We’re not self-sustaining. We’re dependent on societies. And so I find it paradoxical that it might be that societies, because they’re self-sustaining units, are now more alive than individuals are.

Ecology

Ecology is the scientific study of the interactions between organisms and their environment. It encompasses a wide range of topics, including the distribution and abundance of living organisms, the dynamics of ecosystems, and the flow of energy and nutrients through ecological systems. Ecologists investigate the relationships between organisms and their physical surroundings, as well as the interactions between different species and their impact on the broader ecosystem. By examining patterns and processes at various scales, from individual organisms to entire ecosystems, ecology provides insights into the functioning and resilience of natural systems and informs conservation efforts and environmental management strategies.

Central to ecology is the concept of biodiversity, which refers to the variety of life forms present in a given area. Biodiversity encompasses not only the number of species but also their genetic diversity and the diversity of ecosystems and ecological processes. Ecologists study the factors that influence biodiversity, such as habitat loss, climate change, pollution, and invasive species, and investigate the ecological consequences of changes in biodiversity. Understanding biodiversity is crucial for maintaining ecosystem health and functioning, as diverse ecosystems are often more resilient to environmental disturbances and provide essential services such as pollination, nutrient cycling, and climate regulation.

Documents

Paolo Soleri   (1969)

Arcology

The City In The Image Of Man

Visionary architect Paolo Soleri challenges us to think of cities as biological entities with his concept of the arcology—a massive, self-sustaining, urban “organism of a thousand minds” designed to exist in harmony with nature. He proposes that the purpose of life is aesthetogenesis: the universe progressively complexifying itself into compassionate, beautiful structures. Soleri showcases 30 potential arcologies through incredibly detailed diagrams, explaining how each integrates itself economically and ecologically into the world and fulfills his aesthetogenic criteria. The scope of his vision ranges from cities designed to span canyons or float on the oceans to cube-shaped metropolises suspended on pillars, and even a space habitat. While comprehensive, Soleri's focus lies primarily on realizing arcologies that meet humanity's moral imperative for sustainable urban living.

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.

Alan Watts   (1959)

Man and Nature

Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life (Episode 1)

Alan Watts speaks on the contrast between classical Chinese and historic Western attitudes in regard to man's place in nature. Do we see ourselves as nature's conquerors or collaborators?

Alan Watts

Ecological Awareness

When Alan Watts talked about the ‘mystical experience’ among scientific circles, he preferred to call it ‘ecological awareness’—referring to a state of mind in which a person ceases to feel separate from the environment in which he or she exists.

Alan Watts   (1970)

Ecology and Religion

The raw beauty of nature belies a growing crisis. Watts argues the ecological predicament stems from long-held religious views of the world as separate from humankind. He urges rethinking this, and seeing ourselves as intertwined with the natural world, to find solutions.

Alan Watts   (1972)

Ego

Essential Lectures, Program 2

Alan Watts was concerned with the way we trap ourselves in words. He considered it unfortunate that we separate the “I” from reality and think of “I” in terms of how others see us or the image that we want to project. What is the answer?

Alan Watts   (1971)

Conversation with Myself

Essential Lectures, Program 12

While walking in a field above Muir Woods, Alan Watts points to humankind's attempts to straighten out a wiggly world as the root of our ecological crisis.

Alan Watts

Ineffable Order

Societies—organisms or machines? Watts weighs in, finding us more cog-like than cells. But beneath individuals and collectives, he spies nature's web—infinitely intricate, ineffably complex. This tangled tapestry, the Taoist , makes a mockery of our mechanistic ways. So while groups lack living complexity, the individual is no alpha and omega. Our world's too messy for such simplicity.

Richard Buckminster Fuller   (1963)

Man in Universe

Through cosmic timescales, humanity has voyaged in its vessel Earth, navigating by the star-charts of knowledge. Now we enter unmapped seas, led on by curiosity's compass. Though frail, our minds pilot mighty technologies, taming invisible forces to reshape our world. If we attune to the celestial rhythms resonant in matter's deepest reality, we may yet fulfill our odyssey's purpose—to be worthy stewards of the living jewel suspended in the eternal darkness.

Gregory Bateson   (1979)

Mind and Nature

A Necessary Unity

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.

Kevin Kelly   (1992)

Out of Control

The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World

Out of Control is a summary of what we know about self-sustaining systems, both living ones such as a tropical wetland, or an artificial one, such as a computer simulation of our planet. The last chapter of the book, “The Nine Laws of God,” is a distillation of the nine common principles that all life-like systems share.

