Buckminster Fuller Quotes

Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller, 1895 – 1983

Born: 12 July 1895, Milton, Massachusetts
Died: 1 July 1983, Los Angeles, California

Fuller spent much of his youth on Bear Island in Penobscot Bay off the coast of Maine. In school he had trouble with geometry, unable to comprehend the abstractions involved but became a certified machinist and mastered sheet metal and other materials. He prepped at Milton Academy, then in 1912 he represented the fifth generation of Fullers accepted at Harvard, but probably the first to be expelled from that school. Twice. He worked in Canada as a mechanic in a textile mill, served in the US Navy in World War I, and worked in meat packing. He married Anne Hewlett in 1917 and developed the Stockade Building System for light-weight fireproof housing with Anne’s father, but the business failed. At age 32 he was bankrupt, living in low-income public housing at Chicago, his daughter had died, and he took to drink and even contemplated suicide. In 1927 he resolved to think independently and seek “ways of doing more with less to the end that all people everywhere can have more and more”. He designed the “Dymaxion house”, the “Dymaxion car”, and while teaching at Bennington College in 1945, Bucky built the first models of the geodesic dome. Not original to Fuller, he was the first to make it practical. By turns he was an inventor, architect, author, mathematician, economist, philosopher, and poet. He taught at several colleges, but mostly he thought about things and carefully logged his thinking. He was awarded 28 patents and numerous honorary doctorates. At the end of his life his wife was comatose, dying of cancer. During a visit he suddenly exclaimed “She is squeezing my hand”, he stood, had a heart attack, and died an hour later, she followed the next day. They had been married 66 years, he was 87.

Buckminster Fuller quotes:

A designer is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist.
    Buckminster Fuller

All human advances occur in the outlaw area.
    Buckminster Fuller

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.
    Buckminster Fuller – Critical Path (1981)

All sports are time control demonstrations.
    Buckminster Fuller – 4D Timelock (1928)

Are you spontaneously enthusiastic about everyone having everything you can have?
    Buckminster Fuller – Critical Path (1981)

Call intuition cosmic fishing. You feel a nibble, then you’ve got to hook the fish.
    Buckminster Fuller

Call me Trimtab
    Buckminster Fuller – Epitaph

Children are born true scientists. They spontaneously experiment and experience and reexperience again. They select, combine, and test, seeking to find order in their experiences — “which is the mostest? which is the leastest?” They smell, taste, bite, and touch; test for hardness, softness, springiness, roughness, smoothness, coldness, warmness; they heft, shake, punch, squeeze, push, crush, rub, and try to pull things apart.
    Buckminster Fuller

Dare to be naive.
    Buckminster Fuller

Dictators never invent their own opportunities.
    Buckminster Fuller

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.
    Buckminster Fuller – Cosmography: A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity (1992)

Don’t fight forces, use them.
    Buckminster Fuller – Shelter (1932)

Don’t try to make me consistent. I am learning all the time.
    Buckminster Fuller

Education by choice, with its marvelous motivating psychology of desire for truth, will make life ever cleaner and happier, more rhythmical and artistic.
    Buckminster Fuller – 4D Timelock (1928)

Either war is obsolete or men are.
    Buckminster Fuller

Every child has an enormous drive to demonstrate competence.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Cosmography: A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity (1992)

Every time man makes a new experiment he always learns more. He cannot learn less.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1963)

Every time man makes a new experiment he always learns more. He cannot learn less. He may learn that what he thought was true was not true. By the elimination of a false premise, his basic capital wealth which in his given lifetime is disembarrassed of further preoccupation with considerations of how to employ a worthless time-consuming hypothesis. Freeing his time for its more effective exploratory investment is to give man increased wealth.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1963)

Everyone is born a genius, but the process of living de-geniuses them.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Everything you’ve learned in school as “obvious” becomes less and less obvious as you begin to study the universe. For example, there are no solids in the universe. There’s not even a suggestion of a solid. There are no absolute continuums. There are no surfaces. There are no straight lines.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Faith is much better than belief. Belief is when someone else does the thinking.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Geniuses are just people who had good mothers.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

God, to me, it seems,
is a verb,
not a noun, proper or improper.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – No More Secondhand God (1963)

