Fritjof Capra: The Theory of Living Systems

Part 2 - Sociological Implications Of Systems Theory Of Life

By James deSantis
a paper for a Political Science class at Athabasca University, Alberta. March 10, 1999


  The majority of scientists and scientific institutions cling to the mechanistic and reductionist concepts of
  Cartesian science, and do not realize that such a framework is no longer adequate to solve social, economic,
  and technological problems in a fundamentally interconnected world. That is why our high technologies are
  often anti-ecological, inhumane, and unhealthy. They may involve the latest discoveries in electronics,
  biochemistry, genetics, and other fields of modern science, but the context in which they are applied is that of
  the Cartesian conception of reality(1). For Capra, there are solutions to the major problems of our time. But
  they require a radical shift in our perceptions, our thinking, and our values. The recognition that a profound
  change of perception and thinking is needed if we are to survive has not yet reached most of our corporate
  leaders, either, or the administrators and professors of our large universities. From the systemic point of view,
  the only viable solutions are those that are "sustainable". Therefore, the great challenge of our time is to create
  sustainable communities, that is, social and cultural environments in which we can satisfy our needs and
  aspirations without diminishing the chances of future generations. To reconnect with the web of life means
  building and nurturing these sustainable communities(2). Capra expresses the life of any living organism as
  made up of pattern, process and structure. "...If we apply these ideas to ourselves or our organizations, we
  can see that in the patterns we find our identity. In the processes we develop our relationships, our
  beliefs, our principles and behaviors, becoming more conscious. In the structures we become more fluid,
  more focused on the present moment; we become alive..."(3) We can learn lessons from the study of
  ecosystems and apply their principles for building sustainable human communities. In this respect, Capra(4)
  and Elisabet Sahtouris(5) identify the following basic principles: interdependence, recycling, partnership,
  flexibility, diversity, abundance mentality, strong core values, service government and flat structures,
  spirituality, and non-discrimination.
  As we have seen above, the building of healthy and sustainable communities is deeply connected to our search
  for a new sociological paradigm away from the survival of the fittest philosophy, a philosophy which has been
  the cause of man's alienation with Nature and the culprit of the present social problems of poverty,
  homelessness, starvation and deprivation. Our traditional politicians and business leaders have been unable to
  provide long term solutions to these problems and Capra welcomed the creation of social movements founded
  on the premises to change the current traditional sociological paradigm and to build sustainable communities. The concept Green politics is the manifestation of the cultural shift to the new paradigm(6) and its charter
  includes the pursuing of social and economic progress within the ecological principles of the living


Green Politics, Fritjof Capra and Charlene Spretnak, E.P Dutton Inc, page 118 (1984)




The Web of Life, by Fritjof Capra, Anchor Books, page 297 (1996)




The First International Electronic Seminar on Wholeness: Emergence From Chaos, by Richard N. Knowles,




The Web of Life, by Fritjof Capra, Anchor Books, page 304 (1996)




Earthdance: Living Systems in Evolution, by Elisabet Sahtouris, (1995)




Green Politics, Fritjof Capra and Charlene Spretnak, E.P Dutton Inc, page xx (1984)




Green Politics, Fritjof Capra and Charlene Spretnak, E.P Dutton Inc, page 118 (1984)