Sunday, February 04, 2007

Rupert Sheldrake

One of the reasons I feel a special affection for Rupert Sheldrake is that he’s worked in India (Principal Plant Physiologist at ICRISAT, Hyderabad) for a while. The other reasons have to do, of course, with his thoughts and ideas. From studying natural sciences at Cambridge and philosophy at Harvard, to getting his PhD in Biochemistry and holding posts like Director of Studies (at Cambridge again), to eventually postulating theories of formative causation, and morphogenetic fields, makes for a man with diverse interests.

Additional endorsement- Science (the publication) called for burning his A New Science of Life.

On his work:

The theory of formative causation is concerned with how things take up their forms, or patterns, or organization. So it covers the formation of galaxies, atoms, crystals, molecules, plants, animals, cells, societies. It covers all kinds of things that have forms, patterns, structures, or self organizing properties…what my theory is concerned with is self-organizing natural systems, and it deals with the cause of form. And the cause of all these forms I take to be organizing fields, form-shaping fields, which I call morphic fields, from the Greek word for form. The original feature of what I'm saying is that the forms of societies, ideas, crystals and molecules depend on the way that previous ones of that kind have been organized. There's a kind of built-in memory in the morphic fields of each kind of thing. So the regularities of nature I think of as more like habits, than as things governed by eternal mathematical laws that somehow exist outside nature.”

A good explanatory interview can be found at

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