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The Web Of Life

A New Understanding of Living Systems
Paperback Book
Publisher: 
Doubleday
 | 
September, 1997
ISBN:
9780385476768
In stock now: 
2
$19.00 CAD$15.20 CAD20%
Banyen's Description: 

New from the author of The Tao of Physics and other seminal books, The Web of Life has been ten years in the making. The vitality and accessibility of Capra’s ideas have made him one of the most eloquent spokespersons for the latest findings emerging at the frontiers of scientific, social, and philosophical thought. In previous books, he juxtaposed physics and mysticism to define a new vision of reality. Now Capra takes another leap, setting forth a new scientific language to describe the interrelationships and interdependencies of psychological, biological, physical, social, and cultural phenomena—the “web of life.” Quite a task! Capra’s edge is personal connection with many of the researchers and discoverers whose work he synthesizes here. Among them are Prigogine, Varela, Maturana, Abraham, Margulis, Lovelock, Pert, Naess, and Mandelbrot, to name just a few.

During the past 25 years, scientists have challenged conventional views of evolution and the organization of living systems, and

a new language for understanding the complex, highly integrative systems of life has indeed emerged. Different scientists call it by different names—“dynamical systems theory,” “the theory of complexity,” “nonlinear dynamics,” “network dynamics” and so on. Chaotic attractors, fractals, dissipative structures, self-organization, and autopoietic networks are some of its key concepts.

This approach to understanding life is pursued by outstanding researchers and their teams around the world....However, to date nobody has proposed an overall synthesis that integrates the new discoveries into a single context and thus allows lay readers to understand them in a coherent way. This is the challenge and promise of The Web of Life.

The new understanding of life may be seen as the scientific forefront of the change of paradigms from a mechanistic to an ecological worldview.... In fact, the synthesis of current theories and models I propose here may be seen as an outline of an emerging theory of living systems that offers a unified view of mind, matter, and life.

Currently director of the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley,  Fritjof Capra has written another watershed book for us “in the peanut gallery” (the non-scientists among us) while providing an impressive synthesis of important research for those “in the trade.” While The Tao of Physics awakened us to the wonder and connections at the heart of the matter-and-energy dance (physics), The Web of Life goes deeper to ask hard and important questions about what is life, how does life work, how do systems evolve, repair, and connect, and what does that mean about how to live? (the life sciences).

By calling the emerging new vision of reality “ecological” in the sense of deep ecology, we emphasize that life is at its very center. This is an important point for science, because in the old paradigm physics has been the model and source of metaphors for all other sciences. “All philosophy is like a tree,” wrote Descartes. “The roots are metaphysics, the trunk is physics, and the branches are all the other sciences.”

Deep ecology has overcome this Cartesian metaphor. Even though the paradigm shift in physics is still of special interest because it was the first to occur in modern science, physics has now lost its role as the science providing the most fundamental description of reality. However, this is still not generally recognized today.... Today the paradigm shift in science, at its deepest level, implies a shift from physics to the life sciences.

Among Fritjof Capra’s other books:

·    Fritjof Capra in Conversation with Michael Toms

·    The Tao of Physics, 3rd Edition

·    The Turning Point

·    Belonging to the Universe (with David Steindl-Rast)

Publisher’s Description: 

The vitality and accessibility of Fritjof Capra's ideas have made him perhaps the most eloquent spokesperson of the latest findings emerging at the frontiers of scientific, social, and philosophical thought. In his international bestsellers The Tao of Physics and The Turning Point, he juxtaposed physics and mysticism to define a new vision of reality. In The Web of Life, Capra takes yet another giant step, setting forth a new scientific language to describe interrelationships and interdependence of psychological, biological, physical, social, and cultural phenomena--the "web of life."



During the past twenty-five years, scientists have challenged conventional views of evolution and the organization of living systems and have developed new theories with revolutionary philosophical and social implications. Fritjof Capra has been at the forefront of this revolution. In The Web of Life, Capra offers a brilliant synthesis of such recent scientific breakthroughs as the theory of complexity, Gaia theory, chaos theory, and other explanations of the properties of organisms, social systems, and ecosystems. Capra's surprising findings stand in stark contrast to accepted paradigms of mechanism and Darwinism and provide an extraordinary new foundation for ecological policies that will allow us to build and sustain communities without diminishing the opportunities for future generations.



Now available in paperback for the first time, The Web of Life is cutting-edge science writing in the tradition of James Gleick's Chaos, Gregory Bateson's Mind and Matter, and Ilya Prigogine's Order Out of Chaos.

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