Gold and silver from the dead turn often into lead.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Great nations are simply the operating fronts of behind-the-scenes, vastly ambitious individuals who had become so effectively powerful because of their ability to remain invisible while operating behind the national scenery.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Human beings were given a left foot and a right foot to make a mistake first to the left, then to the right, left again and repeat.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Humanity is now experiencing history’s most difficult evolutionary transformation.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Grunch of Giants (1983)

Humans have always unknowingly affected all Universe by every act and thought they articulate or even consider.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Critical Path (1981)

I am convinced all of humanity is born with more gifts than we know. Most are born geniuses and just get de-geniused rapidly.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

I am convinced that creativity is a priori to the integrity of the universe and that life is regenerative and conformity meaningless.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

I am enthusiastic over humanity’s extraordinary and sometimes very timely ingenuity. If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top buoyant enough to keep you afloat that comes along makes a fortuitous life preserver. But this is not to say that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top. I think that we are clinging to a great many piano tops in accepting yesterday’s fortuitous contrivings as constituting the only means for solving a given problem.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

I find people only listen to you when they ask you to talk to them.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – “Only Integrity Is Going to Count” (1983)

I just invent, then wait until man comes around to needing what I’ve invented.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

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.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – I Seem to Be a Verb (1970)

I look for what needs to be done! After all, that’s how the universe designs itself.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

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.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Grunch of Giants (1983)

I was convinced in 1927 that humanity’s most fundamental survival problems could never be solved by politics.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Grunch of Giants (1983)

I’m not a genius. I’m just a tremendous bundle of experience.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

I’m not trying to counsel any of you to do anything really special except dare to think. And to dare to go with the truth. And to dare to really love completely.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

If humanity does not opt for integrity we are through completely. It is absolutely touch and go. Each one of us could make the difference.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

If you are the master be sometimes blind, if you are the servant be sometimes deaf.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Integrity is the essence of everything successful.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

It is essential that anyone reading this book know at the outset that the author is apolitical. I was convinced in 1927 that humanity’s most fundamental survival problems could never be solved by politics.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Grunch of Giants (1983)

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.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (1975)

It is not for me to change you. The question is, how can I be of service to you without diminishing your degrees of freedom?
    R. Buckminster Fuller

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.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (1975)

Let architects sing
of aesthetics that bring
   Rich clients in hordes to their knees;
Just give me a home,
in a great circle dome
   Where stresses and strains are at ease.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Life is the spirit incarnate in time.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – 4D Timelock (1928)

Love is metaphysical gravity.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Critical Path (1981)

Man knows so much and does so little.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Most of my advances were by mistake. You uncover what is when you get rid of what isn’t.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

My ideas have undergone a process of emergence by emergency. When they are needed badly enough, they are accepted.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Nature is trying very hard to make us succeed, but nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Interview (30 April 1978)

Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Ninety-nine percent of who you are is invisible and untouchable.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Of course, our failures are a consequence of many factors, but possibly one of the most important is the fact that society operates on the theory that specialization is the key to success, not realizing that specialization precludes comprehensive thinking.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1963)

One of humanity’s prime drives is to understand and be understood. All other living creatures are designed for highly specialized tasks. Man seems unique as the comprehensive comprehender and co-ordinator of local universe affairs.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1963)

Our brains deal exclusively with special-case experiences.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1963)

Parents are usually more careful to bestow knowledge on their children rather than virtue, the art of speaking well rather than doing well; but their manners should be of the greatest concern.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

People should think things out fresh and not just accept conventional terms and the conventional way of doing things.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Politicians are always realistically maneuvering for the next election. They are obsolete as fundamental problem-solvers.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we’ve been ignorant of their value.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

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.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (1975)

Rashness is the faithful, but unhappy parent of misfortune.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

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.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – “The Designers and the Politicians” (1962)

Search others for their virtue, and yourself for your vices.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Sometimes I think we’re alone. Sometimes I think we’re not. In either case, the thought is staggering.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Specialization breeds biases that ultimately aggregate as international and ideological discord, which, in turn, leads to war.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (1975)