Alan Watts

Self and Other

Alan coaxes the listener’s mind to simultaneously zoom in and zoom out in an effort to demonstrate that identity is merely an intellectual hallucination. Instead, personal identity is fluid, ranging from one’s constituent atoms and molecules all the way out to the farthest bounds of cosmic existence. Overcoming this mental myopia leads to greater harmony, contentment, and a desire to playfully dance with this universal energy system.

Vladimir Vernadsky   (1926)

The Biosphere

Long unknown in the West, The Biosphere established the field of biogeochemistry and is one of the classic founding documents of what later became known as Gaia theory. It is the first sustained expression of the idea that living matter is a geological force that can shape Earth’s evolution, changing its landforms, climate, and atmosphere. This groundbreaking work sheds light on the interconnectedness of life and geology, offering profound insights into the Earth's ecological balance and the impact of human activities on the planet.

Paolo Soleri   (1973)

The Bridge Between Matter And Spirit is Matter Becoming Spirit

The Arcology of Paolo Soleri

This volume brings together the essays of Paolo Soleri in which he sets forth his philosophy of arcology (architecture ecology) and pleads for a new stage in the evolution of human society—a move toward compactness, or miniaturization, of our cities. To do so we must build solids rather than veneers; we must flee from a “flat” cityscape that debilitates and suppresses the individual. Arcologies, three dimensional macrostructures, are for populations of thousands or of millions.

Paolo Soleri   (1981)

The Omega Seed

An Eschatological Hypothesis

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.

Alan Watts

The Psychedelic Explosion

Alan talks about the upcoming revolution in which Western society will have to come to grips with the existence of the psychedelic/mystical experience, and how to integrate it into our culture in a productive, fulfilling, and responsible manner. Included are personal recollections of DMT and LSD trips experienced by Watts himself, why the utilization of psychedelic drugs should be seen as a tool, his vision of a psychedelic campus for guided mystical experiences, and why prohibition is doomed to failure.

Alan Watts

Coincidence of Opposites

The Tao of Philosophy 3

Alan Watts explains the sense in nonsense and how to enjoy the playfulness of life while sincerely participating in the human game.

Alan Watts   (1965)

Man in Nature

The Tao of Philosophy 6

How should we view nature—as machine, drama, or organism? Alan says we must trust its organic patterns, explaining that the borders of our imagined selves determine our relationship to the environment and our role in the universe. So go with the flow, be purposeless, let the Tao wash over you like wild geese vanishing into clouds.

Timo Järvilehto   (1998)

The Theory of the Organism-Environment System

In any functional sense, organism and environment are inseparable and form only one unitary system. The organism cannot exist without the environment, and the environment has descriptive properties only if it is connected to the organism. Separation of organism and environment cannot be the basis of any scientific explanation of human behavior. The theory leads to a reinterpretation of basic problems in many fields of inquiry and makes possible the definition of mental phenomena without their reduction either to neural or biological activity or to separate mental functions. According to the theory, mental activity is activity of the whole organism-environment system, and the traditional psychological concepts describe only different aspects of organization of this system.

Fritjof Capra   (1996)

The Web of Life

A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems

During the past twenty-five years, scientists have challenged conventional views of evolution and the organization of living systems and have developed new theories with revolutionary philosophical and social implications. Fritjof Capra has been at the forefront of this revolution. In The Web of Life, Capra offers a brilliant synthesis of such recent scientific breakthroughs as the theory of complexity, Gaia theory, chaos theory, and other explanations of the properties of organisms, social systems, and ecosystems. Capra's surprising findings stand in stark contrast to accepted paradigms of mechanism and Darwinism and provide an extraordinary new foundation for ecological policies that will allow us to build and sustain communities without diminishing the opportunities for future generations.

Fritjof Capra   (2018)

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.

David Sloan Wilson   (2019)

This View of Life

Completing the Darwinian Revolution

It is widely understood that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution completely revolutionized the study of biology. Yet, according to David Sloan Wilson, the Darwinian revolution won’t be truly complete until it is applied more broadly—to everything associated with the words “human,” “culture,” and “policy.” In a series of engaging and insightful examples—from the breeding of hens to the timing of cataract surgeries to the organization of an automobile plant—Wilson shows how an evolutionary worldview provides a practical tool kit for understanding not only genetic evolution but also the fast-paced changes that are having an impact on our world and ourselves. What emerges is an incredibly empowering argument: If we can become wise managers of evolutionary processes, we can solve the problems of our age at all scales—from the efficacy of our groups to our well-being as individuals to our stewardship of the planet Earth.

Joanna Macy   (1991)

World as Lover, World as Self

This overview of Joanna Macy's innovative work combines deep ecology, general systems theory, and the Buddha's teachings on interdependent co-arising. A blueprint for social change, World as Lover, World as Self shows how we can reverse the destructive attitudes that threaten our world.