Telesis (from the Greek τέλεσις /telesis/) or "planned progress" was a concept and neologism coined by the American sociologist Lester Frank Ward (often referred to as the "father of American sociology"),[1] in the late 19th century[2] to describe directed social advancement via education and the scientific method. The term has since been adopted as the name of numerous groups, schools, and businesses.

Architecture and planning

A group of architects, landscape architects, and urban planners from the Bay Area, founded in late 1939 through the merging of two groups of architects, one from San Francisco and the other from the University of California, Berkeley, called themselves Telesis. Philosophically, the group also evolved from several larger international architectural movements, which included CIAM (Congrès International d'Architecture Moderne) and MARS (Modern Architectural Research Group).[3]

Their stated aim was to research the development and implications of what architectural critic Lewis Mumford called the Second Bay Area Regional Style. As set forth in their founding statement, the group believed that "People and the Land make up the environment which has four distinct parts--a place to Live, Work, Play, and the Services which integrate these and make them operate. These components must be integrated in the community and urban region through rational planning, and through the use of modern building technology."—from The Things Telesis Has Found Important

Noted Telesis members included William Wurster, Catherine Bauer Wurster, Vernon DeMars, Thomas Church, Garrett Eckbo, Grace McCann Morley, Geraldine Knight Scott, Joseph Allen Stein, Jack Hillmer, Francis Violich, and T. J. Kent, Jr. In addition to internal research and working groups that investigated such topics as speculative housing, industrial design, and the relationship of the physical environment of the San Francisco Bay Area to indigenous architectural styles, the group also organized several influential exhibitions on contemporary architecture and planning with the support of the San Francisco Museum of Art. Professional and personal papers from many of Telesis's members are collected in the Environmental Design Archives at the University of California, Berkeley.


The mechanics of society fall under two general groups: social statics and social dynamics. Social dynamics is further divided into social genesis and social telesis. Social telesis may be further divided into individual telesis and collective telesis.[4]

  • Collective telesis: Adaptation of means to ends by society.[7]
  • Individual telesis: The conscious adaptation of conduct by an individual to the achievement of his own consciously apprehended ends.[6]


Telesis (Greek: Telos, end, + -osis, condition), defined as "the intelligent direction of effort toward the achievement of an end.", has also been a term used in the context of epistemology and ontology to refer to "infocognitive potential", a concept originating from Christopher Langan and his theory of everything, the CTMU. In his 2002 paper on the CTMU, Langan defines telesis in the following passage:[8]

Laws do not stand on their own, but must be defined with respect to the objects and attributes on which they act and which they accept as parameters. Similarly, objects and attributes do not stand on their own, but must be defined with respect to the rules of structure, organization and transformation that govern them. It follows that the active medium of cross-definition possesses logical primacy over laws and arguments alike, and is thus pre-informational and pre-nomological in nature…i.e., telic. Telesis, which can be characterized as “infocognitive potential”, is the primordial active medium from which laws and their arguments and parameters emerge by mutual refinement or telic recursion.

See also


  1. ^ Petras, J.W. (1970), "Images of man in early American Sociology, part I: The individualistic perspective in motivation", Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 6 (3): 231, doi:10.1002/1520-6696(197007)6:3<231::AID-JHBS2300060304>3.0.CO;2-8, archived from the original on 2012-10-13, retrieved 2009-05-05
  2. ^ Ward, L.F. (2007), Outlines of sociology (PDF), archived from the original on October 27, 2009, retrieved 2009-05-05CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  3. ^ Chermayeff, Serge, "Telesis: The Birth of a Group." New Pencil Points (July 1942), pp. 45–48.
  4. ^ Outlines of Sociology, Lester F. Ward, p. 190.
  5. ^ L. F. Ward, Outlines of Sociol., p. 181.
  6. ^ a b L. F. Ward, Outlines of Sociol., p. 190.
  7. ^ L. F. Ward, Outlines of SocioL, p. 186.
  8. ^ Langan, C.M. 2002. [1] The Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe: A New Kind of Reality Theory pg. 35