Fritjof Capra

Fritjof Capra

Overview
Fritjof Capra is an Austrian-born American physicist
Physicist
A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

. He is a founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy
Center for Ecoliteracy
The Center for Ecoliteracy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to education for sustainable living.-About:Located in Berkeley, California, the Center for Ecoliteracy's stated mission is to support schooling for sustainability....

 in Berkeley, California, and is on the faculty of Schumacher College
Schumacher College
Schumacher College was founded in 1991 in Dartington, Totnes, Devon, UK by Satish Kumar, John Lane and others. It was named after E.F. Schumacher. It is an international centre offering transformative learning for sustainable living, and runs holistic education courses...

.

Capra is the author of several books, including The Tao of Physics
The Tao of Physics
The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism is a book by physicist Fritjof Capra, published in 1975 by Shambhala Publications of Berkeley, California. It was a bestseller in the United States, and has been published in 43 editions in 23 languages...

(1975), The Turning Point
The Turning Point (book)
The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture is a book by Fritjof Capra written to explain perceived scientific and economic crises....

(1982), Uncommon Wisdom (1988), The Web of Life (1996), and The Hidden Connections (2002).

Born in Vienna, Austria, Capra attended the University of Vienna
University of Vienna
The University of Vienna is a public university located in Vienna, Austria. It was founded by Duke Rudolph IV in 1365 and is the oldest university in the German-speaking world...

, where he earned his Ph.D.
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Quotations

The influence of modern physics goes beyond technology. It extends to the realm of thought and culture where it has led to a deep revision in man's conception of the universe and his relation to it.

Ch. 1, Modern Physics, p. 17

If physics leads us today to a world view which is essentially mystical, it returns, in a way, to its beginning, 2,500 years ago. [...] This time, however, it is not only based on intuition, but also on experiments of great precision and sophistication, and on a rigorous and consistent mathematical formalism.

Ch. 1, Modern Physics, p. 19

A page from a journal of modern experimental physics will be as mysterious to the uninitiated as a Tibetan mandala. Both are records of enquiries into the nature of the universe.

Ch. 2, Knowing and Seeing, p. 36

Both the physicist and the mystic want to communicate their knowledge, and when they do so with words their statements are paradoxical and full of logical contradictions.

Ch. 3, Beyond Language, p. 46

Whenever the essential nature of things is analysed by the intellect, it must seem absurd or paradoxical. This has always been recognized by the mystics, but has become a problem in science only very recently.

Ch. 3, Beyond Language, p. 50

The mystic and the physicist arrive at the same conclusion; one starting from the inner realm, the other from the outer world. The harmony between their views confirms the ancient Indian wisdom that Brahman, the ultimate reality without, is identical to Atman, the reality within.

Epilogue, p. 305

Mystics understand the roots of the Tao but not its branches; scientists understand its branches but not its roots. Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science; but man needs both.

Epilogue, p. 306
Encyclopedia
Fritjof Capra is an Austrian-born American physicist
Physicist
A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

. He is a founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy
Center for Ecoliteracy
The Center for Ecoliteracy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to education for sustainable living.-About:Located in Berkeley, California, the Center for Ecoliteracy's stated mission is to support schooling for sustainability....

 in Berkeley, California, and is on the faculty of Schumacher College
Schumacher College
Schumacher College was founded in 1991 in Dartington, Totnes, Devon, UK by Satish Kumar, John Lane and others. It was named after E.F. Schumacher. It is an international centre offering transformative learning for sustainable living, and runs holistic education courses...

.

Capra is the author of several books, including The Tao of Physics
The Tao of Physics
The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism is a book by physicist Fritjof Capra, published in 1975 by Shambhala Publications of Berkeley, California. It was a bestseller in the United States, and has been published in 43 editions in 23 languages...

(1975), The Turning Point
The Turning Point (book)
The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture is a book by Fritjof Capra written to explain perceived scientific and economic crises....

(1982), Uncommon Wisdom (1988), The Web of Life (1996), and The Hidden Connections (2002).

Life and work


Born in Vienna, Austria, Capra attended the University of Vienna
University of Vienna
The University of Vienna is a public university located in Vienna, Austria. It was founded by Duke Rudolph IV in 1365 and is the oldest university in the German-speaking world...

, where he earned his Ph.D. in theoretical physics
Theoretical physics
Theoretical physics is a branch of physics which employs mathematical models and abstractions of physics to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena...

 in 1966. He conducted research in particle physics
Particle physics
Particle physics is a branch of physics that studies the existence and interactions of particles that are the constituents of what is usually referred to as matter or radiation. In current understanding, particles are excitations of quantum fields and interact following their dynamics...

 and systems theory
Systems theory
Systems theory is the transdisciplinary study of systems in general, with the goal of elucidating principles that can be applied to all types of systems at all nesting levels in all fields of research...

 at the University of Paris
University of Paris
The University of Paris was a university located in Paris, France and one of the earliest to be established in Europe. It was founded in the mid 12th century, and officially recognized as a university probably between 1160 and 1250...

 (1966–1968), the University of California, Santa Cruz
University of California, Santa Cruz
The University of California, Santa Cruz, also known as UC Santa Cruz or UCSC, is a public, collegiate university; one of ten campuses in the University of California...

 (1968–1970), the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
The SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, originally named Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, is a United States Department of Energy National Laboratory operated by Stanford University under the programmatic direction of the U.S...

