Fritjof Capra, "Patterns of Connection: Essential Essays from Five Decades" (High Road Books, 2021)


Welcome to the first Systems and Cybernetics episode of 2022! After a short break over the holidays to rest and spend time with family (and, of course, read!), it’s time to jump back into conversations with authors of exciting new works in systems thinking. We have a great lineup, and to kick things off I am thrilled to share my recent conversation with Fritjof Capra. Capra is a scientist, educator and activist. He has also been a best-selling author since his first book, The Tao of Physics, encouraged—rather captivated—the world to explore the parallels between modern physics and Eastern philosophies nearly 50 years ago.

Many listeners will recall the one Capra book that challenged their worldview and got them asking new questions. For me, The Turning Point (1982) was that turning point. Capra’s new book Patterns of Connection: Essential Essays from Five Decades (High Road Books, 2021) presents the evolution of his thought over five decades, inviting the reader to go back to the beginning of the author’s inquiry and join him in his journey—to experience those milestone moments that represented a new development in his theory.

A systems thinker from his youth, Capra’s scientific training combined with a spiritual awakening in the late 1960s/early 1970s, led him to notice inherent connections between seemingly disparate disciplines. This led to a systemic questioning that compelled him to seek out and collaborate with—even build bridges between—thinkers across many realms. The result is a synthesis—or “systems view”—of life that serves as a “systemic framework for the understanding of biological and social phenomena” and informs “the design principles of our future social institutions… consistent with the principles of organization that nature has evolved to sustain the web of life”.

This conversation made me want to go back and (re)immerse myself in Capra’s previous works and I have a feeling it might make you want to do the same. If you’re new to Capra, Patterns of Connection is a great place to start.

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Kevin Lindsay

"What is the pattern that connects the crab to the lobster and the primrose to the orchid, and all of them to me, and me to you?" - Gregory Bateson
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