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The Tao of Physics
 
by
Fritjof Capra
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The Tao of Physics

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  9,561 ratings  ·  294 reviews
The universe: an eternal cosmic dance of subatomic particles of relationships at once paradoxical, yet somehow unified. Mystics explore our universe through meditation. Nuclear physicists explore it through experimentation and hypothesis. Their paths to the truth could not be more different-but the amazing thing is that in their own ways, the mystics and the scientists are...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published January 1st 1984 by Bantam (first published 1975)
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James Hollomon
Don't look to Capra for a highly disciplined discourse on particle physics or the nature of cosmology. Nor is this book a deep exploration of Taoism or other Eastern Religious Philosophy. Rather, it is a fascinating mental adventure showing the ways the two schools of thought often developed in parallel and came to similar conclusions from very different beginning points. The author's own words in the epilogue sum it up nicely. "Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science...more
Adam
This book bridged a major divide in my perception of the world, bringing together ideas of Quantum Physics and Eastern Mysticism. Capra, trained in both disciplines, does a fine job comparing quotes and emerging universal perceptions of the early pioneers in quantum physics, against philosophers and yogis of the ancient religions of the East. In a beautiful way, you come to discover that each of these disparate disciplines are somehow describing the universe through strikingly similar metaphors....more
Riku Sayuj
Not entirely sure how to take this book. Will come back to it after updating myself on the latest developments.
John
This book would have been better called "The Buddha of Physics", or something like that. Throughout the whole book there is hardly a single reference to taoism, and certainly no understanding of taoism and its relation to other asian religions.

The great majority of the spiritual/religious references in this book are from Indian Buddhism and Hinduism. A mild smattering of zen. Hardly any Chinese Buddhism.

I found this book incredibly boring. I think I actually started skimming towards the end, whi...more
Erik
A book that fundamentally changed the way I felt and thought deep down inside at a time of my life when I needed some sort of metaphysical path.

When you strip away the mathematics from the concepts of quantum mechanics and strong theory, etc., you get a bewildering array of thought-provking images that conjure up those posed by the best koans that Zen has to offer. Eastern mysticism meets modern physics.

You will understand that everything is connected.
Chiara
Ok so I have a small confession to make. I think I might be overrating books. Or at least it looks like it from other reviews I recently read. I usually read them after rating the books myself but sometimes I go the other way around. Today is one of those days.
I must say I find it harder to criticize a bad non–fiction book than a bad novel. And that could be because, first of all, with non–fiction books it's hardly a matter of writing style (unless it's a really good book or a really bad one) a...more
Lo
Well, this is my first one star on good reads, that means this book was even worse than the Third Hunger Games book.

The main reason for the one star is just my complete disappointment in this book. I went in to reading 'The Tao fo Physics' expecting to find something that correlated elements of quantum mechanics to the insights of Eastern mysticism and philosophy (which I feel was a reasonable expectation). However, what I found was an author who not only was dull but founded his 'correlations'...more
Ben
It is widely recognized, at least by those outside of science, that scientists are notorious bunglers when it comes to philosophical matters. So it is not surprising, though hardly excusable, that Capra's book displays a level of incompetence that should be immediately obvious to anyone with even a cursory background in logic or philosophy. As a matter of fact, it would be surprising if such an unqualified admirer of Taoism, whose writings Capra notes approvingly are "full of passages reflecting...more
Jen
I really liked this book; but I admit it had flaws, mainly due to the actual content in relation to the title. First, this book reads more like a review of quantum physics (a subject I'm not qualified to give a critique on in terms of the book's accuracy) than religion. In many cases, the author goes on for pages about quantum physics, in technical detail, and then at the very end sticks in a throw away line about how this is similar to Buddhism or Hinduism because they both believe we are all c...more
Neelesh Marik
A seminal classic that was one of the first pieces of reading that began to change my worldview, and till today, remains one of the first attempted ‘consilience’ of science and spirit. Rather than a conventional book summary or review, I would like to capture key sentences/ quotes that adorn the terrain like a string of pearls:

Chapter 1 – Modern Physics: A Path with a Heart
Any path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells y...more
Andrew Breslin
I read this book back when I was a teenage nerd and I think it had a great deal of influence on me, shaping my character and making me what I am today: a middle-aged nerd.

This was one of my earliest exposures to both modern physics and ancient mysticism, and from what I have observed, whatever source first introduces one to these ideas is always held in special esteem. Though highly recommended by others, I didn't enjoy The Dancing Wu-Li Masters, nor the film What the Do We Know nearly as much

(A...more
Ken Deshaies
This is a very interesting treatise on how physics is just catching up with Eastern religions. The more scientists discover about the working of the universe, from the tiniest particles to the most universal truths, the more Eastern mysticism and preachings are substantiated as true. Yet Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism have been preaching these truths for thousands of years. I was totally fascinated and engrossed. The first few chapters each give a brief overview of the different Eastern religions (p...more
Lage von Dissen
This book points out many of the parallels between modern physics and Eastern mysticism. In particular we can recognize parallels between many ancient mystic ideas and the modern quantum physical findings of superposition (and non locality), the duality of light and matter, and the ultimate non-physicality of nature. For many years there have been cultures that ascribed to these types of ideas as crazy as they sounded when they first hit the physics arena in the 20th century. These ideas weren't...more
Sebastian
This is a great book at showing the parallels between mystical and scientific research.

