Send a Tweet

Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend

Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites   No comments

Book Review: The Systems View of Life; A Unifying Vision

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Rob Kall     Permalink
      (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H4 1/3/15

Author 80

Originally Published on OpEdNews

The Systems View of Life; A Unifying Vision, co-authored by Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi, Published by Cambridge University Press.

It's been a long time since I've been so excited about reading a non-fiction book, let alone a text book. But this one has captivated my interest by pulling together so many ideas and threads of scientific knowledge and wisdom.

The core message of this book is that it is time to replace the mechanistic, atomistic model of science, based on Cartesian and Newtonian thinking, which has been dominant for several centuries, not only in science, as a paradigm, but in culture, as a metaphor used as a lens through which the world is viewed. This top-down mechanistic model does not work to explain ecology, ecosystems, and life, nor does it adequately explain sub-atomic particle physics. Perhaps an even bigger problem is that the mechanistic model, applied as a metaphor by people in all walks of life, has created a mindset in society that has led to non-sustainable ways of thinking about how we live, do business, even relate to each other and spiritually, one that embraces the pathological economic model of unlimited consumption.


The answer is to replace both the scientific model and the metaphor with a bottom-up, systems view based on the core idea that properties are based on relationships and manifest in interconnected networks where small actions or changes can produce big effects (another systems characteristic that is not explained in the mechanistic model.) The bottom-up system view metaphor is a much healthier, profoundly more sustainable one that it our culture must embrace if we are to transition to a future that includes bio-diversity and the continued existence of the human race. It shouldn't be that hard. That's the way humans evolved and existed for 99.99 percent of their five million years of existence. It's only a few hundred year old habit we have to let go of.

In a sense, this book feels like a Rosetta stone for me, unlocking connections and roots of a panoply of different ideas and concepts.

It starts walking us through the history of science--and how scientific models influenced most aspect of cultures. This is a wonderful section that lays out the people who came up with the ideas. I've been telling the many people I've already recommended the book too that we've lived through the most fertile time in the history of science, with an immense amount of new findings, more, in the past 60 or even 30 years than the rest of history combined. Over the decades I've been subscribing to numerous science books which have given me the pieces. This book pulls the big changes together and integrates them, across disciplines into a glorious big picture, for each field and for all of them tied together.

As I was reading the portion of the book covering the history of systems thinking, at one point, as the authors were about to begin giving a history and explanation of a concept I'd had a loose handle on, I realized that I was suddenly feeling very excited, like I was in a movie, sitting on the edge of my seat, or becoming aroused and excited. But it was a non-fiction book, on scientific theory.

This is what a great writer and a great book are supposed to do.

I particularly found the section on non-linear, dynamic, complexity and chaost theories helpful. It shows how the butterfly effect-- how small initial actions or changes-- can produce massive changes. I find that very hopeful, even more because the research earned Ilya Prigogine a Nobel prize for showing how out of chaos, higher levels of order can emerge.

I've read the whole book-- close to 500 pages. It has had a huge impact on my way of thinking about so many things. The last book that had this strong an influence on was Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine and before that, Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces.

The book makes it clear that the dominant economic models, based on continual, unending growth are not only unsustainable, they are, as Capra told me in my interview with him, "grotesque," because, for example, GDP goes up when money is spent to clean up oil spills or to pay for wars.

The last third of the book explores solutions that emerge by thinking in systems terms. The solutions apply to economics, ecology, sustainable energy, architecture, farming, urban planning, healthcare and more.

While The Systems View of Life is written as a textbook, that doesn't mean it is just for classes on systems theory. Capra told me that he sees it as useful in classes on history of science, biology, physics, philosophy, agriculture, urban planning, energy and more. I hope that happens.

It doesn't matter what your area of work or interest is. This book is essential reading to face the future with eyes wide open.


View Ratings | Rate It

Rob Kall is executive editor, publisher and website architect of, Host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show (WNJC 1360 AM), and publisher of, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor . He is also published regularly on the

Listen to over 200 of Rob's Podcast interviews here.

