The Turning Point, by Fritjof Capra. New York: Simon and Schuster, Reviewed by Catherine Twomey Fosnot. Implicit in our field is the belief that the. Buy The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture on Turning Point is very well written by a very literate physicist Fritjof Capra who also wrote. The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture is a book by Fritjof Capra Print/export. Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version .
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1. Turning Point: A Science of Living Systems by Fritjof Capra, Ph.D. In the first three decades of the 20th century, atomic and subatomic physics led to a dramatic. Chapter 8 of the Turning Point: Science, Society and the Rising Culture Fritjof Capra. Part 1 - Machines, Organisms and the Self-Organization of Systems. A compelling vision of a new reality, a reconciliation of science and the human spirit for a future that will work The dynamics underlying the.
I don't think anybody does. The yang, having reached its climax, retreats in favor of the yin. Ecosystems sustain themselves in a dynamic balance based on cycles and fluctuations, which are nonlinear processes. An essential element in this cultural breakdown, according to Toynbee, is a loss of flexibility. See 2 questions about The Turning Point….
This ancient association is extremely difficult to assess today because of its reinierpretation and distortion in subsequent patriarchal eras.
In human biology masculine and feminine characterstics are not neatly separated but occur, in varying proportions, in both sexes.
The personality of each man and each woman is not a static entity but a dynamic phenomenon resulting from the interplay between feminine and masculine elements.
This view of human nature is in sharp contrast to that of our patriarchal culture, which has established a rigid order in which all men are supposed to be masculine and all women feminine, and has distorted the meaning of those terms by giving men the leading roles and most of society's privileges.
In view of this patriarchal bias, the frequent association of yin with passivity and yang with activity is particularly dangerous. In our culture women have traditionally been portrayed as passive and receptive, men as active and creative. Change, in this view, does not occur as a consequence of some force but is a natural tendency, innate in all things and situations. The universe is Wgaged in ceaseless motion and activity, in a continual cosmic process that the Chinese called Tao - the Way.
The notion of absolute rest, or inactivity, was almost entirely absent from Chinese philosophy. According to Helhniit Wilhelm, one of the leading Western interpreters of the I Ching, 'The state of absolute immobility is such an abstraction that the Chinese.
The term vm wei is frequently used in Taoist philosophy and means literally 'nonaction. What the Chinese mean by zw wei is not abstaining from activity but abstaining from a certain kind of activity, activity that is out of harmony with the ongoing cosmic process. The distinguished sinologist Joseph Needham defines zuu wei as 'refraining from action contrary to nature' and justifies his translation with a quotation from Chuang Tzu: Let everything be allowed to do what it naturally does, so that its nature will be satisfied.
This is the meaning of Lao Tzu's seemingly puzzling statement: In the Chinese view, then, there seem to be two kinds of activity - activity in harmony with nature and activity against the natural flow of things. The idea of passivity, the complete absence of any action, is not entertained.
Therefore the frequent Western association of yin and yang with passive and active behavior, respectively, does not seem to be consistent with Chinese thought. In view of the original imagery associated with the two archetypal poles, it would seem that yin can be interpreted as corresponding to responsive, consolidating, cooperative activity; yang as referring to aggressive, expanding, competitive activity.
Yin action is conscious of the environment, yang action is conscious of the self. In modern terminology one could call the former 'eco-action' and the tatter 'ego-action. These two kinds of activity are closely related to two kinds of knowledge, or two modes of consciousness, which have been recognized as characteristic properties of the human maid throughout the ages.
They are usually called the intuitive and the rational and have traditionally been associated with religion or mysticism and with science. Although the association of yin and yang with these two modes of consciousness is not part of the original Chinese terminology, it seems to be a natural extension of the ancient imagery and will be so regarded in our discussion. The rational and the intuitive are complementary modes of functioning of the human mind.
Rational thinking is linear, focused, and analytic. It belongs to the realm of the intellect, whose function it is to discriminate, measure, and categorize. Thus rational knowledge tends to be fragmented. Intuitive knowledge, on the other hand, is based on a direct, nonintel-lectual experience of reality arising in an expanded state of awareness.
From this it is apparent that rational knowledge is likely to generate self-centered, or yang, activity, whereas intuitive wisdom is the basis of ecological, or yin, activity. This, then, is the framework for our exploration of cultural values and attitudes. For our purposes these associations of yin and yang will be most useful:. Looking at this list of opposites, it is easy to see that our society has consistently favored the yang over the yin -rational knowledge over intuitive wisdom, science over religion, competition over cooperation, exploitation of natural resources over conservation, and so on.
