Buckminster Fuller

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The Things to do are: the things that need doing, that you see need to be done, and that no one else seems to see need to be done.

Richard Buckminster Fuller (12 July 18951 July 1983) was an American philosopher, systems theorist, architect, and inventor, known to many of his friends and fans as "Bucky" Fuller. He created and popularized the terms "Spaceship Earth", "ephemeralization", and "synergetics", and developed numerous inventions, the most famous of which is the geodesic dome.

Quotes[edit]

Life is the spirit incarnate in time.

1920s[edit]

4D Timelock (1928)[edit]

Education by choice, with its marvelous motivating psychology of desire for truth, will make life ever cleaner and happier, more rhythmical and artistic.
  • All sports are time control demonstrations...
  • There will come a time when the proper education of children, by a glorified system of spontaneous education of choice, similar to the Montessori System, will be made possible. Children, as well as grown-ups, in their individual, glorified, drudgery-proof homes of Labrador, the tropics, the Orient, or where you will, to which they can pass with pleasure and expedition by means of ever-improving transportation, will be able to tune in their television and radio to the moving picture lecture of, let us say, President Lowell of Harvard; the professor of Mathematics of Oxford; of the doctor of Indian antiquities of Delhi, etc. Education by choice, with its marvelous motivating psychology of desire for truth, will make life ever cleaner and happier, more rhythmical and artistic.

1930s[edit]

Don't fight forces, use them.
  • Don't fight forces, use them.
    • In Shelter (May 1932), 2 No. 4, 36, and (Nov 1932) No. 5, 108. Cited in Richard Buckminster Fuller, Joachim Krausse (ed.) and Claude Lichtenstein (ed.), Your Private Sky: Discourse (2001), 17; sometimes quoted or paraphrased as "Don't oppose forces, use them."

1960s[edit]

  • There is room enough indoors in New York City for the whole 1963 world's population to enter, with room enough inside for all hands to dance the twist in average nightclub proximity.
    • Prime Design (May 1960), later published in The Buckminster Fuller Reader (1970) edited by James Meller
  • Technology paces industry, but there's a long lag in the process. Industry paces economics. It changes the tools, a great ecological change. And in that manner we come finally to everyday life.
    The politician is someone who deals in man's problems of adjustment. To ask a politician to lead us is to ask the tail of a dog to lead the dog.
    • "The Designers and the Politicians" (1962), later published in Beyond Left & Right : Radical Thought for Our Times (1968) by Richard Kostelanetz, p. 368
  • Relativity is inherently convergent, though convergent toward a plurality of centers of abstract truths. Degrees of accuracy are only degrees of refinement and magnitude in no way affects the fundamental reliability, which refers, as directional or angular sense, toward centralized truths. Truth is a relationship.
    • "The Designers and the Politicians" (1962), later published in Ideas and Integrities : A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure (1969), p. 233, and The Buckminster Fuller Reader (1970), p. 305
  • So long as mathematicians can impose up-and-down semantics upon students while trafficking personally in the non-up-and-down advantages of their concise statements, they can impose upon the ignorance of man a monopoly of access to accurate processing of information and can fool even themselves by thought habits governing the becoming behavior of professional specialists, by disclaiming the necessity of, or responsibility for, comprehensive adjustment of the a priori thought to total reality of universal principles. The everywhere-relative velocities and momentums of interactions, of energetic phenomena of universe, are central to the preoccupations and realizations of the comprehensive designer. The concept of relativity involves high frequency of re-established awareness, and progressively integrating consideration of the respective, and also integrated dynamic complexities of the moving and transforming frame of reference and of the integrated dynamic complexities of the observed, as well as of the series of integrated sub-dynamic complexities, in respect to each of the major categories of the relatively moving frames of reference, of the observer and the observed. It also involves constant reference of all the reciprocating sub-sets to the comprehensive totality of non-simultaneous universe, from which naught may be lost.
    • "The Designers and the Politicians" (1962), later published in Ideas and Integrities : A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure (1969), p. 234, and The Buckminster Fuller Reader (1970), p. 305
  • God, to me, it seems
    is a verb,
    not a noun,
    proper or improper.
    • No More Secondhand God (1963)
  • on first priority
    in design consideration
    is the full realization
    of individual potential
    in order to reach the second derivative — full realization for all individuals
    • No More Secondhand God (1963)
  • Nature never "fails." Nature complies with its own laws. Nature is the law. When Man lacks understanding of Nature's laws and a Man-contrived structure buckles unexpectedly, it does not fail. It only demonstrates that Man did not understand Nature's laws and behaviors. Nothing failed. Man's knowledge or estimating was inadequate.
    • In "How Little I Know", in Saturday Review (12 Nov 1966), 152. Excerpted in Buckminster Fuller and Answar Dil, Humans in Universe (1983), 31.
  • We speak erroneously of "artificial" materials, "synthetics", and so forth. The basis for this erroneous terminology is the notion that Nature has made certain things which we call natural, and everything else is "man-made", ergo artificial. But what one learns in chemistry is that Nature wrote all the rules of structuring; man does not invent chemical structuring rules; he only discovers the rules. All the chemist can do is find out what Nature permits, and any substances that are thus developed or discovered are inherently natural. It is very important to remember that.
    • "The Comprehensive Man", Ideas and Integrities: A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure (1963), 75-76.
  • One of my working assumptions which has been proven successful so often as seemingly to qualify it as a reliable tenet is that A problem adequately stated is a problem solved theoretically and immediately, and therefore subsequently to be solved, realistically. Others have probably stated the principle in many ways. The assumption is that the inevitability of a solution's realization is inherent in the interaction of human intellect and the constantly transformative evolution of physical universe. At first the, only subconsciously apprehended, approaching confluences of complex events make themselves known intuitively within the intellectual weather. Then comes a gradually awakening consciousness of the presence of new families of differentiating-out challenging concepts of every day prominence. It is with these randomly patterning families of separate concepts that evolution is about to deal integratively. As a now specific unitary problem it may be disposed of effectively when and if that unified problem becomes "adequately stated" and thereby comprehensibly solvable.
  • Thinking is a momentary dismissal of irrelevancies.
    • Utopia or Oblivion: The Prospects of Humanity (1969)

