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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding work. A true magnum opus., 12 May 2014
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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!

If you want to understand the major cultural shift that we have been undergoing over the last several hundred years (right across the physical, life, and social sciences) from a mechanistic worldview to the emergence of what the authors term a 'systems' worldview - a worldview that sees the world around us in terms of networks, patterns, and complex, mutually interacting, living or life-like systems rather than in terms of discrete building blocks that interact in linear, sequential ways that are open to precise forms of prediction and control - then this is now THE book to read.

As the authors show, this shift in worldview has major implications for almost everything that ought to matter to us - from the very practical ways in which we need to attend to the manifold problems that are pressing in upon us in the ecological and socio-political realms to the ways in which we can find an approach to our inner, spiritual lives that is consistent with our best scientific understandings.

You get the idea. I cannot praise this book enough. Capra and Luisi have done us all a great service. I cannot see how anyone could spend even just a few hours with this book and not come away considerably the richer for it. Spend considerably longer with it and you will undoubtedly come away knowing a lot more about various areas of interest to you than you do now - not to mention more inspired to work for changes in directions that will enable us to sustain the web of life on this planet. Every critically-minded reader will find their own quibbles here and there of course, but c'mon ... the comprehensive breadth and depth of scholarship displayed in this book, all communicated clearly and economically (often with aid of pictures, inset boxes, and diagrams), is simply outstanding.

Warwick Fox - author of Toward a Transpersonal Ecology: Developing New Foundations for Environmentalism, A Theory of General Ethics: Human Relationships, Nature, and the Built Environment, and On Beautiful Days Such as This: A philosopher sings the blues and restores his soul in Greece.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A high quality and very interesting book - a pleasure to owe and read, 23 May 2014
This review is from: The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision (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
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Blueprint for Survival, 13 Aug 2014
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clear view of life., 10 Aug 2014
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I am only part way through this book. It seems to be the aggregate of many years of far-reaching research and study and is written with extreme clarity.
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