of Life

Chapter 8 of The Turning Point - Fritjof Capra (1982)

Introduction & Foreward - Source Material

Web Publication by Mountain Man Graphics, Australia - the Southern Winter of 1996

Forward to this Presentation

This web publication consists of the 8th Chapter of Fritjof Capra's "The Turning Point" - Science, Society and the Rising Culture - which was published in 1982. The chapter is entitled "The Systems View of Life" and discusses the emergent specifications of life in terms of recent advances in inter-disciplinary scientific thought. Due to its length, it has been split - in this web publication - into four sequentially parts as follows:

Part 1 - Machines, Organisms and the Self-Organisation of Systems
Part 2 - Independent Physical Entities in Physics and Microbiology and Simbiosis
Part 3 - Evolution, Nature and the Emergence of Ecological & Evironmental Knowledge
Part 4 - Human Nature, Consciousness - Physicists and Mystics

The reading of this text is recommended for researchers in the broadest of fields, for it clearly outlines what Capra observes as the New Vision of Reality. The formulation of a systems approach of nature - both Inner and Outer - is by necessity a research and development project which is inter-disciplinary. The interconnectivity of each and every part of the cosmos to the cosomos, and vice verse, is the natural observation of the ecologist and environmentalist, the physical scientist and the mystic. And in the long run, all the disciplines of mankind - along with the race of man and all other living beings within the terrestrial and cosmic environments - will share support to the specifications of the nature of nature.

In the following sections there is outlined some background information concerning the author - Fritjof Capra - inclusive of other publications, books and articles which he has contributed to this emergent potential for interdisciplinary advancement of the human culture and sciences, and also that of the individuals who contibute thereto.

As are all other publications at this website, this publication is dedicated to the global internet community at large - and with special reference to those who perceive themselves to be students of Life.


PRF Brown
BCSLS {Freshwater}
Mountain Man Graphics
Newport Beach, Australia
In the Southern Winter of 1996

About the Author

Fritjof Capra

Fritjof Capra is a theoretical high-energy physicist, author, and writer of the screenplay for the film MINDWALK. Born in Vienna, Austria on February 1, 1939, he received his Ph.D. on the gravitational collapse of neutron stars from the University of Vienna in 1966 where he studied with Werner Heisenberg. He taught and researched theoretical high-energy physics at Orsay in Paris from 1966-1968, the University of California in Santa Cruz from 1968-1970, Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre, and at the Imperial College in London. Capra founded and served as Director of the Elmwood Institute, Berkeley, which is dedicated to nurturing new ecological visions and applying them to current social, economic and environmental problems. He has published many technical papers and lectured extensively on the philosophical implications of modern science. He does research at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and lectures at the University of California, Berkeley.


"The Tao of Physics," London 1975 .... (Refer below)
"The Turning Point," New York 1981 .... (This publication)
"Uncommon Wisdom," New York 1988 .... (Refer below)


  • Capra, Fritjof. Turning point. Pages 242-250 in Gandhi, K., editor. Evolution of consciousness. Place? Publisher? 1983.
  • Capra, Fritjof. New vision of reality: toward a synthesis of Eastern wisdom and modern science. Pages 135-148 in Grof, S., editor. Ancient wisdom and modern science. Place? Publisher? 1984.
  • Capra, Fritjof. Turning point: science, society and the rising culture. New York: Bantam Books, 1983.
  • Capra, Fritjof. Fritjof Capra in conversation with Michael Toms. Lower Lake, CA: Aslan Pub., 1994.
  • Capra, Fritjof. Tao of physics: an exploration of the parallels between modern physics and Eastern mysticism. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1991.
  • Capra, Fritjof. Belonging to the universe: explorations on the frontiers of science and spirituality. San Francisco: Harper, 1991.
  • Capra, Fritjof. Uncommon wisdom: conversations with remarkable people. New York: Bantam Books, 1989.
  • Capra, Fritjof and Charlene Spretnak. Green politics: the global promise. New York: Dutton, 1984.
  • Capra, Fritjof. Buddhist physics. pages 131-143 in Kumar, S., editor. Schumacker Lectures. Place? Publisher? 1980.


  • Capra, Fritjof. Dynamic balance in the subatomic world. Parabola, 1979, volume 4, number 2, pages 61-65.
  • Capra, Fritjof. Dance of Shiva. Main Currents, September-October, 1972, volume 29, pages 15-20.
  • Capra, Fritjof. Turning point: a new vision of reality. Futurist, December, 1982, volume 16, number 6, pages 19-24.
  • Capra, Fritjof. Ecologically conscious management. Environmental Law, Winter, 1992, volume 22, number 2, pages 529-537.
  • Clifton, Robert K. and Marilyn G. Regehr. Toward a sound perspective on modern physics: Capra’s popularization of mysticism and theological approaches reexamined. Zygon, March, 1990, volume 25, number 1, page 73 (32 pages).
  • Capra, Fritjof. Crisis of perception. Futurist, January-February, 1990, volume 24, number 1, page 64.
  • Capra, Fritjof, et al. Psychology, science and spiritual paths: contemporary issues. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1978, volume 10, number 2, pages 93- 111.

    Tao of Physics

    Indra - Who or What is Indra?

    A good explanation of the Hindu/Buddhist myth of Indra's net is found in, of all places, The Tao of Physics, by Fritjof Capra:

    Systemic Wisdom

    Page 390 in "The Turning Point"
    Fritjof Capra:

    The recognition of the non-linear nature of all systems dynamics is the very essence of ecological awareness, the essence of "systemic wisdom", as Bateson called it (1972, page 434). This kind of wisdom is characteristic of traditional non literature cultures but has been sadly neglected in our over rational and mechanised society.

    Systemic wisdom is based on a profound respect for the wisdom of nature, which is totally consistent with the insights of modern ecology.

    One natural environment consists of ecosystems inhabited by countless organisms which have co-evolved over billions of years, continuously using and recycling the same molecules of soil, water and air. The organising principles of these principles must be considered superior to those of human technologies bases on recent inventions, and, very often, on short term linear projections.

    The respect for nature's wisdom is further supported by the insight that the dynamics of self organisation in ecosystems is basically the same as in human organisms, which forces us to realise that our natural environment is not only alive but also mindful. The mindfulness of ecosystems, as opposed to many human institutions, manifests itself in the pervasive tendency to establish cooperative relationships that facilitate the harmonius integration of systems components at all levels of organization.

    Conclusion of Introduction
    The Systems View of Life
    Chapter 8 of the "Turning Point"
    Fritjof Capra - 1982
    Intro Part1 Part2 Part3 Part4 Index

    The Systems View of Life

    Chapter 8 of The Turning Point

    by Fritjof Capra (1982)

    Web Publication by Mountain Man Graphics, Australia - the Southern Winter of 1996