Presentation to U.S. Congressional Sub-Committee on World Game (1969)[edit]

R. Buckminster Fuller's Presentation to U.S. Congressional Sub-Committee on World Game 4 March 1969
  • All those who have attained high scholarly capability assure us that real education is self-education. They also say that this self-disciplining is most often inspired by great teachers who make it seem apparent that it will be excitingly worthwhile to take the trouble to bring one self to apprehend and then comprehend variously pertinent data, phenomena and derived principles. The intimate manuscript records of many great self-educated individuals show that they discern intuitively when and what it is that they want to learn... Preamble
  • I am certain that none of the world’s problems-which we are all perforce thinking about today-have any hope of solution except through all of world around society’s individuals becoming thoroughly and comprehensively self-educated. Only thereby will society be able to identify, and inter-communicate the vital problems of total world society. Only thereafter may humanity sort out and put those problems into order of importance for solution in respect to the most fundamental principles governing man’s survival and enjoyment of life on Earth. Preamble

Memorandum To: All those inquiring about or concerned with the World Game

  • The World Game is a precisely defined design science process for arriving at economic, technological and social insights pertinent to humanity’s future involvement aboard our planet Earth. The processes consist of mathematical procedures not only as incisive and complex as those involved in celestial navigation, or astro-ballistics, or the space program, but even more so-for, in addition to all the variables common to those sciences and The World Game, the latter involves also all the variables governing the planning of the programs of the industrialization of both Russia and China....The World Game is seven times more complex than China’s quarter century industrialization and thirty-five times more complex than was Russia’s industrialization problem. The World Game must find the specific means of making five billion humans a total economic and physical success at the earliest possible moment without anyone being advantaged at the expense of another.
  • The World Game deals in all the terrestrially available quantities of the 92 regenerative chemical elements and all of their isotopes. It deals with all that man has learned in all history regarding the generalized principles operative in the physical universe and all the vast ramifications of technology, industrialization, the behavioral sciences, ecology, et al... The World Game is as meticulously geared to priority scheduling of “first things first” as is the gestation of a human being, or as is the gestation of any of the most scientifically implemented procedures of humanity’s sometimes vast undertakings, such as world wars or moon landings.
  • Unfortunately, in the past, man has applied his vast resources and his most incisive capabilities only to the waging of great wars-, or in preparation for such warring-the space programs having been undertaken by all nations strictly on the basis of the wartime advantages to be gained by... spying and astro-ballistics
  • While all the foregoing seems far too formidable to be coped with by an individual or cooperative groups of individuals, operating entirely outside the great national sovereignty establishments I was able, in 1927, to realize that these great capabilities could be mounted to all humanity’s advantage if adequate economic support were mustered. 'What struck me profoundly at that time was that man’s greatest productive and scientifically informed capability was being focused only on war simply because all the governments in the world were convinced that Earth could not sustain the lives of the many humans that were born on the planet and, in fact, could sustain but a minority. The great sovereign powers’ world struggle game was that of “musical chairs” to decide, by warfaring at its ever most modernly lethal, who would be the fortunate ones to survive.

What I Am Trying to Do

  • Acutely aware of our beings’ limitations and acknowledging the infinite mystery of the a priori universe into which we are born but nevertheless searching for a conscious means of hopefuily competent participation by humanity in its own evolutionary trending while employing only the unique advantages inhering exclusively to. the individual who takes and maintains the economic initiative in the face of the formidable physical capital and credit advantages of the massive corporations and political states and deliberately avoiding political ties and tactics while endeavoring by experiments and explorations to excite individuals’ awareness and realization of humanity’s higher potentials.
  • I seek through comprehensive anticipatory design science and its reductions to physical practices to reform the environment instead of trying to reform men being intent thereby to accomplish proto-typed capabilities of doing more with less whereby in turn the wealth augmenting prospects of such design science regenerations will induce their spontaneous and economically successful industrial proliferation by world around services’ managements all of which chain reaction provoking events permit and induce all humanity to realize full lasting economic and physical success plus enjoyment of all the Earth without one individual interfering with or being advantaged at the expense of another.

Buckminster Fuller’s Presentation to U.S. Congressional Sub-Committee on World Game

