Quotes from The Hidden Connection, Fritjof Capra. 1. The Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable Living by Fritjof Capra (click on title for book link;. SUMMARY – The Hidden Connections, Fritjof Capra, Chapters Page 1. The Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable Living. Fritjof Capra, 1. Fritjof Capra. The Hidden Connections. A Science For Sustainable Living. 4 Life and Leadership in Organizations. In recent years, the nature of human.
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The Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable Living Fritjof Capra, bestselling author of The Tao of Physics and The Web of Life, here explores another. Fritjof Capra, bestselling author of The Tao of Physics and The Web of Life, here explores another frontier in the human significance of scientific. A Book Analysis of "The Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable Living" by Fritjof Capra - Stephen Gumboh - Literature Review - American Studies.
Oct 02, Elinor Hurst rated it really liked it A brilliant, inspiring book. Fritjof Capra has an impressive ability to synthesise scientific and philosophical thinking across a broad range of disciplines, and to explain concepts to the general reader which build up to an awe inspiring explanation of the natural world, and vision for a better, more sustainable and life affirming future for our species. The new scientific concepts of the basis of life explained in his earlier book, "The Web of Life" are revisited here, and then drawn together A brilliant, inspiring book.
The new scientific concepts of the basis of life explained in his earlier book, "The Web of Life" are revisited here, and then drawn together with economic and social analysis to produce a blueprint for change. I was particularly inspired by the concepts of shifting from a materials-based economy to a service-and-flow economy, and that of ecological clusters of industries.
Our economies need to model the way ecosystems work, to be sustainable. The importance of networks, and of supporting relationships rather than material acquisition, is another required shift in thinking. The global network that is the Internet is important here, and can greatly facilitate collaborations which support the economic and social transitions required. This book has motivated me to read Paul Hawken's books on "The Ecology of Commerce" and "Natural Capitalism", and more of Amory and Hunter Lovins' work, to educate myself more around the economic and technological ideas Capra refers to.
It has given me hope for the future, to know that we have a blueprint of what's needed, albeit a challenging struggle politically to promote it. To do so, I present a conceptual framework that integrates life's biological , cognitive and social dimensions. My aim is not only to offer a unified view of life, mind and society, but also to develop a coherent, systemic approach to some of the critical issues of our time.
Fritjof Capra does not escape my critique entirely, but his coherent, systematic approach is based upon an understanding of networks, of relationships between things being as fundamental as things themselves how dialectical of him really, though there is not a ounce of dialectics otherwise , of constant change and never a full knowledge of the whole, of humility in scientific inquiry, of anti-capitalism in the sense that we must substitute new values for that of profit above all that exists now and has brought us almost to to the brink of destruction.
He is also rigorous and smart, and my critiques of the sections on social science are offset by my appreciation that he actually read and grappled with Manuel Castells' three volumes on networks. I also like that he tries to bring together the material and the social -- the geographers are missing from his account, but I forgive him, as I too think this is key. My extension of the systems approach to the social domain explicitly includes the material world.
In the future, this strict division will no longer be possible, because the key challenge of this new century -- for social scientists, natural scientists and everyone else -- will be to build ecologically sustainable communities, designed in such a way that their technologies and social institutions -- their material and social structures -- do not interfere with nature's inherent ability to sustain life.
Of course, if we destroy ourselves, I have every confidence that life will continue to emerge and flourish. Life is pretty amazing.
The first section of this book is on life itself, with some thought-provoking concepts, like autopoiesis - 'self-making'. Capra writes that on a cellular level, life is present where there is both physical boundary and a metabolic network. Living systems as autopoietic networks 'means that the phenomenon of life has to be understood as a property of the system as a whole'.
I love, love, how that has all been turned on its head, with little fixed at all: A key insight of the new understanding of life has been that biological forms and functions are not simply determined by a genetic blueprint but are emergent properties of the entire epigenetic network.
It is technically known as self-organization and is often referred to simply as 'emergence'. It is something we know today, without being able to well conceive of what it must have felt like.
Perhaps my favourite thing in the whole book was this amazing quote from Werner Heisenberg, on the cost of emergence, and how it is in fact greater than any one man but emerges from collective work and thinking: I remember discussions with Bohr which went through many hours till very late at night and ended almost in despair; and when at the end of the discussion I went alone for a walk in the neighboring park I repeated to myself again and again the question: Can nature possibly be so absurd as it seemed to us in these atomic experiments?