It also does a great job of stimulating visual imagination in the realm of the 4th dimension. This is the first book I have read that has managed to really explain the paradox of quantum-reality more clearly and I can now finally how the paradox of time and location are fundamental issues relating to the fabric of particles rather than with measuring techniques. It also gives a very good visual description of...more
Alan
This is a phenomenal book.

I have little formal education in physics, having passed 101 in college and never looked back, and still Dr. Capra managed to present a lot of the theoretical physics that pertained to his thesis in a digestible format. His overview of the various Eastern religions was matter-of-fact without taking anything away from them.

If you feel as though the pursuit of reason to the exclusion of cultivating intuition isn't healthy, or if you have a nagging feeling like Western sci...more
Rama
The Brahman of physics

This is one of the best books I have read which ties the philosophies of Vedanta (Hinduism), Buddhism and Taoism with the laws of physics. The book is divided into three sections; the first section gives a general introduction to the facts of physical reality. The second section discusses the philosophies of Hinduism with references to Bhagavad-Gita and Upanishads; Buddhist philosophy and Chinese thought. The last section discusses the laws of Newtonian physics, and how the...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
Hmmm what to say about this. In some ways I agree that there are a number of parallels at least in the modality of viewing the world through the eyes of the eastern believer and the modern day physicist. But whether or not these parallels are entirely the ones drawn by the author or further expounded on in this book I have some reservations in either regard. Perhaps it was because I did not enjoy being told by the author where these parallels were or being lead around in such a manner. Some of h...more
Piyush
Eastern philosophy is not a singular concept - it consists of many schools of thought; some of which the author has conveniently cherry-picked and force fit to draw parallels with Quantum Physics.

To be quite frank, the book has neither literary merit, nor does it present any groundbreakingly profound idea. There is a pretence of the latter, but anyone with half a knowledge of philosophy will see right through it. The only merit in the book, if one is to force himself to find one, is to see how a...more
Jillian
This book was recommended by my friend Tess Numrich and has re-sparked my interest in Buddhism. I was really interested in it back in college when I became a vegetarian, and it's fascinating to see how this (and Tao) can demonstrated in the physical world.

"Every particle consists of all other particles," then goes from being a scientific fact to an empathic "we're all in this together" one. And this let's your head and your heart come together rather than fight for control in difficult times.

Th...more
Daniel Toker
The connections between Eastern philosophy and modern physics are superficial at best. The treatment of each - separately - is engaging. Surprisingly so. And I like the general statements about how physics and spirituality arrive at somewhat similar *worldviews* - which I suppose they do, kind of. THAT is interesting (but then again, I'm pretty sure some of the pre-Socratics arrived at the very same worldview). But when he started to argue that the minutiae of physics agree with spiritual concep...more
Stian
I bought this book some 5 years ago, when I was fifteen. At the time I was getting increasingly interested in physics, and at the same time Buddhism. Unfortunately, I also read another book around this time called 'What The Bleep Do We Know?' which turned out to be nothing but 'quantum woo' - that is, pretending that quantum mechanics is all kinds of things that it simply isn't. I decided that The Tao Of Physics is probably something similar and it's been collecting dust on my shelf ever since....more
Tom
I haven't actually finished this book, but have had my fill for now, fully intending to return to it when I feel the need re-emerge. I think that this is a seminal work, and I know I am not the first to say such things. In my opinion this is a textbook; required background reading for the Western universalist.
Eli
interesting read, but a bit boring at times. i thought also that it had an absurd amount of typos for a book in its 5th edition. maybe this shows that i dont know the publishing world. there is alot of interesting information about eastern religions. a interesting read for engineering geeks such as myself.
Magdelanye
This may be the most difficult book I ever read and it took me months. I acknowledge that it was amazing, but even slowly I often could not follow his logic and at the end I did not feel enlightened.
Sowmya
Sep 18, 2013 Sowmya rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sowmya by: Halley
Shelves: non-fiction
I should have read this book for the first time about 7-8 yrs ago...and I still believe that this is one of those books which changed the way I think.
Ewa
When I want some new age babble I prefer to listen to Jon Anderson's lyrics instead.
Sudarshan
all i believe is "Religion is all Science and Science is all religion! "
joey
As an interdisciplinary comparative study, Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physics perhaps inevitably remains quite superficial; as a quick introduction to Eastern philosophy, it is quite good, albeit focused mostly on Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism; and as a layperson's introduction to modern physics and particle physics, wow!, it is exceptional. The comparison of modern physics and Eastern mysticism is compelling and ambitious, but perhaps words, spoken or written, on mysticism are inevitably ill-f...more
Braxton Lewis
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Purujeet
The book starts with traditions of rationality and science in major religious philosophies of the east.It gives excerpts from books - religious and scientific, ancient and modern - which sound similar even though they are separated by faith, reason, time and subject. The point which the author takes a little time to focus on is that higher physics after a point becomes indistinguishable from spiritual discourse - this is the premise which the rest of the book systematically and categorically sug...more
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“Quantum theory thus reveals a basic oneness of the universe. It shows that we cannot decompose the world into independently existing smallest units. As we penetrate into matter, nature does not show us any isolated "building blocks," but rather appears as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of the whole. These relations always include the observer in an essential way. The human observer constitute the final link in the chain of observational processes, and the properties of any atomic object can be understood only in terms of the object's interaction with the observer.” 21 likes
“Subatomic particles do not exist but rather show 'tendencies to exist', and atomic events do not occur with certainty at definite times and in definite ways, but rather show 'tendencies to occur'.” 14 likes
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