The Physiology of the Noosphere


Excerpts from Chapter 10


  • “One of the most impressive effects of the power of collective vision which is conferred upon us by the formation of a common brain is the perception of “great slow movements,” so vast and slow that they are only observable over immense stretches of time. The currents that give birth to sidereal systems; the folds and upthrusts that form mountains and continents; the ebb and flow within the biosphere—in each case what we had supposed to be the extreme of immobility and stability is discovered to be a state of fundamental and irresistible movement…So it is with the Noosphere…I have already attempted a sort of anatomy of the major organs of the Noosphere. It remains for me to show that these separate parts, planetary in their dimensions, are not designed to remain in a state of rest. The formidable wheels turn, and in their combined action hidden forces are engendered which circulate throughout the gigantic system. What goes on around us in the human mass is not merely a flurry of disordered movement, as in a gas; something is purposefully stirring, as in a living being.”

  • “It is that the enormous surplus of free energy released by the in-folding of the Noosphere is destined by a natural evolutionary process to flow into the construction and functioning of what I have called its “Brain.” As in the case of all the organisms preceding it, but on an immense scale, humanity is in process of “cerebralizing” itself. And our proper biological course, in making use of what we call our leisure, is to devote it to a new kind of work on a higher plane: that is to say, to a general and concerted effort of vision. The Noosphere, in short, is a stupendous thinking machine.”


Excerpts from Science of the Noosphere Conversations


In a discussion about their paper, “Collective Consciousness Supported by the Web: Healthy or Toxic”, Francis Heylighen and Shima Beigi ponder such things as the nature of consciousness and the role of working memory, and relate this to how effectively the global brain has addressed the COVID pandemic.

Segment 1 Transcript


In another part of the conversation about the paper referenced above, David Sloan Wilson asks Francis and Shima to discuss the workings of collective consciousness at intermediate scales of human societies, and relate that to the problem of functional organization at the global level.

Segment 2 Transcript


In a third segment from the “Collective Consciousness Supported by the Web” discussion, Francis  and Shima  discuss factors affecting the nature of global-scale noospheric consciousness, and the challenges of defining exactly what that means.

Segment 3 Transcript


Marta Lenartowicz and David Sloan Wilson discuss two key concepts — interdependence and functional organization — that relate to how the Noosphere is forming today.

Segment 4 Transcript


Marta Lenartowicz and David Sloan Wilson discuss the role of narrative in the formation of the Noosphere, and how well the narrative of the Third Story comports with modern science. They also discuss the role of governance, and how decisions are made in the Noosphere.

Segment 5 Transcript


David Sloan Wilson asks Stuart Russell and Terry Deacon whether artificial intelligence in the Noosphere can play a similar role in human society as the autonomic nervous system plays in the human body.

Segment 6 Transcript


John Arquilla, an expert in geopolitics who is the co-inventor of the term “Noopolitik”, discusses the concept of the global commons and its role in the functioning of the Noosphere.

Segment 7 Transcript