Allowing that the world might be greater, wilder than we had ever imagined it. It is the findings of quantum physics, in some ways, that have opened up every other field.
They have shown the world is not as we thought it was, that by the very act of studying it we enter into a relationship with it and thereby change or fix its behaviour. In the very simplest of ways, biology reminds us that it is in the relationships between one thing and another that some of their properties are determined: When carbon, oxygen and hydrogen atoms bond in a certain way to form sugar, the resulting compound has a sweet taste.
The sweetness resides neither in the C, nor in the O, nor in the H, it resides in the patterns that emerges from their interaction. Capra is a scientist, educator, activist, and author of many international bestsellers that connect conceptual changes in science with broader changes in worldview and values in society. A Vienna-born physicist and systems theorist, Capra first became popularly known for his book, The Tao of Physics, which explored the ways in which modern physics was changing our worldview from a mechanistic to a holistic and ecological one.
Over the past 30 years, Capra has been engaged in a systematic exploration of how other sciences and society are ushering in a similar shift in worldview, or paradigms, leading to a new vision of reality and a new understanding of the social implications of this cultural transformation.
His most recent book, The Systems View of Life coauthored by Pier Luigi Luisi Cambridge University Press, , presents a grand new synthesis of this work—integrating the biological, cognitive, social, and ecological dimensions of life into one unified vision. A new conception of life I was trained as a physicist and spent twenty years, from , doing research in theoretical high energy physics at several European and American universities. From my early student years, I was fascinated by the dramatic changes of concepts and ideas that occurred in physics during the first three decades of the twentieth century.
In my first book, The Tao of Physics Capra, , I discussed the profound change in our worldview that was brought about by the conceptual revolution in physics - a change from the mechanistic worldview of Descartes and Newton to a holistic and ecological view. In my subsequent research and writing, I engaged in a systematic exploration of a central theme: the fundamental change of world view, or change of paradigms, that is now also occurring in the other sciences and in society; the unfolding of a new vision of reality, and the social implications of this cultural transformation.
To connect the conceptual changes in science with the broader change of worldview and values in society, I had to go beyond physics and look for a broader conceptual framework. In doing so, I realized that our major social issues - health, education, human rights, social justice, political power, protection of the environment, the management of business enterprises, the economy, and so on - all have to do with living systems; with individual human beings, social systems, and ecosystems.
With this realization, my research interests shifted from physics to the life-sciences. Using insights from the theory of living systems, complexity theory, and ecology, I began to put together a conceptual framework that integrates four dimensions of life: the biological, the cognitive, the social, and the ecological dimension. I presented summaries of this framework, as it evolved over the years, in several books, beginning with The Turning Point Capra, , and followed by The Web of Life Capra, and The Hidden Connections Capra, At the very heart of it, we find a fundamental change of metaphors: from seeing the world as a machine to understanding it as a network.
We have discovered that the material world, ultimately, is a network of inseparable patterns of relationships. We have also discovered that the planet as a whole is a living, self-regulating system. The view of the human body as a machine and of the mind as a separate entity is being replaced by one that sees not only the brain, but also the immune system, the bodily organs, and even each cell as a living, cognitive system. And with the new emphasis on complexity, nonlinearity, and patterns of organization, a new science of qualities is slowly emerging.
The systems view of evolution The systems view of life, not surprisingly, includes a new systemic understanding of evolution. Rather than seeing evolution as the result of only random mutations and natural selection, we are beginning to recognize the creative unfolding of life in forms of ever-increasing diversity and complexity as an inherent characteristic of all living systems.
Although mutation and natural selection are still acknowledged as important aspects of biological evolution, the central focus is on creativity, on life's constant reaching out into novelty. Our detailed ideas about this prebiotic evolution are still very speculative, but most biologists and biochemists do not doubt that the origin of life on Earth was the result of a sequence of chemical events, subject to the laws of physics and chemistry and to the nonlinear dynamics of complex systems.
