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Web of Life: A New Synthesis of Mind and Matter Paperback – 7 Jan 1997

4.7 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins Uk; New Ed edition (7 Jan. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006547516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006547518
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 132,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Inside Flap

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Fritjof Capra is at the forefront of the revolution in modern science which has challenged a conventional mechanistic view of the world based on the thinking of Descartes and Newton and brought us towards a holistic, ecological view.

Here, Capra offers a brilliant, radical 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. His findings – based on ten years of research and discussion with scientists from around the world – provide an extraordinary new foundation for ecological policies that will allow us to build and sustain communities without diminishing opportunities for future generations, and come closer than ever before to answering the question, 'What is life?'

'This stunning synthesis, by an inspired scientist, draws scientists, experts, and decision makers and concerned citizens into broader multi-disciplinary networks and dialogues about human development and the future of all life on earth'
HAZEL HENDERSON, author of 'The Politics of the Solar Age and Paradigms in Progress'

'Conceptually more extraordinary than anything Capra has yet written … Doctor Capra, indeed, is a physicien de la terre'
JAY GRIFFITHS, 'Guardian'

'An important book, even for someone of Dr Capra's standing … a synthesis of the scientific, the philosophical and the spiritual dimensions of systems thinking'
GRAHAM LAWTON, 'Times Higher Education Supplement'

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
An articulate, intelligent and thoroughly enjoyable account, Capra has captured the very essence of life, both its complexity and simplicity, and held it up for his readers in a text of stunning clarity. Capra's arguments are engaging and persuasive, without becoming too technical or falling into the trap of preaching.

For anyone who's ever wanted an answer to the question "why are we here?" - this is the book for you. All over the world and down through the many generations of sentient human beings, the quest for an explanation for our existence, one that is acceptable to both scientific and non-scientific people alike, has remained elusive - until now. In "Web of Life", Fritjof Capra presents his "new synthesis" of life - intergrating his own exceptional vision with ideas from the works of such pre-eminent thinkers as Margulis, Lovelock, Maturana and Varela. The product of this ambitious endeavour is a truly remarkable, entertaining and most of all enlightening account of what life is, how it arose, and how it evolved and continues to evolve.

The subject matter is helped enormously by Capra's writing style: captivating, succinct and free of excess technical terminology. He presents his ideas in a logical and compelling manner, providing hooks into deeper source material throughout the text and yet managing to convey the essence of his thoughts into laymen's language for common understanding.

This book will do for human understanding of life and man's place in it what Stephen Hawking's "Brief History of Time" has done for our everyday understanding of the universe. It really is a beautiful work, filled with ideas that will change the way you think about your own life and about the life around you.

As one who has been seeking answers for 25 years, be assured that they exist. You can find them in Fritjof Capra's "Web of Life".
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Format: Paperback
A marvellous book, first recommended to me by a friend. Now I have bought it for my son, because I believe that he will thoroughly enjoy Capra's very interesting insights into how we have developed our understanding of life, in all its dimensions. Highly recommended.
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I bought this book months ago and I still haven't finished reading it. I've found I can't just gobble it up like most books - I have to stop and think and digest and get my head around a different conception of reality. It's not that it's hard to understand (although I have to admit I struggled a little with some of the more scientific chapters), it's just that it takes a lot of digesting and it's full of deeply satisfying 'aha' moments when you get a glimpse of the awesomely amazing interconnectedness of everything. And you just want to sit and contemplate the implications of what you're learning before taking more information in.
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Format: Paperback
As systems theory is the basis for engineering, operations research, biology and physics, it is easy for the layman to get confused. Here Capra does a magnificent job in giving a popular overview of systems theory by using the biology lens although suggesting systems of differential equations (dynamic systems theory) as the general approach that will make systems comprehendable within all practical fields, such as engineering, management, biology and physics. Capra also tires to add a moral to the proceedings, making sustainabiliy one of the key issues. A very nice book indeed.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a must read for anyone interested in the depth of life. Not a one for anyone wanting to know if their numbers will come up on the bingo/lottery or if Mr/Mrs Right/Wrong is on the horizon. The Web of Life effortlessly educates the reader, thanks to an author with natural insight and plenty brain juice. Not only did I re-read parts, because of the magnetic dialogue used, I tucked them in my mind for future reference. Capra is an author with lots to say and what he does say to his readers is priceless.
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This synthesis is astounding. The way Capra writes is so clear and concise, it guides your thoughts to the ideas he's trying to convey so eloquently. I can't speak for people who have never even heard of deep ecology or systems thinking, as I was already interested, but this book has quite literally changed the way I see the world. Really, for your own sake, read this book.
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Format: Paperback
A phenomenal read, truly inspirational. The scope of the subject matter covered and the holistic framework presented for understanding "Life" in its most expansive and interdependent sense is breathtaking. So much to take in, so much food for thought - its like seeing the most complex jigsaw puzzle magically come into focus before your eyes; Capra takes you on a journey that traverses the evolution of the frontiers of science & philosophy, helping us understand how early systems thinking, information theory and cybernetics have laid the foundations for ecological systems theory; elaborating a conceptual framework for defining a "living system" that entails the self-organisation patterns of autopoiesis; the dissipative structures that are evidenced in the non-linear mathematics of complexity and chaos theory and how they combine together with the process of cognition - all of which form the holistic framework that underpins the interdependent reality espoused in Gaia Theory. In order to bring together such a coherent ontology Capra applies his gimlet eyed scrutiny to the most salient aspects of scientific & philosophical determinism represented by the likes of Darwin, Newton and Einstein et al, and the Cartesian dogma of Descartes, by honing in on and dissecting the assumptions inherent within their formulations to reveal fundamental flaws that exist within both classical and quantum physics.Read more ›
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