It’s a common psychological observation that people who are constantly anxious to prove their masculinity—who are scared to death of being sissy, of being weak, of being unaggressive—those are the very people who have doubts about their own masculinity; who are not really sure of it.

Alan Watts

On Being Vague

1959

Social Science

Social science encompasses a broad range of disciplines focused on understanding human behavior and society. It includes fields such as sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics, political science, and geography, among others. At its core, social science seeks to systematically study various aspects of human society, including social interactions, cultural norms, economic systems, political institutions, and psychological processes. Through empirical research methods such as surveys, experiments, interviews, and observations, social scientists aim to uncover patterns, trends, and underlying principles that govern human behavior and shape social structures. The insights generated by social science research have practical applications in diverse areas, including policy-making, education, healthcare, business, and international relations.

One of the key strengths of social science is its interdisciplinary nature, allowing researchers to draw upon insights and methodologies from multiple disciplines to address complex societal issues. Social scientists often collaborate across disciplinary boundaries to tackle multifaceted problems such as poverty, inequality, climate change, and conflict resolution. Additionally, social science research contributes to our understanding of human diversity, cultural dynamics, and social change, helping to foster empathy, tolerance, and cross-cultural understanding. By shedding light on the complexities of human behavior and society, social science plays a crucial role in informing public discourse, shaping public policy, and advancing social justice and human well-being.

Documents

Donna Haraway   (1985)

A Cyborg Manifesto

Haraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto is a key postmodern text, widely taught in many disciplines as one of the first to embrace technology from a leftist and feminist perspective using the metaphor of the cyborg to champion socialist, postmodern, and anti-identitarian politics. She criticized traditional notions of feminism, particularly its emphasis on identity rather than affinity, and explored the potential of the cyborg concept in order to construct a postmodern feminism that moves beyond dualisms and the limitations of traditional gender, feminism, and politics. Until Haraway’s work, few feminists had turned to theorizing science and technology and thus her work quite literally changed the terms of the debate. This article continues to be seen as hugely influential in the field of feminism, particularly postmodern, materialist, and scientific strands. It is also a precursor to cyberfeminism and posthumanism and perhaps anticipates the development of digital humanities.

Terence McKenna, Ralph Abraham and Rupert Sheldrake   (1991)

Cannabis Trialogue

This trialogue explores the various effects and cultural significance of cannabis use. Potential benefits for creativity, spirituality, and personal growth are discussed, as well as concerns about possible negative consequences like lethargy and addiction. The debate also revolves around the merits of legalization versus decriminalization and the role of governments in drug policy.

Martin Luther King, Jr.   (1967)

Christmas Sermon on Peace and Nonviolence

The fifth and last lecture of the Massey Lecture series, delivered at King's home church, Ebeneezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

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.

Ludwig von Bertalanffy   (1967)

Robots, Men, and Minds

Psychology in the Modern World

Based on lectures delivered as The Inaugural Lectures in The Heinz Werner Lecture Series at Clark University (Worcester, Mass.) in January 1966, the book introduces new conceptions of humans and their world. After discussing the advantages and drawbacks of humanity's propensity for the symbolic construction of reality, it focuses on the systems approach to an understanding of the species. The author warns against the common error of identifying cybernetics with general systems theory. No matter how complex the cybernetic system, it "can always be resolved into feedback circuits" and thought of in terms of "linear causality." The regulative behavior of general systems is determined by goal-directed, dynamic interaction between many forces and variables in an open system. Bertalanffy points out that "no comprehensive theory of systems exists today." As a model, however, the approach has many advantages, such as obviating the need for the "ghost in the machine" and suggesting some solutions to the mind-body problem.

Alan Watts, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder   (1967)

The Houseboat Summit

An extended conversation between Alan Watts, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, and Gary Snyder on the problem of whether to “drop out or take over,” conducted on Alan Watts’ houseboat in 1967.

Marshall McLuhan   (1967)

The Medium is the Massage

The Medium is the Massage is Marshall McLuhan’s prophetic perception on life in the age of electronic information, exhibiting his understanding of the power of media long before those in control did. The Medium is the Massage presents some of McLuhan’s most amazing insights and cognitive observations on the global village: the rear-view mirror, the invisible environment, the end of nature, and sensory impact set against the everyday imagery of mass media, consumer goods, the press, advertising, and the arts. Although originally printed in 1967, the art and style in The Medium is the Massage seem as fresh today as in the summer of love, and the ideas are even more resonant now that computer interfaces are becoming gateways to the global village.

Lancelot Law Whyte   (1944)

The Next Development in Man

This searching examination of human development provides new perspectives on the moral, political, scientific, emotional, and intellectual divisions of our time. A physicist by profession, Whyte looked beyond the boundaries of specialization for creative ways to approach the basic problem facing modern Western civilization: Why are we so competent technically and yet unable to order our own affairs, socially and personally? He takes the reader with him on a journey that is nothing less than a new interpretation of the general development of human consciousness.

Tim Urban   (2019)

The Story of Us

A whimsical and thought-provoking look at how large numbers of interthinking brains turn individual organisms into a larger, coherent superorganism, and how easy it is for such a superorganism to deteriorate if its constituent cells neglect it.

Jacques Ellul   (1954)

The Technological Society

As insightful and wise today as it was when originally published in 1954, Jacques Ellul's The Technological Society has become a classic in its field, laying the groundwork for all other studies of technology and society that have followed. Ellul offers a penetrating analysis of our technological civilization, showing how technology—which began innocuously enough as a servant of humankind—threatens to overthrow humanity itself in its ongoing creation of an environment that meets its own ends. No conversation about the dangers of technology and its unavoidable effects on society can begin without a careful reading of this book.

Aldous Huxley   (1962)

The Ultimate Revolution

Huxley outlines what society’s ultimate revolution would look like: a scientific dictatorship where people will be conditioned to enjoy their servitude, and who will pose little opposition to the ruling oligarchy, as he puts it. He also takes a moment to compare his book Brave New World to George Orwell’s 1984, and considers the technique in the latter too outdated for actual implementation.

Barbara Marx Hubbard   (2008)

The Vision of a Better World

Two visionaries, Tom Munnecke and Barbara Marx Hubbard, engage in an uplifting dialogue exploring the emergence of human creativity and consciousness. They trace inspirations from mentors like Jonas Salk, who recognized futuristic possibilities in Hubbard, and Buckminster Fuller, who affirmed humanity's potential. Together they shine light on the crisis of our times as the birth pangs of a new civilization, calling us to connect with the creativity arising globally. Their exchange weaves threads of hope and positivity, envisioning a future where all people actualize their gifts in service of our world.

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.

Alan Watts   (1968)

USA 2000

Beginning with his prophecy that the United States of America will no longer exist in the year 2000, Alan introduces us to a possible utopia which he discerned in his vision of the future. Topics include automation, guaranteed universal incomes, the confusion of money with wealth, changing work ethics, and the grim necessity of our learning how to sensuously enjoy luxury if we want to avoid total destruction.

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.