Rupert Sheldrake  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
parapsychology, paranormal, morphic field

Rupert Sheldrake (born 28 June 1942) is a British former biochemist turned parapsychology researcher, and the author of a number of controversial books on topics such as animal and plant development and behaviour, memory, telepathy and perception.

Sheldrake's ideas have often met with a hostile reception from scientists, including accusations that he is engaged in pseudoscience, though according to some reporters his ideas have been better received by elements of the general public.

Origin and philosophy of morphic resonance

Among his early influences Sheldrake cites The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) by Thomas Kuhn. Sheldrake says that the book led him to view contemporary scientific understanding of life as simply a paradigm, which he called "the mechanistic theory of life". Reading Kuhn's work, Sheldrake says, focused his mind on how scientific paradigms can change.

Sheldrake says that although there are similarities between morphic resonance and Hinduism's akashic records, he first conceived of the idea while at Cambridge, before his travel to India where he later developed it. He attributes the origin of his morphic resonance idea to two influences: his studies of the holistic tradition in biology, and French philosopher Henri Bergson's book Matter and Memory. He says that he took Bergson's concept of memories not being materially embedded in the brain and generalised it to morphic resonance, where memories are not only immaterial but also under the influence of the collective past memories of similar organisms. While his colleagues at Cambridge were not receptive to the idea, Sheldrake found the opposite to be true in India. He recounts his Indian colleagues saying, "There's nothing new in this, it was all known millennia ago to the ancient rishis." Sheldrake thus characterises morphic resonance as a convergence between Western and Eastern thought, yet found by himself first in Western philosophy.

Sheldrake has also noted similarities between morphic resonance and Carl Jung's collective unconscious, with regard to collective memories being shared across individuals and the coalescing of particular behaviours through repetition, described by Jung as archetypes. However, whereas Jung assumed that archetypal forms were transmitted through physical inheritance, Sheldrake attributes collective memories to morphic resonance, and rejects any explanation of them involving what he terms "mechanistic biology".

Lewis Wolpert, one of Sheldrake's critics, has described morphic resonance as being an updated Drieschian vitalism.


With Ralph Abraham and Terence McKenna:

  • Trialogues at the Edge of the West: chaos, creativity, and the resacralization of the world, Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Co. Pub., 1992. ISBN 0939680971.
  • The Evolutionary Mind: trialogues at the edge of the unthinkable, Santa Cruz, CA: Dakota Books, 1997. ISBN 0963286110.
  • Chaos, Creativity and Cosmic Consciousness, Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 2001. ISBN 0892819774.
  • The Evolutionary Mind: conversations on science, imagination & spirit, Rhinebeck, NY: Monkfish Book Pub. Co., 2005. ISBN 0974935972.

With Matthew Fox (priest):

  • Natural Grace: dialogues on creation, darkness, and the soul in spirituality and science, New York, NY: Doubleday, 1996. ISBN 0385483562.
  • The Physics of Angels: exploring the realm where science and spirit meet, San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996. ISBN 0060628642.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Rupert Sheldrake" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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