  • We are not going to be able to operate our spaceship earth successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common It has to be everybody or nobody. It is very encouraging therefore that you as representatives of the people see tit to bring us together to consider these matters
  • I have been a visitor at 320 universities and colleges around the world and always have asked those university audiences “How many of you are familiar with the word ‘synergy’?” I can say authoritatively that less than 10 percent of university audiences and less than 1 percent of non-university audiences are familiar with the word and meaning of synergy. Synergy is not a popular word. The word synergy is a companion to the word “energy.” Energy and synergy. The prefix “syn” of synthesis meaning “with, to integrate” and the “en” of energy means “separating out ”. Man is very familiar with energy, he has learned to separate out, or isolate certain behaviors of total nature and thus has become familiar with many of the separate natural behaviors such as optics.
  • Synergy is to energy as integration is to differentiation. The word “synergy” means “Behavior of whole systems unpredicted by behavior of any of the systems parts.” Nature is comprehensively synergetic. Since synergy is the only word having that meaning and we have proven experimentally that it is not used by the public, we may conclude that society does not understand nature
  • I find all of our world society is operating exclusively in parts. We know this because the word synergy is unknown popularly and it is the only word that means “behavior of wholes unpredicted by behavior of their parts.” This proves that society does not even think that it has a need for such a word. This discloses that society does not think that there are behaviors of wholes unpredicted by the parts. It thinks statistics and probability are all that we need but if “probability” and “statistics” were of any power at all we could not have a stock market or gambling for we would know exactly how things are coming out and no one would bet against the probability.
  • Nature is entirely synergetic and because your problems of representing a society ignorant of such fundamentals are greatly increased you need to pay great attention to learning how to comprehend synergy and thereafter how to educate all of humanity in the shortest time how to comprehend and usefully cope with omni-synergetic universe
  • I will give you one very simple example of synergy. All our metallic alloys are synergetic. We will examine chrome-nickel steel. The outstanding characteristic of metallic strength is its ability to cohere in one piece. We test the metals tensile strength per square inch of cross section of the tested sample. The very high number of pounds-per-square-inch tensile strength of chrome-nickel steel has changed our whole economy because it retained its structural integrity at so high a temperature as to make possible the jet engine which has halved the time it takes to fly around the world. The prime constituents are chromium, nickel, and iron. We will take the highest ultimate tensile strength of those three. p. 14
  • Our school systems are all nonsynergetic. We take the whole child and fractionate the scope of his or her comprehending coordination by putting the children in elementary schools—to become preoccupied with elements or isolated facts only. Thereafter we force them to choose some specialization, forcing them to forget the whole. ... We may well ask how it happened that the entire scheme of advanced education is devoted exclusively to ever narrower specialization. We find that the historical beginnings of schools and tutoring were established, and economically supported by illiterate and vastly ambitious warlords who required a wide variety of brain slaves with which to logistically and ballistically overwhelm those who opposed their expansion of physical conquest. They also simultaneously DIVIDED and CONQUERED any and all "bright ones" who might otherwise rise within their realms to threaten their supremacy. The warlord vitiated their threat by making them all specialists and reserving to himself exclusively the right to think about and act comprehensively. The warlord made all those about him differentiators and reserved the function of integration to himself. p. 15
  • SPACESHIP EARTH: Earth is an automated Spaceship speeding rotatively at 66,000 miles per hour around the sun, which in turn, is on its own course at 6.0 kilometers per second within the Galactic Nebula. The awareness of Earth's mobile patterning within the cosmos gives the perspective needed to deal with the overall evolutionary event-patterning aboard our spherical space-vehicle Earth, rather than the minute details. The automated events transpiring aboard Earth lend powerful advantages to those who comprehend the automation and attempt to work with it in the most long-term, humanly advantageous ways rather than ignorantly attempting to control or oppose it. Both Earth's and humanity's automation are biological. p. 102

I I I. Future Directions.

  • After working out scenarios for satisfying what we considered the two most vital bare maximums-external electric energy and internal food supply-we evolved into some of the possible synergetic scenarios that would result from the first moves. The establishment of bare maximum levels of the above throughout the world would engender the need for bare maximums in housing, medical attention, income, communications and travel.
  • The housing scenario we were working on clearly showed the inadequacy of our present system. At the present rate, the use of metals in housing would prove to be totally insufficient. Engendered materials such as plastics will have to be developed if we are to solve mankind’s housing needs. The housing scenario encompassed more than just the shelter needs of the world. As it evolved we saw that it would encompass communications and mobility... As a total service facility, the housing needs would encompass not only shelter but communications-with its own resultant education, medical information and attention, personal telephone contact with anyone, anywhere, and mobility with anyone going anywhere. These would be accomplished via closed-circuit television and telephone to a world central medical, educational, and travel-routing computer system.
  • Some future directions and scenarios we touched upon were the possibilities of a world guaranteed annual income; the potential of fluidics as a source of energy; information and automation; the use of heat pollution from thermal electric plants to heat soil to improve crop output; the efficiency-gain by using gasoline or alcohol to run electric power plants and electricity to run cars; the production of alcohol from algae, farm wastes, or garbage and its substitution for gasoline in present-day combustion engines; the laser beam transmission of power and information; the amount of reinvestable time that will be available to mankind as a result of freeing him from the drudgery of having to earn a living (by bringing man to the bare maximum food and energy levels by the year 2000 we will have trillion more hours per year to reinvest into metaphysical regenerative functions); the increase of efficiency rates for power production and consumption, communication, transportation, etc., and the possible surplus and increase of efficiency through the stabilization of the population...

1970s[edit]

  • The Things to do are: the things that need doing, that you see need to be done, and that no one else seems to see need to be done. Then you will conceive your own way of doing that which needs to be done — that no one else has told you to do or how to do it. This will bring out the real you that often gets buried inside a character that has acquired a superficial array of behaviors induced or imposed by others on the individual.
    • Letter to "Micheal" (16 February 1970), Micheal was a 10 year old boy who had inquired in a letter as to whether Fuller was a "doer" or a "thinker".
  • We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.
  • I live on Earth at present, and I don't know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing — a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process — an integral function of the universe.
  • Pollution is nothing but resources we're not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we've been ignorant of their value. But if we got onto a planning planning basis, the government could trap pollutants in the stacks and spillages and get back more money than this would cost out of the stockpiled chemistries they'd be collecting.
    Margaret Mead gets cross with me when I talk like this because she says people are doing some very important things because they're worried and excited and I'm going to make them relax and stop doing those things. But we're dealing with something much bigger than we're accustomed to understanding, we're on a very large course indeed. You speak of racism, for example, and I tell you that there's no such thing as race. The point is that racism is the product of tribalism and ignorance and both are falling victim to communications and world-around literacy.
  • I am convinced all of humanity is born with more gifts than we know. Most are born geniuses and just get de-geniused rapidly.
    • Statement made in 1974, quoted in People magazine. In Thomas T. K. Zung, "Buckminster Fuller: Anthology for the New Millenium" (2002), 174.
  • I seek through comprehensive anticipatory design science and its reductions to physical practices to reform the environment instead of trying to reform humans, being intent thereby to accomplish prototyped capabilities of doing more with less...
    • Earth, Inc. (1973) ISBN 0-385-01825-8 This is just part of a very long sentence that covers the whole first page, but in this part of the quote, the intention of the entire book is stated.
  • It seems to demonstrate that periods of industrial activity in technical syntheses of principles, data, free energy and energy as "matter," find highest employment by the fear-amassed credits of warfare. Therefore the assumption approaches fact that war promotes the major technical advances of civilization... What has not been clear is that the potential of this emergency-born technology has always accrued to human's prewar individual initiatives taken in a humble but irrepressible progression of assumptions, measurements, deductions, and codifications of pure science.
    • Earth, Inc. (1973) In this passage, Fuller begins to explain why technological progress seems to make great gains in war time and states his view that this is a reflection of advances mainly made in peacetime — wars simply force nations to take notice of their advances in the pure science and then they apply those advances to the war effort. Later in the book Fuller will explain why he thinks war is not necessary to bring advances in the pure sciences into actual production. He uses this to advance the notion that humans can very comfortably live at a high standard of living by "doing more with less."
  • Up to the Twentieth Century, reality was everything humans could touch, smell, see, and hear. Since the initial publication of the chart of the electromagnetic spectrum, humans have learned that what they can touch, smell, see, and hear is less than one-millionth of reality. Ninety-nine percent of all that is going to affect our tomorrows is being developed by humans using instruments and working in ranges of reality that are nonhumanly sensible.
    • R. Buckminster Fuller on Education (1979), p. 130

Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (1975)[edit]

Full text online
Moral of the work[edit]
  • Dare to be naïve.
    • p. xix
  • It is one of our most exciting discoveries that local discovery leads to a complex of further discoveries. Corollary to this we find that we no sooner get a problem solved than we are overwhelmed with a multiplicity of additional problems in a most beautiful payoff of heretofore unknown, previously unrecognized, and as-yet unsolved problems.
  • Each age is characterized by its own astronomical myriads of new, special-case experiences and problems to be stored in freshly born optimum capacity human brains — which storages in turn may disclose to human minds the presence of heretofore undiscovered, unsuspectedly existent eternal generalized principles.
The Wellspring of Reality[edit]
  • We are in an age that assumes the narrowing trends of specialization to be logical, natural, and desirable. Consequently, society expects all earnestly responsible communication to be crisply brief. . . . In the meantime, humanity has been deprived of comprehensive understanding. Specialization has bred feelings of isolation, futility, and confusion in individuals. It has also resulted in the individual's leaving responsibility for thinking and social action to others. Specialization breeds biases that ultimately aggregate as international and ideological discord, which, in turn, leads to war.
  • Lack of knowledge concerning all the factors and the failure to include them in our integral imposes false conclusions.
  • There is an inherently minimum set of essential concepts and current information, cognizance of which could lead to our operating our planet Earth to the lasting satisfaction and health of all humanity.
  • We must start with scientific fundamentals, and that means with the data of experiments and not with assumed axioms predicated only upon the misleading nature of that which only superficially seems to be obvious. It is the consensus of great scientists that science is the attempt to set in order the facts of experience.
  • The word generalization in literature usually means covering too much territory too thinly to be persuasive, let alone convincing. In science, however, a generalization means a principle that has been found to hold true in every special case. ... The principle of leverage is a scientific generalization.
  • Quite clearly, our task is predominantly metaphysical, for it is how to get all of humanity to educate itself swiftly enough to generate spontaneous social behaviors that will avoid extinction.
  • The physical is inherently entropic, giving off energy in ever more disorderly ways. The metaphysical is antientropic, methodically marshalling energy. Life is antientropic. It is spontaneously inquisitive. It sorts out and endeavors to understand.
  • We are now synergetically forced to conclude that all phenomena are metaphysical; wherefore, as many have long suspected — like it or not — "life is but a dream."
  • The wellspring of reality is the family of weightless generalized principles.
  • It is essential to release humanity from the false fixations of yesterday, which seem now to bind it to a rationale of action leading only to extinction.
  • The youth of humanity all around our planet are intuitively revolting from all sovereignties and political ideologies. The youth of Earth are moving intuitively toward an utterly classless, raceless, omnicooperative, omniworld humanity. Children freed of the ignorantly founded educational traditions and exposed only to their spontaneously summoned, computer-stored and -distributed outflow of reliable-opinion-purged, experimentally verified data, shall indeed lead society to its happy egress from all misinformedly conceived, fearfully and legally imposed, and physically enforced customs of yesterday. They can lead all humanity into omnisuccessful survival as well as entrance into an utterly new era of human experience in an as-yet and ever-will-be fundamentally mysterious Universe.
"Synergy" onwards[edit]
Selected quotes from the chapter on Synergy onwards...
  • Gravity is the inwardly cohering force acting integratively on all systems. Radiation is the outwardly disintegrating force acting divisively upon all systems.
  • Synergy means behavior of whole systems unpredicted by the behavior of their parts taken separately.
  • Synergy means behavior of integral, aggregate, whole systems unpredicted by behaviors of any of their components or subassemblies of their components taken separately from the whole.
  • There is nothing that a single massive sphere will or can ever do by itself that says it will both exert and yield attractively with a neighboring massive sphere and that it yields progressively: every time the distance between the two is halved, the attraction will be fourfolded. This unpredicted, only mutual behavior is synergy.
  • The words synergy (syn-ergy) and energy (en-ergy) are companions. Energy studies are familiar. Energy relates to differentiating out subfunctions of nature, studying objects isolated out of the whole complex of Universe—for instance, studying soil minerals without consideration of hydraulics or of plant genetics. But synergy represents the integrated behaviors instead of all the differentiated behaviors of nature's galaxy systems and galaxy of galaxies.
  • We take one tetrahedron and associate it with another tetrahedron. Each of the two tetrahedra has four faces, four vertexes, and six edges. We interlock the two tetrahedra, as illustrated, so that they have a common center of gravity and their two sets of four vertexes each provide eight vertexes for the corners of a cube. They are interpositioned so that the vertexes are evenly spaced from each other in a symmetrical arrangement as a structurally stable cube. Each of those vertexes was an energy star. Instead of two separate tetrahedra of four stars and four stars we now have eight stars symmetrically equidistant from the same center. All the stars are nearer to each other. There are eight stars in the heavens instead of four. Not only that, but each star now has three stars nearer to it than the old stars used to be. The stars therefore interattract one another gravitationally in terms of the second power of their relative proximity—in accordance with Newton's law of gravity. As the masses are getting closer to each other, synergy is increasing their power of interattraction very rapidly.
  • Critical proximity occurs where there is angular transition from "falling back in" at 180-degree to 90-degree orbiting—which is precession. (Gravity may be described as "falling back in" at 180 degrees.) The quantity of energy that ceased to "fall in" is the system's entropy. Critical proximity is when it starts either "falling in" or going into orbit, which is the point where either entropy or antientropy begins. An aggregate of "falling ins" is a body. What we call an object or an entity is always an aggregate of interattracted entities; it is never a solid. And the critical proximity transition from being an aggregate entity to being a plurality of separate entities is precession, which is a "peeling off" into orbit rather than falling back in to the original entity aggregate. This explains entropy intimately.
  • There are progressive degrees of synergy, called synergy-of-synergies, which are complexes of behavior aggregates holistically unpredicted by the separate behaviors of any of their subcomplex components. Any subcomplex aggregate is only a component aggregation of an even greater event aggregation whose comprehensive behaviors are never predicted by the component aggregates alone. There is a synergetic progression in Universe—a hierarchy of total complex behaviors entirely unpredicted by their successive subcomplexes' behaviors. It is manifest that Universe is the maximum synergy-of-synergies, being utterly unpredicted by any of its parts.
  • The explicable requires the inexplicable. Experience requires the nonexperienceable. The obvious requires the mystical. This is a powerful group of paired concepts generated by the complementarity of conceptuality.
  • A pattern has an integrity independent of the medium by virtue of which you have received the information that it exists. Each of the chemical elements is a pattern integrity. Each individual is a pattern integrity. The pattern integrity of the human individual is evolutionary and not static.
  • The eternal is omniembracing and permeative; and the temporal is linear. This opens up a very high order of generalizations of generalizations. The truth could not be more omni-important, although it is often manifestly operative only as a linear identification of a special-case experience on a specialized subject.
  • All the categories of creatures act individually as special-case and may be linearly analyzed; retrospectively, it is discoverable that inadvertently they are all interaffecting one another synergetically as a spherical, interprecessionally regenerative, tensegrity spherical integrity. Geodesic spheres demonstrate the compressionally discontinuous--tensionally continuous integrity. Ecology is tensegrity geodesic spherical programming.
  • Truth is cosmically total: synergetic. Verities are generalized principles stated in semimetaphorical terms. Verities are differentiable. But love is omniembracing, omnicoherent, and omni-inclusive, with no exceptions. Love, like synergetics, is nondifferentiable, i.e., is integral.
  • The highest of generalizations is the synergetic integration of truth and love.
Afterpiece[edit]
  • We evolute toward ever lesser brain comprehension lags — ergo, toward ever diminishing error; ergo, ever diminishing misunderstandings; ergo, ever diminishing fear, and its brain-lagging painful errors of objectivity; wherefore we approach eternal instantaneity of absolute and total comprehension. The eternal instantaneity of no lag at all. However, we have now learned from our generalizations of the great complexity of the interactions of principles as we are disembarrassed of our local, exclusively physical chemistry of information-sensing devices — that what is approached is eternal and instant awareness of absolute reality of all that ever existed. All the great metaphysical integrity of all the individuals, which is potential and inherent in the complex interactions of generalized principles, will always and only coexist eternally.

