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Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Scott London
I. M. Oderberg
Complexity and Education
Innovation Journal
Wally Bock

Fritjof Capra

The Web of Life

People have always speculated on the nature of life, and on how living things differ from inanimate objects. In The Web of Life Fritjof Capra approaches the question using some of the new scientific ideas which have arisen in the last few decades such as chaos and complexity theory. He identifies the need to find the structure, pattern and process involved in living things. Structure is based on dissipative structures, as described by Ilya Prigogene . Capra's ideas for pattern and process are based on those of Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, with pattern arising from autopoesis, and cognition being the process of life.

However, I felt that Capra's approach is too wide, resulting in a rather rambling book. It sometimes seems that he is just trying to include anything which happens to be trendy, and at the same time including some pretty weak criticism of things which he feels to be too 'establishment', such as artificial intelligence. If you don't mind this sort of jumble of ideas then you might enjoy read this book, but my feeling is that most readers would do better to go for books written by those involved in the original research such as Prigogene, Lovelock and Margulis. info
Paperback 368 pages  
ISBN: 0385476760
Salesrank: 542185
Published: 1997 Anchor
Amazon price $12.19
Marketplace:New from $9.95:Used from $1.45
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Paperback 368 pages  
ISBN: 0385476760
Salesrank: 228794
Weight:0.6 lbs
Published: 1997 Anchor
Amazon price CDN$ 15.65
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 9.80:Used from CDN$ 0.01
Buy from

Product Description
The vitality and accessibility of Fritjof Capra's ideas have made him perhaps the most eloquent spokesperson of the latest findings emerging at the frontiers of scientific, social, and philosophical thought. In his international bestsellers The Tao of Physics and The Turning Point, he juxtaposed physics and mysticism to define a new vision of reality. In The Web of Life, Capra takes yet another giant step, setting forth a new scientific language to describe interrelationships and interdependence of psychological, biological, physical, social, and cultural phenomena--the "web of life."

During the past twenty-five years, scientists have challenged conventional views of evolution and the organization of living systems and have developed new theories with revolutionary philosophical and social implications. Fritjof Capra has been at the forefront of this revolution. In The Web of Life, Capra offers a brilliant synthesis of such recent scientific breakthroughs as the theory of complexity, Gaia theory, chaos theory, and other explanations of the properties of organisms, social systems, and ecosystems. Capra's surprising findings stand in stark contrast to accepted paradigms of mechanism and Darwinism and provide an extraordinary new foundation for ecological policies that will allow us to build and sustain communities without diminishing the opportunities for future generations.

Now available in paperback for the first time, The Web of Life is cutting-edge science writing in the tradition of James Gleick's Chaos, Gregory Bateson's Mind and Matter, and Ilya Prigogine's Order Out of Chaos.