Born in New England in 1895, Buckminster Fuller was what some call “a practical dreamer”; a visionary who functioned as a pragmatic philosopher who would prove his ideas with artifacts. His schemes often had a hallucinatory quality associated with science fiction (he even coined neologisms like “ephemeralization”), but for that same reason he always was, and has remained, fresh.

Bucky moved from one discipline to the next, and his designs focused on solving global problems such as housing, shelter, transport, education, energy, environmental destruction and poverty, for all of humankind, as he asserted. In addition to his best known artifact, the geodesic dome, Fuller had 28 patents, wrote 28 books and received 47 honorary titles.

Among the myriads of things he did, Fuller redefined the term “Universe” (always writing it with a capital U and without “the”). When he referred to this term he encompassed specialized sciences as well as our abilities and metaphysical experiences. When he uttered the word Universe he was thinking of all the latter, in addition to what the term already entails. In his own words:

Can we think of, and state adequately and incisively, what we mean by universe? For universe is, inferentially, the biggest system. If we could start with universe, we would automatically avoid leaving out any strategically critical variables. We find no record as yet of man having successfully defined the universe — scientifically and comprehensively — to include the non-simultaneous and only partially overlapping, micro-macro, always and everywhere transforming, physical and metaphysical, omni-complementary but non-identical events.

As complicated as it may sound, it basically suggests that our understanding of the cosmos is incomplete: it is reduced to its physical properties, isolated interactions, and mathematical laws, while ignoring metaphysics: that which connects and orchestrates all of the above. But nothing renders it as clear as his own multidimensional personae: Bucky spent his life working with architecture, design, geometry, engineering, science, cartography and education, and rejecting specialized titles that tried to defined him; he preferred to say that he was an “integral scientist and an anticipatory designer”. This was a warning to the world: reductionism or over-specialization (a trend that is becoming more and more popular in academic circles) is a dangerous illusion because it “separates” nature into different parts, instead of understanding it as whole system. One of his most notorious assertions was that “The whole is always greater than the sum of its parts”.

Bucky believed in humankind much more than science has ever done. His definition of Universe implies that we are capable of understanding the “relationships of eternal principles” and of applying them in support of integrity, which regenerates eternally. The Buckminster Fuller institute was created thirty years ago with the purpose of encouraging its participants into conceiving and applying transformative strategies based on Bucky’s integral system, where all disciplines converge at once and in the same place.

I didn’t set out to design a house that hung from a pole, or to manufacture a new type of automobile, invent a new system of map projection, develop geodesic domes, or Energetic-Synergetic geometry. I started with the Universe – as an organization of energy systems of which all our experiences and possible experiences are only local instances.  I could have ended up with a pair of flying slippers.

Born in New England in 1895, Buckminster Fuller was what some call “a practical dreamer”; a visionary who functioned as a pragmatic philosopher who would prove his ideas with artifacts. His schemes often had a hallucinatory quality associated with science fiction (he even coined neologisms like “ephemeralization”), but for that same reason he always was, and has remained, fresh.

Bucky moved from one discipline to the next, and his designs focused on solving global problems such as housing, shelter, transport, education, energy, environmental destruction and poverty, for all of humankind, as he asserted. In addition to his best known artifact, the geodesic dome, Fuller had 28 patents, wrote 28 books and received 47 honorary titles.

Among the myriads of things he did, Fuller redefined the term “Universe” (always writing it with a capital U and without “the”). When he referred to this term he encompassed specialized sciences as well as our abilities and metaphysical experiences. When he uttered the word Universe he was thinking of all the latter, in addition to what the term already entails. In his own words:

Can we think of, and state adequately and incisively, what we mean by universe? For universe is, inferentially, the biggest system. If we could start with universe, we would automatically avoid leaving out any strategically critical variables. We find no record as yet of man having successfully defined the universe — scientifically and comprehensively — to include the non-simultaneous and only partially overlapping, micro-macro, always and everywhere transforming, physical and metaphysical, omni-complementary but non-identical events.

As complicated as it may sound, it basically suggests that our understanding of the cosmos is incomplete: it is reduced to its physical properties, isolated interactions, and mathematical laws, while ignoring metaphysics: that which connects and orchestrates all of the above. But nothing renders it as clear as his own multidimensional personae: Bucky spent his life working with architecture, design, geometry, engineering, science, cartography and education, and rejecting specialized titles that tried to defined him; he preferred to say that he was an “integral scientist and an anticipatory designer”. This was a warning to the world: reductionism or over-specialization (a trend that is becoming more and more popular in academic circles) is a dangerous illusion because it “separates” nature into different parts, instead of understanding it as whole system. One of his most notorious assertions was that “The whole is always greater than the sum of its parts”.

Bucky believed in humankind much more than science has ever done. His definition of Universe implies that we are capable of understanding the “relationships of eternal principles” and of applying them in support of integrity, which regenerates eternally. The Buckminster Fuller institute was created thirty years ago with the purpose of encouraging its participants into conceiving and applying transformative strategies based on Bucky’s integral system, where all disciplines converge at once and in the same place.

I didn’t set out to design a house that hung from a pole, or to manufacture a new type of automobile, invent a new system of map projection, develop geodesic domes, or Energetic-Synergetic geometry. I started with the Universe – as an organization of energy systems of which all our experiences and possible experiences are only local instances.  I could have ended up with a pair of flying slippers.

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