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The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision Hardcover – 10 Apr 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 510 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (10 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1107011361
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107011366
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 2.5 x 24.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 86,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'A magisterial study of the scientific basis for an integrated worldview grounded in the wholeness that generations of one-eyed reductionists could not see. The authors succeed brilliantly!' David W. Orr, Oberlin College

'The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision gives us a sound synthesis of the best science and theory on the connectedness of all living things, the dynamics of emergence and self-organization as conceived by Francisco Varela. This volume offers a profound framework for understanding our place on the planet, for better or worse. And if we apply the insights offered by Capra and Luisi, it will be for the better. The Systems View of Life should be required reading for today's young, tomorrow's leaders, and anyone who cares about life on this planet.' Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence and Ecological Intelligence

'What is life? What is a human being? How can new discoveries about nature and ourselves keep us from becoming the first self-endangered species? Capra and Luisi's dazzling synthesis explains how moving beyond mechanistic, linear, reductionist habits is revealing startling new answers to perennial questions of philosophy and practice. Sir Francis Bacon's goal of 'the enlargement of the bounds of Human Empire, to the effecting of all things possible' has put humanity in serious trouble. But today, rebuilding our thinking, language, and actions around Darwin, not Descartes, and around modern biology, not outmoded physics, creates rich new options. Driven by the coevolution of business with civil society, these can build a fairer, healthier, cooler, safer world. The Systems View of Life is a lucid, wide-ranging guide to living maturely, kindly, and durably with each other and with other beings on the only home we have.' Amory B. Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute

'Partly an enjoyable survey of exciting new developments in systems biology, valuable to any student of biology or science, and partly a bold blueprint for how we might preserve our future on Earth.' New Scientist

'… this book feels like a Rosetta stone for me, unlocking connections and roots of a panoply of different ideas and concepts. It starts walking us through the history of science - and how scientific models influenced most aspect of cultures … This book pulls the big changes together and integrates them, across disciplines into a glorious big picture, for each field … As I was reading the portion of the book covering the history of systems thinking … I realized that I was suddenly feeling very excited, like I was in a movie, sitting on the edge of my seat … This is what a great writer and a great book are supposed to do … It has had a huge impact on my way of thinking about so many things. It doesn't matter what your area of work or interest is. This book is essential reading to face the future with eyes wide open.' Rob Kall,

'Serves as a valuable overview of the discipline.' Stephen Lewis, The Biologist

New Scientist

Book Description

Taking a broad sweep through history and across scientific disciplines, this volume integrates the ideas, models, and theories underlying the systems view of life into a single coherent framework. Life's biological, cognitive, social, and ecological dimensions are presented and its philosophical, spiritual, and political implications discussed.

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Prof Warwick Fox on 12 May 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fritjof Capra has been a consistently interesting and deservedly popular thinker for many years now. I have always been impressed by the clarity and economy with which he has been able to communicate complex ideas, often in considerable depth, to a general audience. Equally, I have always been impressed by the breadth of his intellectual interests and his rare ability to combine these wide-ranging interests into coherent and far-reaching syntheses.

Now, together with his co-author Pier Luigi Luisi, who has himself made significant contributions to the discussion of the emergence of life (see, e.g., Luisi's The Emergence of Life: From Chemical Origins to Synthetic Biology), Capra and Luisi have outdone themselves. Their 500 page book The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision (with many words per page, given its large-page format) is, purely and simply, a magnum opus, it really is. It surely represents the culminating statement of Capra and his co-author's work over several decades now on the development of a scientifically-informed unified vision of the world that incorporates and integrates the biological, ecological, cognitive, philosophical, social, political, and even the spiritual dimensions of life. The last time I read such an all-embracing, well-informed, and richly rewarding synthesis as this was when I read Charles Birch and John Cobb's The Liberation of Life : From the Cell to the Community (also from Cambridge University Press) - and that was published back in 1981!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J P on 13 Aug. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reading this book I was, on one hand, depressed by the complex nature of the many problems facing the world and, on the other hand, elated by the extraordinary amount of work going on to find systemic solutions. If this book is correct then it is just possible that a groundswell of ideas and innovations may start to displace the multinational companies that are destroying our planet.

The Systems View of Life presents the culmination of many years of research and thinking by its writers. It shows how many of the processes of our lives, and our lives themselves, are complex systems producing all types of emergent behaviours. Whilst many of the underlying properties of these complex systems were similar I was left wondering when, if ever, we will really be able to understand the systems. The key will be when we can make accurate predictions about their behaviours.

It seems to me that the great thinkers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were physicists. One hundred years on the great thinkers need to be in the field of complex systems research. Fingers crossed!

Overall a very stimulating read and the final two chapters which start to look at solutions are very uplifting. Let's hope that there will be a follow up publication in 10 years time which will show how the many ideas in this book are really making a global impact.
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Format: Hardcover
I have been following Fritjof for a very long time and I have always greatly admired his outstanding contribution to humanity. His new book allow us to comprhensively understand the evolution and the future of human co-existence in theoretical terms. Despite my great admiration for him I do think Frijof analysis is still limited, this is due to lack of his practical exposure to real life human experiences worldwide. He does not address fundamental issues of binary, bipolar, dualistic, rational, linear and logical thinking and the culture associate with it which for more than 6000 years has enforced the practices of an inhuman control systems of binary power, the very foundations of human; exclusion arrogance, adversity, complex of superiority, discrimination, exploitation, violence, human butchery, these ere an instrinsic part of the current and predominant practices of a "Cultural of Death" (between humans and humans and between humans and nature).

Fritjof remains highly theoretical in respect of the need to develop a new living and evolving "Culture for Life", the needs to develop a new "Quality Linguistics of a New Human Co-existence", He deos not address the specific aspects of transformation and transition from centuries of "Quantity Binary Culture into a new life culture based on Holistic Quality".

In my experience in diverse disciplines and practices I feel Fritjof still deeply attached to the seudo-scientific mythology of using "paradigms" and he sees the system of life as a close evolution, rather that an open one, one which is borderless and boundary-less and ever evolving human experience.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Allen on 23 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I was so impressed by their presentation that I bought my copy of 'The Systems View of Life' after a book launch lecture given by Fritjof Capra and his co-author Pier Luigi Luisi on Thursday May 1st 2014 at the Study Society in Colet House, London. They gave a very interesting account of how a new systemic conception of life has emerged to pose a serious challenge to present reductionist thinking. They discussed the implications of this new paradigm on such diverse areas as healthcare, management, ecology and economics. Neither speaker made light of the serious problems confronting mankind at this time and stressed the new need for a fresh approach which acknowledges the essential unity of the phenomenal world. As might one might have expected, their talk was followed a lively question and answers session and debate.

'The Systems View of Life' is a high quality and very interesting book. It is a pleasure to owe and read. It is clearly written and amply supported with useful illustrations to complement the explanatory text. The subject matter is by no means easy and is primarily intended for students and researchers into the new systemic conception of life. This is a very impressive piece of work and a worthy successor to his ground breaking: 'Tao of Physics' and 'The Turning Point'.

Chris Allen is a Technical Author and writer with the following books available through Amazon:
The Beam of Interest: Taken by Storm
Hypnotic Tales 2013: Some Light Some Dark
Call of the Void: The Strange Life and Times of a Confused Person: 1
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