Capra begins the next section of Web of Life with discussion of the word paradigm. Starting from Thomas Kuhn’s definition as applied to science Capra expands it [p5]:-
“to that of a social paradigm, which I define as “a constellation of concepts, values, perceptions, and practices shared by a community, which forms a particular vision of reality that is the basis of the way the community organizes itself. ”
As Matriellez, I described one of the four dominating aspects of education as the corporate paradigm. Capra’s adaptation of Kuhn’s definition would apply very well to this corporate paradigm “a constellation of concepts, values, perceptions, and practices shared by a community, which forms a particular vision of reality that is the basis of the way the community organizes itself. ” It doesn’t need any alteration, it fits as a perfect description of the way things are except for one important caveat, the Mandtao caveat, that ought to be included:-
“a constellation of concepts, values, perceptions, and practices shared by a community, which forms a particular vision of reality that is the basis of the way the community organizes itself but whose totally dominating influence is the increased profits of the 1%.”
No wonder science is embraced by the 1%, they sugar-coat reality for the benefit of the 1%. Where is the genuine understanding of what is without a recognition that the paradigm profits the 1%. It is the same as saying we live in a democracy without saying the Mandtao caveat “democracy whose totally dominating influence is the increased profits of the 1%.”
He goes on to describe the mechanistic view of life, Newtonian Cartesian paradigm, as disappearing. Because he does not include the Mandtao caveat it appears reasonable to see this change from the mechanistic view as feasible, but with the caveat we can understand the failure of science to embrace the changes he so eloquently described in his earlier books. In his scientific paradigm he considers developing awareness, but with the caveat one has to ask “will the profits be affected?” And that is difficult to answer. If his awareness change demands a sustainability pre-requisite then such a change is in direct conflict with 1% profitability to such an extent that the 1% has established a think tank whose specific purpose is to promote climate change denial.
To be fair to Capra, I could interpret the rest of the chapter as tacitly including the Mandtao caveat. He promotes deep ecology as described by Arne Naess (I came across him when I relived my 20-something ecosophy – amusing). This deep ecology is a more elucidated version of my ONE planet page in which humanity recognises itself as integrated with all being – as opposed to shallow ecology which sees a separation and natural resources to be used in a “nice” way.
Capra also drew an interesting distinction between holistic and ecological [p6]:-
“A holistic view of, say, a bicycle means to see the bicycle as a functional whole and to understand the interdependence of its parts accordingly. An ecological view of the bicycle includes that, but it adds to it the perception of how the bicycle is embedded in its natural and social environment – where the raw materials that went into it came from, how it was manufactured, how its use affects the natural environment and the community by which it is used, and so on.” I have a particular beef about plastics. The plastics industry produces an excessive amount of plastics, and leaves government to clean them up (discussed here). This is complete dishonesty because the only way they can be cleaned up is for business to build plant that can recycle the plastics. The gyra and other plastics eyesores (as discussed in “Tapped”) are completely caused by the 1%, and with all the will in the world the 99% cannot do anything about it because plastics requires plant to convert them – despite the efforts of the industry spokespeople to blame the 99% and government. Because of my beef about plastics I say that ecological disposal of manufactured items needs to be part of the ecological outlook (I have no doubts at all that Capra was including this ecological disposal in his “and so on”).
I choose different words than ecological. I consider that the businesses of the 1% need to be accountable for the environmental damage they cause, and by accountable I mean that they must pay. It is ludicrous that in Tapped the water spokespeople were allowed to blame the local councils for the failure to provide sufficient collection points for their plastic bottles. It is not up to the local council to provide collection points, it is up to the businesses. Furthermore those businesses also need to provide plant where these plastics can be converted into other useful plastic items. Once created plastic does not biodegrade as does wood or other natural products. The plastics become an eyesore causing environmental damage because they have been created by business. It is up to Bill Gates to build factories that recycle the polystyrene, not anyone else. This is the benefaction that community responsibility requires, not usurping Africa with Monsanto GM seeding.
