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EarthDance: Living Systems in Evolution Paperback – 1 Oct 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse (1 Oct. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0595130674
  • ISBN-13: 978-0595130672
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.7 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,067,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Elisabet Sahtouris, Ph.D. is an evolution biologist, futurist and author/lecturer who has lived in the USA, Greece and Peru. She has taught at MIT, the University of Massachusetts and CIIS. Her other books include Biology Revisioned and A Walk Through Time: From Stardust to Us.

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Erland.Lagerroth on 15 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
The biologist Elisabet Sahtouris' book, Earthdance. Living Systems in Evolution (1999 and later), develops an idea of a possible solution of the crucial question of mankind: how to avoid to destroy the ecosystem we live in and by, and to perish ourselves? Her answer is that we must learn from Nature, Life, and Earth. As a young species we are still in our adolescence: we don't understand how to see beyond our own crisis, and to realize that Life formerly solved such crises by turning struggle and competition into cooperation, and by always recycling all matter of Earth, because that is all we have got; Earth is an island in space. The problem is, however, that in contrast to the cells in our body, all of them cooperating so perfectly, we are not cloned, and in contrast to other living beings, we are self-conscious, and anybody can oppose such solutions. Human aggressiveness, lust for power, the desire to conquest, are obstacles on the road.The hope is, however, that the driving force, the "moment", in "Gaia's" development will also pull us into a new kind of cooperation.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By GPapachristos on 9 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
the scope of the book is grand and certainly the book does not deliver. having said that it is a worthwhile attempt as it attempts to talk about a complex system in all spatio temporal scales micro meso and macro.
see also micro meso macro addressing complex system couplings.
the book does make for interesting reading for anyone interested in evolution in any scale and finding the (Greek!) roots of words used in science and everyday speech.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 16 reviews
57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
Elegant, poetic, and visionary as well as excellent science. 30 Mar. 2001
By Keith A. Chandler - Published on
Format: Paperback
If I believed in reincarnation, I would think that Elisabet Sahtouris was Homer in a previous life. She writes with the grand sweep and musical throb of an epic poet and, as she says in her introduction to this new edition of EarthDance, she honed her writing skills as well as gestated her ideas on a "small pine-forested Greek island." While EarthDance is grounded in a thorough knowledge of Sahtouris' own field of evolutionary biology and a wide-ranging grasp of both science and philosophy, it also draws deeply on her personal experience of having lived among indigenous peoples and gained a profound respect for the traditional science of their cultures.
EarthDance prophetically represents the new and rapidly expanding Post-Darwinian evolutionary biology. Sahtouris explains how, in cycle after cycle, the living entities or "holons" in the realm of Gaia have merged, through negotiation and symbiosis rather than ruthless competition, in a constantly self-creating and re-creating "holarchy" of living systems.
Death even plays a crucial role in this ongoing dance of life. "Every dancer knows," says Sahtouris, "that each dancer can only perform one step at a time; that old steps must be abandoned so that the dancer's body will be free to perform new ones, which may then repeat or change the pattern of old steps." However, it is life, not death, which attracts the passion and vision of the author. She challenges the human species to live as the new biology now recognizes life has evolved, cooperatively and symbiotically rather than "red in tooth and claw." Unlike Edmund O. Wilson or Richard Dawkins, she does not have to explain love and altruism as a "strategy" to gain selfish ends but celebrates them as the very heart of evolution.
The impact of a massive boloid 65 million years ago wiped out all the big dinosaurs. Barring another such catastrophe, it seems likely that the human species is the best candidate for bringing about its own extinction unless, as Sahtouris emphasizes, we grow up as humans and "take the responsibility for using our freedom in healthful ways, to help rebalance the great ongoing dance of Gaian creation and to develop harmonious new patterns within it." Perhaps the most remarkable thing about EarthDance is the way Sahtouris extends her grasp of cosmic, biological, and social evolution into more than simply a vision but a program for restructuring the economic and political forces of our human world from the ground up rather than the top down. With extraordinary insight she sees this restructuring as beginning with the endogenous creativity of the World Wide Web as well as the thousands upon thousands of new "cells" of human creative communion that are springing up all over the world. In one more stage of autopoesis, "self-creation," she notes how all these individuals and groups come together in conferences and seminars to share their insights, pool their talents, and barter their resources. EarthDance is Elisabet Sahtouris' invitation to the entire human species to join the cosmic dance that alone can instill new life into the planetary ballroom we call Earth.
