Scientific spirit essay

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Scientific spirit essay

Fritjof Capra is a scientist, educator, activist, and author of many international bestsellers that connect conceptual changes in science with broader changes in worldview and values in society. A Vienna-born physicist and systems theorist, Capra first became popularly known for his book, The Tao of Physics, which explored the ways in which modern physics was changing our worldview from a mechanistic to a holistic and ecological one.

Over the past 30 years, Capra has been engaged in a systematic exploration of how other sciences and society are ushering in a similar shift in worldview, or paradigms, leading to a new vision of reality and a new understanding of the social implications of this cultural transformation. His most recent book, The Systems View of Life coauthored by Pier Luigi Luisi Cambridge University Press,presents a grand new synthesis of this work—integrating the biological, cognitive, social, and ecological dimensions of life into one unified vision.

A new conception of life I was trained as a physicist and spent twenty years, fromdoing research in theoretical high energy physics at several European and American universities. From my early student years, I was fascinated Scientific spirit essay the dramatic changes of concepts and ideas that occurred in physics during the first three decades of the twentieth century.

In my first book, The Tao of Physics Capra,I discussed the profound change in our worldview that was brought about by the conceptual revolution in physics — a change from the mechanistic worldview of Descartes and Newton to a holistic and ecological view.

In my subsequent research and writing, I engaged in a systematic exploration of a central theme: Fritjof Capra To connect the conceptual changes in science with the broader change of worldview and values in society, I had to go beyond physics and look for a broader conceptual framework.

In doing so, I realized that our major social issues — health, education, human rights, social justice, political power, protection of the environment, the management of business enterprises, the economy, and so on — all have to do with living systems; with individual human beings, social systems, and ecosystems.

With this realization, my research interests shifted from physics to the life-sciences. Using insights from the theory of living systems, complexity theory, and ecology, I began to put together a conceptual framework that integrates four dimensions of life: I presented summaries of this framework, as it evolved over the years, in several books, beginning with The Turning Point Capra,and followed by The Web of Life Capra, and The Hidden Connections Capra, At the very heart of it, we find a fundamental change of metaphors: We are starting to see the world as a network We have discovered that the material world, ultimately, is a network of inseparable patterns of relationships.

Theistic Evolution

We have also discovered that the planet as a whole is a living, self-regulating system. The view of the human body as a machine and of the mind as a separate entity is being replaced by one that sees not only the brain, but also the immune system, the bodily organs, and even each cell as a living, cognitive system.

And with the new emphasis on complexity, nonlinearity, and patterns of organization, a new science of qualities is slowly emerging. The systems view of evolution The systems view of life, not surprisingly, includes a new systemic understanding of evolution. Rather than seeing evolution as the result of only random mutations and natural selection, we are beginning to recognize the creative unfolding of life in forms of ever-increasing diversity and complexity as an inherent characteristic of all living systems.

Our detailed ideas about this prebiotic evolution are still very speculative, but most biologists and biochemists do not doubt that the origin of life on Earth was the result of a sequence of chemical events, subject to the laws of physics and chemistry and to the nonlinear dynamics of complex systems.

These tiny droplets formed spontaneously according to the basic laws of physics, as naturally as the soap bubbles that form when we put soap and water together and shake the mixture. Eventually life emerged from these protocells with the evolution of the DNA, proteins, and the genetic code.

This marked the emergence of a universal ancestor — the first bacterial cell — from which all subsequent life on Earth descended. The descendants of the first living cells took over the Earth by weaving a planetary bacterial web and gradually occupying all the ecological niches.

Driven by the creativity inherent in all living systems, the planetary web of life expanded through mutations, gene trading, and symbioses, producing forms of life of ever-increasing complexity and diversity. In this majestic unfolding of life, all living organisms continually responded to environmental influences with structural changes, and they did so autonomously, according to their own natures ibid.

From the beginning of life, their interactions with one another and with the nonliving environment were cognitive interactions ibid. As their structures increased in complexity, so did their cognitive processes, eventually bringing forth conscious awareness, language, and conceptual thought.

Spirit and spirituality When we look at this scenario — from the formation of oily droplets to the emergence of consciousness — the question naturally arises: Is there any room for the human spirit in this new vision of prebiotic and biotic evolution?

The common meaning of these key terms indicates that the original meaning of spirit in many ancient philosophical and religious traditions, in the West as well as in the East, is that of the breath of life. Since respiration is indeed a central aspect of the metabolism of all but the simplest forms of life, the breath of life seems to be a perfect metaphor for the network of metabolic processes that is the defining characteristic of all living systems Ibid.

Spirit — the breath of life — is what we have in common with all living beings. It nourishes us and keeps us alive. One of the most beautiful contemporary descriptions can be found in a short essay titled Spirituality as Common Sense, by the Benedictine monk, psychologist, and author David Steindl-Rast Spirit — the breath of life — is what we have in common with all living beings In accordance with the original meaning of spirit as the breath of life, Brother David characterizes spiritual experience as a non-ordinary experience of reality during moments of heightened aliveness.

Scientific spirit essay

Our spiritual moments are moments when we feel intensely alive. Spirituality, then, is always embodied. Spiritual experience is an experience of aliveness of mind and body as a unity. Moreover, this experience of unity transcends not only the separation of mind and body, but also the separation of self and world.The Theater of Insects.

Notes from the Studio. figure 1. There is a flicker of movement caught by the corner of my eye. I pause long enough from one of those questionably imperative tasks of the day, to ponder a minuscule, seemingly insignificant insect.

If one carefully looks at the overlooked, a .

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Locke, John | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy