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The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  1,346 ratings  ·  89 reviews
While physicists were busy revolutionizing our outlook on the fundamentals of the universe, the mechanistic paradigm of the past had already taken hold on the methods of every other field. Our biologists had taken a mechanistic view of life. From a biology textbook quoted by Capra, "One of the acid tests of understanding an object is the ability to put it together from its ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published August 1st 1984 by Bantam (first published March 1st 1982)
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After a time of decay comes the turning point. The powerful light that has been banished returns. There is movement, but it is not brought about by force... The movement is natural, arising spontaneously. For this reason the transformation of the old becomes easy. The old is discarded and the new is introduced. Both measures accord with the time; therefore no harm results.

I Ching

The book has been adapted to cinema, under the title “Mindwalk”, by Amadeus Capra. I have not read the book, but
Aug 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
One of the best writer / thinker of our time, I think. It thoroughly explained the roots of the problems of the society, which are getting worse and worse unless we become aware of what is happening and what is causing them.

It guides me into understanding what holistic vision is all about. It really complemented what I am learning at the moment : holistic education.
Saw the film MINDWALK -- -- not once but three times in three weeks; hunted desultorily for the book for nearly 6 years and finally read it -- that took me a full year and half a dozen 5X7 legal pads of notes -- but it was worth it. This is/was a life-changing encounter with a book for me.
Aug 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Like the current era, the United States of the mid-70’s and early 80’s were tinged with a new batch of thinkers making strong cases for the reorganization of society. Interestingly, this period corresponds to the time when the United States peaked in domestic oil production. Economic growth slowed to a crawl and people were considering social alternatives before the aggressive economic policies and financial deregulation of the 80’s and 90’s led to the creation of financial accumulation instead ...more
Sep 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
In "The Turning Point", Fritjof Capra, the bestselling author of "The Tao Of Physics" elucidates the perils of being obsessed with the Cartesian-Newtonian paradigm. The effect of acruthless and focused reductionist approach, Capra argues, would only result in a world that is restless, impoverished, polluted and disillusioned. Capra's proposed solution to the problem of reductionism is to adopt a "Systems" view of the world.

According to the Systems or the Systemic view envisaged by Capra, the id
Sep 10, 2015 rated it did not like it
If anything is worse than garbage, it's surely trite, boring garbage.

I understand the raves, truly. The book brings up ideas that some people have never considered, and for those people it's an enlightening expansion.

The problem is he gets his physics wrong and in a preachy way. His "ideas" are an inch deep and, I suspect, for effect -- mostly just the opposite of our culturally received wisdom, so that by showing us that east is always better than west, female is always better than male, new i
Jul 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
If I had to pick only one book to recommend for all the world leaders to read cover-to-cover, it would be this book.

Still extremely pertinent to today even having been written in the eighties, this book manages to get to the root of why there are so many problems in our culture, our academics, our health, psychology, philosophy, economy. And then goes on to propose solutions based on a holistic system theory.

I'm tempted to mail Obama a copy.
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'We don't have to wait for any technological breakthroughs to embark upon this historic transition.'

This book bridges the boundary between the old and new brilliantly.

Dante's Divine Comedy, is structured according to the ecological principles observed in nature.

Maxim: Think globally and act locally

**Review posted soon...**
John Towery
May 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book really changed the way I look at life, politics, and religion in a big way. And change my thinking about things.

This is one of my best books.
Anja Sheppard
Rating: 4.5/5

Name a major event of the last century. You could say World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, 9/11, the Iran-Contra scandal, the Space Race, and many many more. Cancer is on the rise. There are enough nuclear weapons to destroy the Earth many times over. An island of plastic larger than western Europe is floating in the Pacific. Social tension has been brewing, and according to Fritjof Capra of The Turning Point, it is all because humanity has been in a “time of decay”.

In his well-
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Little sections of this book get four stars. Chapter 2, The Newtonian World Machine is a nice fairly clear statement about how Descartes' vision led to a Cartesian split in cognition. There is just enuf au jus in the explanation to make you think of the mechanisitc way a cogition is attached to a structure of method, yet it is an unadorned address.

Chapter 7, The Impasse of Economics, is worthy of a look. Capra gives a little acounting of the word origin of the word property, 'privare', as in me
May 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
well elucidated, exhaustively comprehensive and passionately argued, Mr Capra's writing is the dream of any casual reader looking for an intellectually stimulating read. This is good academic writing, and potent writing at that. what disturbs me greatly though, is that for a book written nearly 25 years ago, the dangers it warns of are still tragically and dangerously relevant. really makes you wonder what "progress" we have made. its sobering to realize that the hopeful note on Tomorrow Capra e ...more
This was a book we used in an interdisciplinary course I had as an undergraduate. It was a science-philosophy-political science course. It was highly interesting.

