II.Deep Ecology

Cultural historian and ecotheologian Thomas Berry distinguished between “shallow” and “deep” ecology. He said the former is based on the belief that big ecological problems can be resolved within an industrial, capitalist society by fighting pollution and resource depletion in order to preserve human health and affluence—basically the aim of the “environmental movement.” Deep ecology, […]

X. Ecosystems

This is the 10th and final posting on whole systems thinking. It is also the first in a new series on ecology. The word “ecology,” comes from the Greek oikos “household.” Ecology then is the study of the “Earth Household.” In The System’s View of Life: A Unifying Vision, Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luise define […]

VIII. Emergent Properties (In Systems)

This is the eighth in a series of postings on whole systems thinking. SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT I invite you to check out my new blog on the ancient Maya. A description follows at the end of this posting. ______________________________________________________________________________ Life is an emergent property—a property that is not present in the parts and originates only when […]

I. Whole systems Thinking — Introduction

This is the first in a series of blogs on the subject of whole systems thinking. Each week, after the topic is introduced, I’ll offer a contemplation that relates to the headline photograph and text.  Historically, patterns observed in nature were discussed and documented in China five thousand years ago, before being articulated by Lao […]

XIII. Pattern

This is the 13th posting in the series, “The Aesthetic Dimensions.” The first, posted January 6, 2019, explains the series and deals with “Abstraction.” To follow it (at no cost), go to davidlsmithcontemplativephotography.com and click “Follow” (bottom right corner of the Home page). The postings will show up in your mailbox on Sunday mornings. To […]


From universe to “nanoverse,” one of nature’s most common structural features is “branching.” Networks of all kinds, physical and intellectual, are grounded in a pattern that chemists refer to as “child” (smaller channels) and “parent” (larger) branches. At the human level we see it in living systems—the brain, arteries and veins, leaves and trees. Branching […]

System’s Confidence And Trust

  How about a little snow in order to better appreciate the summer temperatures? Obviously, guard rails are intended to keep cars from running off the road—and to reduce the severity of an accident when they do. Not so obvious is the observation that their presence indicates a lack of trust. Appropriately so. Bad accidents, […]


  In nature and in the world of man-made objects, geometric order evidences the interrelatedness of all things. Using the above image as a model, humanity may be said to consist of a single string within the spacetime continuum. Rather than forming a straight line—the way we experience time—the process of human evolution has been […]

Wisdom Of The Spheres

There is no chance and anarchy in the universe. All is system and gradation. Every god is there sitting in his sphere. Ralph Waldo Emerson     From atoms to galaxies the sphere is a prominent form because it requires the least amount of energy to form and has the least possible area for the […]


  “Going with the flow” has become a popular expression, suggesting that the better life strategy is to align with rather than resist what is happening. As guidance for individual behavior, paddling with the “current”—in the context of home, work and relationships—is certainly easier than paddling against it. The image of waving grass brought to […]