These tiny droplets formed spontaneously according to the basic laws of physics, as naturally as the soap bubbles that form when we put soap and water together and shake the mixture. Eventually life emerged from these protocells with the evolution of the DNA, proteins, and the genetic code. This marked the emergence of a universal ancestor - the first bacterial cell - from which all subsequent life on Earth descended.
The descendants of the first living cells took over the Earth by weaving a planetary bacterial web and gradually occupying all the ecological niches. Driven by the creativity inherent in all living systems, the planetary web of life expanded through mutations, gene trading, and symbioses, producing forms of life of ever-increasing complexity and diversity. In this majestic unfolding of life, all living organisms continually responded to environmental influences with structural changes, and they did so autonomously, according to their own natures ibid.
From the beginning of life, their interactions with one another and with the nonliving environment were cognitive interactions ibid. As their structures increased in complexity, so did their cognitive processes, eventually bringing forth conscious awareness, language, and conceptual thought. Aarti puja by the Ganga Spirit and spirituality When we look at this scenario - from the formation of oily droplets to the emergence of consciousness - the question naturally arises: what about the spiritual dimension of life?
Is there any room for the human spirit in this new vision of prebiotic and biotic evolution?
The common meaning of these key terms indicates that the original meaning of spirit in many ancient philosophical and religious traditions, in the West as well as in the East, is that of the breath of life. Since respiration is indeed a central aspect of the metabolism of all but the simplest forms of life, the breath of life seems to be a perfect metaphor for the network of metabolic processes that is the defining characteristic of all living systems Ibid.
Spirit - the breath of life - is what we have in common with all living beings. It nourishes us and keeps us alive. There are numerous descriptions of this experience in the literature of the world's religions, which tend to agree that it is a direct, non-intellectual experience of reality with some fundamental characteristics that are independent of cultural and historical contexts.
One of the most beautiful contemporary descriptions can be found in a short essay titled Spirituality as Common Sense, by the Benedictine monk, psychologist, and author David Steindl-Rast In accordance with the original meaning of spirit as the breath of life, Brother David characterizes spiritual experience as a non-ordinary experience of reality during moments of heightened aliveness.
Our spiritual moments are moments when we feel intensely alive. Spirituality, then, is always embodied.
We experience our spirit, in the words of Brother David, as "the fullness of mind and body. Spiritual experience is an experience of aliveness of mind and body as a unity.
Moreover, this experience of unity transcends not only the separation of mind and body, but also the separation of self and world. The central awareness in these spiritual moments is a profound sense of oneness with all, a sense of belonging to the universe as a whole. This sense of oneness with the natural world is fully borne out by the new systemic conception of life.
As we understand how the roots of life reach deep into basic physics and chemistry, how the unfolding of complexity began long before the formation of the first living cells, and how life has evolved for billions of years by using again and again the same basic patterns and processes, we realize how tightly we are connected with the entire fabric of life.
A sense of awe and wonder Spiritual experience - the direct, non-intellectual experience of reality in moments of heightened aliveness - is known as a mystical experience because it is an encounter with mystery.
Spiritual teachers throughout the ages have insisted that the experience of a profound sense of connectedness, of belonging to the cosmos as a whole, which is the central characteristic of mystical experience, is ineffable - incapable of being adequately expressed in words or concepts. Thus we read in the Kena Upanishad see Hume, : There the eye goes not, Speech goes not, nor the mind.
We know not, we understand not How one would teach it. This encounter with mystery, so the mystics tell us, is often accompanied by a deep sense of awe and wonder together with a feeling of great humility. Scientists, in their systematic observations of natural phenomena, do not consider their experience of reality as ineffable. On the contrary, we attempt to express it in technical language, including mathematics, as precisely as possible. However, the fundamental interconnectedness of all phenomena is a dominant theme also in modern science, and many of our great scientists have expressed their sense of awe and wonder when faced with the mystery that lies beyond the limits of their theories.
Albert Einstein, for one, repeatedly expressed these feelings, as in the following celebrated passage Einstein, The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science Spirituality and religion When we discuss the relationship between science and spirituality, it is important to distinguish between spirituality and religion. Spirituality is a way of being grounded in a certain experience of reality that is independent of cultural and historical contexts.
Religion is the organized attempt to understand spiritual experience, to interpret it with words and concepts, and to use this interpretation as the source of moral guidelines for the religious community. There are three basic aspects to religion: theology, morals, and ritual see Capra and Steindl-Rast, In theistic religions, theology is the intellectual interpretation of the spiritual experience, of the sense of belonging, with God as the ultimate reference point.
Morals, or ethics, are the rules of conduct derived from that sense of belonging; and ritual is the celebration of belonging by the religious community. All three of these aspects - theology, morals, and ritual - depend on the religious community's historical and cultural contexts.
Theology Theology was originally understood as the intellectual interpretation of the theologians' own mystical experience. Over the subsequent centuries, however, during the scholastic period, theology became progressively fragmented and divorced from the spiritual experience that was originally at its core.
With the new emphasis on purely intellectual theological knowledge came a hardening of the language. Whereas the Church Fathers repeatedly asserted the ineffable nature of religious experience and expressed their interpretations in terms of symbols and metaphors, the scholastic theologians formulated the Christian teachings in dogmatic language and required from the faithful to accept these formulations as the literal truth. In other words, Christian theology as far as the religious establishment was concerned became more and more rigid and fundamentalist, devoid of authentic spirituality.
The awareness of these subtle relationships between religion and spirituality is important when we compare both of them with science. While scientists try to explain natural phenomena, the purpose of a spiritual discipline is not to provide a description of the world. Its purpose, rather, is to facilitate experiences that will change a person's self and way of life. However, in the interpretations of their experiences mystics and spiritual teachers are often led to also make statements about the nature of reality, causal relationships, the nature of human consciousness, and the like.
This allows us to compare their descriptions of reality with corresponding descriptions by scientists. In these spiritual traditions - for example, in the various schools of Buddhism - the mystical experience is always primary; its descriptions and interpretations are considered secondary and tentative, insufficient to fully describe the spiritual experience.
In a way, these descriptions are not unlike the limited and approximate models in science, which are always subject to further modifications and improvements. In the history of Christianity, by contrast, theological statements about the nature of the world, or about human nature, were often considered as literal truths, and any attempt to question or modify them was deemed heretical.
This rigid position of the Church led to the well-known conflicts between science and fundamentalist Christianity, which have continued to the present day. In these conflicts, antagonistic positions are often taken on by fundamentalists on both sides who fail to keep in mind the limited and approximate nature of all scientific theories, on the one hand, and the metaphorical and symbolic nature of the language in religious scriptures, on the other.
In recent years, such fundamentalist debates have become especially problematic around the concept of a creator God. In theistic religions, the sense of mystery that is at the core of spiritual experience is associated with the divine.
In the Christian tradition, the encounter with mystery is an encounter with God, and the Christian mystics repeatedly emphasized that the experience of God transcends all words and concepts. Thus Dionysius the Areopagite, a highly influential mystic of the early sixth century, writes: "At the end of all our knowing, we shall know God as the unknown"; and Saint John of Damascus in the early eighth century: "God is above all knowing and above all essence" both quoted in Capra and Steindl-Rast, However, most Christian theologians do want to speak about their experience of God, and to do so the Church Fathers used poetic language, symbols, and metaphors.
The central error of fundamentalist theologians in subsequent centuries was, and is, to adopt a literal interpretation of these religious metaphors. Once this is done, any dialogue between religion and science becomes frustrating and unproductive. Ethics, ritual, and the sacred Religion involves not only the intellectual interpretation of spiritual experience, but is also closely associated with morals and rituals. Morals, or ethics, are the rules of conduct derived from the sense of belonging that lies at the core of the spiritual experience, and ritual is the celebration of that belonging.
Both ethics and ritual develop within the context of a spiritual, or religious, community. According to David Steindl-Rast, ethical behavior is always related to the particular community to which we belong. When we belong to a community, we behave accordingly. In today's world, we belong to many different communities, but we share two communities to which we all belong.
We are all members of humanity, and we all belong to the global biosphere. The outstanding characteristic of the Earth Household is its inherent ability to sustain life. As members of the global community of living beings, it behooves us to behave in such a way that we do not interfere with this inherent ability. This is the essential meaning of ecological sustainability. As members of the human community, our behavior should reflect a respect of human dignity and basic human rights.