1. Turning Point: A Science of Living Systems by Fritjof Capra, Ph.D. In the first three decades of the 20th century, atomic and subatomic physics led to a dramatic. Chapter 8 of the Turning Point: Science, Society and the Rising Culture Fritjof Capra. Part 1 - Machines, Organisms and the Self-Organization of Systems. A compelling vision of a new reality, a reconciliation of science and the human spirit for a future that will work The dynamics underlying the.
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The Turning Point, by Fritjof Capra. New York: Simon and Schuster, Reviewed by Catherine Twomey Fosnot. Implicit in our field is the belief that the. download The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture on Turning Point is very well written by a very literate physicist Fritjof Capra who also wrote. The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture is a book by Fritjof Capra Print/export. Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version .
In fact, the opposite is true - more nuclear weapons mean more danger. Over the past few years an alarming change in American defense policy has been noticeable, a trend toward a nuclear arsenal aimed not at retaliation but at a first strike. There is increasing evidence that first-strike strategies are no longer a military option but have become central to American defense policy.
Nuclear weapons do not increase our security, as the military establishment would have us believe; they merely increase the likelihood of global destruction. The threat of nuclear war is the greatest danger humanity is facing today, but it is by no means the only one. While the military powers increase their lethal arsenal of nuclear weapons, the industrial world is busy building equally dangerous nuclear power plants that threaten to extinguish life on our planet.
Twenty-five years ago world leaders decided to use 'atoms for peace' and presented nuclear power as the reliable, clean, and cheap energy source of the future. Today we are becoming painfully aware that nuclear power is neither safe, nor clean, nor cheap. The nuclear reactors now operating world-wide, and the hundreds more planned, have become a major threat to our well-being.
1 • The Turning of the Tide
Thousands of tons of these toxic materials have already been discharged into the environment by nuclear explosions and reactor spills. As they continue to accumulate in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink, our risk of developing cancer and genetic diseases continues to increase. The most toxic of these radioactive poisons, plutonium, is itself fissionable, which means that it can be used to build atomic bombs. Thus nuclear power and nuclear weapons are inextricably linked, being but different aspects of the same threat to humankind.
The Turning Point
With their continuing proliferation, the likelihood of global extinction becomes greater every day. Even discounting the threat of a nuclear catastrophe, the global ecosystem and the further evolution of life on earth are seriously endangered and may well end in a large-scale ecological disaster. Over-population and industrial technology have contributed in various ways to a severe degradation of the natural environment upon which we are completely dependent for life.
As a result, our health and well-being are seriously endangered. Our major cities are covered by blankets of choking, mustard-colored smog. Those of us who live in cities can see it every day; we feel it when it bums our eyes and irritates our lungs.
In Los Angeles, according to a statement by sixty faculty members of the University of California Medical School,6 'air pollution has now become a major health hazard to most of this community during much of the year.
It is equally irritating, if not worse, in Mexico City, Athens, and Istanbul. This continual pollution of the air not only affects humans but also upsets ecological systems. It injures and kills plants, and these changes in plant life can induce drastic changes in animal populations that depend on the plants.
In today's world, smog is not only found in the vicinity of large cities but disperses throughout the earth's atmosphere and may severely affect the global climate. Meteorologists speak of a nebulous veil of air pollution encircling the entire planet.
In addition to air pollution, our health is also threatened by the water we drink and the food we eat, both contaminated by a wide variety of toxic chemicals. In the United Slates synthetic food additives, pesticides, plastics, and other chemicals are marketed at a rate currently estimated at a thousand new chemical compounds a year.
As a result, chemical poisoning has become an increasing part of our affluent life. Moreover, the threats to our health through the pollution of air, water, and food are merely the most obvious, direct effects of human technology on the natural environment.
Less obvious but possibly far more dangerous effects have been recognized only recently and are still not fully understood. The deterioration of our natural environment has been accompanied by a corresponding increase in health problems of individuals. Whereas nutritional and infectious diseases are the greatest killers in the Third World, the industrialized countries are plagued by the chronic and degenerative diseases appropriately called 'diseases of civilization,' the principal killers being heart disease, cancer, and strokes.
On the psychological side, severe depression; schizophrenia, and other psychiatric disorders appear to spring from a parallel deterioration of our social environment.
There are numerous signs of social disintegration, including a rise in violent crimes, accidents, and suicides; increased alcoholism and drug abuse; and growing numbers of children with learning disabilities and behavioral disorders.
The rise in violent crimes and suicides by young people is so dramatic that it has been called an epidemic of violent deaths. At the same time, the loss of young lives from accidents, especially motor accidents, is twenty times higher than the death rate from polio when it was at its worst.
According to health economist Victor Fuchs, ' "epidemic" is almost too weak a word to describe this situation. Rampant inflation, massive unemployment, and a gross maldistribution of income and wealth have become structural features of most national economies.
The resulting dismay among the general public and its appointed leaders is aggravated by the perception that energy and natural resources - the basic ingredients of all industrial activity - are rapidly being depleted.
Faced with the triple threat of energy depletion, inflation, and unemployment, our politicians no longer know where to turn first to minimize the damage. They, and the media, argue about priorities - should we deal with the energy crisis first or should we first fight inflation? Whether we talk about cancer, crime, pollution, nuclear power, inflation, or energy shortage, the dynamics underlying these problems are the same.
The central purpose of this book is to clarify these dynamics and to point to directions for change. It is a striking sign of our time that the people who are supposed to be experts in various fields can no longer deal with the urgent problems that have arisen in their areas of expertise. Economists are unable to understand inflation, oncologists are totally confused about the causes of cancer, psychiatrists are mystified by schizophrenia, police are helpless in the face of rising crime, and the list goes on.