I still quote Capra some 20-some years later. He successfully explained to me learning. His explanation is that each time we are presented with something new, we have to categorize it. We slot new information within our own paradigm based on how it fits with what we already understand. Those items that we struggle to slot cause us disso
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
The first several chapters are a good layman's introduction to modern physics, particularly quantum physics and the intelligence that seems to be behind all things. Spirituality and Science are not mutually exclusive but dovetail in the physics of the very small. ...more
Pat Rolston
Apr 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
Capra published this book in 1982, so the science, geopolitics, economics, and philosophy all have wonderful historical context. This was a book used for interdisciplinary instruction by some college professors as perspective for the reader. I found the utility of the author’s work to be self evident as a gauge for measuring our progress or lack there of regarding the status of our world threatening problems from carbon based energy systems to our failed health care systems and toxic economics.

Apr 13, 2021 rated it liked it
This rather eclectic book proposes a paradigm shift in human society from energy consumption to mental health treatment. Fun and interesting but dated and some of the suggestions have been proven and overcome by events. The book will make you think so worth the read.
May 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Written in 1982, this book is still relevant today. Tracing the history and interconnectedness of science, medicine, economics, sociology and philosophy it shows that we are at a tipping point in cultural development while pointing a way towards a better future.
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wealth of thoughts on topics such as consciousness, systems view of reality, of health, and of economic and ecological issues.
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wonderful book - much food for thought.
Madeleine Herkes
Now rather dated. I much preferred The Tao of Physics.
Patrick Seduge
Jul 26, 2018 rated it liked it
A very insightful piece that question the very basis of our perception of scientific, social, and psychological reality.
Cristiano Alkaim
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is a fundamental book to reflect on the changes we seek as civilization! Awesome!
Paulo Ramos
Apr 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
It was a really turning point
Diana Kendall
May 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding book! Though published in the mid-80's Dr. Capra's concepts about our then-current societal problems still hold true today and in many ways are even more relevant and apparent. His insight on the Newtonian World-Machine and the Cartesian, mechanistic views of life are still steadfastly held onto by the dominating ruling minority. Many of the disastrous economic and academic problems and the conventional practices in Western medicine/healthcare are in many ways even worse today (my ow ...more
Victor Favoreto
This book, along with Brave New World, is possibly the book that changed my life, it shaped my early adulthood and my understanding of our rapidly changing society and culture. Too often dismissed as pseudoscience by those who are too rigid in their mindsets to be able to grasp the enormous revolution starting to take hold in the 21st century, it was only for my delight that my university professor highly recommended this book and even gave us classes about it. A clear sign that the new science ...more
Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership
One of Cambridge Sustainability's Top 50 Books for Sustainability, as voted for by our alumni network of over 3,000 senior leaders from around the world. To find out more, click here.

The Turning Point, drawing on diverse disciplines but written in a very accessible style, begins by considering the scale and urgency of social, ecological and economic crises faced by the world. While these are very diverse challenges, the underlying dynamics are the same. This is because the problems are systemic,
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life. It dissects the failed paradigm of linear problem solving and explores numerous applications for holistic, whole systems thinking and makes clear how shifting our intellectual paradigm in this way is just a absolute must no-brainer for the future of humanity. I read this book in '84 and now that neoliberalism, capitalism on hyper-drive, is speeding the planet into one huge unsustainable monoculture in 2016, it's more relevant than ever. I have read a bit of Capra's oth ...more
Aug 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Graduate Students/ Professors
Shelves: already-read
I must admit I wouldn't get to know this if I didn't sign up for my graduate study! What a big, thick, and intimidating book! This one is for my Philosophy of Science course and this guy used to write the bestselling the Tao of Physics before. Well, although he wrote this book way back in the 80s already and I read his book 20 years after its original conception, I must say it is still pretty much relevant and he has predicted what would be happening very well. Basically, he has predicted that p ...more
Thomas Yount
Jun 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Mostly, I liked the first half of the book that overviews the history of scientific thought.

An interesting argument Capra makes:
"It was Descartes' method that made it possible for NASA to put a moan on the moon. On the other hand, overemphasis on the Cartesian method has led to the fragmentation that is characteristic of both our general thinking and our academic disciplines, and to the widespread attitude of reductionism in science--the belief that all aspects of complex phenomena can be under
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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).

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The last five years of world history have been nothing if not...eventful. When living in interesting times, there's nothing better for...
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“Scientists, therefore, are responsible for their research, not only intellectually but also morally. This responsibility has become an important issue in many of today's sciences, but especially so in physics, in which the results of quantum mechanics and relativity theory have opened up two very different paths for physicists to pursue. They may lead us - to put it in extreme terms - to the Buddha or to the Bomb, and it is up to each of us to decide which path to take. ” 27 likes
“Genuine mental health would involve a balanced interplay of both modes of experience, a way of life in which one's identification with the ego is playful and tentative rather than absolute and mandatory, while the concern with material possessions is pragmatic rather than obsessive.” 13 likes
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