Many / One

A database of 11,000+ illuminated guiding quotations in 40 categories from 600+ inspired books by our most brilliant and influential authors.
Compiled by JoAnn Kite

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The Web of Life, A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems
Fritjof Capra

1 "Whenever we encounter living systems – organisms, parts of organisms, or communities of organisms – we can observe that their components are arranged in network fashion. Whenever we look at life, we look at networks."

2 "A key characteristic of Gaia [the Earth] is the complex interweaving of living and nonliving systems within a single web."

3 "Each creature is but a patterned gradation (Schattierung) of one great harmonious whole." Goethe

4 "While the idea of the Earth being alive is very ancient and speculative theories about the planet as a living system had been formulated several times, the space flights during the early 1960's enabled human beings for the first time to actually look at our planet from outer space and perceive it as an integrated whole. This perception of the Earth in all its beauty – a blue and white globe floating in the deep darkness of space – moved the astronauts deeply and, as several have since declared, was a profound spiritual experience that forever changed their relationship to the Earth."

5 "Deep ecology does not separate humans – or anything else – from the natural environment. It sees the world not as a collection of isolated objects, but as a network of phenomena that are fundamentally interconnected and interdependent."

6 "Deep ecological awareness recognizes the fundamental interdependence of all phenomena."

7 "Life is a triumph of cooperation and creativity. Indeed, since the creation of the first nucleated cells, evolution has proceeded through ever more intricate arrangements of cooperation and coevolution."

8 "All living systems are networks of smaller components, and the web of life as a whole is a multilayered structure of living systems nesting within other living systems – networks within networks."

9 "Indeed, an outstanding property of all life is the tendency to form multileveled structures of systems within systems. Each of these forms a whole with respect to its parts while at the same time being a part of a larger whole."

10 "Nature does not show us any isolated building blocks, but rather appears as a complex web of relationships among the various parts of a unified whole."

11 "We are now beginning to see continual cooperation and mutual dependence among all life forms as central aspects of evolution."

12 "The 'web of life' is, of course, an ancient idea, which has been used by poets, philosophers, and mystics throughout the ages to convey their sense of the interwovenness and interdependence of all phenomena."

13 "Ultimately – as quantum physics showed so dramatically – there are no parts at all. What we call a part is merely a pattern in an inseparable web of relationships."

14 "From the most archaic and simple forms of life to the most intricate and complex contemporary forms, life has unfolded in a continual dance without ever breaking the basic pattern of its autopoietic networks."

15 "Wherever we see life, from bacteria to large-scale ecosystems, we observe networks with components that interact with one another in such a way that the entire network regulates and organizes itself."

16 "To regain our full humanity, we have to regain our experience of connectedness with the entire web of life."

17 "All living beings are members of ecological communities bound together in a network of interdependencies."

18 "As James Lovelock put it: 'So closely coupled is the evolution of living organisms with the evolution of their environment that together they constitute a single evolutionary process.'"

This body of quotes compiled by JoAnn Kite