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The Tao of Physics (1975)

by Fritjof Capra

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,489273,040 (3.73)31
Studies similarities between the concept of a harmonious universe that emerges from the theories of modern physics and the vision of a continuously interactive world conceived by Eastern mystics.
  1. 00
    Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe by Lee Smolin (applemcg)
    applemcg: Both books are more about the philosophy of science, how we think about it. Capra opens our eyes to Eastern philosophy, Smolin about the possibility of laws evolving, a search for meta-laws.
  2. 00
    A Tear at the Edge of Creation: A Radical New Vision for Life in an Imperfect Universe by Marcelo Gleiser (Othemts)

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» See also 31 mentions

English (19)  Italian (3)  Spanish (2)  Portuguese (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (27)
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'Readers will find much of interest in Dr. Capra's clear explanations of the basic ideas behind the various forms of Eastern mysitcism, and of the pardoxes of modern physics which seem to have been anticipated in the paradoxes of mysticism. It is likely that when the relations between them are well understood, the time will be ripe for considerable advances in our comprehension of the universe.'-B.D. Josephson, Noble Prize Winner, 1973, Professor of Physics, University of Cambridge

The book explores the parallels-which in recent years have sometimes been noted but never fully discussed-between the underlying concepts of modern physics and the basic ideas of Eastern mysticism. The author gives a clear account, supplemented by diagrams and photographs, of the theories of atomic and subatomic physics, of relativity theory and of astrophysics, up to and including the most recent research, and relates the world view emerging from these theoris to the mysitcal traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zen and the I Ching.

Dr. Capra, himself a research physicist and experienced lecturer, has remarkable gift for explaining the complex concepts of physics in terms that the layperson can understand. He takes the reader on a fascinating journey to the world of atoms and their constituents, which makes compelling reading. From his text emerges a picture of the material world not as a machine made up of a multitude of objects, but a harmonious 'organic' whole whose parts are determined by their inter-relations. The universe of the modern physicist, like that of the eastern mystic, is engaged in a continuous cosmic dance; it is a system of inseparable, interacting and ever-moving components of which the observer is, him- or herself, an integral part; it reflects a reality behind the world of ordinary sense-perception which involves spaces of higher dimensions and transcends ordinary language and logical reasoning.

Since taking his Ph.D. at the University of Vienna in 1966, Fritjof Capra has been doing research in theoretical high-energy physics at the University of Paris, the University of Calfornia, Santa Cruz, Stanford University and Imperial College in London. Beside his technical research papers, he has written several more general articles about the relations between modern physics and Eastern mysticism, and has lectured extensively about this topic to general student audiences in England and the United States. He is presently lecturing at the University of California, Berkeley.


I The Way of Physics
1 Modern physics-A path with a heart?
2 Knowing and seeing
3 Beyond language
4 The New Physics
II The way of Eastern mysticism
5 Hinduism
6 Buddhism
7 Chinese thought
8 Taoism
9 Zen
III The parallels
10 The unity of all things
11 Beyond the world of opposites
12 Space-time
13 The dynamic universe
14 Emptiness and form
15 The cosmic dance
16 Quark symmetries-A new Koan?
17 Patterns of change
18 Interpenetration
  AikiBib | May 29, 2022 |
Illustrates how quantum physics is beginning to use the same language as Eastern metaphysics/cosmology to describe the basic constituents of the Universe. Everything is composed of everything else; everything is a part of everything else. It is an oxymoron to suggest that anything can exist outside of, or apart from, anything/everything else. ( )
  majackson | Aug 20, 2021 |
This book was mediocre in the sense of being average. It is memorable in the sense of trying to fuse Eastern Mysticism with "Modern" Physics. I put the word modern in quotes because this book is still talking about the Particle Zoo developed in the 1970s. The version I read is the Third Edition, which has a number of extras added by the author in 1991. So even then, the book is rather old in terms of Physics.

The basic idea of the book is that Quantum Physics relates to Eastern Mysticism in the language used to describe the ideas inherent in it. For instance, take wave-particle duality. Now I am very stupid, so don't take this at face value, this is my understanding of how things work. Wave-particle duality is the idea that an electron or any other sub-atomic particle is in a dual state at all times. This depends on how you measure whatever is happening with the particle. If you measure something expecting it to be a particle, it will be a particle. It is actually neither Wave nor Particle, this is merely a mental construct that aids us in understanding the world. This supposed paradox of being one thing and another thing at once is applicable in many Zen Koans and other mystical ideas. Now, this is a gross oversimplification, but I never took Quantum Physics, so most of what I know is from books. The author states that the same ideas in Quantum Physics and Physics as a whole can be applied in terms that an Eastern Mystic would understand, and even find familiar.

Over the course of the book, we are introduced to Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism and some other flavors of Eastern Mysticism. Physics is included, but he doesn't really get into field equations and other heavy-duty mathematics. The author made some good arguments, but the book was not a superb masterpiece or anything. I guess he wanted to appeal to a larger audience. Thankfully my local library had a copy on hand. ( )
1 vote Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
The Tao of Physics exemplifies the harmony, not the dissonance, between of mysticism and science. Fritjof Capra shows how the ancient mystics intuitively knew long ago what modern day scientists are rediscovering today. ( )
  C_Hawke | Dec 24, 2018 |
You can understand the basic principles of physics if you undertake this book. The Dancing Wu Li Masters is more engaging. ( )
  deckla | Dec 8, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Capra, Fritjofprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Daub, WillemTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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It is probably true quite generally that in the history of human thinking the most fruitful developments frequently take place at those points where two different lines of thought meet. These lines may have their roots in quite different parts of human culture, in different times or different cultural environments or different religious trditions: hence if they actually meet, that is, if they are at least so much related to each other that a real interaction can take place, then one may hope that new and interesting developments may follow.
--Werner Heisenberg
I dedicate this book to

Ali Akbar Khan

Carlos Castaneda

Geoffrey Chew

John Coltrane

Heisenberg Werner


Liu Hsiu Ch'i

Phiroz Mehta

Jerry Shesko

Bobby Smith

Maria Teuffenbach

Alan Watts

for helping me to find my path

and to Jacqueline

who has travelled with me

on this path

most of the time.
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Modern physics has had a profound influence on almost all aspects of human society.
Preface: Five years ago I had a beautiful experience which set me on a road that has led to the writing of this book.
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Studies similarities between the concept of a harmonious universe that emerges from the theories of modern physics and the vision of a continuously interactive world conceived by Eastern mystics.

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Book description
Il Tao della fisica (1975), è il primo libro pubblicato da Fritjof Capra, tradotto in italiano nel 1982 (Adelphi) e divenuto famoso solo con la ristampa del 1989. In questo volume Capra fa un'analisi delle analogie tra le teorie relativistiche e quantistiche della fisica moderna, e le filosofie religiose orientali, tra cui l'induismo, il Buddhismo Mahāyāna, ma in particolare il taoismo e lo zen. È infatti sorprendente come attraverso esperienze del tutto differenti, l'una (la fisica) attraverso l'empirismo razionale e codificato, e l'altra (la filosofia religiosa orientale), attraverso la meditazione e l'esperienza extra-sensoriale, giungano a conclusioni molto simili se non del tutto identiche. La visione del "mondo" che ne deriva, e che accomuna la fisica relativistica e quantistica alle filosofie religiose orientali, è completamente diversa dalla visione meccanicistica derivante da Newton e tende ad avvicinarsi sempre di più a una teoria del "tutto" in cui non si parla più di materia, ma di energia, secondo la teoria della relatività di Albert Einstein (E=mc2).
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