Human Consciousness

Hidden Connections

Scientific Essay, 2010

25 Pages, Grade: A


The Hidden Connections: The Philosophy of Sustainability. (Based on the Video: Seminar Cultural Development 1"B"-AIU).

Mashell Chapeyama

Atlantic International University. USA.

Capra has come up with practical guidelines on how to create and maintain sustainability. His focus is on the current and future human generations. His focus is that both generations should live in a sustainable way. The role of ensuring sustainability has been placed on all human beings; organisations- both profit making and non-profit making ones. To achieve sustainability, co-existence and interdependence, Capra insists that human beings must learn from nature. Yet human being must not aspire to control and change nature but to adapt to nature; with that sustainability is achievable. In this discussion the writer will point out applicable aspects of Capra’s vision, as well as the impracticable ones. This discussion is also going to explore the lessons human beings must learn from nature, the theory of cognition as viewed by Capra, Capra’s general principles, the social network, how the organisations learn from nature in implementing change, biodiversity, role of NGOs in enhancing sustainability effects of globalisation and give a final analysis of Capra’s work through a discussion of the implications the human race, communities and organisations derive from Capra’s philosophy.

Generally Capra emphasizes the role of interdependence in the self-generation and sustainability of living organisms. By living organisms we are focusing on animals, plants and the related natural cycles such as the nitrogen , carbon and phosphorus cycles to name a few. These cycles can not be left out when we are discussing issues relating to living organisms; for without these cycles no life will be possible. Capra’s vision lays the ground work that will assist in creating a sustainable future for our children and our great-great-great- grand children. Taken seriously Capra's vision will assist in achieving sustainable development. Capra’s ideas of self-renewal and self- organisation are vital aspects, which if the human race learns from will assist in creating a future we, including our grand children, will be happy about.

Let us analyse a bit on the title of the book; Hidden Connections. The critical question that must be answered in simple is what could be these hidden connections. From the writer’s point of view these hidden connections as Capra intended to illustrate are the connections among three things. These are the social, cognitive and biological dimensions. There must be a meaningful interdependence among these three things. From a personal point of view there are other implied connections though, these are however not the connections Capra has intended to illustrate. However there could be a connection in what happens in the natural ecosystem and what happen in an organisation. That is a connection. There is a connection between living things and non-living things that support the life. There can be a connection between human beings and other living things. These are other connections implied in Capra’s discussion, which he intentionally could have not thought of. Maybe he thought of them.

Before discussing further about these connections there is the need to define the said connected dimensions and to give a small scope of what each of these entails. Sustainability can be understood in the words of David Brower as has been quoted by Maser( 2009:1)He says, ”there is but one ocean, though its coves are many names, a single sea of atmosphere with no coves, the miracle of the soil , alive and giving life, lying thin on the only earth for which there is no spare” These are strong and touching words which any fair-minded citizen , not of a single country, but of this earth must think about and act accordingly. Brower is telling us that from the beginning of the earth to eternity there is one earth. If we destroy it today it can not be repaired. The damage we inflict today on the earth, on the seas, on the oceans and in the atmosphere are irreparable. Hence there is need to consider each and every action each one and all of us do. In other words, in all that is done sustainability must be thought of, for the future of the human race and the inhabitable earth and its systems and cycles. Maser (2009:1) comments, “The ultimate test of human conscience may be the willingness to sacrifice something today for the future generations whose words of’ thank you,’ will not be heard.” Once we sacrifice something and everything which we could today we create and recreate a sustainable world for the future. The question could be what can we sacrifice today? There are many such things we can sacrifice today, including the banning of nuclear warheads, the banning of all chemical weapons, the banning of aggression and aggressive countries, doing away with environmentally damaged mining methods, the banning of genetically modified organism. There is now need for a high collective human mentality in fighting global warming and bringing an end to the use of forms of energy that affects the earth and the environment. However, the simpler definition of sustainability is the one given by Bruntland. The term sustainability has its origin in 1987 in a report that was given by the United Nations. In the Bruntland report of 1987 Bruntland defines sustainability, according to EHS Today (2010:1) as, “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.” In other words EHS today (2010:1) adds,” taking responsibility to maintain or improve the environment.”

The other question is what does biological dimension refer to? Biological refers to the innate potential and capabilities as well as the physical aspects, parts or components that make up a living thing. Biological may relate to the things or processes that make life possible. Biological can also relate to things that are essential for living, to satisfy animal needs. Most of these components come up and are connected to the genetic make up of living things or a particular living organism.

Another important aspect in the interrelationship according to Capra is the cognitive. defines cognitive as, “the scientific term for the process of thought. It refers to information processing of individuals’ psychological function” In other words it refers to the ability and process of thinking. Cognitive refers to the functioning of the brain; or it’s about the mind or the brain or the thinking capacity. Cognitive refers to the mental processes that generate ideas and thoughts. The capacity to think is enhanced by the individual's genetic make up. For instance language learning is a cognitive process. It is genetically related because only human beings can learn and use a language. It is a cognitive aspect, engrained in our genes because animals can not talk even if it is taught or placed in human environment. This is proven because scientists have tried to experiment to teach chimpanzees to speak, but the chimpanzees can not comprehend the language nor use it. So cognition is related to the work of genes.

The other connecting dimension to the cognitive and biological is the social dimension. According to social is,” the term that refers to characteristics of living organisms. It always refers to the interaction of organisms with other organisms and to their collective existence... irrespective of whether they are aware of it or not...” This is can be easily illustrated in the relationship between family members at home. They talk to each other, they source food supplies for each other, and they warn and defend each other in case of danger or threat. At home family members think and work towards the security of each other and the welfare of every one else. That whole system of connection is what is referred to as social. However that can also occur at school, at a church level, at the work place or during recreational and pastimes. Social connectedness is not only linked to relatives and friends but even to strangers. If you visit a place which you do not really know, what do you do in case of not knowing what to do? You find a person to ask. Before asking for direction you probably greet the person first, then that is a social interaction.

Now that we have discussed what social, cognitive and biological dimension means, we want to discuss how these three dimensions’ link to support Capra’s perception that there is interconnection among the three. Anyway Capra‘s discovery and explanation seems to be true. In the first place there is no way in which the three can be separated. These intertwine in the processes in which living things do. A similar analogy could be what makes a person live. The person lives on water, food and the air we breathe. Could a person live without the other? There is connection. There is no way which you can try to stop breathing so that you drink water. If you trying to stop breathing so that you drink water it would be almost impossible. You can sustain that if you are drinking a little amount of water. Again you can not say that these days I do not want to eat food so that I live on water; nor can you say these days I want to live on food and water only without air. This illustrates the interconnectivity among the three dimensions. Let us now look at the real ways in which the three link in organism. The example of human beings shall be used. The assumption of the link of these three dimensions in human beings is thought to be the same in the case of other animals.

There is a strong link among the three dimensions. To illustrate, language is one main social facet. To interact we use language. However according to some psychologists learning a language is a cognitive process. Learning a language requires a high degree of conceptions, and that is done by the says," Language learning is a cognitive process”. The social interaction and related acquired experiences require memory. Memorising is a cognitive process. In order to do social processes such as taking part in a social dance requires memorising. On the reverse thing cognitive development comes through learning. In most cases learning is done in groups and teams. A classroom situation presents a social system. So through social systems and settings learning takes place. For example children learn a lot of things through games, poetry, play which are done in social settings. Yet this learning brings about cognitive skills and development. Take examples of management development, where management members learn through games and group work. It has been discovered that learning is more effective when done in a social setting such as a group.

The other dimension is the biological one. The brain is a biological component. Karen (2008:89) says, “The biogenetic brain comprises the organ that fills the skull. The biogenetic brains shapes thought processes through genetics received from both parents” Same applies to the hands, the eyes and the ears. How can some one learn without involving these components? We have the hands on approach where people must be practically involved, where we use our biological components such as the hands. Thinking which a cognitive place is takes place in the brain which is a biological component. Karen (2008:88) says, “The body provides sense and perceptional experiences from the body through the eyes, nose, mouth, skin and ears. These experiences create emotions and feelings that impact on how the brain functions and how learning occurs in socio-cultural situations.” Damisio gave an example of the brain damage. He said that if the brain is damaged their ability to reason and make inferences within a functional context is gone. The idea is if the mind, which is a biological component is damaged, how then cognition can takes place normally, and how can that person perform social functions, such as singing at a traditional ceremony. Dimisio quoted by Karen (2008) explained that reasoning, making critical judgements and attending to the world is as a result of biogenetics, which also has an influence on how people learn socio-cultural practices. Also Vygotsky as quoted by Karen (2008: 90) says, “learning is embedded within social events from others in the culture and ensues one interacts with people, objects and environments.” All having been said, and from the examples quoted above it can be safely concluded beyond doubt that there is evident connection between the biological, the social and the cognitive dimensions.

