Broadcast 1/8/2015 at 17:21:43 (60 Listens, 39 Downloads, 2312 Itunes)
The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show Podcast
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Fritjof Capra is one of the world's leading thinkers in systems theory, and the author of so many influential books such as The Tao of Physics, The Web of Life: The Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable Living, Learning from Leonardo: Decoding the Notebooks and the main subect of this interview, The Systems View of Life, by Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi
Rough, Incomplete Notes designed to motivate you to listen to the audio podcast.
Rob: The book presents a systems theory approach which integrates four dimensions of life -- biological, cognitive, social and ecological. Can you touch on each of those?
Web of life, The Hidden Connections,
Systemic view of living organisms is a view in terms of networks--systems view involves patterns, connectedness, processes. All parts of living systems organize themselves in relationship to one another. Ecosystems are networks of organisms in feeding relationships.
Social systems are networks of communications.
Cognitive dimension of life Involves mind and consciousness--we need to understand the nature of mind and consciousness
Rob: I think we need to get into explaining what cognitive means in the systems way of thinking. It is far more than simply thinking.
Decartes posited two separate things--mind and matter. The mind is the thinking thing and matter is the extended thing res extensa.
The advance of the systems view of life is that mind and consciousness are not things, but processes--a model developed by Gregory Bateson--one of the most important systems theorists. And Umberto Maturano and Francisco Varela--the Santiago theory of cognition--which started a whole new world of cognitive science.
Rob: The word is autopoiesis.
It means self-making, or self-generating--which is a cognitive process.
Question that has plagued scientists for centuries--what's the difference between mind and brain. The relationship between mind and brain is between process and structure. This is a huge revolution in science
Rob: Let me repeat that. Overcoming the Cartesian model of science is a huge step.
Rob: what I took away from your book is that the mechanistic metaphor is what many major aspects of our culture is built upon.
The systems view has similarities with spiritual views of life. (Tao of physics) Dalai Lama and mind-life institutes dialogues. Co-wrote with Pier Luigi Luisi chapter on science and spirituality. Important to distinguish between spirituality and religion. Root of words spirit and anima--root of soul--related to breath--breath of life--spirit are moments when we feel most alive. A central experience of belonging to a larger whole and being integrated in it. This is independent of cultural or historic traditions. People who have had profound spiritual experiences are often called mystics--because this is an experience of something mystical or wonderful. Religion is the organization of these mystical experiences into institutions. But institutions can forget the mystical" this is what we call fundamentalism.
Rob: You say that a central characteristic of the systems view of life is nonlinearity--all living systems are complex, ie., non-linear networks. Can you explain about non-linear?
Once you realize that all living systems are organized in networks, non-linear network.
Rob: What does non-linear mean?
In terms of geometry, linear is a straight line. A network is non-linear because it goes in all directions.
Rob: This is a core aspect--that mechanistic scientific models are unable to deal with or explain non-linear aspects of life or sub-atomic particle physics.
In living systems there are feedback loops" to construct a model for explaining climate change, for example, with all the factors, it is impossible with mechanistic science
Rob: Let's get into chaos theory, you discuss strange attractors, bifurcation points and fractals--how do they fit in?
Strange attractors that describe chaotic systems. There are other attractors--point or periodic attractors"
Bifurcation points: strange attractors can be stable or unstable. When unstable a totally new behavior can emerge--This is one of the most important results of complexity theory--that there can be new forms of order.
Rob:This gets into the work of your friend Ilya Prigogine
One of the best ways of defining biological life is to say that the central characteristic of a living organism is metabolism-- he defines it" There's the autopoiesis network aspect but also the flow aspect. The study of flows was led by Ilya Prigogine. Constant flows keep the system far from equilibrium--there are continuous structural changes and every now and then the balance of the system is disturbed and new order develops. It has been re
I took a mantra from Prigogine I took a lesson that out of higher levels of chaos can come higher levels of order.
Rob: where does this fit into change in today's world.
A small disturbance can break through to form a higher level of order. Someone says something and it disturbs the s ystem". And it cycles around and it gets amplified to such an extent that people realize" that if this is really true that they can't go on working like they were--and that's the phenomenon of emergence.
Rob: I like to say that small actions can make huge changes. You talk in your book about the butterfly effect.
In the linear world small causes can have small effects, but in a non-linear world, small changes can have huge effects.
Rob: Let's talk about the third section o f your book--solutions
A sustainable community must be built so it does not interfere with nature's ability to sustain life. The Biosphere has sustained life for" 3.6 billion years. IN order to understand that we need to move from biology to ecology. We need to understand how ecosystems organize themselves, like the principle that one species' waste is another species food," that diversity insures resilience. Ecoliteracy.
The next step is to apply this ecological knowledge to our social" systems. Requires a fundamental shift in our attitude towards nature.
Three strategies: book titles; Plan B by Lester Brown,
Reinventing Fire Amory Lovins
Third Industrial Revolution by Jeremy Rivkin
They all involve systemic or ecodesign solutions.
Rob: This book was written as a textbook for students. How is it going?
It's a multidisciplinary book. The book can be used as a supplementary book in all the disciplines.
Design, architecture, urban planning, biology, life science" history of science. So
Rob: How about health--you said a lot about a systems approach to health and health care--
Decartes saw health like an unhealthy clock to be fixed. This mechanistic
System view of health sees health as a systems of processes and relationships.
When you see health as a consequence and experience of well being as a consequence of the organism functioning in a balanced way. This is an important in many traditional forms of healing--that the doctor is an assistant or attendant to natural healing.
Rob: Do you have a take on the model healthcare in the US vs single payer? How does that fit into a systems vs mechanistic model?
The main goal is to make a profit,
Rob:Generative vs extractive
Rob:Need a unified framework for material and social worlds
Rob: decentralized energy generation 427
Rob: ownership vs rental
Rob: service and flow economy 446
Rob: ecological democracy 448
Rob: Biomimicry and What would nature do? 449, 450
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