Tao of Physics – knocked back

Posted: 01/04/2014 in Mandtao, ONE planet, Science
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Mandtao 20/4/12


I first read Fritjov Capra’s “Tao of Physics” back in either 75/76 so to “accuse Capra of plagiarism” is not really appropriate 37 years later . His first chapter presents a formulation of the unity argument and others so clearly. He doesn’t use the word axiom but he argues that modern physics leads science to a view of unity, the unity that is at the root of Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. I wanted to cut and paste the whole of his first chapter here, and use it to demonstrate that if science alters its framework to an axiomatic unity we have a reunifying of the split knowledge!!

I attributed that split of knowledge to Bacon, I must find a reference – I found one years ago, Fritjof attributes it more to Descartes in the following:-

“This formulation” of the split into the two types of knowledge “appeared in the seventeenth century in the philosophy of Rene Descartes who based his view of nature on a fundamental division into two separate and independent realms; that of mind (res cogitans), and that of matter (res extensa). The ‘Cartesian’ division allowed scientists to treat matter as dead and completely separate from themselves, and to see the material world as a multitude of different objects assembled into a huge machine. Such a mechanistic world view was held by Isaac Newton who constructed his mechanics on its basis and made it the foundation of classical physics.” [p22]

Not that it matters where it came from it is the result that counts. Capra in this first chapter and in his second book, The Turning Point, takes this Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm apart. More to come on that – there is a clear need to catch up on those formative readings and see where they lead.

But where is Capra now? I remember a Green book (Green Politics) in the 90s that didn’t grab me, but why isn’t he at the forefront of Mind and Life? For me it is staggering to see such a clear and insightful understanding of the need to compare western science and eastern Mysticism disappear off the face of the map. In my day what he said went “viral”, the book was passed round all the good haunts of alternative London, and my recollection is we all struggled to come to terms with understanding it, maybe retrospective rose-coloured glasses. Capra where is the movement you started now?

I’m knocked back, I feel sad. Still there’ll be another day.

Update – same day after accessing the net:-

His books were moving to ecology with The Web of Life and Hidden Connections. Shame on me they are unread on my bookshelf. These are concerned with systems thinking in biology, and therefore might be connected with Bruce. He has founded Ecoliteracy, basically a statement that says we need to understand the ecology before it is too late. It has a school focus, doesn’t he know the 1% has schools tightly wrapped? He has a new book coming with Richard Heinberg on living systems, and to building up to the book there is a conference at $495.

I let myself be sad. His life has gone on, how stupid am I to think that right thinking means acceptance and action?

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