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The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture Paperback – August 1, 1984
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About the Author
Fritjof Capra, PhD, physicist and systems theorist, is a founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, California. Capra is the author of several international bestsellers, including The Tao of Physics (1975), The Web of Life (1996), The Hidden Connections (2002), The Science of Leonardo (2007), and Learning from Leonardo (2013). He is a founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, California and has been the focus of television documentaries and magazine features. He lives in Berkeley, California.
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The religiosity that is behind this all aims at abrogating all the differences and dualism and produce a unity and entity that is to serve he perfectness of man. This should be possible through a raised spirituality. This thinking equals the monistic thinking of the eastern religions. I Hinduism that kind of monism is known since long. The godly, the cosmos, the world and man, all can be explained out of that principle. Also the separation between man and woman which cannot be accepted by New Age.
Even the foundation for any moral, the principles of Evil and Good is abolished. If there is only development to a higher being the Evil also must serve to the goal. Thereby New Age denies the destructive nature of the Evil. New Age asserts that the nature, that means the stars, the earth and the entire cosmos gather energy which man could tap. These natural forces are even personalized. The universe, they say, is populated from godly beings and intelligent life who can be acknowledged by direct contact.
These creatures get a multitude of different names. There are gremlins, goblins, elf, witches, dwarfs and many other nature beings. When "channelling" the spiritual beings speak through the recipient who writes down the messages. Thus new revelations become known and literature.
Alice Bailey for example says she had contact with a spiritual being, called the "Tibetan" when she wrote her books. Maybe Harry Potter was created like this?
These contacted spirits can evoke bliss or shudder as already Hermann Hesse depicted it in Damian". These spirits can engender positive moods, show solution to problems, be
Promotional for sales-business, heal sickness, but they can as well cause depression, longing for death, disease, despair. So there is a problem in calling the spirits you are helplessly delivered. Even the apostle Paul seems to have known about these spirits. He marked the fight against them as "struggle not against human opponents, but against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers in the darkness around us, and evil spiritual forces in the heavenly realm." (Eph 6,12). He meant with these cosmic powers demons and spirits. So New Age is nothing for Christians.
Because Capra has no new ideas and that what he writes is not convincing, I can nobody recommend to read this book.
Now that the economic illusion of the last three decades has started to fade, The Turning Point was an eerie read. Capra's commentary on a number of trends for a future where humanity adhered to the outdated paradigm of prosperity only from growth, a biomedical paradigm centered on eradicating microorganisms and a science based on specialization and determinism are revealing themselves in the headlines. Dr. Capra, a theoretical physicist by training and practice, was wise to integrate a holistic view of humanity and to offer an alternative for society that perhaps we've only now wizened enough to appreciate. Key to his thesis is the idea that our world, our governments and our scientists operate as if the deterministic paradigm of the Enlightenment period hasn't changed. Ignoring the reality of relativity, quantum mechanics, chaos theory, biology and modern science has crippled society from the truth of the natural world. We've forgotten that nature does not guarantee our existence! In providing an all encompassing critique of society, Capra does not seek to denigrate the colleagues in other fields but merely to offer a well reasoned and referenced approach to modernizing the way we choose to organize our species.
Starting by providing the background of why we need to change, essentially the problem statement, Capra states the crises of society and defines the importance of the Chinese concept of wu wei, the idea that we must refrain from action contrary to nature. As Chuang Tzu says, "Nonaction does not mean doing nothing and keeping silent. Let everything be allowed to do what it naturally does, so that its nature will be satisfied."
