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The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision

by Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi

Cambridge University Press (May 31, 2014)

Over the past thirty years, a new systemic conception of life has emerged at the forefront of science. New emphasis has been given to complexity, networks, and patterns of organisation leading to a novel kind of 'systemic' thinking. This volume integrates the ideas, models, and theories underlying the systems view of life into a single coherent framework.
Taking a broad sweep through history and across scientific disciplines, the authors examine the appearance of key concepts such as autopoiesis, dissipative structures, social networks, and a systemic understanding of evolution. The implications of the systems view of life for health care, management, and our global ecological and economic crises are also discussed. Written primarily for undergraduates, it is also essential reading for graduate students and researchers interested in understanding the new systemic conception of life and its implications for a broad range of professions - from economics and politics to medicine, psychology and law.

- Provides broad insights and in-depth perspectives on key aspects of the systems view of life
- Integrates life's biological, cognitive, social and ecological dimensions into a single, coherent framework
- Introduces the reader to the concept of systematic thinking and engages them with application boxes

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Table of Contents

Introduction: paradigms in science and society

Part I. The Mechanistic World View:
1. The Newtonian world-machine
2. The mechanistic view of life
3. Mechanistic social thought

Part II. The Rise of Systems Thinking:
4. From the parts to the whole
5. Classical systems theories
6. Complexity theory

Part III. A New Conception of Life:
7. What is life?
8. Order and complexity in the living world
9. Darwin and biological evolution
10. The quest for the origin of life on Earth
11. The human adventure
12. Mind and consciousness
13. Science and spirituality
14. Life, mind, and society
15. The systems view of health

Part IV. Sustaining the Web of Life:
16. The ecological dimension of life
17. Connecting the dots: systems thinking and the state of the world
18. Systemic solutions


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