Erich Jantsch Biography



The Silent Ganesh: Finding Erich Jantsch (the only Erich Jantsch biography) is now available.

About the Book

Dr. Erich Jantsch has been described as an astrophysicist, an author, a businessman, an astronomer, a conservationist, a consultant, an engineer, an evolutionary theorist, a forecaster, a futurologist, a humanist, a lecturer, a music critic, a philosopher, a physicist, a scientist, an urban planner, founder of the ‘big history’ concept’, a pioneer in systems and futures thinking, and one of the six founding members of the Club of Rome. His books and publications range from technological forecasting to evolution. In particular, his last book, The Self-Organizing Universe, has been influential in the interdisciplinary fields of biomimicry, holism, co-evolution, and self-organization. He was an occasional advisor to about twenty governments, several international organizations, and research institutions. This book, The Quiet Ganesh, is the start of a biography of this expansive man.
Buy the Book on Amazon

Welcome to "". Dr. Erich Jantsch has been described as an Austrian astrophysicist, author, co-founder of the Club of Rome, and systems thinker. I've been researching Erich Jantsch and his work since 2012. After years of research, I wrote a biography (published in 2023) that elaborates on this bulleted list below.

His Life

  • Erich Jantsch was born on January 8, 1929, in Vienna, Austria, and died on December 12, 1980, in Berkeley, California.
  • Jantsch's mother was named Olga Kantor. His father's name was Johann/Hans. He had only one older sibling, Helmuth, born in 1927.
  • 1951: Jantsc graduated with a doctorate in Astrophysics, University of Vienna (age 22).
  • 1951: Jantsch sailed the S. S. Independence at age 22 on August 29 from Genoa. He arrived in NY on September 7. He was headed to Indiana University with many other fellow passengers who were also heading to colleges and universities.
  • 1952: Jantsch again sailed the S. S. Independence to Genoa, Italy at age 23.
  • 1979: He emigrated to the U.S. in the mid-fifties, but did not receive his green card until 1979.
  • During his years at Berkeley, he was a colleague of Drs. Fritjof Capra, Terance and Dennis McKenna, and Angela Longo.
  •  It is unknown if he was married, though many think not and no marriage certificates were found. It is unknown if he produced any heirs, though most think not.
  • He loved art, music, and theatre. "He was a music critic in Vienna for many years and maintained his interests in the arts until his death (over 300 reviews)." [9]
  • He was a member of "Circle of Human Systems Management".
  • His favorite newspaper was ''Neue Zurcher Zeitung''.
  • 1980: Jantsch died on December 12, 1980, in Berkeley, California, " alone and lonely, abandoned by friends, misunderstood by colleagues". His ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.

His Work

  • In the mid-1960s his increasing concern regarding the future led him to study forecasting techniques. He did not believe that forecasting or science could be neutral. Jantsch considered the following: If it were possible to understand the principles of creation and to make it widely understood, then it might be possible to organize people so that a viable overall system is created. Now out of print for many years, The Self-Organizing Universe: Scientific and Human Implications of the Emerging Paradigm of Evolution, has been influential among interdisciplinary proponents of biomimicry alternatives to understanding science like holism, co-evolution, and self-organization. The book deals with self-organization as a unifying evolutionary paradigm that incorporates cosmology, biology, sociology, psychology, and consciousness.

His Roles

Jantsch was a:

  • Visiting Lecturer of Planning and Research Planner of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley and Richard Merton's Professor at the Technical University in Hanover, Germany. The University of California at Berkeley hosted Jantsch for the Gaither Lectures in Science Systems; lectures led to The Self-Organizing Universe in 1979.
  • Consultant to OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development); prepared studies on the world food problem, technological forecasting, higher education, etc. He lectured widely in Europe, North and South America, Near East, and Japan.
  • Advisor to twenty governments, several international organizations, and research institutes. Jantsch served as the Austrian delegate to the first session of the UN Committee on Natural Resources. in 1971.
  • Co-founder of the Club of Rome where he penned, "A tentative framework for initiating system-wide planning of world scope", an extensive 400-page report about the strategies by which technologies were developed and introduced in different parts of the world.

