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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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (Aug. 20 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385494718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385494717
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 2.8 x 21.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 481 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #697,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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.

Review

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

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Sept. 6 2003
Format: Hardcover
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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By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on Jan. 29 2003
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
Capra is a physicist but his writing is geared towards instructing non-science types in the implications of science for the meaning of our lives. This is a very admirable goal, and more physicists should become engaged in this critically important task. The problem is that Capra's analysis and interpretations make very little contact with the physical reality he is trying to describe. Rather, he couches pedestrian descriptions of the natural world in complex new age terminology that might lull the unknowledgeable reader that something is being said, when in fact, nothing is being said.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
If you are looking to save the world via fiction, see Daniel Quinn. If you are looking to save the world via non-fiction, look no further than Hidden Connections. This book will provide you with everything you need (including a new mind and new conception of self) to get right with the ecosphere and the damage we have all helped inflict upon her. (Don't think the world is in trouble, see Lester Brown's ECO-ECONOMY).
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.
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