 (1970), Imperial College, London (1971–1974), and the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (1975–1988). While at Berkeley, he was a member of the Fundamental Fysiks Group
Fundamental Fysiks Group
The Fundamental Fysiks Group was founded in San Francisco in May 1975 by two physicists, Elizabeth Rauscher and George Weissmann, at the time both graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley. The group held informal discussions on Friday afternoons to explore the philosophical...

, founded in May 1975 by Elizabeth Rauscher
Elizabeth Rauscher
Elizabeth A. Rauscher is an American physicist and parapsychologist. She is a former researcher with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Stanford Research Institute, and NASA....

 and George Weissmann, which met weekly to discuss philosophy and quantum physics. He also taught at U.C. Santa Cruz, U.C. Berkeley, and San Francisco State University
San Francisco State University
San Francisco State University is a public university located in San Francisco, California. As part of the 23-campus California State University system, the university offers over 100 areas of study from nine academic colleges...

.

He has written popular books on the implications of science, notably The Tao of Physics
The Tao of Physics
The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism is a book by physicist Fritjof Capra, published in 1975 by Shambhala Publications of Berkeley, California. It was a bestseller in the United States, and has been published in 43 editions in 23 languages...

, subtitled An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism. The Tao of Physics makes an assertion that physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 and metaphysics
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 are both inexorably leading to the same knowledge. He is fluent in German, English, French, and Italian.

After touring Germany in the early 1980s, Capra co-wrote a book on Green Politics
Green politics
Green politics is a political ideology that aims for the creation of an ecologically sustainable society rooted in environmentalism, social liberalism, and grassroots democracy...

 with ecofeminist author Charlene Spretnak
Charlene Spretnak
Charlene Spretnak is an American author, activist, academic, and feminist. Born in 1946 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Spretnak was raised in Columbus, Ohio. She earned her B.A. from St. Louis University and her M.A. in English and American literature from the University of California, Berkeley, in...

 called Green Politics, in 1984.

Capra contributed to the screenplay for the 1990 movie Mindwalk
Mindwalk
Mindwalk is a 1990 feature film directed by Bernt Amadeus Capra, based on his own short story, based in turn on the book The Turning Point by his brother Fritjof Capra, the author of the book The Tao of Physics....

, starring Liv Ullman, Sam Waterston
Sam Waterston
Samuel Atkinson "Sam" Waterston is an American actor and occasional producer and director. Among other roles, he is noted for his Academy Award-nominated portrayal of Sydney Schanberg in 1984's The Killing Fields, and his Golden Globe- and Screen Actors Guild Award-winning portrayal of Jack McCoy...

, and John Heard, which was loosely based on his book, The Turning Point
The Turning Point (book)
The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture is a book by Fritjof Capra written to explain perceived scientific and economic crises....

.

In 1991 Capra coauthored Belonging to the Universe with David Steindl-Rast
David Steindl-Rast
David Steindl-Rast is a Catholic Benedictine monk, notable for his active participation in interfaith dialogue and his work on the interaction between spirituality and science....

, a Benedictine monk. Using Thomas Kuhn
Thomas Kuhn
Thomas Samuel Kuhn was an American historian and philosopher of science whose controversial 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was deeply influential in both academic and popular circles, introducing the term "paradigm shift," which has since become an English-language staple.Kuhn...

's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , by Thomas Kuhn, is an analysis of the history of science. Its publication was a landmark event in the history, philosophy, and sociology of scientific knowledge and it triggered an ongoing worldwide assessment and reaction in — and beyond — those scholarly...

 as a stepping stone, their book explores the parallels between new paradigm thinking in science and religion that together offer what the authors consider remarkably compatible view of the universe.

Capra pushes for western society
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

 to abandon conventional linear thought and the mechanistic views of Descartes. Critiquing the reductionistic Cartesian view that everything can be studied in parts to understand the whole, Capra encourages his readers to take a holistic approach. In The Web of Life, Capra focuses on the systemic information generated by the relationships among all the parts as a significant additional factor in the character of the whole, emphasizing the web-like structure of all systems and thus the interconnectedness of all parts.

Capra is purportedly setting the grounds for change in many new theories, one of which is the living systems theory, a theoretical framework for ecology
Ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

. This theory is only now fully emerging but it has its roots in several scientific fields that were developed during the first half of the twentieth century — organismic biology, gestalt psychology
Gestalt psychology
Gestalt psychology or gestaltism is a theory of mind and brain of the Berlin School; the operational principle of gestalt psychology is that the brain is holistic, parallel, and analog, with self-organizing tendencies...

, ecology
Ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

, general systems theory
Systems theory
Systems theory is the transdisciplinary study of systems in general, with the goal of elucidating principles that can be applied to all types of systems at all nesting levels in all fields of research...

, and cybernetics
Cybernetics
Cybernetics is the interdisciplinary study of the structure of regulatory systems. Cybernetics is closely related to information theory, control theory and systems theory, at least in its first-order form...

.

Fritjof Capra is a founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy
Center for Ecoliteracy
The Center for Ecoliteracy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to education for sustainable living.-About:Located in Berkeley, California, the Center for Ecoliteracy's stated mission is to support schooling for sustainability....

 located in Berkeley
Berkeley, California
Berkeley is a city on the east shore of the San Francisco Bay in Northern California, United States. Its neighbors to the south are the cities of Oakland and Emeryville. To the north is the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington...

, California, which promotes ecology and systems thinking
Systems thinking
Systems thinking is the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole. In nature, systems thinking examples include ecosystems in which various elements such as air, water, movement, plants, and animals work together to survive or perish...

in primary and secondary education.

External links