His Influences

  • Ralph H. Abraham, an American mathematician, has been involved in the development of dynamical systems theory in the 1960s and 1970s, and was introduced to Jantsch in 1974 by Terence McKenna.
  • Alexander Christakis, a Greek American social scientist, systems scientist, and cyberneticist, colleague of Jantsch as a co-founder of the Club of Rome. Christakis co-authored the Predicament of Mankind with Jantsch.
  • West Churchman, was an American philosopher and systems scientist, who was Professor at the School of Business Administration and Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He was internationally known for his pioneering work in operations research, system analysis, and ethics. Churchman inspired Jantsch, Christakis, and Ozbekhan.
  • Bertrand de Jouvenel wrote the foreword for Jantsch's, ''Technological Planning and Social Futures''. Both authors were also featured in the book, "The Futurists"- Jantsch in an interview and de Jouvenel's essay.
  • Alexander King was a scientist and pioneer of the sustainable development movement who co-founded the Club of Rome in 1968 with the Italian industrialist Aurelio Peccei. At the time of the Club of Rome's founding, King was a "top international scientific civil servant, Scots by birth, living in Paris. Erich Jantsch served as a consultant of Alexander King's at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). King invited Jantsch to prepare the background paper for the first Club of Rome meeting.
  • Hasan Özbekhan, a Turkish American systems scientist, cyberneticist, philosopher, and planner, also co-founder of the Club of Rome.
  • Aurelio Peccei, Italian scholar and industrialist, best known as the founder and first president of the Club of Rome, was seeking was an effective methodology to tackle the issues of what he termed the "problematique", which he described in The Chasm Ahead as "a tidal wave of global problems". He sought the views of a well-known American systems analyst, Professor Hasan Ozbekhan, on the development of the first compendium of global problems (problematique) for the Club of Rome. Ozbekhan became interested and he and Jantsch made a presentation of the problematique to a meeting at the European Summer University in Alpbach, Austria in September, 1969. [12]
  • Ilya Prigogine, the Belgian Nobel laureate, was a deep inspiration for Jantsch's later works.  Jantsch referenced Prigogine frequently in his work and Prigogine, in return, contributed to Jantsch’s work. Prigogine’s chapter, Order Through Fluctuation: Self-Organization and Social System, was part of Evolution and Consciousness: Human Systems in Transition. Jantsch dedicated The Self-Organizing Universe to Prigogine, whom he deemed the “catalyst of the self-organization paradigm”. 
  • C.H. Waddington- Jantsch co-edited, "Evolution and Consciousness", with C.H. Waddington. Waddington once said, "I realize now that the word 'Jantsch', besides being a surname of an individual, is, or ought to be, the name of a certain quality - something allied to zest, verve, dash, elan, combined with efficiency and accomplishment."


1966: Technological Forecasting in Perspective, Working Document". DAS/SPR/66.12, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris, France. {not found}
1967: Technological forecasting in perspective, OECD, 1967. {in collection}
1967: "Forecasting Future". Science Journal, 3(10), 40. {not found}
1968: "Technological forecasting for planning and its institutional implications". Ekistics, 26(153), 150-161. {in collection}
1968: "Technological forecasting in corporate planning. Long Range Planning, 1(1), 40-50. {in collection}
1968: "Integrating Forecasting and Planning through a Function-Oriented Approach". Technological Forecasting for Industry and Government. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. {not found}
1968: "A tentative framework for initiating system-wide planning of world scope" (only record I could find is in the C.H. Waddington archive section of the University of Edinburgh archives). {not found}
1969: "Perspectives of Planning". {in collection}
1969: "Integrative planning of society and technology: the emerging role of the university". Futures, 1(3), 185-190. {in collection}
1969: "Integrative Planning for the" Joint Systems" of Society and Technology--The Emerging Role of the University". {in collection}
1969: "New organizational forms for forecasting. Technological Forecasting, 1(2), 151-161. {Found in Elsevier, for purchase}
1969: "The organization of technological forecasting in the Soviet Union:: Notes from a brief visit". Technological Forecasting, 1(1), 83-86. {not found}
1969: "Adaptive institutions for shaping the future". Perspectives on Planning. Jantsch, E., ed. OECD, Paris. {not found}
1969: "The chasm ahead". Futures, 1(4), 314-317. {Found in Elsevier, for purchase}
1970: "Inter- and Transdisciplinary University: A Systems Approach to Education and Innovation", Policy Sciences, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Winter, 1970), pp. 403-42 {in collection}
1970: "From forecasting and planning to policy sciences", Policy Sciences, 1(1), 31-47. {in collection}
1970: "Toward a methodology for systemic forecasting". Technological Forecasting, 1(4), 409-419. {not found}
1970: "Science and Human Purpose". {not found}
1970: "Technological forecasting at national level in Japan:: Notes from a brief visit". Technological Forecasting, 1(3), 325-327. {Found in Science Direct, for purchase}
1971: "The Planning of Change", in Policy Sciences. {not found}
1971: "The World Corporation- The Total Commitment". COLUMBIA JOURNAL OF WORLD BUSINESS, 6(3), 5-12. {in collection}
1971: "World dynamics". Futures, 3(2), 162-169. {not found}
1972: Education for design". Futures, 4(3), 232-255. {in collection}
1972: "The organization of forecasting in Romania: Notes from a brief visit". Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 4(1), 19-22. {not found}
1972: Technological planning and social futures, Wiley, 1972. ISBN 0-470-43997-1 {Found here}
1972: "Towards interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity in education and innovation. Interdisciplinarity", Problems of Teaching and Research in Universities. OECD, Paris, 97-121. {in collection}
1972: "Forecasting and the systems approach: A critical survey". Policy Sciences, 3(4), 475-498. {in collection}
1972: "The futurists" (Interview with E. Jantsch featured in this book) Toffler, A. (Ed.). (1972). New York: Random House. {found in another institution's library}
1972: The ecological context: John McHale, Braziller, New York, 1970, 188 pp. {not found}
1973: "Enterprise and environment". Industrial Marketing Management, 2(2), 113-130. {not found}
1973: "Forecasting and systems approach: a frame of reference". Management Science, 19(12), 1355-1367. {found in Management Science}
1974: "Organising the human world: an evolutionary outlook". Futures, 6(1), 4-15.
1975: Design for Evolution: Self-Organization and Planning in the Life of Human Systems (The International Library of Systems Theory and Philosophy), George Braziller Inc, 1975. ISBN 0-8076-0758-4
1975: The quest for absolute values". Futures, 7(6), 463-474.
1976: "Introduction and summary. Evolution and Consciousness, Human Systems in Transition", Addison-Wesley Pubi., Reading, 1-8.
1976: "Modes of Learning. Human Systems In Transition", edited by Frlch Jantsch and Conrad Waddlngton, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.
1976: "Evolution and consciousness: Human systems in transition"
1976: "Evolution: Self-realization through self-transcendence".
1976: "Evolving images of man: Dynamic guidance for the mankind process". E. Jantsch CH Waddington: Evolution and Consciousness-Human systems in Transition, Addison-Wesley.
1976: "Evaluation and 36 Systems and Models Consciousness". Jantsch, E., & Waddington, C. H.
1976: "Self Realisation Through Self Transcendence". Evolution and Consciousness.
1976: "Self-transcendence: new light on the evolutionary paradigm.
1980: Ethics and evolution". The North American Review, 14-18. {in collection}
1980: The Self-Organizing Universe: Scientific and Human Implications of the Emerging Paradigm of Evolution, New York: Pergamon Press, 1980. hardcover ISBN 0-08-024312-6 ; softcover ISBN 0-08-024311-8
1980: "The unifying paradigm behind autopoiesis, dissipative structures, hyper-and ultracycles". Autopoiesis, dissipative structures, and social orders. Westview Press, Boulder.
1980: "Interdisciplinarity: Dreams and Reality". Prospects: Quarterly Review of Education, 10(3), 304-12.
1980: "The evolutionary vision: Toward a unifying paradigm of physical, biological and sociological evolution".
1981: "Autopoiesis: A central aspect of dissipative self-organization". Zeleny, M. Autopoiesis: a theory of living organization. New York: North Holland, 65-88.
1981: The Evolutionary Vision (Aaas Selected Symposium), Westview Press. ISBN 0-86531-140-4
1981: The Evolutionary Vision: Toward a Unifying Paradigm of Physical, Biological and Sociocultural Evolution. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1981.
1981: "Unifying principles of evolution". In The Evolutionary Vision, 83—116.
1982: "From self-reference to self-transcendence: The evolution of self-organization dynamics". Self-organization and dissipative structure (University of Texas Press, Austin), 344353.


