I am very happy to announce the publication of the Screenplay of Mindwalk, the film based on my book The Turning Point, created and directed by my brother Bernt Capra. In addition to the Screenplay (co-written by Floyd Byars and myself), the book contains Director’s Notes by Bernt and a Scientific Commentary in which I explore the film’s scientific ideas in some depth.
We are publishing this book to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the film’s premiere at the Sundance Film festival. Since its release in 1991, Mindwalk has become a cult classic, shown not only in theaters but in countless college courses and business seminars.
When I was reviewing my career in preparation for the forthcoming collection of my essays from five decades (see previous blog post), I felt tremendous gratitude to many colleagues and mentors who have influenced and inspired me during various phases of my professional life. To acknowledge my debt to them I decided to document their names in a systemic way.
In the interactive PDF I have arranged their names and portraits in a network corresponding to the conceptual network of my synthesis of the Systems View of Life. Hovering the cursor over their portraits will open up biographical information about them, including my relationship with them, in the side bar. (Please note that this interactive feature requires opening the PDF with Adobe Reader or Acrobat.)
Over the years I have been influenced and inspired by many more colleagues than I was able to include in this map. To all I owe deep gratitude.
I am delighted to announce that a collection of my essays, Patterns of Connection, will be published by University of New Mexico Press in October 2021. The essays in this book reflect the evolution of my thinking during the last five decades. Many contain materials that never made it into any of my books, and quite a few have never even appeared in print.
These essays combine and interrelate the two sides of my professional life as a scientist and science writer, on the one hand, and as an environmental educator and activist on the other. Hence, they reflect not only the trajectory of my career but also the history of several movements for social change — from the counterculture of the 1960s to the New Age movement of the 1970s, the emergence of Green politics in the 1980s, and the rise of the global civil society from the 1990s to the present.
it is the year 2050 and we are looking back to the origin and evolution of the
coronavirus pandemic over the last three decades. Extrapolating from recent
events, we offer the following scenario for such a view from the future.
As we move into the second half of our twenty-first century, we can finally make sense of the origin and impact of the coronavirus that struck the world in 2020 from an evolutionary systemic perspective. Today, in 2050, looking back on the past 40 turbulent years on our home planet, it seems obvious that the Earth had taken charge of teaching our human family. Our planet taught us the primacy of understanding of our situation in terms of whole systems, identified by some far-sighted thinkers as far back as the mid-nineteenth century. This widening human awareness revealed how the planet actually functions, its living biosphere systemically powered by the daily flow of photons from our mother star, the Sun.
For scholars and admirers of Leonardo da Vinci, 2019 has been a special year. It marks the 500-year anniversary of his death. Consequently, there have been several major Leonardo exhibitions in Europe: in Florence, Milan, Paris, London, and other places. I have had the great honor to act as scientific curator of a unique exhibition about Leonardo’s botany in Florence (together with Stefano Mancuso, professor of plant neurobiology at the University of Florence), which opened on September 13 and will run until December 15 (https://www.labotanicadileonardo.it/). The exhibition is promoted by the Municipality of Florence and is sponsored by Aboca, a company producing plant-based health products (and who are also my Italian publishers).
The exhibition is unique in several ways. There has never been an exhibition on Leonardo’s botany, perhaps the least known of the many branches of science in which he made pioneering discoveries. Moreover, there has never been an exhibition interpreting the scientific ideas of the genius of Vinci from the perspective of 21st-century science. As I remarked at the opening ceremony:
Geoffrey Chew, who died last April at the age of ninety-four, was one of the deepest and most radical thinkers of twentieth-century physics. His bootstrap theory, technically known as S-Matrix theory, is based on the idea that nature cannot be reduced to fundamental entities, like fundamental constituents of matter, but has to be understood entirely through self-consistency. According to Chew, all of physics has to follow uniquely from the requirement that its components be consistent with one another and with themselves.
idea constitutes a radical departure from the traditional spirit of basic
research in physics, which has always concentrated on finding the fundamental
constituents of matter. At the same time, it can be seen as the culmination of
the conception of particles as interconnections in an inseparable web of
relationships, which arose in quantum theory and acquired an intrinsically
dynamic nature in relativity theory.
I am delighted to announce that Spanish and Russian editions of The Systems View of Life, coauthored with Pier Luigi Luisi and published originally by Cambridge University Press, will soon be available. I am very grateful to Cruz Prado for initiating contacts with the Universidad Tecnica Nacional in Costa Rica, and to Anna Siderova for contacting Editorial URSS in Moscow on my behalf.
Our textbook will be available in the following editions:
Cambridge University Press, 2014; paperback edition with corrections, 2016
Aboca, Sansepolcro, 2014 (Italian)
Cultrix, São Paulo, 2014 (Portuguese)
Mindspace, Copenhagen, 2016 (Danish)
Universidad Tecnica Nacional, Quesada, Costa Rica (Spanish, in preparation)
As the Spring 2018 Capra Course on The Systems View of Life (www.capracourse.net) is about to start, I am happy to report that this (for me) new way of teaching online has been thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring. In each of the past four courses we had around 150 participants from over 50 countries around the world — a global community of systemic thinkers and activists. The discussions in our online Forum have been lively and substantial, and we have had enthusiastic testimonials from many participants.
We now have an alumni network of around 500 Capra Course participants, in which animated conversations take place, groups and projects are formed, and some alumni post short video lectures about their work. We have also had face-to-face alumni meetings in Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Paris, Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, and in various other places.
Last month, Simon Robinson, who was with Capra Course from the very beginning (and whom you can see and hear in the Capra Course trailer) had to leave because of the increasing demands on his time as a business consultant in São Paulo, Brazil. Simon’s work as our publicist will be continued by Phoebe Tickell who joined the Capra Course team last month. Phoebe is an Associate Lecturer at Schumacher College in the UK, and since I also have a long association with Schumacher College, we decided to record a conversation about the conceptual and personal relationships between Capra Course and Schumacher College. As I explain in the conversation, my experience of transformative learning during many years of teaching at Schumacher College has been my model for designing Capra Course. I hope you will enjoy this video.
Carlo Pedretti, the world’s foremost expert on Leonardo da Vinci, died on January 5, one day before his ninetieth birthday, in his villa in Lamporecchio near Vinci. Pedretti’s specialty was the exact dating of Leonardo’s manuscripts and drawings (see The Science of Leonardo, 2002, p. 160). His pioneering works included the annotated edition of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci at the Royal Library at Windsor in several volumes, as well as annotated and translated facsimile editions of several of Leonardo’s codices. Pedretti published over 60 scholarly books and over 600 articles on Leonardo da Vinci. One of his last tasks was to assemble a committee for the celebration of the 500-year anniversary of Leonardo’s death in 2019. I knew Pedretti quite well. He was always very kind to me, encouraging and supporting my Leonardo research for many years. He will be greatly missed by the community of Leonardo scholars.