One final observation: Sahtouris does not simply represent the new post-Darwinian biology but is one of the leaders in the new twenty-first century science. In Biology Revisioned, a book he co-authored with Sahtouris, the late Willis Harman called the new science "Wholeness Science" as contrasted with the old "Separateness Science." When you read EarthDance, you are reading "Wholeness Science" in its most elegant, poetic and visionary expression.
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
All the Earth and All Its Moving Parts 24 Jan. 2001
By R. A. Wood - Published on
Format: Paperback
When I was in college the standard joke was that one of the final exam questions would be: construct a model of the universe with all things included with all their interactions. Elisabet Sahtouris comes about as close to doing that as anybody can. And she does it with language most people can understand. This book was so captivating I devoted an entire weekend to reading it.
Starting with the Gaia Principle the author leads us through the evolution of planet Earth; the key biological and chemical events that eventually led to life as we know it; the philosophy, politics, and religion that have shaped Homo Sapiens' environmental policies; and finally provides some sound advice for how humans should live in Earth's ecosystems. Of course it is impossible to construct a model of the universe with all its interactions in a single book or even a single lifetime; but, the author hits all the high points with plenty of easy to understand examples. Her ability to explain complicated physics and biology in terms any laymen can understand is out standing.
The author's main point is directly attached to the Gaia Principle and that Earth will survive anything humans do to it. However, humans may not survive what we do to ourselves. She makes a very convincing case that Homo Sapiens are in the very early stages of their evolution and we have yet to figure out how to use our technology correctly. All other successful life forms have learned to create symbiotic relationships with other living creatures. Modern man is not there yet. Ironically so called primitive societies had it figured out before we brought the industrial revolution on to ourselves. In fact the case is made that Gaia, or the Earth's sense of what is good for itself, may actually be trying to get rid of these destructive, industrialized humans. An argument I have heard before, but never so convincingly as in this book.
The reader who has not studied some Greek philosophy, modern physics, and eastern religion may feel a bit lost. In fact may even question much of what the author states. However the extensive bibliography, of important works by well known scientists and sociologists, should indicate to any reader that the message in this book is well thought out and well documented.
The readers who have not done so already may wish to read Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physics and Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel. The former explains the connection between modern nuclear physics and eastern religions, and the latter why some civilizations managed to over come and dominate other civilizations. Both of these subjects are important to Earthdance and discussed in some detail by the author.
This book should be mandatory reading in every environmental science or environmental management curriculum. I wish I could make it mandatory reading for every politician.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
a great book on living systems 31 Jan. 2001
By Douglas Selby - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Certainly there is no shortage of books describing what the human race is doing to itself and the other organisms that inhabit our planet. It can be depressing reading most of the time. This book, however, managed to put all of this into context, and surprisingly, made me feel that all is as it should be in the grand scheme. It is a wonderful synthesis of past and present scientific revelations, intuition, and even religion. Do yourself a favor and read this book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Must Read! 21 May 2007
By George F. - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In Earthdance, Elisabet Sahtouris has drawn together some of the best thinking about Earth as a living organism and presented it in terms that both inform the newcomer and add to the knowledge of the experienced student of evolution. Challenging the popular Darwinian concepts of how evolution takes place, Sahtouris leads her reader to understand how limited and dangerous Darwin's ideas can be in the wrong hands and minds. The "survivial of the fittest" mentality, she reminds us, can lead to deliberate acts of violence by one people against another in the name of "fitness." In Sahtouris' understanding of the evolutionary process, life takes on a new dimension, based in a reverence for all life. Spirituality is now a given, though "religion" takes its lumps. Traditional religious forms are seen as extensions of Darwinism, again propogating survival of one idea over another rather than the inclusion of all people in a search for the deeper spiritual meaning of how cration comes together out of the spiritual consciousness of all beings. Sahtouris points toward the Vedic religions as a way to understand the nature of our world as a living organism. The Buddhist concepts of the movement of life from one dimension of life to another fits beautifully within the "dance." She points to the view of Earth from space as a key element in the understanding of the unity of all life and being. Her book is another vital look from our space as a way to see the holiness of all life.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A wise and beautifully written book 4 Feb. 2012
By Kim Gould - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book had me sitting up late, turning pages to see what the bacteria were going to do next, which branch of animals would be wiped out by the next ice age and in which way our brains were going to evolve once we discovered agriculture. It is the ultimate adventure story, and we are now playing the key role.

A profoundly wise and beautifully written book full of ideas that we ignore at our peril. I have read so many books on evolution, the environment and human evolution. This one is very, very special. Thank you for sharing your world with us Elisabet, may we all listen closely to your words.
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