Here the problem lies with the legal, social and scientific axiom concerning the environment. Our legal system is controlled by the 1% but it tries to give the appearance of compassion, and occasionally judges risk the wrath of the 1% control and dish out environmental settlements. But throughout these legal processes the lawyers funded by the 1% tie up the legal process with law, case law, previous settlements and so on. There are many scenarios where Erin Brockovich fights for the rights of people and the planet against big business; in the movies the person who wins is miraculously portrayed, in real life there are few legitimate cases that are actually won. This is because the fundamental basis on which the law is fought is the Mandtao caveat, the protection of the 1% and not the genuine axiom of ONE planet, Capra’s ecological imperative.
Here we have the underlying problem. Our system is based on the 1%, the Mandtao caveat “whose totally dominating influence is the increased profits of the 1%”, and not on ONE planet. ONE planet needs to be applied across the board, our law, our economy, our science and our society. To be civilised means to be in harmony with ONE planet not creating technology that allows the continued domination by the 1%. This is the reality of discussing paradigms. Token changes from mechanistic world views might rock the world of science but if our whole system does not change this basic axiom there is little chance that such paradigmatic scientific change will be anything other than whistling in the wind. How far along this road did Capra go?
Posts Tagged ‘Capra’
“But this realization has not yet dawned on most of our political leaders. The recognition that a profound change of perception and thinking is needed if we are to survive has not yet reached most of our corporate leaders, either, or the administrators and professors of our large universities.” [p 4]
On the same page as worldview at the beginning of the first chapter is the above quote. Again I find this an irritating academic quote. Occupy brought into focus the terminology of 1%, but bourgeoisie was not a new idea. Whilst there was a clear recognition that the corporatocracy was powerful Occupy has changed that focus into a recognition that Wall Street controls government.
But in truth these realisations are not new. Yet throughout we continue with the academic rhetoric of not “dawning on our political leaders”. This is compromise, it is the compromise forced on academia, a compromise that many academics readily accept, that the problems we face are a lack of awareness on the part of and branch of the 1%. And why do they present things in this way? To maintain the false delusion that academia can change with awareness, that academia is not controlled by the forces now known as the 1%.
Awareness hasn’t reached the corporate leaders, administrators and professors. Absolute rubbish. When awareness reaches these people, mostly they walk in the other direction. A typical example of their response “what can we do about climate change?” Since Capra wrote this book (1996), these same scientists have been bought off and are providing us with denial science. Is this awareness? Absolutely not, it is money. They keep their jobs if they get funding, and where is the funding? In the dastardly lies of the 1%.
In Free to have a worldview?, I said much the same thing – the 1% control the knowledge through funding. Similarly they control awareness though funding and influence. Our academics learn to control aspects of their minds, and in that control they do not open their minds to knowledge but close them off – close them off so that their perspectives can be funded. Of course they do not present this delusion as awareness, and maybe even for some their blinkered vision triggers an exclusion mechanism where they eschew all that is true or all that is too difficult to do anything about. In reality all they are saying is that I will only seek knowledge where the funding will allow me to go.
There is of course a negative aspect to my continually raising this point, and that is aversion. When the point is raised once the mind might engage with it, when it is raised several times the mind reacts emotionally and rejects it – aversion. So should I continue because of this aversion? And the answer quite simply is this – what is the truth? Does funding control knowledge? Yes. is the search for knowledge fettered by funding – by the 1%? Yes. If academia is to be considered the institution that searches for knowledge, does it need to recognise this funding reality and do something about it? Yes. Is the discomfort of aversion a necessity?
Absolutely. Consider the post-hippy compromise years. Throughout society, especially including academia, there have been a sprinkling of these hippies whose message of the 60s and 70s could have opened us up to a wiser future. But they compromised. They said that they will work from the inside to seek a solution. And what happened? Their energies were used by the system to give the system greater credibility. The system never compromised. Of course there were token victories along the way, but in the end they were unwilling captives of the system.
Do I point the finger at Capra or others and blame them? Absolutely not. How they lived their lives is their decision. I point the finger at myself, of course. I made myself ill fighting. I love teaching and I had to retire early – although I teach a bit now. I can say about myself, I gave the system credibility when the students gave the system credibility because of my dedication. And what about the system as a whole? How much has this system benefitted from the outpourings of wisdom that was the undercurrent of the 60s and 70s? It is worse, far worse. War continues unabated, science through drone technology now makes war more easily accessible to the 1% and its politicians because the people of the metropole don’t have to die. The 1% tell us we have a financial crisis whilst they increase their profits and syphon off more funds into their personal bank accounts. People lose their homes whilst they add zeroes to their Cayman contents.