This emphasis, supported by the patriarchal system and farther encouraged by the dominance of sensate culture during the past three centuries, has led to a profound cultural imbalance which lies at the very root of our current crisis - an imbalance in our thoughts and feelings, our values and attitudes, and our social and political structures. In describing the various manifestations of this cultural imbalance, I shall pay particular attention to their effects on health, and want to use the concept of health in a very broad sense, including in it not only individual health but also social and ecological health.
These three levels of health are closely interrelated and our current crisis constitutes a serious threat to all three of them. It threatens the health of individuals, of the society, and of the ecosystems of which we are a part. Throughout this book I will attempt to show how the strikingly consistent preference for yang values, attitudes, and behavior patterns has resulted in a system of academic, political, and economic institutions that are mutually supportive and have become all but blind to the dangerous imbalance of the value system that motivates their activities.
According to Chinese wisdom, none of the values pursued by our culture is intrinsically bad, but by isolating them from their polar opposites, by focusing on the yang and investing it with moral virtue and political power, we have brought about the current sad state of affairs.
Our culture takes pride in being scientific; our time is referred to as the Scientific Age. It is dominated by rational thought, and scientific knowledge is often considered the only acceptable kind of knowledge. That there can be intuitive knowledge, or awareness, which is just as valid and reliable, is generally not recognized.
This attitude, known as scientism, is widespread, pervading our educational system and all other social and political institutions. When President Lyndon Johnson needed dvice about warfare in Vietnam, his administration turned a theoretical physicists - not because they were specialists in the methods of electronic warfare, but because they were considered the high priests of science, guardians of supreme knowledge.
We can now say, with hindsight, that Johnson might have been much better served had he sought his advice from some of the poets. But that, of course, was - and stili is - unthinkable.
We shall see that the effects of this division between mind and body are felt throughout our culture. Retreating into our minds, we have forgotten how to 'think' with our bodies, how to use them as agents of knowing. The division between mind and matter led to a view of the universe as a mechanical system consisting of separate objects, which in turn were reduced to fundamental material building blocks whose properties and interactions were thought to completely determine all natural phenomena.
This Cartesian view of nature was further extended to living organisms, which were regarded as machines constructed from separate parts.
We shall see that such a mechanistic conception of the world is still at the basis of most of our sciences and continues to have a tremendous influence on many aspects of our lives.
It has led to the welt-known fragmentation in our academic disciplines and government agencies and has served as a rationale for treating the natural environment as if it consisted of separate parts, to be exploited by different interest groups. Exploitation of nature has gone hand in hand with that of women, who have been identified with nature throughout the ages. From the earliest times nature - and especially the earth - was seen as a kind and nurturing mother, but also as a wild and uncontrollable female.
In prepatriarchal eras her many aspects were identified with the numerous manifestations of the Goddess. Under patriarchy the benign image of nature changed into one of passivity, whereas the view of nature as wild and dangerous gave rise to the idea that she was to be dominated by man.
At the same time women were portrayed as passive and subservient to men. With the rise of Newtonian science, finally, nature became a mechanical system that could be manipulated and exploited, together with the manipulation and exploitation of women. The ancient association of woman and nature thus interlinks women's history and the history of the environment, and is the source of a natural kinship between feminism and ecology which is manifesting itself increasingly.
The view of man as dominating nature and woman, and the belief in the superior role of the rational mind, have been supported and encouraged by the Judeo-Christian tradition, which adheres to the image of a male god, personification of supreme reason and source of ultimate power, who rules the world from above by imposing his divine law on it.
The laws of nature searched for by the scientists were seen as reflections of this divine law, originating in the mind of God. It is now becoming apparent that overemphasis on the scientific method and on rational, analytic thinking has led to attitudes that are profoundly antiecological. Rational thinking is linear, whereas ecological awareness arises from an intuition of nonlinear systems. One of the most difficult things for people in our culture to understand is the fact that if you do something that is good, then more of the same will not necessarily be better.
This, to me,is the essence of ecological thinking. Ecosystems sustain themselves in a dynamic balance based on cycles and fluctuations, which are nonlinear processes.
Linear enterprises, such as indefinite economic and technological growth - or, to give a more specific example, the storage of radioactive waste over enormous time spans - will necessarily interfere with the natural balance and, sooner or later, wilt cause severe damage. Ecological awareness, then, will arise only when we combine our rational knowledge with an intuition for the nonlinear nature of our environment.
Such intuitive wisdom is characteristic of traditional, nonliterate cultures, especially of American Indian cultures, in which life was organized around a highly refined awareness of the environment. In the mainstream of our culture, on the other hand, the cultivation of intuitive wisdom has been neglected. This may be related to the fact that, in our evolution, there has been an increasing separation between the biological and cultural aspects of human nature. Biological evolution of the human species stopped some fifty thousand years ago.