In the United States it has been traditional for presidents to turn to academic people for counsel, either directly or through 'brain trusts' and 'think tanks' set up explicitly to advise government on various policy matters. This intellectual elite has formulated the 'mainstream academic view' and generally agreed on the basic conceptual framework underlying its advice.
Today this consensus no longer exists. In the Washington Post ran a story under the heading The Cupboard of Ideas is Bare,' in which prominent thinkers admitted they were unable to solve the nation's most urgent policy problems. I don't think anybody does. When a problem becomes too difficult, you lose interest. None of them, however, identified the real problem that underlies our crisis of ideas: the fact that most academics subscribe to narrow perceptions of reality which are inadequate for dealing with the major problems of our time.
These problems, as we shall see in detail, are systemic problems, which means that they are closely interconnected and interdependent. They cannot be understood within the fragmented methodology characteristic of our academic disciplines and government agencies.
Such an approach will never resolve any of our difficulties but will merely shift them around in the complex web of social and ecological relations.
A resolution can be found only if the structure of the web itself is changed, and this will involve profound transformations of our social institutions, values, and ideas.
As we examine the sources of our cultural crisis it will become apparent that most of our leading thinkers use outdated conceptual models and irrelevant variables. It will also become evident that a significant aspect of our conceptual impasse is that all of the prominent intellectuals interviewed by the Washington Post were men.
To understand our multifaceted cultural crisis we need to adopt an extremely broad view and see our situation in the context of human cultural evolution. We have to shift our perspective from the end of the twentieth century to a time span encompassing thousands of years; from the notion of static social structures to the perception of dynamic patterns of change. Seen from this perspective, crisis appears as an aspect of transformation.
The Chinese, who have always had a thoroughly dynamic world view and a keen sense of history, seem to have been well aware of this profound connection between crisis and change.
The term they use for 'crisis' - wei-ji - is composed of the characters for 'danger' and 'opportunity.
Studies of periods of cultural transformation in various societies have shown that these transformations are typically preceded by a variety of social indicators, many of them identical to the symptoms of our current crisis. They include a sense of alienation and an increase in mental illness, violent crime, and social disruption, as well as an increased interest in religious cultism - all of which have been observed in our society during the past decade.
In times of historic cultural change these indicators have tended to appear one to three decades before the central transformation, rising in frequency and intensity as the transformation is approaching, and falling again after it has occurred.
The forces underlying this development are complex, and historians are far from having a comprehensive theory of cultural dynamics, but it seems that all civilizations go through similar cyclical processes of genesis, growth, breakdown, and disintegration.
The following graph shows this striking pattern for the major civilizations around the Mediterranean. This transition may occur spontaneously, through the influence of some civilization that is already in existence or through the disintegration of one or more civilizations of an older generation.
Toynbee sees the basic pattern in the genesis of civilizations as a pattern of interaction which he calls 'challenge-and-response. The civilization continues to grow when its successful response to the initial challenge generates cultural momentum that carries the society beyond a state of equilibrium into an overbalance that presents itself as a fresh challenge. In this way the initial pattern of challenge-and-response is repeated in successive phases of growth, each successful response producing a disequilibrium that requires new creative adjustments, Rise-and-fall patterns of the major civilizations around the Mediterranean.
The recurrent rhythm in cultural growth seems to be related to processes of fluctuation that have been observed throughout the ages and were always regarded as part of the fundamental dynamics of the universe.
Ancient Chinese philosophers believed that ail manifestations of reality are generated by the dynamic interplay between two polar forces which they called the yin and the yang. Heraclitus, in ancient Greece, compared the world order to an ever living fire, kindling in measures and going out in measures. Indeed, the ideal of fluctuating patterns seems to be very useful for the study of cultural evolution. After civilizations have reached a peak of vitality, they tend to lose their cultural steam and decline.
An essential element in this cultural breakdown, according to Toynbee, is a loss of flexibility. When social structures and behavior patterns have become so rigid that the society can no longer adapt to changing situations, it will be unable to carry on the creative process of cultural evolution.
It will break down and, eventually, disintegrate. Whereas growing civilizations display endless variety and versatility, those in the process of disintegration show uniformity and lack of inventiveness.
The loss of flexibility in a disintegrating society is accompanied by a general loss of harmony among its elements, which inevitably leads to the outbreak of social discord and disruption.
However, during the painful process of disintegration the society's creativity - its ability to respond to challenges - is not completely lost. Although the cultural mainstream has become petrified by clinging to fixed ideas and rigid patterns of behavior, creative minorities will appear on the scene and carry on the process of challenge-and-response. The dominant social institutions will refuse to hand over their leading roles to these new cultural forces, but they will inevitably go on to decline and disintegrate, and the creative minorities may be able to transform some of the old elements into a new configuration.
The process of cultural evolution will then continue, but in new circumstances and with new protagonists. The cultural patterns Toynbee described seem to fit our current situation very well. Retrieved from " https: Hidden categories: Pages to import images to Wikidata All stub articles.
Cover of the first edition. The Tao of Physics. This article about a science book is a stub.From this it is apparent that rational knowledge is likely to generate self-centered, or yang, activity, whereas intuitive wisdom is the basis of ecological, or yin, activity.
We are experiencing technical difficulties. Ancient Chinese philosophers believed that ail manifestations of reality are generated by the dynamic interplay between two polar forces which they called the yin and the yang.
All natural phenomena are manifestations of a continuous oscillation between the two poles, all transitions taking place gradually and in unbroken progression. May 20, John Towery rated it it was amazing. These fluctuating changes of values and their effects on all aspects of society, at least in the West, have been mapped out by the sociologist Pitirim Sorokin in a monumental four-volume work written between and In , before the latest escalation of costs, world military spending was about billion dollars - over one billion dollars a day.
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