And science talks about awareness, it was never awareness it was always intentional exploitation of scientists who choose to wear blinkers.
So what should science do? What one name is associated with Hiroshima? Truman who gave the order. No Oppenheimer who invented it. Scientists, are you to blame? If you continue to wear blinkers and accept the channeling of knowledge into the profit-making ventures your funding defines, then you are to blame.
But then what, science, is your course of action? Can we walk away from the search for knowledge? Absolutely not. What can science do? That is so hard to answer, and is an individual decision. But honesty has to help. And to describe the problem as an issue of corporate, political and administrative awareness is not honest.
Can we find knowledge without funding? Perhaps genuine science needs to say that we will search for knowledge without funding. Who can know? But Fritjof, awareness is not the problem.
Updated almost immediately:-
After finishing this blog I ate and began listening to HHDL’s Consciousness in a Single Atom. Almost the first thing that hit me was Richard Gere saying “Because I am an internationalist at heart one of the qualities that has moved me most about scientists is their amazing willingness to share knowledge with each other” Whilst I don’t accept this is true of 100% of the scientists, and whilst this willingness to share becomes less so as science becomes increasingly dominated by the need for funding, I do not take this quote as a refutation of my argument. When one can observe that, given this genuine desire for the search for knowledge and its sharing does exist, the body of knowledge that makes up science has narrowed and has become focussed on technology, then we can assess that this narrowing is because this technology is a platform for profit. Given that scientists desire to share knowledge this shows that the dominant force of discovery is not the scientists’ search for knowledge but the influence of the 1% in its channelling towards profit.
He concludes the section on p4 with:-
“”A sustainable society is one that satisfies its needs without diminishing the prospects of future generations.” This, in a nutshell, is the great challenge of our time: to create sustainable communities that is to say, social and cultural environments in which we can satisfy our needs and aspirations without diminishing the chances of future generations.”
This is in direct conflict with the interests of the 1%. How can sustainability work with the singular corporate motivation of increasing profit leading to increased personal wealth of their CEOs? Whilst this conflict does not negate the purpose of this book, it does indicate a cloistered solution, one that is academic and not relevant to daily life.
Tags: Cancer, Capra, intellect
“Ultimately these problems must be seen as just different facets of one single crisis, which is largely a crisis of perception. It derives from the fact that most of us, and especially our large social institutions, subscribe to the concepts of an outdated world view, a perception of reality inadequate for dealing with our overpopulated, globally interconnected world. [p4] ”
I am going to thrash this out now, because otherwise it will be nagging me throughout. It is not the worldview that is the issue, it is power. The worldview implies within it a notion that we can choose our view of the world. Because of the egos of academia or science there is an unwritten assumption, knowledge is out there and it is only a matter of discovery that this knowledge can be found. Then a scientist has a “eureka” moment and the truth of that knowledge becomes integrated into academia per se. This is so far from the truth it is staggering that the intellectuals within these communities actually believe it.
Let us consider the process that might be called academic apprenticeship. School, we must pass exams; university, we must pass exams; if we then pass those exams we get admitted into a research programme where there is a rigorous method to be adhered to. You have already been inculcated by this stage – jumped through so many hoops. In research you study all previous knowledge on a subject and then extend that knowledge. Sounds reasonable until you actually examine how that knowledge is extended. Numerically is the best way I can think of conveying this. Suppose we consider that the axioms that science is based on be specified as level 0, maybe the Greeks were discussing these axioms. As academics did further work these levels increased and increased until their work had little connection with the original axioms. The academic work that a Ph D student might work on could be that s/he consider levels 95-100, and through detailed study they examine minutiae at this level, detail it and cross-reference it with existing literature, and a Ph D is awarded if the researcher has been rigorous. One of the major criteria would be a recognition of innovation, but that innovation would not be concerned with the questioning of the axioms but that at the appropriate level their work had not been seen before.
This process of meticulous minutiae is reinforced by the academic job structure. A professor is installed based on published work. If the published work is recognised as some level of quality then a university wants to be associated with that quality. Within the department the people climb the ladder the same as they do anywhere else, and their position and commensurate salary is based on how they increase the body of work associated with the professor. If a professor gathers a team of people who work together well, the work can attract funding, and this reinforces the position of the professor. The essence of academia is the reputation of the professor and the amount of research funding they can attract.