From 1980s onwards[edit]

CALL ME TRIMTAB
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
  • CALL ME TRIMTAB
    • Inscription on his headstone. On a ship the trimtab is a small but crucial part of a the rudder mechanism, which controls the direction of the vessel; on an aircraft it is a small adjustable tab on the trailing edge of the elevator control surface set by the pilot to trim the aircraft in a steady and level orientation. This use for his epitaph comes from statements he had made in life, including an interview with Barry Farrell in Playboy (February 1972):
Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary — the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there's a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trimtab.
It's a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trimtab. Society thinks it's going right by you, that it's left you altogether. But if you're doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go.
So I said, call me Trimtab.
He is also quoted at the Buckminster Fuller Institute as having said:
When I thought about steering the course of the "Spaceship Earth" and all of humanity, I saw most people trying to turn the boat by pushing the bow around.
I saw that by being all the way at the tail of the ship, by just kicking my foot to one side or the other, I could create the "low pressure" which would turn the whole ship. If ever someone wanted to write my epitaph, I would want it to say "Call me Trimtab".
  • Politicians are always realistically maneuvering for the next election. They are obsolete as fundamental problem-solvers.
    • As quoted in Synergetics Dictionary : The Mind of Buckminster Fuller (1986) by E. J. Applewhite
  • You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
    • As quoted in Beyond Civilization : Humanity's Next Great Adventure (1999), by Daniel Quinn, p. 137
  • The Universe consists of non-simultaneously apprehended events.
    • As quoted by Robert Anton Wilson in Maybe Logic - The Lives and Ideas of Robert Anton Wilson (2003)
  • Realistic thinking accrues only after mistake making, which is the cosmic wisdom's most cogent way of teaching each of us how to carry on.
    • In Buckminster Fuller and Answar Dil, Humans in Universe (1983), 218.

