I am delighted to share this news from Fritjof about his new book, The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision, co-authored with Professor Pier Luigo Luisi. I will be writing a full review of the book in a few week’s time, but for now I wanted to let you know that the book is out now, a book which I am sure will soon be one of the key references for all students of systems thinking the world over.
Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi
The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision
As the twenty-first century unfolds, a new scientific conception of life is emerging.
It is a unified view that integrates, for the first time, life’s biological, cognitive, social and ecological dimensions. At the forefront of contemporary science, the universe is not longer seen as a machine composed of elementary building blocks. We have discovered that the material world, ultimately, is a network of inseparable patterns of relationships; that the planet as a whole is a living, self-regulating system.
The view of the human body as a machine and of the mind as a separate entity is being replaced by one that sees not only the brain, but also the immune system, the bodily tissues, and even each cell as a living, cognitive system. Evolution is no longer seen as a competitive struggle for existence, but rather as a cooperative dance in which creativity and the constant emergence of novelty are the driving forces. And with the new emphasis on complexity, networks, and patterns of organization, a new science of qualities is slowly emerging.
This new science encompasses many concepts and ideas that are being developed by outstanding researchers and their teams around the world. In our multidisciplinary textbook, we integrate these ideas into a single coherent framework. We call it “the systems view of life” because it involves a new kind of thinking — thinking in terms of relationships, patterns, and context. In science, this way of thinking is known as “systems thinking,” or “systemic thinking.” It is inherently multidisciplinary, and thus helps to overcome the fragmentation that is characteristic of our academic disciplines.
In The Systems View of Life we present a broad sweep through the history of ideas and across scientific disciplines. Beginning with the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution, our historical account includes the evolution of Cartesian mechanism from the seventeenth to the twentieth century, the rise of systems thinking, the development of complexity theory, recent discoveries at the forefront of biology, the emergence of the systemic conception of life at the turn of this century, and its economic, ecological, political, and spiritual implications.
We believe that it will be critical for present and future generations of young researchers and graduate students to understand the new systemic conception of life and its implications for a broad range of professions — from economics, management, and politics, to medicine, psychology, and law. In addition, the book will be useful for undergraduate students in the life sciences and the humanities.
In the last part of our book, titled “Sustaining the Web of Life,” we identify the major problems of our time — energy, environment, climate change, inequality, etc. — as systemic problems, which means that they are all interconnected and interdependent. We highlight the importance of the systemic understanding of life for finding corresponding systemic solutions that will help us meet one of the great challenges of our time: to build and nurture sustainable communities. We then review a wide variety of such systemic solutions that already exist; and we conclude that the systems view of life has given us the knowledge and the technologies to build a sustainable future. This is perhaps the primary reason why we believe that our book is so important for today’s students — the world leaders of tomorrow.
The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision is currently now available via Amazon in the UK (www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1107011361). It will lauch in the US on May 31st.