And who is there to ensure this happens? Above the professors, the people who could be innovative, are a set of bureaucrats whose ambit is not the search for knowledge but the protection of the institution. Let me elucidate what happens to the search for knowledge by considering research into treatments for cancer. Cancer is on the increase, and there is much money connected with it. Cancer is not understood but the established approach is to consider that cancer develops from the genes. Once the cancers grow from these genes, then a regime of chemicals, chemo and radiation therapy are applied usually with little success. And the typical result is death. One horrendous by-product of this process is that the cancer industry makes huge profits, and there are many people employed dependent on these profits. It is significant to understand this, many of the people involved in the cancer industry are dependent on the status quo view of cancer and its treatment.
However there are a small but significant group of people who claim alternative approaches to cancer. They claim that cancer is a lifestyle disease, and that an improved approach to life including healthy eating avoiding of chemicals etc. could lead to the healing or avoidance of cancer. People who say this follow macrobiotics or Gerson. On top of this there are people who say that B17, cannabinoids or baking soda can destroy cancer cells. I am not qualified to attest to these, but Harvard scientists are, MIT scientists are, Oxbridge scientists are. So the question is why aren’t these institutions carrying out this research. Politics and funding? Scientific research is expensive, and who has the money? The cancer industry favouring the status quo. Suppose such funding became available to a reputable scientist then the institutional protector would prevent its usage, and if it got beyond that stage influence would be applied with threats of the withdrawal of funding elsewhere being issued.
In the movie Forbidden Cures W Edward Griffin describes how the 1%, in this case Rockefeller and Carnegie, took over medical schools:-
Prior to this, in the 19th century, US medicine was both homeopathic and allopathic. Homeopathic medicine attempted to aid nature to heal the body itself, and allopathic medicine used chemical or operations. At the turn of teh 20th century the film says people did not favour either. After the financial take-over of the medical schools doctors treated with pharmaceuticals.
Quite simply academia is typically now not free in its search for knowledge.
However philosophical worldviews don’t usually directly affect the profits of the 1% so much as possible cancer cures, yet approaches to academia which could change academic direction into a more open consideration of knowledge would be discouraged by the institutional gatekeepers. When Capra says that we subscribe to an outdated world view he does not say that that world view is restricted by the influence of the 1%. Does he perceive it that way? I don’t know but for me it is important to state from the outset that science is not independent. The scientists are controlled by funding both internally and external to their particular institutions. The search for knowledge is completely fettered by these restrictive forces, and any discussion of the current search for knowledge cannot possibly be complete without stating this caveat as being of fundamental influence.
I want to note here that my views could be discounted for bias (see Academic Failure)
Finally I want to discuss the chicken and egg of scientific discovery. Which came first the chicken or the egg? is an amusing question. No answer. But in science which comes first theory or practice is routinely answered as theory, it is one of those scientific axioms that is unwritten yet fundamental. Which came first Free Trade or Adam Smith? Scientific ego answers Adam Smith, the non-egoic answer is that there could have been any number of Adam Smiths who could have slipped into the slot that the practice wanted. In other words the prevailing powers wanted a theory that would allow for the exploitation that became known as Free Trade. Who is Milton Friedman? He is trickle-down economist with many prizes. Jamie Johnson made him angry with insubstantive arguments about the wealth gap, Friedman is not wisdom at its highest. Friedman does not usually have to defend his position because trickle-down economics are the lies the 1% want us to believe so that governments can be free to give all kinds of money to the rich including bailout to bankers. Friedman does not appear to me to be a wise man, he was the stooge whose theory fit the capitalist need at the time. Theory and practice? A simple discussion can yield doubt.
Scientists want to believe that they are in control of scientific worldview, that is their ego, that is their claim to fame, so when you read a book on science this position has to affect your perspective.
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?
What is the set of knowledge we know as science? Basically it is a set of axioms that is then developed through logical thought analysis and experimental method. Science is so complex because we have invested a great deal of money in scientific education and scientific research. At first glance this appears perfectly reasonable. But on closer inspection this apparent reason leads to much questioning, as the third agreement says “Don’t make assumptions”. What is an axiom? It is an assumption, it is the hedge fund of assumptions inasmuch as what is packaged as a robust knowledge base can all be deeply questioned when you see that the fundamental axioms are not based in truth but based on conjecture – perhaps a loan that should never have been given?
