In Memoriam Hazel Henderson 1933–2022

(To be published in Resurgence, Sept/Oct 2022)

Hazel Henderson 1933–2022

Hazel Henderson, who died in May of this year at the age of eighty-nine, was an influential colleague and close friend of mine for over forty years, during which she decisively shaped my thinking about the intersections of economics, ecology, systems thinking, and feminism.

            An independent futurist, environmentalist, and economic iconoclast, she argued that the conceptual framework underlying the discipline of economics has become so narrow that it has driven economists into an impasse. Most economic concepts and models are no longer adequate to understand economic phenomena in a fundamentally interdependent world, and current economic policies can no longer solve our economic problems.

            In nine books, numerous essays, and countless editorials, Hazel drove home this point for over four decades with an intensity, brilliance, and originality that are still unmatched today. She challenged the world’s foremost economists, politicians, and corporate leaders with her well-founded critique of their fundamental concepts and values. Because of her special talent for presenting her radical ideas in a disarming, nonthreatening manner her voice was heard and respected in government and corporate circles; she held an impressive number of advisory positions and cofounded and directed numerous organizations, in which her new ways of thinking have been elaborated and applied.

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Mindwalk — The Screenplay

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.

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Map of Colleagues and Mentors

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.

Click here to download the interactive PDF and then open it in Adobe Reader or Acrobat.

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.

Patterns of Connection

Essential Essays from Five Decades

Patterns of Connection by Fritjof Capra

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.

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Fritjof Capra and Hazel Henderson

Imagine, 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.

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La botanica di Leonardo

A Unique Exhibition in Florence

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 ( 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).

Entrance to the exhibition in the monastery of Santa Maria Novella

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:

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In Memoriam Geoffrey Chew 1924 – 2019

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.[1]

Geoffrey Chew discussing S-Matrix theory with Fritjof Capra,
Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, 1984; photo: Jacqueline Capra

This 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.

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Werner Heisenberg: Explorer of the Limits of Human Imagination

Zentralbild Prof. Dr. phil Werner Kar. Heisenberg, Physiker, geboren 5.12.1901 in Würzburg, Professor für theoretische Physik, Direktor des Max-Planck-Instituts für Physik in Göttingen, Nobelpreis für Physik 1932 (Aufnahme 1933) 39049-33

Prof. Dr. phil Werner Kar. Heisenberg (Aufnahme 1933)

(published in Resurgence, UK, September/October 2016)

Werner Heisenberg, who died forty years ago, was one of the founders of quantum theory and will be remembered, along with Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr, as one of the giants of modern physics. He played a leading role in the dramatic change of concepts and ideas that occurred in physics during the first three decades of the twentieth century. These concepts brought about a profound change in our worldview: from the mechanistic worldview of Descartes and Newton to a holistic and ecological view.

At the very core of this change of paradigms lies a fundamental change of metaphors from seeing the world as a machine to understanding it as a network. As Heisenberg put it in his classic Physics and Philosophy: “The world thus appears as a complicated tissue of events, in which connections of different kinds alternate or overlap or combine and thereby determine the texture of the whole.”

The new view of reality was by no means easy to accept for physicists at the beginning of the twentieth century. The exploration of the atomic and subatomic world brought them in contact with a strange and unexpected reality. In their struggle to grasp this new reality, scientists became painfully aware that their basic concepts, their language, and their whole way of thinking were inadequate to describe atomic phenomena.

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Danish edition of The Systems View of Life

Liv-system-helhed_dropshadowI am delighted to announce that a Danish edition of my textbook The Systems View of Life, coauthored by Pier Luigi Luigi and published originally by Cambridge University Press, has been published by Forlaget Mindspace in Copenhagen.

The book is now available in 5 editions in English (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, and Delhi, India), Italian (Aboca, Sansepolcro, Italy), Portuguese (Cultrix, Sâo Paulo, Brazil), and Danish (Mindspace, Copenhagen, Denmark).