Konstantin Tsiolkovsky’s Message of Cosmism

Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky once wrote, “The Earth is the cradle of the mind, but one cannot eternally live in a cradle.” While people often think about futurism as a recent concept, Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935) was laying the foundation of it in the late 19th century. The principle of Russian cosmism combined aspects of natural philosophy, ethics, religion and science. As one might expect from an Eastern European development, Orthodoxy was also an extremely important influence.

Modern transhumanism is built on the shoulders of Tsiolkovsky’s work. Panpsychism refers to the idea of an animated atom. Teachings based on panpsychism revolve around the idea that all matter possesses some sort of mental aspect. This can also be expressed as a unified point of view that all things share. This universal point of view is a precursor to the phenomenal consciousness that will typify the human singularity of the future.

Rocket train technology was fully proposed by Tsiolkovsky in 1929. He wished for the construction of artificial satellites, and some of his designs showed these as being used as manned platforms for interplanetary travel. Considering the growing technical consciousness of humanity, even the most outlandish of his proposals seem very possible. In fact, they might very well be necessary for the survival of the human race.

If Earth is a cradle, then the human race is quickly running out of time to grow up and leave it. However, the singularity is possibly coming faster than anyone would have predicted. That doesn’t mean that Tsiolkovsky hadn’t foretold the next evolutionary step of humanity in his own time.

  • I’ve been reading about Tsiolkovsky all my life but I’ve never read any of his work. It’s a shame that his work is not in the public domain for reading on ebooks. Amazon has one paperback, but it’s $30, and has no customer reviews. Also, Amazon has one out of print biography that going for $140 used. ABEBooks lists several items used, but some are merely pamphlets.

    I wonder why Tsiolkovsky is so disregarded in the West? The Wikipedia article said, ” He wrote more than 400 works, most of which are little known to the general reader because of their questionable value.” Why?

  • Jason Carr

    I agree 100% that these should be in public domain…odd. Or at the very least, they should most certainly be more affordable than that. As for the Wiki article, it seems rather biased…especially considering that much of Tsiolkovsky’s work has been used by other scientists in recent years. My guess is that the wiki listing was written by someone that is opposed to the philosophical views held by Tsiolkovsky. On the other hand, he wrote quite a bit about human immortality and bringing the dead back to life. As progressive as I try to be, some of these beliefs are a little far-fetched for me. That may be the reasoning behind the wiki article’s tone as well.

  • It sounds like he was the H. G. Wells of his time and place, but without the literary success. I got the feeling the Wiki writer was responding to things he/she had read about Tsiolkovsky, that maybe he was considered a crank at the time.

    • Jason Carr

      Yeah that makes sense Jim. It never ceases to amaze me how often sci-fi authors are seemingly ahead of their time…science seems to follow quite often. That’s why your recent post on philosophy struck such a chord with me…the more I think about it, the more I tend to believe that many philosophers and sci-fi writers are necessary to keep the wheels of scientific progress rolling along.

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