Synergy is the only word in our language that means behavior of whole systems unpredicted by the separately observed behaviors of any of the system’s separate parts or any subassembly of the system’s parts. There is nothing in the chemistry of a toenail that predicts the existence of a human being.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1963)

Take the initiative. Go to work, and above all co-operate and don’t hold back on one another or try to gain at the expense of another. Any success in such lopsidedness will be increasingly short-lived. These are the synergetic rules that evolution is employing and trying to make clear to us. They are not man-made laws. They are the infinitely accommodative laws of the intellectual integrity governing universe.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1963)

Tension is the great integrity.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

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.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Cosmography: A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity (1992)

The difference between mind and brain is that brain deals only with memorized, subjective, special-case experiences and objective experiments, while mind extracts and employs the generalized principles and integrates and interrelates their effective employment. Brain deals exclusively with the physical, and mind exclusively with the metaphysical.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1963)

The end move in politics is always to pick up a gun.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

The more we learn the more we realize how little we know.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

The most important thing about Spaceship Earth: an instruction book didn’t come with it.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1963)

The most important thing to teach your children is that the sun does not rise and set. It is the Earth that revolves around the sun. Then teach them the concepts of North, South, East and West, and that they relate to where they happen to be on the planet’s surface at that time. Everything else will follow.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Final interview before his death, “NewsCenter4”, WNBC-TV (1983)

The nearest each of us can come to God is by loving the truth.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Critical Path (1981)

The procedure we are pursuing is that of true democracy. Semi-democracy accepts the dictatorship of a majority in establishing its arbitrary, ergo, unnatural, laws. True democracy discovers by patient experiment and unanimous acknowledgement what the laws of nature or universe may be for the physical support and metaphysical satisfaction of the human intellect’s function in universe.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1963)

The question of integrity will get finer and finer and more delicate and more beautiful.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – “Only Integrity Is Going to Count” (1983)

The Universe consists of non-simultaneously apprehended events.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

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.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (1975)

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.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (1975)

There is no energy crisis, food crisis or environmental crisis. There is only a crisis of ignorance.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

There is no joy equal to that of being able to work for all humanity and doing what you’re doing well.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Critical Path (1981)

There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

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.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – 4D Timelock (1928)

Think globally, act locally.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Thinking is a momentary dismissal of irrelevancies.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Utopia or Oblivion: The Prospects of Humanity (1969)

Those who play with the devil’s toys will be brought by degrees to wield his sword.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Tombs are the clothes of the dead and a grave is a plain suit; while an expensive monument is one with embroidery.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Topology provides the synergetic means of ascertaining the values of any system of experiences. Topology is the science of fundamental pattern and structural relationships of event constellations.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1963)

Truth is a tendency.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

Universe is synergetic. Life is synergetic.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1963)

War is the ultimate tool of politics. Political leaders look out only for their own side. Politicians are always realistically maneuvering for the next election. They are obsolete as fundamental problem-solvers.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

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.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – “Only Integrity Is Going to Count” (1983)

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.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (1975)

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.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1963)

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.”
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (1975)

We are on a spaceship; a beautiful one. It took billions of years to develop. We’re not going to get another. Now, how do we make this spaceship work?
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1963)

We are powerfully imprisoned in these Dark Ages simply by the terms in which we have been conditioned to think.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Cosmography: A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity (1992)

We have reached the point where we are now possessed of sufficient information for each individual human to dare to exercise the option to “make it” rather than having to depend on the decisions of an educated elite.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

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.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Cosmography: A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity (1992)

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.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (1975)

What humans have spontaneously identified as good and bad — or as positive and negative — are evolutionary complementations in need of more accurate identifications.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Critical Path (1981)

What usually happens in the educational process is that the faculties are dulled, overloaded, stuffed and paralyzed so that by the time most people are mature they have lost their innate capabilities.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only of how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

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.
    R. Buckminster Fuller – “Only Integrity Is Going to Count” (1983)

When individuals join in a cooperative venture, the power generated far exceeds what they could have accomplished acting individually.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

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
    R. Buckminster Fuller – Critical Path (1981)

You can never learn less, you can only learn more.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

You can’t better the world by simply talking to it. Philosophy to be effective must be mechanically applied.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
    R. Buckminster Fuller

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