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Fritjof Capra


Austrian-born American physicist, author and founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, California.
Fritjof Capra
My main professional interest during the 1970s has been in the dramatic change of concepts and ideas that has occurred in physics during the first three decades of the century, and that is still being elaborated in our current theories of matter. The new concepts in physics have brought about a profound change in our world view; from the mechanistic conception of Descartes and Newton to a holistic and ecological view, a view which I have found to be similar to the views of mystics of all ages and traditions.
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The new paradigm may be called a holistic world view, seeing the world as an integrated whole rather than a dissociated collection of parts. It may also be called an ecological view, if the term "ecological" is used in a much broader and deeper sense than usual. Deep ecological awareness recognizes the fundamental interdependence of all phenomena and the fact that, as individuals and societies we are all embedded in (and ultimately dependent on) the cyclical process of nature.
Capra
Whenever the essential nature of things is analysed by the intellect, it must seem absurd or paradoxical. This has always been recognized by the mystics, but has become a problem in science only very recently.




Capra Fritjof quotes
The influence of modern physics goes beyond technology. It extends to the realm of thought and culture where it has led to a deep revision in man's conception of the universe and his relation to it.
Capra Fritjof
One of the key insights of the systems approach has been the realization that the network is a pattern that is common to all life. Wherever we see life, we see networks.
Fritjof Capra quotes
In the Germany of the l920s, the Weimar Republic, both orga­nismic biology and Gestalt psychology were part of a larger intellectual trend that saw itself as a protest movement against the increasing fragmentation and alienation of human nature. The entire Weimar culture was characterized by an antimechanistic outlook, a "hunger for wholeness". Organismic biology, Gestalt psychology, ecology, and, later on, general systems theory all grew out of this holistic zeitgeist.
Fritjof Capra
Tektology was the first attempt in the history of science to arrive at a systematic formulation of the principles of organization operating in living and nonliving systems.
Capra Fritjof quotes
Both the physicist and the mystic want to communicate their knowledge, and when they do so with words their statements are paradoxical and full of logical contradictions.
Capra
Peter Senge (1990), Fritjof Capra (1996), Peter Checkland (1999), and other researchers have transferred systems thinking principles and theories into practice by applying them to real-world organizational- wide issues, thus encouraging the thus encouraging the creation and development of learning organizations.
Capra Fritjof
A page from a journal of modern experimental physics will be as mysterious to the uninitiated as a Tibetan mandala. Both are records of enquiries into the nature of the universe.
Fritjof Capra
At the subatomic level, matter does not exist with certainty at definite places, but rather shows “tendencies to exist,” and atomic events do not occur with certainty at definite times and in definite ways, but rather show “tendencies to occur.




Fritjof Capra quotes
As Eastern thought has begun to interest a significant number of people, and meditation is no longer viewed with ridicule or suspicion, mysticism is being token seriously even within the scientific community An increasing number of scientists are aware that mystical thought provides a consistent and relevant philosophical back ground to the theories of Contemporary science, a conception of the world in which the scientific discoveries of men and women can be in perfect harmony with their SpirItual aims and religious beliefs.
Fritjof Capra
The realization that systems are integrated wholes that cannot be understood by analysis was even more shocking in physics than in biology. Ever since Newton, physicists had believed that all physical phenomena could be reduced to the properties of hard and solid material particles. In the 1920s, however, quantum theory forced them to accept the fact that the solid material objects of classical physics dissolve at the subatomic level into wavelike patterns of probabilities. These patterns, moreover, do not represent probabilities of things, but rather probabilities of interconnections. The subatomic particles have no meaning as isolated entities but can be understood only as interconnections, or correlations, among various processes of observation and measurement. In other words, subatomic particles are not “things” but interconnections among things, and these, in turn, are interconnections among other things, and so on. In quantum theory we never end up with any “things”; we always deal with interconnections.
Capra quotes
In biology the Cartesian view of living organisms as machines, constructed from separate parts, still provides the dominant conceptual framework. Although Descartes' simple mechanistic biology could not be carried very far and had to be modified considerably during the subsequent three hundred years, the belief that all aspects of living organisms can be understood by reducing them to their smallest constituents, and by studying the mechanisms through which these interact, lies at the very basis of most contemporary biological thinking. This passage from a current textbook on modern biology is a clear expression of the reductionist credo: 'One of the acid tests of understanding an object is the ability to put it together from its component parts. Ultimately, molecular biologists will attempt to subject their understanding of cell structure and function to this sort of test by trying to synthesize a cell
Capra Fritjof
What I am trying to do is to present a unified scientific view of life; that is, a view integrating life's biological, cognitive, and social dimensions. I have had many discussions with social scientists, cognitive scientists, physicists and biologist who question that task, who said that this would not be possible. They ask, why do I believe that I can do that? My belief is based largely on our knowledge of evolution. When you study evolution, you see that there was, first of all, evolution before the appearance of life, there was a molecular type of evolution where structures of greater and greater complexity evolved out of simple molecules. Biochemist who study that have made tremendous progress in understanding that process of molecular evolution. Then we had the appearance of the first cell which was a bacterium. Bacteria evolved for about 2 billion years and in doing so invented, if you want to use the term, or created most of the life processes that we know today. Biochemical processes like fermentation, oxygen breathing, photosynthesis, also rapid motion, were developed by bacteria in evolution. And what happened then was that bacteria combined with one another to produce larger cells — the so-called eukaryotic cells, which have a nucleus, chromosomes, organelles, and so on. This symbiosis that led to new forms is called symbiogenesis.
Capra Fritjof quotes
The mathematical framework of quantum theory has passed countless successful tests and is now universally accepted as a consistent and accurate description of all atomic phenomena. The verbal interpretation, on the other hand – i.e., the metaphysics of quantum theory – is on far less solid ground. In fact, in more than forty years physicists have not been able to provide a clear metaphysical model.
Fritjof Capra
Mystics understand the roots of the Tao but not its branches; scientists understand its branches but not its roots. Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science; but man needs both.
Fritjof Capra quotes
The mystic and the physicist arrive at the same conclusion; one starting from the inner realm, the other from the outer world. The harmony between their views confirms the ancient Indian wisdom that Brahman, the ultimate reality without, is identical to Atman, the reality within.
Fritjof Capra
The ideas set forth by organismic biologists during the first half of the twentieth century helped to give birth to a new way of thinking — "systems thinking" — in terms of connectedness, relationships, context. According to the systems view, the essential properties of an organism, or living system, are properties of the whole, which none of the parts have. They arise from the interactions and relationships among the parts. These properties are destroyed when the system is dissected, either physically or theoretically, into isolated elements. Although we can discern individual parts in any system, these parts are not isolated, and the nature of the whole is always different from the mere sum of its parts. The systems view of life is illustrated beautifully and abundantly in the writings of Paul Weiss, who brought systems concepts to the life sciences from his earlier studies of engineering and spent his whole life exploring and advocating a full organismic conception of biology.
Capra Fritjof
With the subsequent strong support from cybernetics, the concepts of systems thinking and systems theory became integral parts of the established scientific language, and led to numerous new methodologies and applications -- systems engineering, systems analysis, systems dynamics, and so on.


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