origins of the universe in the Big Bang, Sagan describes the formation of different types of galaxies and anomalies such as galactic collisions and quasars. The episode moves further into ideas about the structure of the Universe, such as different dimensions (in the imaginary Flatland and four-dimensional hypercubes), an infinite vs. a finite universe, and the idea of an oscillating Universe (similar to that in Hindu cosmology). The search into other ideas such as dark matter and the multiverse is shown, using tools such as the Very Large Array in New Mexico. Cosmos Update shows new information about the odd, irregular surfaces of galaxies and the Milky Way perhaps being a barred spiral galaxy.

Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan   (1980)

Encyclopædia Galactica

Cosmos, Episode 12

Questions are raised about the search for intelligent life beyond the Earth, with UFOs and other close encounters refuted in favor of communications through SETI and radio telescope such as the Arecibo Observatory. The probability of technically advanced civilizations existing elsewhere in the Milky Way is interpreted using the Drake equation and a future hypothetical Encyclopedia Galactica is discussed as a repository of information about other worlds in the galaxy. The Cosmos Update notes that there have been fewer sightings of UFOs and more stories of abductions, while mentioning the META scanning the skies for signals.

Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan   (1980)

Who Speaks for Earth?

Cosmos, Episode 13

Sagan reflects on the future of humanity and the question of "who speaks for Earth?" when meeting extraterrestrials. He discusses the very different meetings of the Tlingit people and explorer Jean-Francois de La Perouse with the destruction of the Aztecs by Spanish conquistadors, the looming threat of nuclear warfare, and the threats shown by destruction of the Library of Alexandria and the murder of Hypatia. The episode ends with an overview of the beginning of the universe, the evolution of life, and the accomplishments of humanity and makes a plea to mankind to cherish life and continue its journey in the cosmos. The Cosmos Update notes the preliminary reconnaissance of planets with spacecraft, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of apartheid in South Africa, and measures towards the reduction of nuclear weapons.

Alan Watts   (1972)

Nothingness

Essential Lectures, Program 1

Basing his ideas on sensory perception and physical experience, Alan Watts makes a compelling argument that everything actually depends upon nothing for its very existence.

Alan Watts   (1972)

Time

Essential Lectures, Program 6

Here Alan Watts points out that our insistence that the past determines the present is nonsensical.

Stuart Kauffman   (2024)

Is the Emergence of Life an Expected Phase Transition in the Evolving Universe?

This article proposes a new definition of life as chemical systems that achieve catalytic closure, constraint closure, and spatial closure. It argues that the emergence of such living systems is an expected phase transition in the evolving universe. However, the ever-creative evolution of life thereafter cannot be explained by physics alone, showing the limits of reductionism. Life is a double miracle—expected yet unexplainable.

Alan Watts

Journey to India

Buddhism sees life as drama—the Self playing hide and seek, getting lost for fun. It strips Hinduism for export, pursuing enlightenment not through beliefs but direct experience of who you really are beyond the separate ego. Through dialectic questioning, it demolishes all concepts you cling to, shaking your foundations until you let go into a state of insecurity that amazingly equals freedom. The teacher seems perfectly sane having nothing to hold onto, inspiring you to be alright that way too.

Tyler Volk   (1995)

Metapatterns

Across Space, Time, and Mind

In the interdisciplinary tradition of Buckminster Fuller’s work, Gregory Bateson’s Mind and Nature, and Fritjof Capra’s Tao of Physics, Metapatterns embraces both nature and culture, seeking out the grand-scale patterns that help explain the functioning of our universe. Metapatterns begins with the archetypal patterns of space, both form-building and relational. Tyler Volk then turns to the arrows, breaks, and cycles that infuse the workings of time. With artful dexterity, he brings together many layers of comprehension, drawing on an astounding range of material from art, architecture, philosophy, mythology, biology, geometry, and the atmospheric and oceanographic sciences. Richly illustrating his metapatterns with a series of sophisticated collages prepared for this book, Volk offers an exciting new look at science and the imagination. As playful and intuitive as it is logical and explanatory, Metapatterns offers an enlightening view of the functional, universal form in space, processes in time, and concepts in mind.

Erwin Schrödinger   (1951)

My View of the World

A Nobel prize winner, a great man and a great scientist, Erwin Schrödinger has made his mark in physics, but his eye scans a far wider horizon: here are two stimulating and discursive essays which summarize his philosophical views on the nature of the world. Schrödinger's world view, derived from the Indian writings of the Vedanta, is that there is only a single consciousness of which we are all different aspects. He admits that this view is mystical and metaphysical and incapable of logical deduction. But he also insists that this is true of the belief in an external world capable of influencing the mind and of being influenced by it. Schrödinger's world view leads naturally to a philosophy of reverence for life.

Alan Watts   (1968)

Parallel Thinking

Philosophy: East and West, Program 19

What a tickling trickster the universe is! As Watts wanders down philosophical byways, tales emerge of those healed by harmonizing body and world. Yet we teach children to twist themselves to fit odd ideals. Tension tunnels through society, our “civilizing” ways quite uncouth! Might we reconsider, relax our willful ways? Observantly ambling amidst being's little blooms, we rediscover unity in the unruly diversity—finding wisdom whispering within, inviting us to dance delightfully with life’s flowing forms.

Sara Walker and Lex Fridman   (2024)

Physics of Life, Time, Complexity, and Aliens

Sara Walker and Lex Fridman explore life’s grand mysteries, touching on the nature of existence and the origins of life to the potential of artificial intelligence and the future of consciousness. Walker’s unique perspective challenges conventional wisdom, inviting us to reconsider our place in the cosmic dance.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin   (1939)

The Grand Option

Teilhard explores the choices facing humanity as it undergoes the process of socialization, and examines four paths: pessimism, optimism with withdrawal, individualistic pluralism, and convergent unity. He argues for the path of convergent unity, where socialization leads not to loss of individuality but to differentiation and personalization within a unifying whole, fulfilling humanity’s evolutionary trajectory toward higher consciousness.

Rabindranath Tagore   (1922)

The Religion of Man

The Religion of Man is a compilation of lectures by Rabindranath Tagore, edited by him and drawn largely from his Hibbert Lectures given at Oxford University. A Brahmo playwright and poet of global renown, Tagore deals with the universal themes of God, divine experience, illumination, and spirituality.

Erich Jantsch   (1980)

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.

Terence McKenna   (1983)

The Syntax of Psychedelic Time

Terence McKenna weaves a tapestry of ideas exploring fractal time, the psychedelic mushroom's potent voice, and humanity's impending transcendence into a galactic, post-biological singularity. Brace yourself for a journey through the uncharted realms of novelty and consciousness expansion.

Lancelot Law Whyte   (1974)

The Universe of Experience

A Worldview Beyond Science and Religion

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.

Erich Jantsch   (1981)

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.

Erwin Schrödinger   (1944)

What Is Life?

The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell

This book was based on a course of public lectures delivered by Schrödinger in February 1943, under the auspices of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies at Trinity College, Dublin. The lectures attracted an audience of about 400, who were warned "that the subject-matter was a difficult one and that the lectures could not be termed popular, even though the physicist’s most dreaded weapon, mathematical deduction, would hardly be utilized." Schrödinger's lecture focused on one important question: How can the events in space and time—which take place within the spatial boundary of a living organism—be accounted for by physics and chemistry?