Just as the activities of an animal’s individual cells mesh to serve the needs of the animal as a whole, human activity has organized itself into large functional patterns that join to sustain the entirety of Metaman.

Gregory Stock

Metaman

1993

Emergence

Emergence refers to the arising of novel and coherent structures, patterns, and properties during the process of self-organization in complex systems. It describes how complex systems and patterns arise out of multiplicity of relatively simpler and randomized interactions.

Some examples of emergent properties include the complex symmetrical patterns created by starling murmurations in flight, the coherent colony structures created by social insects like ants and termites, the patterns of traffic jams arising from individuals’ driving behaviors, and even consciousness emerging from neural networks in a brain. What defines emergent phenomena is that the macro-level patterns are not directed or controlled by a central authority. Instead, they are decentralized systems where local interactions between components lead to self-organized macro-level complexity. While the interactions between lower-level components may follow simple rules, the collective outcome transcends these rules to yield novel and surprising results. The key to emergent phenomena is understanding how micro-level behaviors link to generate new macro outcomes. It reveals how parts connect into wholes, aiding our understanding of countless complex systems from cities to minds.

Documents

Donella Meadows   (1977)

A Philosophical Look at System Dynamics

Donella Meadows discusses the philosophical foundations of system dynamics, a modeling approach used to understand complex systems. She emphasizes identifying causal relationships, feedback loops, rates of change, and states within systems. The goal is to model how a system’s structure generates its behavior over time, allowing for better understanding and potential intervention.

Terence McKenna   (1997)

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.

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.

Terence McKenna   (1996)

Countdown Into Complexity

Briefing for a Descent Into Novelty

At his weekend workshop Terence led attendees on an intellectual odyssey traversing psychedelics, virtual reality, technology, culture, spirituality, and the evolution of novelty over time. Blending philosophy, futurology, and mysticism, he explored humanity's relationship with nature and machines, challenging participants to think critically, create freely, and keep an open mind. The goal was to expand consciousness and uncover deeper truths about existence.

Cadell Last   (2015)

Human Metasystem Transition (HMST) Theory

This article proposes a theory of human evolution termed Human Metasystem Transition (HMST), suggesting that major transitions in human organization have been facilitated by the emergence of new information media and energy sources. It posits that the current convergence of the Internet and renewable energy could catalyze a fourth metasystem transition, leading to a global superorganism with compressed spatial and temporal dimensions of human interaction.

Alan Watts

Individual and the World

This seminar covers a variety of topics, from the illusion of our separation from the environment and the futility of trying to be genuine, all the way to the discipline required to handle mystical experiences in order to bring something back from them to share with the rest of the world. The presentation ends with his endorsement of insanity, saying a healthy amount of craziness in old age is necessary to prepare for a joyous death.

Cadell Last   (2015)

Information-Energy Metasystem Model

The human system is developing into a global biocultural superorganism, yet existing control systems appear inadequate for aligning a stable global goal state. Cadell Last proposes the Information-Energy Metasystem Model (IEMM), exploring human control system transitions throughout history. Drawing from cybernetic theories, the IEMM posits that major control transitions depend on specific information-energy control and feedback properties. As humanity approaches a potential fourth metasystem, Last argues for distributed, digital, and democratic mechanisms to organize a global commons, harnessing collective intelligence and direct democracy.

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.

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.

David Lyreskog   (2023)

Merging Minds

The Conceptual and Ethical Impacts of Emerging Technologies for Collective Minds

A growing number of technologies are currently being developed to improve and distribute thinking and decision-making. Rapid progress in brain-to-brain interfacing and swarming technologies promises to transform how we think about collective and collaborative cognitive tasks across domains, ranging from research to entertainment, and from therapeutics to military applications. As these tools continue to improve, we are prompted to monitor how they may affect our society on a broader level, but also how they may reshape our fundamental understanding of agency, responsibility, and other key concepts of our moral landscape.

Gregory Stock   (1993)

Metaman

The Merging of Humans and Machines into a Global Superorganism

In this visionary book, Gregory Stock gives us a new way of understanding our world and our future. He develops the provocative thesis that human society has become an immense living being: a global superorganism in which we humans, knitted together by our modern technology and communication, are like the cells in an animal's body. Drawing on impressive research, Stock shows this newly formed superorganism to be more than metaphor: it is an actual living creature, which he has named Metaman, meaning beyond and transcending humans.

Shima Beigi and Francis Heylighen   (2021)

Noospheric Consciousness

Integrating Neural Models of Consciousness and of the Web

The world-wide web has been conceptualized as a global brain for humanity due to its neural network-like organization. To determine whether this global brain could exhibit features associated with consciousness, we review three neuroscientific theories of consciousness: information integration, adaptive resonance and global workspace. These theories propose that conscious states are characterized by a globally circulating, resonant pattern of activity that is sufficiently coherent to be examined and reflected upon. We then propose a correspondence between this notion and Teilhard de Chardin’s concept of the noosphere as a forum for collective thinking, and explore some implications of this self-organizing dynamics for the evolution of shared, global understanding.

Terence McKenna   (1999)

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!

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin   (1953)

Reflection on the Compression of Mankind

In this compressed world, humanity feels the squeeze. But despair not! This pressure cooker of co-reflection may be evolution's secret recipe for elevating consciousness. As we rub elbows and neurons, a tantalizing possibility emerges on the horizon: a cosmic convergence of minds, a "conspiration" of monads. Will this psychic attraction be our salvation, harmonizing the restless billions? The thinking earth must choose: chaotic crush or convergent release. Intriguing times ahead!

Vladimir Vernadsky   (1945)

The Biosphere and the Noösphere

A general intellectual outlook of one of the most remarkable scientific leaders of the early twentieth century, focusing on a predicted historical and planetary phase transition in which humanity becomes a united force. Published in American Scientist Vol. 33, No. 1.

Neil Theise   (2019)

The Inherent Compassion of a Self-Organizing Universe

Buddhism teaches the emptiness of inherent existence: "everything is not a thing." Contemporary physics, chemistry, and biology—seen through the simplifying lens of complexity theory—shows us that the non-dual realm is in complementarity with all of duality, that the presence/absence of boundaries, of separation, is dependent on perspective. "Wisdom" is seeing the world without delusion, and science is one means to washing delusion from one's mind. In doing so, the inherent compassionate nature of the universe and of every being within and of that universe is revealed.

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.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin   (1950)

What is Life?

Teilhard says life is not an anomaly, but a universal cosmic force that builds up complexity. He sees it complementing entropy, and the riddle to be solved lies in how they ultimately balance out.