Shelves: grad-school , thesis , systems-thinking , science Most of my classmates found this one to be very dense. I found it mind-opening - like going down the rabbit hole, it led to new paths and new ideas. Capra looks at systems the human body, ecosystems, global economy from a systems perspective and has much to say about sustainability. I think the world would be a better place if everyone read this book.
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Why get so worked up over meetings of faceless suits? And what about the hysteria over genetically modified food? Well, here is a book to bring you up sharp on that. Hidden Connections offers a penetrating analysis of what it means to be a system - an ecological system, a social system, an economic system, any kind of system.
In doing so, it gets down to the bones of what is happening in the world right now. And suddenly the attacks on G7 meetings and GM crops make perfect sense. Fritjof Capra, a former physicist, has already written a string of bestsellers aimed at popularising systems science. This alone is a difficult task, as the traditional western technology-oriented mindset is antithetical to the radical view of systems put forward by such people as the Chilean neuroscientists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, with their theory of autopoietic self-making networks.
As Capra explains, the systems view is holistic and organic, whereas conventional thinking is reductionist and blindly mechanical. One sees systems as living, cognitive networks shaped by values and purposes, whereas the other sees a complex system as merely a "click-together" collection of components. The difference shows up vividly in how a system is expected to respond to information. A mechanical system simply acts according to its instructions.
But a living system, with its internal intelligence and complex feedback organisation, reacts to the meaning it finds in the information. The system selects the messages to which it listens and then evolves its own response. Capra says that this is why it is so hard to change the culture of a big corporation. Management consultants may mechanically redraw the organisational chart. But the social network that actually is the company then extracts what it wants to hear from the imposed plan.
The response to the external perturbation is organically unpredictable - sometimes creative, which makes the consultants look good, but often frustratingly wayward. Hidden Connections devotes its first half to an excellent introduction to systems science.
Genetically modified crops are a good case in point. Dewy-eyed technologists promise that we can engineer our way out of food shortages and pest problems. But Capra counters that this is just not telling the truth about the way genes actually work.
The outcomes of biotech experiments are not simply hard to predict - which would be a technical issue - but inherently impossible to control. So what GM protestors are rightfully trampling underfoot is a false mechanical conception of nature.
Capra also shows how the rapid deregulation of trade over the past 20 years - carried out largely behind closed doors by unelected bodies - has removed local cultural and legal brakes on the power of money. All values except profit have been steadily stripped out of the system, making us actually less able to protect ourselves against polluting and wasteful economic activities.
The protesters are not fighting globalisation itself - which is a natural process in this information age - but are pushing for the proper checks and balances to be built into the new world order. Intelligence needs to be put back into the system. And this demands grassroots activism.
But for those feeling a bit confused or helpless in the face of an unpredictable future, this is a great introduction both to the nature of the problem and the logic of the response. A book that could make a difference, if anyone is listening.
The Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable Living
Add to Cart About The Hidden Connections Fritjof Capra, bestselling author of The Tao of Physics and The Web of Life, here explores another frontier in the human significance of scientific ideas—applying complexity theory to large-scale social interaction. In the s, complexity theory emerged as a powerful alternative to classic, linear thought. A forerunner of that revolution, Fritjof Capra now continues to expand the scope of that theory by establishing a framework in which we can understand and solve some of the most important issues of our time. Capra posits that in order to sustain life, the principles underlying our social institutions must be consistent with the broader organization of nature. Discussing pertinent contemporary issues ranging from the controversial practices of the World Trade Organization WTO to the Human Genome Project, he concludes with an authoritative, often provocative plan for designing ecologically sustainable communities and technologies as alternatives to the current economic globalization.
Summary[ edit ] The book is divided into a theoretical part chapters 1 — 3 and a more practical part with application examples chapters 4 — 7. Part One[ edit ] The first part begins with an introduction to prebiotic and biotic evolution theory and highlights the importance of membranes in this context. The author then goes into the details of different theories on cognition , consciousness , language and social co-ordination. His claim is that all biological and social phenomena are the result of the network characteristic of life. Therefore, system dynamics is the appropriate tool for analysing such phenomena.
The Hidden Connections
Why get so worked up over meetings of faceless suits? And what about the hysteria over genetically modified food? Well, here is a book to bring you up sharp on that. Hidden Connections offers a penetrating analysis of what it means to be a system - an ecological system, a social system, an economic system, any kind of system. In doing so, it gets down to the bones of what is happening in the world right now. And suddenly the attacks on G7 meetings and GM crops make perfect sense. Fritjof Capra, a former physicist, has already written a string of bestsellers aimed at popularising systems science.