Capra moved on to discuss the lessons we can get from nature. The connection that exists among the biological, social and cognitive dimensions illustrates the need for integration in other spheres of existence. Capra emphasised that no individuals can live in isolation. There, is, therefore need for co-existence, interdependence among people. There is interdependence between living things and the environment. People must as well interact meaningfully with the environment. Then related to this concept of interdependence is the question of which one has more influence on a living thing the environment or the innate potential gained at birth. This argument furthers the importance of interdependence. Accordingly nature plays a critical influence on the living organism. To illustrate this, is an example of a plant, such as a potato seed. Can it grow well without comprehensively interacting with nature? If you sow a potato seed and you do not water it, would it grow into a healthy plant. The potato definitely requires suitable conditions for germination. These conditions come from nature. How good the seed is without the necessary ingredients it won’t properly grow. On the other hand the existence of water, aeration and fertile soil can not make a potato to grow where no seed was sown. So both nature and nurture are essential for living organisms to viably exist. Wikipedia quotes Psychologist Donald Hebb as having answered a journalist who asked him the question of what is more important nurture or nature by asking him the question, “Which contributes more to area of a rectangle , its width or its length.” The answer, though is in a form of a question illustrates that both nature and nurture are equally important because you can not have one without the other. What it means here is that some one who has great potential at birth can even become greater when put into the best environmental conditions possible. Example is of a bright student, with vast natural potential, for him or her to achieve her best potential she/he needs the best he/she gets from the environment. In terms of a student there is need for variety of text books, illustration and examples. Also there is utmost guidance and assistance when the student needs assistance. The AIU virtual centre is an example where there is variety in terms of books, articles and assignments. The presence of the student hand book which has all illustrations and examples creates a rich learning environment. The inclusion of video conference brings an even richer environment. When an intellectually –gifted person is endowed with such an environment his performance reaches his best. But if a below average academic performer is put to such an environment his performance remains poor. This is illustrative of the essence of both nature and innate traits.

The next point of discussion is on the theory of cognition, as viewed by Capra as compared to his predecessor on this topic. The traditional theory which Capra opposes is that the mind does all the thinking. The mind is the thinking organ, unaffected by anything outside it. All the thinking happens in the mind. This scope of thinking can't take cognisance of the influence of the environment and social context in the thinking patterns of an individual. The usual way of thinking was that we as, human beings are purely as a result of what we think. Using our minds. The influence of the environment and social setting was not taken as influential in what a person becomes. This is the view which Capra opposes. Capra comes up with a completely new way of thinking. He postulates that what we think is influenced by the environment and the conditions around us. Yes the mind is vital, but it is not the only one that is responsible for the thoughts, the decisions, the judgements and perspectives that we do have. The way we think on one particular day is influenced by the events and activities of that day. Your immediate environment has great influence. Karen (2008: 93) says, “A crucial feature of this current view of human development is that cognitive functions develop from social functions.” From this view the current social setting around which the decisions are made is very influential. The first illustration is the type of dreams we have. When you are happy you have happy dreams, based on the happy memories and surrounding. When you are sad the dreams are equally dreary. When we are sick, tired and ill we have horror dreams. These dreams reflect the current surrounding environment. The people who claim to read dreams use such concepts in the interpretation of dreams. For example in our region if you dream of black animals you shall be ill or if you dream of precious minerals such as diamonds you are likely to receive a lot of money. The interpretation is based on what usually takes place. The true answer to dreams is that these are a reflection of what is in the subconscious mind. If you are in pain the subconscious mind has that data, and it is reflected in dreams. That existence of the subconscious mind explains that some of the decisions you make at a certain day or time may be influenced by it. Capra illustrates that when he suggests that if you are thinking about love it affects your reality, as this affects what you think. In this case your thoughts are positive. However if you are sick, depressed or stressed you have negative thoughts and subsequently negative emotions. This can be explained in a form of example. If you have domestic problems at home the decisions you make at work are not as good and as friendly to people as you would do if you were happy. A quarrel with your spouse means that your subordinates will have harsh reprimands at work. What could be the implications at work? We have to understand the conditions around ourselves and adapt to these in order to make rationale decisions. We should learn to control our emotions. Other times it is important to take time off when you are stressed or depressed in order to create good work relationships. We may also need to learn about how to manage our emotions. Deserving employees must be given time off if they are not feeling well. After long periods of stressful work we need to take vacation leaves or days off, so that we work when we are in our normal best. At work if a usually well behaved person suddenly becomes rude, arrogant or abusive, it could be due to outside influence and we need to take research as to what could be the source of that behaviour.


Excerpt out of 25 pages


Human Consciousness
Hidden Connections
( Atlantic International University )  (School of Social and Human Studies)
Masters In Human Resources Management
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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665 KB
human, consciousness, hidden, connections
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Mashell Chapeyama (Author), 2010, Human Consciousness, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • This essay is very informative and assists in developing my own essay as a student of AIU pursuing doctorate degree in accounting. I am happy to come across this beautiful piece of work.

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