From then on, evolution proceeded no longer genetically but socially and culturally, while the human body and brain remained essentially the same in structure and size. This separation manifests itself in a striking disparity between the development of intellectual power, scientific knowledge, and technological skills, on the one hand, and of wisdom, spirituality, and ethics on the other. Scientific and technological knowledge has grown enormously since the Greeks embarked on the scientific venture in the sixth century B c.
But during these twenty-five centuries there has been hardly any progress in the conduct of social affairs. The spirituality and moral standards of Lao Tzu and Buddha, who also lived in the sixth century b. Our progress, then, has been largely a rational and intellectual affair, and this one-sided evolution has now reached a highly alarming stage, a situation so paradoxical that it borders insanity. We can control the soft landings of space craft on distant planets, but we are unable to control the polluting fumes emanating from our cars and factories.
We propose Utopian communities in gigantic space colonies, but cannot manage our cities. The business world makes us believe that huge industries producing pet foods and cosmetics are a sign of our high standards of living, while economists try to tell us we cannot 'afford' adequate health care, education, or public transport.
Medical science and pharmacology are endangering our health, and the Defense Department has become the greatest threat to our national security. Those are the results of overemphasizing our yang, or masculine side - rational knowledge, analysis, expansion - and neglecting our yin, or feminine side - intuitive wisdom, synthesis, and ecological awareness. Living organisms, societies, and ecosystems are all systems.
It is fascinating to see that the ancient Chinese idea ofyin and yang is related to an essential property of natural systems that has only recently been studied in Western science. Living systems are organized in such a way that they form multi-leveled structures, each level consisting of subsystems which are wholes in regard to their parts, and parts with respect to the larger wholes.
Thus molecules combine to form organelles, which in turn combine to form cells. The cells form tissues and organs, which themselves form larger systems, like the digestive system or the nervous system. People form families, tribes, societies, nations. All these entities - from molecules to human beings, and on to social systems - can be regarded as wholes in the sense of being integrated structures, and also as parts of larger wholes at higher levels of complexity.
In fact, we shall see that parts and wholes in an absolute sense do not exist at all. Arthur Koestler has coined the word 'holons' for these subsystems which are both wholes and parts, and he has emphasized that each holon has two opposite tendencies: These two tendencies are opposite but complementary. In a healthy system - an individual, a society, or an ecosystem - there is a balance between integration and self-assertion.
This balance is not static but consists of a dynamic interplay between the two complementary tendencies, which makes the whole system flexible and open to change. The relation between modem systems theory and ancient Chinese thought now becomes apparent. The Chinese sages seem to have recognized the basic polarity that is characteristic of living systems.
Self-assertion is achieved by displaying yang behavior; by being demanding, aggressive, competitive, expanding, and - as far as human behavior is conceraed-by using linear, analytic thinking.
Integration is furthered by yin behavior; by being responsive, cooperative, intuitive, and aware of one's environment. Both yin and yang, integrative and self-assertive tendencies, are necessary for harmonious social and ecological relationships. Excessive self-assertion manifests itself as power, control, and domination of others by force; and these are, indeed, the patterns prevalent in our society. Political and economic power is exerted by a dominant corporate class; social hierarchies are maintained along racist and sexist lines, and rape has become a central metaphor of our culture - rape of women, of minority groups, and of the earth herself.
Our science and technology are based on the seventeenth-century belief that an understanding of nature implies domination of nature by 'man. This technology is aimed at control, mass production, and standardization, and is subjected, most of the time, to centralized management that pursues the illusion of indefinite growth.
Thus the self-assertive tendency keeps increasing, and with it the requirement of submission, which is not the complement to self-assertion but the reverse side of the same phenomenon.
Promotion of competitive behavior over cooperation is one of the principal manifestations of the self-assertive tendency our society.
Aggressive, competitive behavior alone, of course, would make life impossible. Even the most ambitious, goal-oriented individuals need sympathetic support, human contact, and times of carefree spontaneity and relaxation. In our culture women are expected, and often forced, to fulfill these needs. They are the secretaries, receptionists, hostesses, nurses, and homemakers who perform the services that make life more comfortable and create the atmosphere in which the competitors can succeed.
They cheer up their bosses and make coffee for them; they help smooth out conflicts in the office; they are the first to receive visitors and entertain them with small talk. In doctors' offices and hospitals women provide most of the human contact with patients that initiates the healing process. In physics departments women make the tea and serve the cookies over which the men discuss their theories. All these services involve yin, or integrative, activities, and since they rank lower in our value system than the yang, or self-assertive, activities, those who perform them get paid less.