Norie Huddle interview (1981)[edit]

If you take all the machinery in the world and dump it in the ocean, within months more than half of all humanity will die and within another six months they'd almost all be gone; if you took all the politicians in the world, put them in a rocket, and sent them to the moon, everyone would get along fine.
Internet Archive: "Norie Huddle Interview with Buckminster Fuller – Spring 1981" at Golden Butterfly Productions
  • Humanity is moving ever deeper into a crisis which has no precedent. It is a crisis brought about by evolution being intent on completely integrating differently colored, differently cultured, and intercommunicating humanity, and by evolution being intent on making integrated humanity able to live sustainedly at a higher standard of living for all than has ever been experienced by any. Probably ninety-nine percent of humanity does not know that we have the option to make it ; we do. It can only be accomplished, however, through a Design Science Revolution.
    Those in supreme power, politically and economically, aren't yet convinced that our Planet Earth has anywhere nearly enough life support for all humanity.
    They assume it has to be either you or me, that there is not enough for both. Those with financial advantage reason that selfishness is necessary and fortify themselves even further.
  • Neither the great political or financial powers of the world nor the population in general realize that the engineering-chemical-electronic revolution now makes it possible to produce many more technical devices with ever less material. We can now take care of everybody at a higher standard of living than anybody has ever known. It does not have to be "you or me," so selfishness is unnecessary and war is obsolete. This has never been done before. Only twelve years ago technology reached the point where this could be done. Since then it has made it ever so much easier to do.
  • This is not a visible revolution and it is not political. You're dealing with the invisible world of technology.
    Politics is absolutely hopeless. That's why everything has gone wrong. You have ninety-nine percent of the people thinking "politics," and hollering and yelling. And that won't get you anywhere. Hollering and yelling won't get you across the English Channel. It won't reach from continent to continent; you need electronics for that, and you have to know what you're doing. Evolution has been at work doing all these things so it is now possible. Nobody has consciously been doing it. The universe is a lot bigger than you and me. We didn't invent it. If you take all the machinery in the world and dump it in the ocean, within months more than half of all humanity will die and within another six months they'd almost all be gone; if you took all the politicians in the world, put them in a rocket, and sent them to the moon, everyone would get along fine.
  • There is more recognition now that things are changing, but not because there is a political move to do it. It is simply a result of the information being there. Our survival won't depend on political or economic systems. It's going to depend on the courage of the individual to speak the truth, and to speak it lovingly and not destructively. It's saying what you really know and feel is the truth, in all directions. Our greatest vulnerability lies in the amount of misinformation and misconditioning of humanity. I've found the educations systems are full of it. You have to examine each word and ask yourself, "Is that the right word for that?" — the integrity and the courage of the individual to speak his own truth and not to go along with the crowd, yet not making others seem ignorant. After a while, if enough human beings are doing it, then everybody will start going in the right direction.
  • We're not just dealing in willingness. Humanity has to qualify to survive. You have to have some confidence. We're all born naked, with no external equipment and no experience. Therefore we're terribly ignorant. We're hungry and thirsty, driven to find food by trial and error. So we're designed to live by trial and error. Don't worry about making mistakes. Study your mistakes; admit them, study them, and be terribly excited about them too. If this isn't true, what is true?
  • There's a built-in resistance to letting humanity be a success. Each one claims that their system is the best one for coping with inadequacy. We have to make them all obsolete. We need to find within technology that there is something we can do which is capable of taking care of everybody, and to demonstrate that this is so. That's what geodesic domes are about and that's what my whole life has been about.Don't fight forces, use them.

Critical Path (1981)[edit]

(full text online)
A summing up of Fuller's views and outlooks on the prospects for human survival and progress; one of his more accessible works, and the only major work currently in print. Full text online ISBN 0312174918
  • "Those whom God hath joined together let no one put asunder." To Anne Hewlett Fuller on this, our 63rd Wedding Anniversary and my 85 Birthday—July 12, 1980
  • Are you spontaneously enthusiastic about everyone having everything you can have?
  • There is no joy equal to that of being able to work for all humanity and doing what you're doing well.
  • What humans have spontaneously identified as good and bad — or as positive and negative — are evolutionary complementations in need of more accurate identifications.
  • It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a 'higher standard of living than any have ever known.' It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary and henceforth unrationalizable as mandated by survival... It is a matter of converting the high technology from weaponry to livingry.
  • Neither the great political and financial power structures of the world, nor the specialization-blinded professionals, nor the population in general realize... that it is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary and henceforth unrationalizable as mandated by survival.
  • War is obsolete. It could never have been done before. Only ten years ago... technology reached the point where it could be done. Since then the invisible technological-capability revolution has made it ever easier so to do.
  • It is a matter of converting the high technology from weaponry to livingry. The essence of livingry is human-life advantaging and environment controlling. With the highest aeronautical and engineering facilities of the world redirected from weaponry to livingry production, all humanity would have the option of becoming enduringly successful.
  • All previous revolutions have been political—in them the have-not majority has attempted revengefully to pull down the economically advantaged minority. If realized, this historically greatest design revolution will joyously elevate all humanity to unprecedented heights.
  • This book is written with the conviction that there are no "good" or "bad" people, no matter how offensive or eccentric to society they may seem. . . You and I didn't design people. God designed people. What I am trying to do is to discover why God included humans in Universe.
  • All of humanity is in peril of extinction if each one of us does not dare, now and henceforth, always to tell only the truth, and all the truth, and to do so promptly — right now.
  • I am convinced that human continuance depends entirely upon: the intuitive wisdom of each and every individual . . . the individual's integrity of speaking and acting only on the individual's own within-self-intuited and reasoned initiative . . . the individual's never joining action with others as motivated only by crowd-engendered-emotionalism, or a sense of the crowd's power to overwhelm, or in fear of holding to the course indicated by one's own intellectual convictions.
  • Whether it is to be Utopia or Oblivion will be a touch-and-go relay race right up to the final moment. . . . Humanity is in 'final exam' as to whether or not it qualifies for continuance in Universe
  • The nearest each of us can come to God is by loving the truth.
  • It is the integrity of each individual human that is in final examination. On personal integrity hangs humanity's fate. You can deceive others, you can deceive your brain-self, but you can't deceive your mind-self — for mind deals only in the discovery of truth and the interrelationship of all truths. The cosmic laws with which mind deals are noncorruptible. Cosmic evolution is omniscient God comprehensively articulate.
  • Humans have always unknowingly affected all Universe by every act and thought they articulate or even consider. . . . Realistic, comprehensively responsible, omni-system-considerate, unselfish thinking on the part of humans does absolutely affect human destiny.
  • There are no solids. There are no things. There are only interfering and noninterfering patterns operative in pure principle, and principles are eternal. Principles never contradict principles. . . . The synergetic integral of the totality of principles is God, whose sum-total behavior in pure principle is beyond our comprehension and is utterly mysterious to us, because as humans — in pure principle — we do not and never will know all the principles.
  • Love is metaphysical gravity.
  • The effective decisions can only be made by the independently thinking and adequately informed human individuals and their telepathically intercommunicated wisdom--the wisdom of the majority of all such human individuals--qualifying for continuance in Universe as local cosmic problem-solvers--in love with the truth and in individually spontaneous self-commitment to absolute faith in the wisdom, integrity, and love of God, who seems to wish Earthian humans to survive.
  • World Game finds that 60 percent of all the jobs in the U.S.A. are not producing any real wealth—i.e., real life support. They are in fear-underwriting industries or are checking-on-other-checkers, etc.
  • You have to decide whether you want to make money or make sense, because the two are mutually exclusive.
    • Pg. 226
  • It seemed that the time would come evolutionarily when humans might have acquired enough knowledge of generalized principles to permit a graduation from class-two (entropically selfish) evolution into class-one (syntropically cooperative) evolution, thereafter making all the right moves for all the right reasons.
    • Pg. 246