  • Christakis, A.N.; Bausch, K. C. (2006). How people harness their collective wisdom and power to construct the future in co-laboratories of democracy. IAP. ISBN 1593114826.
    Trivia Library - Future Predictions of Famous Scientist Dr. Erich Jantsch by David Wallechinsky & Irving Wallace "The People's Almanac" 1975 - 1981
  • Abraham, Ralph H. "The Genesis of Complexity" (PDF). Visual Math Institute. Retrieved 31 October 2014., Genesis of Complexity:
  • Capra, F. (1981). Erich Jantsch 1929–1980. Futures, 13(2), 150-151.
  • Capra, Fritjof. "Erich Jantsch 1929-1980" (PDF). Futures. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  • Linstone, H. A., Maruyama, M., & Kaje, R. (1981). Erich Jantsch 1929–1980. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 19(1), 1-5.
  • Jantsch, Erich (1972). Technological Planning and Social Futures. London, SW: Associated Business Programmes Ltd. p. cover. ISBN 0304290149.
  • Jantsch, Erich (February 1, 1970). "Inter- and Transdisciplinary University: A systems approach to Education and Innovation". Higher Education Quarterly 1 (4): 403–428.
  • Zeleny, Milan. "Erich Jantsch (1929-1980)" (PDF). Human Systems Management. Retrieved9 December 2014.
  • Blanchard, Elodie Vieille. "4 Technoscientific Cornucopian Futures versus Doomsday Futures." The Struggle for the Long-Term in Transnational Science and Politics: Forging the Future (2015): 92.
  • Wheatley, M. (2011). Leadership and the new science: Discovering order in a chaotic world. ReadHowYouWant. com.
  • The Club of Rome 'the Dossiers' 1965-1984:
  • Schmelzer, M. (2012). The crisis before the crisis: the ‘problems of modern society’and the OECD, 1968–74. European Review of History: Revue europeenne d'histoire, 19(6), 999-1020.
    Found in: "Technological forecasting at national level in Japan:: Notes from a brief visit". Technological Forecasting, 1(3), 325-327.