Book Reviews Web of Life Physics Capra

TITLE: The Web of Life
by Fritjof Capra
ISBN: 0385-47675-2
ISBN 13: 978-0385-47675-1
Publisher: Doubleday

“Molecular biologists have discovered the fundamental building blocks of life, but this has not helped them to understand the vital integrative actions of living organisms.”
-Fritjof Capra, ‘The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems’.

When asking what the intuitive essential glue is that works with life’s cellular aggregates to sculpt our universe and inform it with a dynamism to be a self-sustaining whole, we have many answers available to us: God, Tao, will (divine, if you like), universal intelligence, laws of physics, buddha nature; all of these terms are certainly valid to a point.

However, for a roomful of individuals from classical and quantum physicists to astrophysicists to bio-geneticists, chemists, social scientists, philosophers, and then theologians of different schools East and West – ancient and contemporary – for our political leaders, energy and ecological policy makers, our labor force of today and our progeny who will inherit infinity – not as I did, not as an earthling – but as universal beings who view inner-space through electron-computerized microscopes and outer-space by being in outer space – the question of what to call this essence that makes life concrete and workable must search for a new culture-crossing rhetoric.

This rhetoric must lead us from the interdisciplinary research dialogue called for by Edward O. Wilson’s ‘Consilience: A Unity of Knowledge’, to be able to communicate the results of that research in a new approach to a more wholistic true vision. ‘The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems’ by theoretical physicist Fritjof Capra provides us with an immediate, logical understanding of this rhetoric that organizes and synthesizes our cosmology from the invisibly minute to those systems so large that they escape us by hiding out in the open.

The author calls this way of sensing our world a “deep ecology” of seeing everything as one whole organic system compsed of interdependent working systems. From this point of view our choice of daily actions includes the responsibility that comes with understanding we are an integral part of the what, why, and how of that which moves aggregate and sculpts it to form our experience of existence.

Truthfully, having studied Eastern arts and sciences for the better part of my life, I see nothing new here.  However, the rhetoric that Fritjof Capra evolves in this work is exciting because Mr. Capra has a unique way of taking Eastern philosophical concepts, linking them to Western sciences and communicating this unification across cultures in a manner that is immediately accessible to the Western reader.

Fritjof Capra has also given us, ‘The Tao of Physics’; ‘The Turning Point’; ‘Uncommon Wisdom’; and ‘Belonging to the Universe’.