Buckminster Fuller Talks Politics (1982)[edit]

(Full text online)

  • Politics is policy. What policy should you follow in view of the idea that there isn't enough to go around — the power of the few, or the needs of the many? Political economy is based on misassumptions...
  • That's the basis of all politics: it has to be you or me, there's not enough for both of us. Survival of the fittest.
  • But we can do so much now, with so little, that we can take care of everybody. That's why the idea of scarcity is all wrong.
  • Up to now, the world of politics doesn't know that. That's why all nations are dependent on armaments, why we have the arms race.
  • The politicians still say that it's you or me, and that's why they go for the gun.
  • The young world is giving up any interest in their political system. They have decided that it is absolutely corrupt.
  • There is so much stupid information, misinformation around. You can't really get anywhere until you get out from under all that.
  • Science... the ways it does its calculating that approximately nobody going in at a basic level can gain any sense of the whole.
  • Critical Path is a way to dig yourself out from all that misinformation.
  • But it can hardly be read in a week. It takes some study.
  • Max Planck says, "The opposition never yields; they just die off." It's just a question of time. They are dying off.
  • The giants are the supra-national corporations. The book (Grunch of Giants) is about how evolution must cope with them.
  • They are not multi-national, but supra-national — above nations. They don't need any passports. They can go in and out of countries without permission from anyone.

Grunch of Giants (1983)[edit]

Full text online


  • I was convinced in 1927 that humanity's most fundamental survival problems could never be solved by politics.
  • I set about fifty-five years ago (1927) to see what a penniless, unknown human individual with a dependent wife and newborn child might be able to do effectively on behalf of all humanity...
  • I do not look upon human beings as good or bad. I don't think of my feet as a right foot and a wrong foot. ... I am a student of the effectiveness of the technological evolution in its all unexpected alterations of the preoccupations of humanity and in its all unexpected alterings of human behaviors and prospects.
  • I do know that technologically humanity now has the opportunity, for the first time in its history, to operate our planet in such a manner as to support and accommodate all humanity at a substantially more advanced standard of living than any humans have ever experienced.

  • Humanity is now experiencing history's most difficult evolutionary transformation.
  • The new human networks' emergence represents the natural evolutionary expansion into the just completed, thirty-years-in-its-buildings world-embracing, physical communications network. The new reorienting of human networking constitutes the heart-and-mind-pumped flow of life and intellect into the world arteries.
  • When blimp photographs are taken of giant stadia packed full of rock-concert or football fans, we get an idea of what 100,000 people look like. We all think of Hiroshima as the worst single killing of humans by humans. That was about a 75,000-capacity-coliseum-full. Each day of each year, year after year, a 75,000-capacity-stadiumfull of around-the-world humans perish from starvation or its side effects, despite an annual average 5-percent world food-production overage of the amount of food adequate for the total world's population. This daily kill of innocents dwarfs the awful Auschwitz killing.
  • Corporations are neither physical nor metaphysical phenomena. They are socioeconomic ploys — legally enacted game-playing — agreed upon only between overwhelmingly powerful socioeconomic individuals and by them imposed upon human society and its all unwitting members.
  • I have been a deliberate half-century-fused inciter of a cool-headed, natural, gestation-rate-paced revolution, armed with physically demonstrable livingry levers with which altogether to elevate all humanity to realization of an inherently sustainable, satisfactory-to-all, ever higher standard of living. Critical threshold-crossing of the inevitable revolution is already underway.

