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A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Morphic Resonance Paperback – March 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Park Street Press (March 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892815353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892815357
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.7 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"As far-reaching in its implications as Darwin's theory of evolution."
(Brain/Mind Bulletin)

"An important scientific inquiry into the nature of biological and physical reality."
(New Scientist)

"Sheldrake is a Cambridge-trained research biologist whose modest proposals. . . have upset scientific orthodoxy"
(Utne Reader)

"An immensely challenging and stimulating hypothesis, which proposes an unorthodox approach to evolution."
(Arthur Koestler, author of The Lotus and the Robot and The Ghost in the Machine)

From the Back Cover

NEW SCIENCE / BIOLOGY

"As far-reaching in its implications as Darwin's theory of evolution."
--Brain/Mind Bulletin

"An important scientific inquiry into the nature of biological and physical reality."
--New Scientist

"An immensely challenging and stimulating hypothesis, which proposes an unorthodox approach to evolution."
--Arthur Koestler, author of The Lotus and the Robot and The Ghost in the Machine

"Sheldrake is a Cambridge-trained research biologist whose modest proposals. . . have upset scientific orthodoxy"
--Utne Reader

Why do many phenonmena defy the explanations of conventional biology and physics? For instance, when laboratory rats in one place have learned how to navigate a new maze, why do rats elsewhere seem to learn it more easily? Rupert Sheldrake describes this process as morphic resonance: the past forms and behaviors of organisms, he argues, influence organisms in the present through direct connections across time and space. Calling into question many of our fundamental concepts about life and consciousness, Sheldrake reinterprets the regularities of nature as being more like habits than immutable laws.

The first edition of A New Science of Life created a furor when it appeared, provoking the outrage of the old-guard scientific community and the approbation of the new. The British journal Nature called it "the best candidate for burning there has been for many years." A lively debate ensued, as researchers devised experiments testing Sheldrake's hypothesis, including some involving millions of people through the medium of television. These developments are recorded in this revised and expanded edition.

RUPERT SHELDRAKE, Ph.D., is a former Research Fellow of the Royal Society and was a scholar of Clare College, Cambridge, and a Frank Knox Fellow at Harvard University. His other books include The Presence of the Past, The Rebirth of Nature, and Seven Experiments That Could Change the World. He lives in London with his wife and two sons.
 


More About the Author

Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and author of more than 80 scientific papers and ten books. He was among the top 100 Global Thought Leaders for 2013, as ranked by the Duttweiler Institute, Zurich, Switzerland's leading think tank. He studied natural sciences at Cambridge University, where he was a Scholar of Clare College, took a double first class honours degree and was awarded the University Botany Prize (1963). He then studied philosophy and history of science at Harvard University, where he was a Frank Knox Fellow (1963-64), before returning to Cambridge, where he took a Ph.D. in biochemistry (1967). He was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge (1967-73), where he was Director of Studies in biochemistry and cell biology. As the Rosenheim Research Fellow of the Royal Society (1970-73), he carried out research on the development of plants and the ageing of cells in the Department of Biochemistry at Cambridge University. While at Cambridge, together with Philip Rubery, he discovered the mechanism of polar auxin transport, the process by which the plant hormone auxin is carried from the shoots towards the roots.

From 1968 to 1969, as a Royal Society Leverhulme Scholar, based in the Botany Department of the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, he studied rain forest plants. From 1974 to 1985 he was Principal Plant Physiologist and Consultant Physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, India, where he helped develop new cropping systems now widely used by farmers. While in India, he also lived for a year and a half at the ashram of Fr Bede Griffiths in Tamil Nadu, where he wrote his first book, A New Science of Life, published in 1981 (new edition 2009).

Since 1981, he has continued research on developmental and cell biology. He has also investigated unexplained aspects of animal behaviour, including how pigeons find their way home, the telepathic abilities of dogs, cats and other animals, and the apparent abilities of animals to anticipate earthquakes and tsunamis. He subsequently studied similar phenomena in people, including the sense of being stared at, telepathy between mothers and babies, telepathy in connection with telephone calls, and premonitions. Although some of these areas overlap the field of parapsychology, he approaches them as a biologist, and bases his research on natural history and experiments under natural conditions, as opposed to laboratory studies. His research on these subjects is summarized in his books Seven Experiments That Could Change the World (1994, second edition 2002), Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home (1999, new edition 2011) and The Sense of Being Stared At (2003, new edition 2012).

In his most recent book (2012), called The Science Delusion in the UK and Science Set Free in the US, he examines the ten dogmas of modern science, and shows how they can be turned into questions that open up new vistas of scientific possibility. This book received the Book of the Year Award from the British Scientific and Medical Network.

In 2000, he was the Steinbach Scholar in Residence at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. From 2005-2010 he was the Director of the Perrott-Warrick Project, funded from Trinity College, Cambridge University. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California, a Visiting Professor at the Graduate Institute in Connecticut, and a Fellow of Schumacher College in Devon, England.

He lives in London with his wife Jill Purce. They have two sons, Merlin, a graduate student in Plant Sciences at Cambridge University and a research fellow at The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and Cosmo, a musician.

Customer Reviews

As for the content, very, very interesting.
Mate Poropat
He feels, and builds a very strong case for the idea, that quantum physics plays a role in the operation of the brain.
Theseus Augustus
There are notes and references at the end of each chapter and a more comprehensive list at the end of the book.
Dr. H. A. Jones

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 8, 1998
Format: Paperback
Sheldrake's hypothesis of morphic resonance is an expansion of the evolutionary debate into the larger problem of morphogenesis (ie, the evolution of all form), implying that the forces which shape a polypeptide molecule or the structure of galaxies are the same as those that determine the shape of a dog's tooth or the behavior of nudibranchs. The implicite heresy here is that something bigger is afoot than Darwin ever imagined, and that natural selection has little or nothing to do with the evolution of species and life. Yet Sheldrake, a bona fide scientist, is far from invoking god as the grand designer of nature. Morphic resonance is a hypothesis which will appear decidedly far-fetched and psychedelic for readers already dyed in the naturally selected wool of evolutionary theory. It will make mad-dog reductionists like Richard Dawkins positively foam at the mouth (eg: the prestigious journal 'Nature' suggests burning Sheldrake's books). This is a book for scientific minds who have come to recognize the limitations of the Darwinian doctrine yet are horrified at the creationist alternative. