A Beautiful Death
When Aldous Huxley was on his deathbed, he asked his wife Laura to administer him with LSD. She agreed. Two weeks after her husband’s death, Laura wrote this moving and detailed account of Aldous’s last days to her brother-in-law, Julian.
Life and the Planets
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin explores the concept of complexification in the universe, focusing on the ever-increasing combination of smaller elements into larger structures, and then extrapolates this behavior to humanity's current situation. What if the human species is an intermediary evolutionary stage, and what would the next rung on the ladder look like? Teilhard suggests that it will involve the merging-together of all humanity into a divine, planetized consciousness. Originally delivered as a lecture at the French Embassy in Peking (Beijing), China, later published in Études and The Future of Man.
A report on modern attempts to account for the origin and properties of living organisms, including man, by means of the principles of physics. It concludes that biology is a branch of physical science, and man is only (and astoundingly) a complex kind of machine.
Mind and Matter
Based on the Tarner Lectures delivered at Trinity College in Cambridge, Mind and Matter is Erwin Schrödinger's investigation into a relationship which has eluded and puzzled philosophers since the earliest times.
According to Donald Dulchinos, the real action on the Internet isn’t in the realm of commerce. It is, plain and simple, in the realm of religion. But not exactly that old-time religion. This book is about the spiritual impact of our increasing ability to communicate quickly and with enhanced evolution. It's about our search for meaning, our hunger for a glimpse at humanity's future development in whichâ€"frighteningly or excitingly,"the trend is clearly toward increasing integration of telecommunications and information technology with the body itself. Electronic prosthetics, direct neural implants, and the brain's control of electronic and mechanical limbs move the boundary that used to exist between human and machine to some undefined frontier inside our bodies, our brains, and, perhaps, our minds.
Our Cyberspiritual Future
Terence McKenna holds court on our civilization's journey toward the eschaton at this weekend Esalen gathering. With humor and eloquence he riffs on topics from psychedelic states and alien intelligences to time travel and VR. McKenna argues we're evolving toward an unimaginable state of accelerating novelty, propelled by advancing technology. A mind-expanding ride for the open-minded psychonaut or armchair traveler, guided by one of the twentieth century's most eclectic thinkers.
Robots, Men, and Minds
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.
The Formation of the Noösphere
The noösphere is the sum-total of mental activity which emerges out of a complex biosphere, and in this essay Teilhard describes how our planet is growing its very own mind. Published in Revue des Questions Scientifiques (Louvain) and later The Future of Man.
The Phenomenon of Man
Visionary theologian and evolutionary theorist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin applied his whole life, his tremendous intellect, and his great spiritual faith to building a philosophy that would reconcile religion with the scientific theory of evolution. In this timeless book (whose original French title better translates to ‘The Human Phenomenon’), Teilhard argues that just as living organisms sprung from inorganic matter and evolved into ever more complex thinking beings, humans are evolving toward an "omega point"—defined by Teilhard as a convergence with the Divine.
The Place of Technology in a General Biology of Mankind
Teilhard argues that biology and technology are the same thing: technology is simply advanced biology which has reached a minimum threshold of self-awareness, allowing it to harvest and sheperd energy from its environment and utilize it to intelligently organize matter for further evolutionary development. Written after an address given in Paris at the Salle d’horticulture (National Society of Horticulture).
The Transformation and Continuation in Man of the Mechanism of Evolution
How does humanity fit into evolution's arc? Teilhard de Chardin argues that humanity represents not an endpoint, but an intensification of evolution's complexity and consciousness. As technology and social bonds grow, he sees not disaster but hope—perhaps mankind is evolving toward an “ultra-hominization,” a perfected global mind.
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. Delivered at the UC Berkeley Language Center.
When first published, Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media made history with its radical view of the effects of electronic communications upon man and life in the twentieth century. In Terrence Gordon’s own words, “McLuhan is in full flight already in the introduction, challenging us to plunge with him into what he calls ‘the creative process of knowing.’” Much to the chagrin of his contemporary critics McLuhan’s preference was for a prose style that explored rather than explained. Probes, or aphorisms, were an indispensable tool with which he sought to prompt and prod the reader into an “understanding of how media operate” and to provoke reflection.