A new way of thinking about our biology–or rather, a very old way–is essential if we are to collectively solve the existential problems that face humanity, says UC Berkeley physicist Fritjof Capra. In his new book, The Systems View of Life, Capra argues that problems such as climate change and financial crises result from a misunderstanding the world’s interconnectedness. Capra explains how “modern biology, in trying to understand the self-organising, adaptive and creative aspects of life in all its forms, has by necessity turned to a holistic, systems view emphasising pattern and organization.”
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What’s the Big Idea?
With co-author and biologist Pier Luigi, the two explain how, for example, it is impossible to understand how the human heart works by only examining its cells. The cells depend on the overall functioning of the heart, and the heart depends on the cells. In others words, causality works in both directions. “These ideas have helped drive complexity science forward over the past few decades. Indeed, Capra and Luisi argue that the 21st-century zeitgeist is changing from one of world-as-machine to world-as-network, a holistic system in precise interrelation rather than a collection of dissociated parts.”