Only Integrity is Going to Count (1983)[edit]

Interview (26 February 1983)


  • We are here as local information harvesters, local problem-solvers in support of the integrity of eternally regenerative Universe. The fact that we get away from physical problems doesn't mean we go away from problems. The problems are really rarely physical.
  • I find people only listen to you when they ask you to talk to them.
  • The question of integrity will get finer and finer and more delicate and more beautiful.
  • I find the audiences very excited. But then they come and say to me, "Your optimism has brushed off on me. I didn't know we had an option. I feel so much better." They say, "Your optimism." And I am not optimistic or pessimistic. I feel that optimism and pessimism are very unbalanced. I am a very hard engineer. I am a mechanic. I am a sailor. I am an air pilot. I don't tell people I can get you across the ocean with my ship unless I know what I'm talking about.
  • I think it's absolutely touch-and-go whether we're going to make it. But the point is, for me to tell you that you have an option is not to be optimistic... Time and again, of course I am running into millions who don't know we have the option, because it's invisible, and I feel I have tremendous responsibility. So when people ask me to come and talk to them, I do my best to let them know they do have the option. Of course they're pessimistic, not knowing that.
  • The courage to cooperate or initiate are based entirely on the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth as the divine mind within you tells you the truth is. It really does require a courage and a self-disciplining to go along with that truth.
  • I never try to tell anybody else what to do, number one. And number two, I think that's what the individual is all about. Each one of us has something to contribute. This really depends on each one doing their own thinking, but not following any kind of rule that I can give out, any command. We're all on the frontier, we're all in a great mystery — incredibly mysterious. Each one possesses exactly what each one is working out, and what each one works out relates to their particular set of circumstances of any one day, or any one place around the world.
  • I have to say, I think that we are in some kind of final examination as to whether human beings now, with this capability to acquire information and to communicate, whether we're really qualified to take on the responsibility we're designed to be entrusted with. And this is not a matter of an examination of the types of governments, nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with economic systems. It has to do with the individual. Does the individual have the courage to really go along with the truth?
  • Integrity of the individual is what we're being judged for and if we are not passing that examination, we don't really have the guts, we'll blow ourselves up. It will be all over. I think it's all the difference in the world.
  • When I was born, humanity was 95 per cent illiterate. Since I've been born, the population has doubled and that total population is now 65 per cent literate. That's a gain of 130-fold of the literacy. When humanity is primarily illiterate, it needs leaders to understand and get the information and deal with it. When we are at the point where the majority of humans them-selves are literate, able to get the information, we're in an entirely new relationship to Universe. We are at the point where the integrity of the individual counts and not what the political leadership or the religious leadership says to do.

Cosmography (1992)[edit]

Cosmography : A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity
  • The dark ages still reign over all humanity, and the depth and persistence of this domination are only now becoming clear.
    This Dark Ages prison has no steel bars, chains, or locks. Instead, it is locked by misorientation and built of misinformation.
    Caught up in a plethora of conditioned reflexes and driven by the human ego, both warden and prisoner attempt meagerly to compete with God. All are intractably skeptical of what they do not understand.
    We are powerfully imprisoned in these Dark Ages simply by the terms in which we have been conditioned to think.
  • Doing the right things for the wrong reasons is typical of humanity. Precession — not conscious planning — provides a productive outcome for misguided political and military campaigns. Nature's long-term design intervenes to circumvent the shortsightedness of human individuals, corporations, and nations competing for a share of the economic pie. Fundamentally, political economists misassume an inadequacy of life support to exist on our planet. Humanity therefore competes militarily to see which political system... is fittest to survive. In slavish observance of this misassumption, humans devote their most costly efforts and resources to "killingry" — a vast arsenal of weapons skillfully designed to kill ever more people at ever-greater distances in ever-shorter periods of time while employing ever-fewer pounds of material, ergs of energy, and seconds of time per killing.
  • We must progress to the stage of doing all the right things for all the right reasons instead of doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons.
  • In spite of all humans' innate interest in the interrelatedness of all experience, long ago these world-power-structure builders learned to shunt all the bright intellectuals and the physically creative into specialist careers. The powerful reserved for themselves the far easier, because innate, comprehensive functioning. All one needs to do is to discover how self-perpetuating is this disease of specialization is to witness the inter-departmental battling for educational funds and the concomitant jealous guarding of the various specializations assigned to a department's salaried experts on each subject in any university.
  • Every child has an enormous drive to demonstrate competence. If humans are not required to earn a living to be provided survival needs, many are going to want very much to be productive, but not at those tasks they did not choose to do but were forced to accept in order to earn money. Instead, humans will spontaneously take upon themselves those tasks that world society really needs to have done.
  • Dear reader, traditional human power structures and their reign of darkness are about to be rendered obsolete.


Misattributed[edit]

Quotes about Fuller[edit]

Sorted alphabetically by author or source
  • The earth, to Fuller, is a "contracting phase" of the universe, a low-pressure zone in the cosmos where energy is collected and stored. The sun's radiation warms the oceans, and the oceans feed the earth. Fuller calls processes which conserve energy aspects of "synergy", a word he relies on heavily in his discussions of the "more-with-less" technologies that will accomplish the defeat of scarcity. An example of synergetic action that Fuller is particularly fond of is the way chrome-nickel steel acquires, through chemical mating, a tensile strength greater than the sum of its components. But the highest expression of synergy is man's intuition, his ability to see comprehensive patterns in random events, which has led him from near helplessness to the point where he can now take control of his own evolution.
  • Like his great aunt Margaret, Fuller is a transcendentalist: he discerns patterns and accepts their significance on faith. His is not the burden of proof: the pattern is assumed significant unless proven otherwise. If Fuller had been burdened by the necessity of proof, he would have been too hamstrung to continue looking for significant patterns. His own biographical notes in Synergetics show us a mind that accepts information in a highly unorthodox fashion and refuses to swallow the predigested. In rejecting the predigested, Fuller has had to discover the world all by himself. It is not surprising, in fact rather reassuring, that the obvious should emerge alongside the novel, the obscure together with the useful. Posterity will have to draw the line between the mystical and the scientific, a line that will certainly have to be redrawn from time to time.
  • I have learned never to reject one of Fuller's outrageous statements without careful consideration, and even hesitated to call "Sum of angels around each vertex" in the rough manuscript a misprint. The truth has usually turned out far stranger than Buckminster Fuller!
  • Fuller ... has better claim to the title of polymath than any man since Leonardo.
    • Robert Anton Wilson, in Everything Is Under Control : Conspiracies, Cults, and Cover-Ups (1998), p. 189

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