Rob is, with the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.

With his experience as architect and founder of a technorati top 100 blog, he is also a new media / social media consultant and trainer for corporations, non-profits, entrepreneurs and authors.

Rob is a frequent Speaker on the bottom-up revolution, politics, The art, science and power of story, heroes and the hero's journey and Positive Psychology. He is a campaign consultant specializing in tapping the power of stories for issue positioning, stump speeches and debates, and optimizing tapping the power of new media. Watch me speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.

See more Rob Kall articles here and, older ones, here.

To learn more about Rob and, check out A Voice For Truth - ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. For Rob's work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..

And here's a one hour radio interview where I was a guest- on Envision This, on 10/23/13. And here is the transcript. 

And Rob's quotes are here.

To watch me on youtube, having a lively conversation with John Conyers, former Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click here Now, wouldn't you like to see me on the political news shows, representing progressives. If so, tell your favorite shows to bring me on and refer them to this youtube video.

Rob's radio show, The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, runs 9-10 PM EST Wednesday evenings, on AM 1360, WNJC and is archived at Or listen to it streaming, live at

Rob also hosted a health/mind/body/heart/spirit radio show-- the Rob Kall Futurehealth radio show. Check out podcasts from it at

Follow me on Twitter

A few declarations.

-My articles express my personal opinion, not the opinion of this website.

Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party's Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter


Top Content
in the Last 2 Days
(by Page Views)

Day For Indigenous Peoples-- Learn Connection Consciousness From Them by Rob Kall (12)

Pollution as Theft: Accounting for Systemic Externalities by Rob Kall (2)

Hierarchical Republican Culture-- transcript of an interview with Andrew Schmookler, part 1 by Rob Kall (1)

Bottom Up Democracy at PDA, Top-Down at DNC by Rob Kall (1)

Transcript: Fritjof Capra-- Forget Newtonian Physics and Atomism-- Learn About the Systems View Of Life and the Universe by Rob Kall (1)

Facilitating a Disruptive Emergence To Replace the Existing Elite System Running the Planet by Rob Kall (1)

The Obama Biden "Cancer Moonshot" Project Must Include Bottom-up Approaches by Rob Kall (1)

Kirkpatrick Sale Intvw Transcript: on Small vs Big, Decentralization, Secession, Domination by Rob Kall (1)

So I asked Bernie Sanders about Bottom-up... by Rob Kall (1)

Learning Wisdom and Knowhow from Indigenous and Aboriginal Peoples by Rob Kall (1)

Thoughts on Bottom up as a Form of Intelligence by Rob Kall (1)

Small Acts, Without 50% + 1 DO Change the World by Rob Kall (1)

More versus Enough-- time to re-set our values by Rob Kall (1)

Russell Means on the Great Paradigm Shift: the Rise of Matriarchy and Collapse of Patriarchy (w/Videos) by Mac McKinney (1)

Interview Transcript: Keith Farnish Interview Transcript. Undermining-- Legal and Illegal Ways To Fight the System by Rob Kall (1)

What does Bottom-up mean to you? by Rob Kall (1)

Respect Authority? Really? by Rob Kall (1)

Olympics, Change to Bottom Up to Make Better Olympians and Audiences by Rob Kall (1)

Public Speaking from the Bottom Up by Rob Kall (1)

Subsidiarity: Pope Francis: The Future of Freedom Requires a Spirit of Bottom-up by Rob Kall (1)

Transcript: The Military's Culture of Lying -- A Top-Down Problem? Intvw with Army War College Expert by Rob Kall (1)

HBO Going Bottom-up-- That's A Good Thing For HBO and the Future of Media by Rob Kall (1)

Transcript: Brian J. Robertson: Holacracy-- Alternative to Top-Down Management by Rob Kall (1)

From Top-Down to Bottom Up: The Work of Les Robinson by Burl Hall (1)

Vilifying and Re-Defining Our Heroes by Rob Kall (1)

Go To Top 50 Most Popular