Illustration of packed spheres in the plane


Synergetics is the name Fuller eventually gave to his life-long philosophical explorations, which were distilled into a two-volume magnum opus, Synergetics and Synergetics 2, published by Macmillan in 1975 and 1979 respectively, with softcover editions, and a posthumous web-based edition to follow.  The process of distilling and publishing the two volumes was undertaken in collaboration with E.J. Applewhite, who wrote Cosmic Fishing to chronicle their adventure.  Dr. Arthur Loeb, crystallographer and Renaissance man in his own right, wrote the Preface.

The combined Synergetics volumes can be found here:

The Synergetics Dictionary can be found here:

At the core of Synergetics is Fuller’s critique of ancient Greek metaphysics and its right-angled orthodoxies. He emphasizes the topological and structural advantages of the tetrahedron (simpler, stronger) over the cube, and devises a system of geometric relationships in the form of nested polyhedra dubbed “the concentric hierarchy” with the tetrahedron as his unit of volume.  His vocabulary is deliberately remote (250.30) as he seeks to relate tension, syntropy and gravity to their complements: compression, entropy and radiation.

Fuller regarded his “explorations in the geometry of thinking” (the book’s subtitle) as the principle source of his inventions and a direct result of his commitment, undertaken in 1927, to serve humanity as a whole, a goal which necessitated a deep rethinking of our shared predicament and prospects aboard Spaceship Earth.  In retrospect, we see Fuller was in tune with the zeitgeist in terms of the topics he focused on:  sphere packing, vectorial energy models, topology, tensegrity, geodesic spheres and domes.  Categorization of the work, in terms of genre, has proved elusive. Dr. Peter Suber of Earlham College eventually accepted it as a philosophy, based on Fuller’s own conception of what it was: “The integration of geometry and philosophy in a single conceptual system providing a common language and accounting for both the physical and metaphysical.” (251.50). 

  • 962.40 Synergetic geometry embraces all the qualities of experience, all aspects of being. R. Buckminster Fuller, Synergetics

“Synergetics, in the broadest terms, is the study of spatial complexity, and as such is an inherently comprehensive discipline. … Experience with synergetics encourages a new way of approaching and solving problems. Its emphasis on visual and spatial phenomena combined with Fuller’s holistic approach fosters the kind of lateral thinking which so often leads to creative breakthroughs.”

– Amy Edmondson, A Fuller Explanation (Google play, Apple Books) 1987

The wikipedia page on Synergetics:

Kirby Urner’s page on Synergetics:

Ed Applewhite on Synergetics

Casey House’s Synergetics University:

Richard Struppi Pohl’s work:

Synergetics Collaborative: