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The tao of physics

Fritjof Capra


Unpublished rant January 2008


I've tried with Fritjof Capra, I really have, but the only one of his books which I've managed to finish properly is green politics - and that was cowritten with Charlene Spretnak. I've tried The tao of physics several times. In fact this is the second copy I've had to buy, as the first went to the charity shop some time ago and I had to purchase another to try again. Planning a book-cull recently, my eye fell once more on Fritjof. "Oh come on Parky", I said to myself, "admit it - you're never going to read the whole thing are you?"

Physics. Taoism. How can you go wrong? I really want to like him - a spiritual-minded enviro with a sciencey spin, he sounds like my kinda guy - so what is the problem? The problem is that he is a bad writer - stodgy and humourless - and I'm a shallow-minded tart who expects popular books to be well written. I also have a suspicion that his arguments about what he calls (in the title of another of his books which I couldn't finish), the hidden connections, are unconvincing - but of course I've only skimmed them so can't say for sure.

This leaves us with the mystery of why this book has such a high reputation and I suspect that readers are implicitly employing the following syllogism:

All profound books are hard work to read
The tao of physics is hard work
Therefore the tao of physics is profound

There are reasons other than profundity why a book can be hard work!



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