"In all these fields the limitations of the classical, Cartesian world view are now becoming apparent. To transcend the classical models, scientists will have to go beyond the mechanistic and reductionist approach as we have done in physics, and develop holistic and ecological views. Although their theories will need to be consistent with those of modern physics, the concepts of physics will generally not be appropriate as a model for the other sciences... Scientists will not need to be reluctant to adopt a holistic framework for fear of being unscientific. Modern physics can show them that such a framework is not only scientific but is in agreement with the most advanced scientific theories of physical reality." (p. 49)
Capra continues by describing a history of the old world view, the mechanistic reductionist approach that has led to our current predicament. The history of our materialistic success and the limits to our knowledge of the world is retraced through Copernicus, Descartes, Bacon and Newton. This approach has led to a world where, in the words of R.D. Laing as quoted by Capra, "Out go sight, sound, taste, touch and smell and along with them has since gone aesthetics and ethical sensibility, values, quality, form; all feelings, motives, intentions, soul, consciousness, spirit. Experience as such is cast out of the realm of scientific discourse." (p.55)
The Turning Point then follows the development of the new physics that started in 1905 when Einstein published his papers on the photoelectric effect and the theory of General Relativity. The photoelectric effect winning the 1921 Nobel Prize and laying the groundwork for quantum mechanics, leading to Heisenberg's discovery of the Uncertainty Principle, an actual physical concept that there are limits to knowledge. Later, Schrodinger's work in demonstrating the electrons and protons that we visualize as balls on a pool table are actually probability clouds, that the foundation of reality is a probability. This work led to John Bell's discovery that our physical reality is subject to non-local phenomena... that the measurement of the spin of a particle in one location will change the spin of a particle in another location, the "spooky action at a distance" that is beginning to make our world look more like one envisioned by the alchemists (well... maybe alchemists like Isaac Newton). And now we've discovered that these non-local connections may be responsible for many basic actions in biology like memory and even consciousness.
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 component parts. " (Capra p. 102) An approach that ironically is quite opposed to the study of life. We've now realized that the mapping of the human genome has yielded many beautiful computer models but little else. The biomedical model which concentrates on the mechanisms of smaller and smaller fragments of the body has yielded an approach that views disease as, "the malfunctioning of biological organisms which are studied from the point of view of cellular and molecular biology; the doctor's role is to intervene, either physically or chemically, to correct the malfunctioning of a specific mechanism." (p.123) The ingestion of many chemicals and execution of complicated surgeries has resulted in ever rising health care costs, and while saving many lives has primarily served as an excuse for lifestyles that run counter to human nature. "We prefer to talk about our children's hyperactivity or learning disability rather than examine the inadequacy of our schools; we prefer to be told that we suffer from hypertension rather than change our over-competitive business world; we accept ever increasing rates of cancer rather than investigate how the chemical industry poisons our food to increase its profits." (p.163)
In psychology, Capra advocated that the rational approach of Freudian analysis would need to be transcended to explore the subtler aspects of the human psyche. The incorporation of altered states of consciousness into mainstream psychological studies could yield insights into our human predicament. I'd like to summarize more here but this is a dense critique of many psychologists.
Capra's exception to economics is that we've mechanistically reduced people into rational actors, using our education systems to produce a standardized robot class with predictable consumer society that ignores collective values and the psychological need for community. Key to this chapter is the point that the advantages won by the worker in the modern world is generally to the detriment of workers and citizens in the developing world... the great sleight of hand trick made possible by technology and economy. The automation of daily life through complex technologies reduces employment and centers on a capital based approach which is highly inflationary, an economic reality that can be seen by looking at charts of US Dollar inflation over the last hundred years. This section is the most important of the entire book and highly relevant to our current situation.
Capra then follows these critiques with answers for each field through a systems view of life that incorporates feedbacks and recognition of evolution through cooperation. A health model that acknowledges holistic principles and a psychology grown from Jung can provide a basis for this new society. Tackling energy, Capra explains the physics and the economics behind our immediate need for a solar economy.
I've tried to summarize all 419 pages but so much has slipped through the cracks. While it is easy to view the predicaments of the current global situation, Capra's writings aren't the least bit outdated and a specifically resonant with its solutions. If you are disheartened by the problems of overpopulation, energy crises, etc... (the list can go on forever) do yourself a favor and read the solutions Capra advocates in The Turning Point.
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As a Research Engineer and Real Estate Developer working in the remote Sangre de Cristo mountain range of Colorado, I have been implementing Fritjof Capra's...Read more