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The Hidden Connections: Integrating the Biological, Cognitive, and Social Dimensions of Life Into a Science of Substainability [Hardcover]

Fritjof Capra
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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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

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read! Sept. 10 2003
By A Customer
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 and related to each other. Even though the author tries to illuminate us on how we are destroying ourselves, he has a positive vision that is still realizeable if we allow our consciousness to evolve more. I believe we are in desparate need of writers like this at this day and age where we are closing in on the extinction of our own species. If you'd like to learn about how all of this relates to the human mind and why we do some of the terrible things we do to ourselves, read "The Ever-Transcending Spirit" by Toru Sato. It is an absolutely incredible book that will further your understanding of nature (including ourselves) immensely.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Universal networks underlying existence Sept. 6 2003
Capra attempts to provide a conceptual framework that integrates the physical, cognitive and social dimensions in order to present a unified view of consciousness, society and life and also to develop a coherent and systemic approach to addressing the world's most pressing problems.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Something for Everyone Feb. 15 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. It addresses cognition and consciousness, even touching on spirituality, in Chapter 2. It moves into organizational practice beginning in Chapter 4 that includes a vision of leadership, then moves to the larger world stage, addressing global capitalism, biotechnology, the new civil society, and eco-sustainability. He even suggests a new tax structure!
There is a lot in this book, and Capra models the web of interconnectedness throughout. Because there is so much, sometimes I would like to see more depth in areas that interest me particularly, but he gives hints of where to look for deeper information for those interested. This book clearly builds on his previous work "The Web of Life" and while still theoretical, brings in a great deal more practical application. I highly recommend the book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Glorious edifice on a shaky foundation Jan. 29 2003
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Networks rule! Capra traces the growth of networks ranging from the minute life functions established in the earliest cells through to today's global economic organizations. Asserting that life's origins began with fat globs providing a base, cells could then develop compound structures by absorption of chemicals or other, smaller, organisms. Biological patterns were expanded, not changed, as evolution progressed through time. Complexity increased opportunity for life to inhabit new niches and adapt more readily to change. Capra embraces the "Santiago Theory of Cognition" which expresses evolution as a recursive process. "Thinking" about adaptation to changing environments leads to new lifeforms. With the process established across all life, he's able to toy with Lovelock's Gaia thesis, adding fresh ornamentation to the idea of the biosphere as a single organism.
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.
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By A Customer
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 responsibilities in the process of evolution. If you like books that apply this type of thinking to interpersonal relationships, you'd probably like Toru Sato's "Rhythm Relationships and Transcendence". I'd highly recommend both of these books, Capra's book for the macro, and Sato's book for the micro picture.
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