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Response to Fritjof Capra's "The Turning Point"

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Introduction

Response to Fritjof Capra's "The Turning Point" by Vickey Lewis January 28, 2005 (late) Summary of Capra's Book Published March 1982. Context: Reagan and Thatcher/high interest rates/rise of the "me" generation/crime and drug waves making big news/no one had a PC. Iran Releases 52 Hostages (taken during Carter's presidency) President Shot In Chest, Brady Suffers Head Wound John Hinkley Charged With Attempted Assassination of President Reagan Israel Bombs Iraqi Nuclear Reactor Reagan Fires Striking Air Controllers Pope Paul II is wounded in assassination attempt First test tube baby is born Outrageous interest rates causing people to walk away from their homes Fritjof Capra opens with the statement that the world is in crisis. We may actually be facing the possibility of the extinction of the human race. Many interrelated crises in the environment, social relationships, economics, energy, politics, and technology need to be viewed from a holistic viewpoint. They need to be treated as interdependent phenomena. He refers to Arnold Toynbee saying that, "After civilizations have reached a peak of vitality, they tend to lose their cultural steam and decline" (Capra 28). He argues, by citing Sorokin, that we are on the cusp of a great transition. If you look at the trends evident in human history, everything is lining up for another upheaval, and this will be a big one, because the rate of change in our world is speeding up. ...read more.

Middle

Iatrogenic illnesses are caused by the doctors. The biomedical world says, "one disease, one cause." Capra disagrees. He says the doctors don't treat people who are ill; they treat diseases. This leads to dependence on drug therapy which treats, "an attack from the outside, rather than a breakdown within the organism" (153). No study, or little, is done to see how the mind and the body work together in the event of infection. The reductionist approach applies. The pharmaceutical industry exercises great influence on the choices made by doctors. It is almost the only source of information about drugs they have at their disposal. We refine the active ingredients from traditional cures at the expense of removing the trace elements which turn out to be part of the natural medicine. The doctor is predicated as a serious expert whose intervention is required. No thought is given to self-healing by the patient. Only the doctor knows what to do. This is ingrained in the population. We believe that only the doctors have the knowledge or expertise required to cure us. It has become dogma. The Impasse of Economics Guess what? Present day economics is characterized by the Newtonian, reductionist approach too. Economic policies are fragmented from social policies. Economic systems evolve quickly, but the theories of economics are static. ...read more.

Conclusion

They are looking at life in the city versus the country, levels of income, levels of education, sleep patterns, etc. These studies are not looking at the pancreas, heart or liver. They are looking at the ways in which people live, play and rest. Again, they are looking at the whole person and in many cases at society as a whole. Systems Theory is being applied in more and more fields, and nothing is getting better. The poor are getting poorer. Their air is getting more and more poisonous, and their water is undrinkable. The West is richer and richer, and a new crusade is under way. In some ways the West has taken the step Capra suggests is the answer, and in others it is repeating mistakes already made nearly a thousand years ago. What is the answer? I think that if it was possible to know that, than we would not be in this mess. I also think that the problem is human nature, and that cannot be changed. The strong destroy the weak the world over. The only variation is how that strength is defined. In short, Capra is a man of his times. The general atmosphere in the late 70s and early 80s was that of massive change, a rebirth of conservatism, the birth of the "me" generation. Change breeds fear and Capra's book seems to me to be a "there-there it's gonna be okay" and a pat on the back rather than a scientific solution to what ails the world. ...read more.

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