The Hidden Connections: Integrating the Biological, Cognitive, and Social Dimensions of Life Into a Science of Substainability Hardcover – Aug 20 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Physicist and bestselling author Capra (The Tao of Physics and The Web of Life) delivers another fascinating discourse that explores of the interconnectedness of all living (and some nonliving) things, from the first life form of protocells to the development of language, culture, social mores and customs, spirituality and the global economy. That may be a lot of ground to cover in one book, but Capra gracefully cruises from 3.8 billion years ago, which "marked the emergence of a universal ancestor from which all subsequent life on Earth descended" through the present. Capra moves seamlessly through the evolution of cognition and thought; in a total rethink of Cartesian notions, he suggests that "consciousness is not only a biological, but also a social phenomenon." Other topics include tool-making (which Capra calls the earliest form of technology), language development (which, he explains, developed as a secondary need to tool-making) and the social loops of culture. Readers would do well to heed Capra's remarkably unpreachy warnings about the depletion of natural resources. Here is a book that not only moves readers to think about the larger picture, but also places them squarely in the middle of it, as they travel the interlinking and continual loop of the "network."
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Critical Acclaim for Fritjof Capra
The Tao of Physics
"A pioneering book of real value and wide appeal." - Washington Post
"A brilliant best-seller... Lucidly analyzes the tenets of Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism to show their striking parallels with the latest discoveries in cyclotrons." - New York magazine
"Fritjof Capra, in The Tao of Physics, seeks... an integration of the mathematical world view of modern physics and the mystical visions of Buddha and Krishna. Where others have failed miserably in trying to unite these seemingly different world views, Capra, a high-energy theorist, has succeeded admirably. I strongly recommend the book to both layman and scientist." - V. N. Mansfield, Physics Today
"I have been reading the book with amazement and the greatest interest, recommending it to everyone I meet, and as often as possible, in my lectures. I think [Capra has] done a magnificent and extremely important job." - Joseph Campbell
The Web of Life
"A sweeping vision of the scientific landscape and probably his finest work." - Lynn Margolis, University of Massachusetts
"The acclaimed author of The Tao of Physics puts modern biology and ecology under his revisionist scrutiny... fascinating." - Kirkus Reviews
"This book, a rare blending of the heart and the head, should be required reading." - Theodore Roszak, Director, Ecopsychology Institute, California State University, Hayward, and author of The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein
Top Customer Reviews
In the first part he constructs a new theoretical framework by looking at the nature of life, the nature of consciousness and the nature of social reality. He deals extensively with networking that has become an important social phenomenon and a critical source of power in the world.
The second part explores the management of human organisations, i.e. why and how these are living systems; economic globalisation; a systemic analysis of the ethical and scientific problems of biotechnology, with reference to the human genome project, and; the major problems facing the world today.
The author does a good job of pointing out the unified systems that integrate the biological, cognitive and social aspects of life and of explaining how a new vision of reality is unfolding, together with the social implications of this transformation.
Hidden Connections is a great read. The book contains explanatory notes, a bibliography and an index. Other interesting books dealing with this subject include Small World by Mark Buchanan and Beyond Chaos by Mark Ward.
Capra weaves a picture of humanity as tightly threaded with the rest of nature's tapestry. Our composition, our habits, our creations are entwined with all other living things. He insists we must recognize our integration with the rest of the biosphere. He offers a novel mechanism to achieve that awareness. Past science has focussed too narrowly - a habit he decries as "reductionist." He urges the creation of a "new type of science dealing with qualities rather than quantities" a proposal emitting the aroma of some of the recent "post-modernist" philosophers.
In the second part of the book he addresses some of the human-designed mechanisms. Human structures are complex, even paradoxical, he argues. Our organizations carry a "dual nature" - the mechanistic drive for profit running in parallel with the community of humans who have personal needs to fulfill.Read more ›
For instance, we are informed that life is characterized by cellular constitution, and cells are autopoietic, dissipative structures. When you find out what these arcane terms mean, you are no closer to understanding life, or even cells. Capra doesn't bother talking about what cella are really like, or why life consists of cells. He simply describes them in complicated terms, drawing on the philosophers Maturana and Varela, who impress non-scientists with their verbal facility, but cut no ice with those who really study life. He flirts with Prigogine's quirky (and completely unuseful for practicing scientists) interpretation of thermodynamics, and since Prigogine is a Nobelist, we are supposed to be duly impressed. I am not. Prigogine did excellent work in the early 1950's, but then seemed to don some sort of intellectual toga and gave up interacting with the real world.
I am not prone to an excess of emotion in evaluating scientific projects, which probably saves Capra from a good deal of invective in this review. But, I purchased the book, and I am allowed my say. This book is a hoax, as are all new age interpretations of physical and biology that I have come across. The only readers who will be impressed are the scientifically naive and the scientifically informed who have dropped into the sixth dimension to do a little soul-repairing.
Not a science buff, chapter one didn't blow my doors, although I was interested by what Capra had to say and (luckily) was able to wrap my head around all the concepts. In this chapter, he traces the evolution of life on the planet, and therewith provides a novel definition of life. A good place to start any book, I suppose, but certainly one about the future prospects of life on this planet.
Chapter two deals with mind and consciousness. In this chapter, Capra bridges the ancient Cartesian chasm between mind and body, defines cognition and consciousness, and explains the meaning of language. He even throws out some theories about the origin and evolution of all the above.
Chapter three breaks from the previous two chapters, as Capra delves into social reality. In this chapter he gives meaning to the world "meaning," explains social theory from Max Weber to Habermas, discusses human freedom, explains the three forms of power (coercive, compensatory, and conditioned power, or education), and talks about technology and culture.
For me, the book really picks up with chapter four, "Life and Leadership in Organizations." This chapter, Capra discusses what the definition of life means when applied to the corporate business world. Issues such as managment, labor rights, and the role of creativity are sure to please.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This book was really a true pleasure to read! This book provides us with a very beautiful picture of how all matter (both organic and non-organic) including ourselves is connected... Read morePublished on Sept. 10 2003
This book has something for almost everyone. It extends complexity theory into social networks, bringing in discussion of communication and the making of meaning. Read morePublished on Feb. 15 2003 by Brooke Frost
This book is a great explanation of systems thinking and its practical applications. I believe this book makes the right
step in helping more of us understand our... Read more
Chapter Four of this book offers everyone, but particularly leaders, change advocates and consultants a rich opportunity to learn about systemic change in organizations. Read morePublished on Oct. 21 2002 by Amazon Customer
Physicist Fritjof Capra is perhaps best known for his 1975 book, THE TAO OF PHYSICS, which is now in its fourth printing. Read morePublished on Sept. 14 2002 by G. Merritt