I am going to look at two of these. The first is the one I have just been discussing – the central dogma of biology that the gene is the command centre of the cell (talk – biology of perception). As Bruce says, if the gene is removed the cell functions; it would be sound to dismiss this central dogma. This axiom is a hedge fund.
Now the other axiom that has been undermined is that of the atom consisting of protons, neutrons and electrons. Sub-atomic investigation leads to continuing postulation of yet smaller atomic particles. In the Tao of Physics Fritjov Capra pointed out that it depended on the viewpoint of the observer whether an atom functioned as a mass or whether the atom functioned as momentum. In a throw-away line somewhere Bruce described the atom as consisting of energy. I don’t think we can say that, I would suggest that on occasions the atom behaves as a particle and on other occasions it behaves as energy. I put this forward as an axiom. If this is an axiom what implications does it have? Physics as described in terms of particles has been investigated for a long time as evidenced by my being taught atomic structure at school in the 60s. But what about energy? Let us examine kinetic energy, the energy of movement. This is calculated as 1/2 mv squared, it is worked out in terms of what happens to a particle of mass m.
But how does that relate to the chi? This is energy that is all-around and we can tap into this energy through various techniques such as Tai Chi or Chi Gung. I remember someone on an online forum saying that someone doing Tai Chi in the US was once described as playing with spirit. Is this chi energy not the energy that exists sub-atomically? This is an axiom of new physics, the particles of established physics and the sub-atomic energy, known as chi, that as yet we have not determined a way of measuring. But that does not say that science does not have a way of measuring any chi, because the chi in humans can be measured as three pulses as explained here.
Despite over two thousand years of medical understanding that has repeatedly been verified in practice western science does accept this energetic medicine. It is worth considering the theoretical basis of acupuncture as a means of accepting the dual axiom of particle and energy. Starting from the axiomatic approach that energy flows in the human body, acupuncture then started to consider what did this energy flow along – channels – these are also called meridians. What happens if you block these channels? Disease. So if we can unblock these channels so that the human energy flows naturally then health returns. If one accepts the axiom that human energy flows in the body, this is a perfectly sound explanation for disease. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a long established analysis of the flow of energy in the body, and has numerous different branches that perform treatment. For example acupuncture uses needles to unblock these channels. TCM doctors over time have developed charts of these energy channels, they know particular points along these channels which are beneficial for particular illnesses. In fact as far as I understand it now, Chinese acupuncture hospitals don’t teach so much about the flow of the chi but teach recognition of the channels and effective points. Shiatsu or acupuncture applies pressure at these points for alleviating illness, and independently Thai Traditional Medicine (TTM) uses the notion of sen lines (Thai equivalent of chi) and so by massaging along these sen lines TTM doctors release illness.
For millenia in China and Thailand these medical systems based on the energy axiom have functioned. Then along came western medicine based on a particle or static view of understanding. This view started with the axiom that the human body is a static organism, and that if one experiments on this static body certain results happened. This led to a medicinal approach to recovery whereby the static illness is removed by applying medicine statically to relieve the illness – allopathic medicine. In China the two medicines run side-by-side, this fits in with the axiom that I put forward that there is an axiomatic duality of particle and energy. In Thailand the two medicines co-exist but not comfortably, and the majority of the medicine fits the western model.
But what is most significant is that the western model is not able to explain a significant portion of our diseases – the major ones, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s etc. None of these can be dealt with by static medicine. But energetically they can be explained. The human body is not static, energy continually renews the organs and if we provide our bodies with the appropriate energy to renew these organs we can cure illness. We can get our energy from the environment or we can get it from food. It could equally be argued that food is a static substance and the causal link between good food and regaining a healthy body has been recognised to be curative. This recognition sadly is only minority, and that minority look on as people suffer the awful indignity of a chemotherapy death whilst rejuvenated health is available through healthy food and lifestyle.
The axiom of new physics can be applied elsewhere, and health is a good example.
Where does Bruce fit into all of this? I contend that the gene could be considered a static component of the cell, the gene is a blueprint that does not change. But within a cell there are two components, the static component of the gene and the energetic component which Bruce describes as protein. Now the protein is what interacts with the signal, and the signal is energetic by nature – this doesn’t feel quite right