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The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,157 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
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, C ...more
Paperback, 347 pages
Published October 1996 by Anchor Books (first published 1996)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,599)
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Feb 23, 2008 Stephen rated it really liked it
Shelves: ecology, non-fiction
In The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems, Fritjof Capra attempts to present a synthesis of systems models as a new (and improved) way of looking at life. While scientists will often speak of paradigm shifts within a field -- for instance from Newtonian to relativistic physics, or Lamarckian evolution to the Darwinian kind -- it is rare that they attempt to link these individual shifts to a wider movement. It is probably rarer still that they attempt to create the ove ...more
Mar 18, 2010 Sebastian rated it really liked it
This was an excellent book, one of the best ones I have read in over a year, with new ideas and stimulated imagination. I learned a great deal about cybernetics, learned to view evolution from a different perspective, and see how all of "life" can be broken down into cohesive sequence of chemical unfoldings. Theories tie well into chaos theory, emergence and systems analysis.

Not everything he says though I agree with, but this is largely understandable since my world-view is quite fringe even am
Nate D
May 26, 2009 Nate D rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, school
Pseudo-scientific mysticism. Just enough science (quite a bit, actually; Capra hasn't exactly shirked his research) to make people buy the completely unfounded ludicrous speculation the book spends its length careening towards. I almost shelved this as "fantasy".
Feb 07, 2014 Edy rated it liked it
Fritjof Capra merupakan seorang fisikawan dan filosof kelahiran Swiss. Kalau selama ini dalam dunia filsafat terpecah dalam dua aliran yang focus pada aspek “substansi” dan aspek “bentuk”, Capra mencoba membahas penggabungan aspek substansi, bentuk dan “proses”.

Beberapa poin pemikiran beliau adalah:
• Perlu perubahan orientasi pendekatan dari Cartesian yang linier menjadi sistemik jaringan. Selama ini dunia pengetahuan menempatkan fisika sebagai panutan dengan pendekatan deduksi dari Descartes. B
Oct 20, 2015 Bart rated it really liked it
The 280 pages that begin on page 17 and end on page 297 are fantastic. Their predecessor and successor pages do not appear to have even the same author.

After exploring possibilities of an invented, not perceived, reality, a nonlinear loop in which the perceiver and the perceived adapt to one another in a complex interaction of variables and variable rates, the author quite suddenly introduces the concept of "optimization" in his epilogue, as if there were a constant state to pursue in an ecology
Erik Akre
Jul 27, 2015 Erik Akre rated it liked it
Recommends it for: educators or workers in sustainability (for sound theory)
Shelves: ecology, science
An excellent book; one that I looked forward to reading. All the scientific ins-and-outs of systems thinking here. There is also an extensive section on the mathematical operations of systems thinking, which, while it was a little above my elementary-teacher head, taught me thoroughly about chaos theory. After this book, I have a strong grasp of what constitutes an ecological organism (be it individual or ecosystem), and how the organism grows, changes, evolves in its process.

Another important
Rian Nejar
Oct 02, 2015 Rian Nejar rated it it was amazing
An enlightening, coherent integration of a multitude of perspectives that offer deeper comprehension of the essence of all life. Fritjof Capra brings in everything from history, philosophy, systems thinking, mathematics, computing, anthropology, and biology to describe an interconnectedness, a synthesis of deep ecology, an inseparable melding of pattern, structure, and process that can be seen to constitute all life. He does so fluidly, seamlessly, albeit with minor errors such as in the number ...more
Paco Nathan
Dec 11, 2009 Paco Nathan rated it really liked it
Shelves: green
Well written. Tour de force for many complex points, with excellent storytelling and vital issues. Good intro for autopoiesis and systems theory from Green perspectives.
Stephanie Hallmark
This book changed by life. I don't remember a lot of details at this point...other than it gave me a framework to hold the relationship of order to chaos...and how life evolves at that border, and continually evolves to higher orders of complexity until chaos intervenes and disrupts the system...the pieces of which eventually re-form into different patterns, which then begin to evolve to ever higher orders of complexity....
It made me consider the possibility that human systems...institutions, s
Glynda-lee Hoffmann
Sep 13, 2007 Glynda-lee Hoffmann rated it liked it
Dense and complicated, but illuminating.
Mark Love
Mar 02, 2011 Mark Love rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book that claims to offer a new scientific understanding of life at all levels of living systems, is almost certainly bound to disappoint. To hope to answer the questions "what is life?", "what is consciousness?" and to provide a new ecological paradigm along the way is almost certainly setting yourself up for failure. And yet in this remarkable book Capra does exactly that.

I first read this book about 5yrs ago and the concepts and principles it contained have largely stayed with me since. But
The Capital Institute
Capra’s book, like many of his earlier works, explores the relationship between the environment and society; in this book he focuses on the biological aspects of this theory. Capra emphasizes the “ecological” as having particular significance to the way the field of science is shifting away from a physics-heavy focus.
The book also creates what journalist Scott London calls a “coherent” conceptual framework for understanding the theories of this scientific ‘revolution.’ Capra argues that there m
Bob Nichols
Capra presents an anti-reductionist, and anti-deterministic (molecular v. integrative, holistic v. mechanistic) view of life. Life is not about atoms only, but patterns of organization and networks of mutually beneficial parts. He uses the term autopoiesis (self-organization) to describe a process whereby life makes iteself, continuously. Life is closed to the world in the sense that it self-creates and self-orders, but life is also open because it necessarily interacts with its environment and ...more
Sarah Brooks
Jan 02, 2015 Sarah Brooks rated it really liked it
Fritjof Capra is one of my go-to experts on connecting general systems theory with living systems theory and how that affects social-technological systems. While those are lots of wonky terms, the crux of it is that he makes science relatable to daily life and human dynamics. Always worth reading. And if you live in the Bay Area, there are often opportunities to hear him speak as well –see him if you can. He's a wise, wise man. Meanwhile, read his books. They're great. ...more
Kathryn Ross
Jan 03, 2015 Kathryn Ross rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life - still does. It requires, or at least for me, has required repeated readings. It describes a world-view quite different from a typical American way of seeing the world, and thus some rethinking is required. A very important book and one I will read again for sure.
Apr 01, 2015 Shelley rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-improvement
great little mine of knowledge. IT talk about systems-thinking and shared a history of or evolution of our "thinking" and trying to create systems. I loved the examples from nature and biology to see parallels of systems. Definitely a holistic approach with systems that allows for order (and transitory chaos) by having a closed system of autonomous units work interdependently.
Mr Whitehouse
May 21, 2015 Mr Whitehouse rated it it was amazing
Heaving going in parts but worth the read. Important to see the world as complex as we try to move forward and reshape and reprioritise the way we think about our future on the planet.
Joey Dominguez
I was done with this book after the author said immunology system needs to be changed to "network" because otherwise lymphocytes would attack anything. The author has a style of explain science well, suggest a rename because of a small detail, and having it fit into his theory. There is no reason to change the 7-10 characteristics of life into three. Finally, I would have picked up a philosophical book if I wanted to hear his opinions and perceptions.
Jun 19, 2014 John rated it it was amazing
Capra is a stunningly clear and conscious scientific writer. His enthusiasm for science pours through in his writings. In the Web of Life, he yet again destroys the rigid and outmoded mechanistic paradigm and offers here a new vision of reality and scientific scope.

Capra is quite unique in his sometimes journalistic, sometimes historical approach to science. He explains the holistic breakthroughs in various branches of science from quantum theory through biology up to cybernetics. In the Web of
Bold Bookworm
Sep 07, 2012 Bold Bookworm rated it it was amazing
... This book has relatively high expectations of the reader. It delves into subjects like fractal waves and the generalities of cellular biology. A reader not conversational on those topics will be challenged and enlightened. Much of the book details the history of ideas. The practical application of the knowledge imparted through exploration of those ideas is packaged in the epilogue. One ultimately wishes the recommendations for practical applications of the conclusions drawn were presented e ...more
Z. Flaherty
May 23, 2014 Z. Flaherty rated it it was amazing
This book has opened me up to a world of science and life I had never known I didn't know.

More in construction....
Dec 25, 2011 Billy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Billy by: Ariel, thank you
This is one of my favorite science books for the general reader. The material is in depth without being too technical. It addresses living systems, interconnectedness and touches on the idea of cognizance of all life down to bacteria. I have talked to a few humans who find this a little abrasive for their intellectual egos, but for the better, intellect should be abraded.

Coming from a physicist, his ideas are not the woo-woo musings of a new age mystic, but rather herald the necessary change in
Feb 07, 2016 Colin rated it liked it
Fascinating concepts but often a chore to grasp or just a bit dull in its details, for my tastes anyway.
Dec 12, 2015 Pradnya rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed reading this book about our interconnected independent life. Especially interesting were chapters 1, 11, and 12. Interesting perspective about the nature of consciousness.
fascinating take on the Rhizome (see A Thousand Plateaus by Deleuze and Guattari), through the lens of the scientific history behind dynamical systems thinking. some of the claims may sound a bit... overenthusiastic, especially w/ regard to cognition, and it would have been nice to have had a bit more explication of systems dynamics in the social realm, but wonderful nonetheless. lots of good leads in the bibliography.

makes me wish there were a way to give a book two ratings, one for form/style,
Jul 25, 2014 Raúl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Annie Frame
Aug 06, 2012 Annie Frame rated it it was amazing
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 read ...more
Annie Frame
Sep 06, 2014 Annie Frame rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 read ...more
Henrique Cassol
Nov 19, 2012 Henrique Cassol rated it really liked it
O capra é um dos meu autores favoritos. Depois que li o Ponto de Mutação não consegui mais parar de ler e viajar nas suas ideias, desde física quântica (Tao da Física) até o evolucionismo (Este livro)concordo com quase todas as passagens filosóficas que este brilhante autor retrata. Mesmo que muitas de suas teorias têm se mostrado uma falácia, considero a sua essência, presente em todos os seus livros, uma filosofia de vida.
Dec 28, 2014 Yacoob rated it really liked it
Klíčové části jsou pro humanitně vzdělaného studenta zvyklého vyhýbat se číslům velkým obloukem docela náročné, ale dává to celé docela smysl. Nevýhoda je, že je to tak komplexní téma, že to u piva prostě nikomu nevysvětlíte.
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Fritjof Capra (born February 1, 1939) is an Austrian-born American physicist. He is a founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, California, and is on the faculty of Schumacher College. Capra is the author of several books, including The Tao of Physics (1975), The Turning Point (1982), Uncommon Wisdom (1988), The Web of Life (1996) and The Hidden Connections (2002).
More about Fritjof Capra...

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