Indeed, many of them, such as mothers and housewives, are not paid at all.
As the Chinese text says. The yang, having reached its climax, retreats in favor of the yin. They all counteract the overemphasis on yang attitudes and values, and try to reestablish a balance between the masculine and feminine sides of human nature,. There is a rising concern with ecology, expressed by citizen movements that are forming around social and environmental issues, pointing out the limits to growth, advocating a new ecological ethic, and developing appropriate 'soft' technologies.
While physicians will move out of the mindset that treatment of the body alone is their sole prerogative, psychiatrists and psychologists will also experience a paradigm mental shift whereby they would devote more attention to the human body.
Thus the Descartes notion of mind-body duality would be rend asunder. Pursuing the Systems Approach would lead to a cascading flow of benefit such as alleviating poverty, reducing the stockpiling of nuclear weapons, lower reliance on nuclear fission and the consequent production of dangerous elements such as Plutonium, and obliterating the economic chasms separating countries in the world today.
While "Turning Point" lends a radical twist to modern thinking, some of the means to attain the end are controversial and disputable. For instance, relying upon the Primal Scream technique evolved by Arthur Janov as a mode of psychotherapy and according an elitist status to mysticism and shamanism as touchstones of healing surely does raise an eyebrow or two.
Capra seems to place unfounded faith in P. Laing's quote, "mystics and Schizophrenics both swim in the same ocean, but while mystics swim, schizophrenics drown".
All in all, "Turning Point" serves as a brilliant and refreshing mind churner whose avowed objective lies in making the world a better place to live. Jul 07, Brian 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. Dante's Divine Comedy , is structured according to the ecological principles observed in nature. View 1 comment. May 20, John Towery 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. Otima leitura! Feb 28, Julie 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 Little sections of this book get four stars. Capra gives a little acounting of the word origin of the word property, 'privare', as in meaning to deprive the commons of the value of a good or service. Then there is the mention on p. It may have taken 2 days to decide to sell a jug of wine to Mr. Smellers before this advance. Last there is a bit on that old nugget of unexplained wisdom, the 'invisible hand' and invisible and mysterious guiding force behind production where men of like mind join efforts and increase trade and exchange.
Capra gives a protein shake to the physiocrats in giving them credit for uninvisibleing it as productive force, as the Industrial Revolution made life into and became a mechanized life, built of the raw material as nature hath furnished into machines.
It is a readable text, introductory but at a literable level like a good play with all the star figures introduced and left to interact on the page at a decent party. Sep 10, Sam 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 If anything is worse than garbage, it's surely trite, boring garbage.
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 is always better than old, he relieves us from actually having to think these things through for ourselves to discover that the world is not really black and white. Simply pointing out that quantum physics contains what in our world appear to be paradoxes does not constitute disproof of everything we ever thought.
I prefer books that do not provide "answers" but rather help understand and refine the questions. May 31, Manta rated it really liked it. This is good academic writing, and potent writing at that.
When it comes, Will our Turning Point be the lowest point of an upward curve 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 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 This was a book we used in an interdisciplinary course I had as an undergraduate. Those items that we struggle to slot cause us dissonance. We have to either ignore those items or adjust our paradigm to accommodate the new information. Doing so is how we evolve. This is one of those a-ha moments for me. Estou muito preso ao pensamento cartesiano. May 19, R. 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. Idee interessanti, poste in modo ridondante e poco approfondito a mio parere. Ho faticato molto a finirlo, la ripetizione degli stessi concetti chiave usando le stesse parole lungo tutto il testo rendono la lettura un interminabile deja-vu.
One of the greatest books I've ever had the good fortune to read. Capra is one of the brilliant minds of our time. I first heard about him as a reference in a Smith College class, somewhere between and His work is superbly enriching mind food. Now rather dated. I much preferred The Tao of Physics. Jul 26, Patrick Seduge rated it liked it. A very insightful piece that question the very basis of our perception of scientific, social, and psychological reality.
Sep 17, Pradnya 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, Lisa rated it really liked it. Wonderful book - much food for thought. Soldi spesi malissimo. En el Momento actual vivimos una triple amenaza 1. Le echan la culpa al problema. Cambiar profundamente nuestras instituciones sociales, nuestros valores y nuestras ideas.
May 21, Diana Kendall rated it it was amazing. Outstanding book! Though published in the mid'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.
He discusses the life cycle processes that apply to all civilizations since the dawn of time; genesis, growth, breakdown and disintegration and our current society's position in this cycle. A must-read book that will help you to recognize we are in a cultural rebirth and, I hope, we will " Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now. Download Hi Res. LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices. Read it Forward Read it first. Pass it on! Stay in Touch Sign up.
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