In this very accessible volume, Fuller investigates the great challenges facing humanity. How will humanity survive? How does automation influence individualization? How can we utilize our resources more effectively to realize our potential to end poverty in this generation? The name R.
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Return to Book Page. Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth by R. In this essay on man Mr. Fuller expresses what may well be his penultimate view of the human condition. Here, in a mood at once philosophical and involved, Mr. Fuller traces man s intellectual evolution and weighs his capability for survival on this magnificent craft, this Spaceship Earth, this superbly designed sphere of almost negligible dimension in the great vastness o In this essay on man Mr.
Fuller traces man s intellectual evolution and weighs his capability for survival on this magnificent craft, this Spaceship Earth, this superbly designed sphere of almost negligible dimension in the great vastness of space. Fuller is optimistic that man will survive and, through research and development and increased industrialization, generate wealth so rapidly that he can do very great things.
But, he notes, there must be an enormous educational task successfully accomplished right now to convert man's tendency toward oblivion into a realization of his potential, to a universe-exploring advantage from this Spaceship Earth.
It has been noted that Mr. Fuller spins ideas in clusters, and clusters of his ideas generate still other clusters. The concept spaceship earth is Mr. Fuller's, and though used by Barbara Ward as the title of a work of her own the idea was acknowledged by her there as deriving from Mr. The brilliant syntheses of some fundamental Fuller principles given here makes of this book a microcosm of the Fuller system.
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More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. Feb 11, Afrah Mohammad rated it really liked it. It's not a perfect book, but it is a necessary one.
Essentially it's a compact antithesis to the specious philosophy of pseudo-individualism that overwhelmingly prevails today. Fuller definitely overextended and exaggerated a few generalizations about world history and specialization to make his theory about synergy more unified, but I think part of the exaggeration also has to do with him having to present a very urgent and complex thesis in a short space of paper. For example, I don't think Fu It's not a perfect book, but it is a necessary one.
For example, I don't think Fuller wants to throw specialization out the window completely; I think he just wants to avoid us veering toward this absolutism where we're so nearsighted that we can't see the integrated effects of what we're doing. What Fuller proposes rings faintly of Marxism but is actually the ultimate liberation ideology. Selfish economy results in constrained, lose-lose modes of achievement like "empowerment," but consciousness of the interconnectedness of the universe results in win-win liberation for everyone and extension of our productivity.
I don't agree with Fuller that resources are unlimited, but I do think this kind of structure would definitely increase what we're able to produce and how effectively it's distributed. View 1 comment. I came to this cult 'classic' in the fervent hope that it might allow me, finally, to 'get' modern environmentalism for which this is a seminal text.
Part of my subsequent lack of enthusiasm is down to style. There is no doubt that Buckminster Fuller was a genius of sorts - at least as an engineer, planner and technologist - but he writes like a 'speak your weight' machine with a propensity for creating neologistic compound words that would put German philosophy to shame.
Far from inspiring, I came to this cult 'classic' in the fervent hope that it might allow me, finally, to 'get' modern environmentalism for which this is a seminal text. Far from inspiring, the man just cannot write imaginative prose and yet his subject cries out for imagination. I am sure that he says precisely what he means but it is next to impossible to sustain an interest while being hectored by a person, no doubt kindly in intention in his way, who is egotistical to the nth degree - a 'speech-talker', as my daughter would term such types.
Still, great thoughts are only made easier, no more, by great language skills. There are many prose poets whose ideas can be distilled down to mere mystical garbage when the beauty of the formulation has passed from one ear and out of the other. Sadly, his are not such great thoughts either If persons were just units of existence with blank slates for minds, he might conceivably have a point.
But we are not and so he does not. Buckminster Fuller is a sort of monster despite all his fine aspirations for humanity. He is so, in part, because he sees us all not truly as intrinsically flawed individuals which we are and which makes us who we are at our best but as units of existence who can be made nobler by planners.
He is a planner and we are the crooked timber that must be used to fulfil the plan for our own good. Where have we heard such sentiments before? Why, from pretty well every 'great' Western ideologue and thinker whose ego has extended itself to encompass the known human universe.
Far from being ready to consider deep globalist environmentalism as opposed to human-centred localist environmentalism as a reasonable possibility for humanity, Buckminster Fuller has converted me into its sworn enemy. I now know, if there are others like him within the contemporary environmentalist movement for we can see his influence in the 'Zeitgeist Movement' and in the eco-hysteria surrounding the circle of Al Gore , that, when we ordinary humans fail to meet the needs of the Plan, whatever his personal benignity, his heirs will make old Joe Stalin look like a pussy cat as they enforce their will on a global scale - always in the interests of us and of humanity, of course.
If you are the sort of personality who would have loved dear old Karl Marx before '36, then you'll just love Buckminster Fuller today! This philosophical primitivism is a shame because there is a great deal of merit in his analysis of capitalism even if he seems loathe to be direct about his primary enemy lest he get accused of being a fellow-traveller with the equally flawed communist alternative that had divided up the world with Washington while he wrote.
He gets close to a truth in his myth of the Great Pirates the one entertaining and worthwhile section of what is otherwise a monument to the turgid but it is still not the truth.
The tale of the Great Pirates is a sound enough mythic critique of what we have inherited as of but it is about as historically plausible as pretty well every other evangelical motivating myth that has come out of the Anglo-Saxon imperium, from those of the Mormons and Madame Blavatsky to those of Margaret Murray and L. Ron Hubbbard. The history in this book is mostly just simplistic nonsense that seems to depend on the reading of a few geostrategists and very little experience of practical politics, the sort of simplistic populism, mixed with technocracy, that is standard fare when a certain type of engineer tries to make sense of human complexity and builds societies as he might build bridges.
Old political activists will know that the heart sinks when an engineer or scientist tries to apply engineering or scientific principles to knotty political problems He does make us think, to his credit, about excessive cultural specialisation and about what 'wealth' actually means to humanity. On the latter, he adopts an American populist approach that is analytically correct even if it may not be pragmatically meaningful, given where we are today.
He has also done us a service in suggesting that we are going to be more socially productive and creative if we are given more freedom to think at leisure. The science of daydreaming suggests that our mind does benefit from idling. And he did the West a great service by joining those who pointed out the effects of pollution within the capitalist world long before it was forced to the notice of Soviet planners by their bullied dissidents.
Failure to consider polluting effects was undoubtedly a major contributing factor to the fall of the Soviet Union and the discrediting of its Communist model - Buckminster Fuller's dissident voice helped the West adjust more effectively to the threat of environmental degradation.
Finally, the analysis of the way that wealth is easily created in war but not in peace is a criticism that stands today of how sovereign 'piratical' states have served the interests of their historically continuous institutions far more often than they have of their peoples.
Buckminster Fuller's somewhat stylistically suppressed righteous anger at global inequity, imperialism, elite corruption, planetary dispoliation and inefficiency leads him to some wise analytical conclusions but not to equally wise solutions. The Spaceship Earth concept is, of course, seductive, like those of Gaia or the Clash of Civilisations or the End of History, but such book-selling catch-phrases are either so general as to have no meaning for humanity unless you remove humanity from the equation altogether or are grossly simplistic when it comes to trying to decide what humanity which really means individual persons in societies and not some essentialist reified thing with one hive mind is to do next.
The truism in Spaceship Earth which we must accept is that, as a species, we sink or swim with the planet. If it dies, we die - end of story.
But there is one heck of a leap from that simple and true proposition to the determination for a planned world government of happy free people living in leisure guided by philosopher kings like our dear Buckminster Fuller. Self-appointed Platonic Guardians have not had a great record in the humanity stakes. The Buckmister Fullerenes are unlikely to be much better if they actually get their hands on any directive power. I am, for example, not an 'Earthian' but a person who happens to live on Earth.
So are you? As for his faith in computers and automation, this is a belief and nothing more. A sort of instinctive scientific progressivism that over-estimates what computers can do to model our universe and underestimates the logic of an AI displacing us as soon as it can model it better than us.
In the end, one fears that this brave new world and we are reminded of Huxley here requires the behavioural normalisation of humanity on a mass scale in order to ensure that the computers can cope with the variables! His advocacy of 'synergy' and general systems theory reminds one of nothing less than the contemporaneous Rand Corporation, the cold calculations of Hermann Kahn and the vicious number crunching of the latterly contrite Robert McNamara as he judged the success of a war by the body bags.
This is the world of American technocrats at the height of the Cold War and it is salutary to remember that the US lost the Vietnam War and that central planning ruined the Soviet Union just as it would no doubt eventually ruin the planet.
Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth
Published at the height of the cold war in a world deeply divided, it advanced the compelling perspective that we are all passengers on the same vessel, Spaceship Earth. More profoundly, we all have a shared mission -- like a baby chick must develop for ongoing survival before exhausting the limited resources of the yolk, we must develop as a civilization toward ongoing prosperity before exhausting our limited fossil fuel and elemental resources. This work went on to inspire many at the heart of the environmental and human potential movements, and the essence of its message is more vital today than ever. The work will be divided into chapters - energy, water, materials, cities, ecosystems - each will become a resource for deep sense-making that provides clarity for decision-makers, communities, individuals, and sponsors.
Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth
In this essay on man Mr. Fuller expresses what may well be his penultimate view of the human condition. Here, in a mood at once philosophical and involved, Mr. Fuller is optimistic that man will survive and, through research and development and increased industrialization, generate wealth so rapidly that he can do very great things. It has been noted that Mr. Fuller spins ideas in clusters, and clusters of his ideas generate still other clusters. The brilliant syntheses of some fundamental Fuller principles given here makes of this book a microcosm of the Fuller system.
Buckminster Fuller , first published in , following an address with a similar title given to the 50th annual convention of the American Planners Association in the Shoreham Hotel, Washington D. The book relates Earth to a spaceship flying through space. The spaceship has a finite amount of resources and cannot be resupplied. Describes how people perceive his prognostications, and the conclusion that fairly reasonable forecasts can be made of approx 25 years. The concept of the Great Pirate also emerges as the first peoples to undertake sea vessels and first sea traders.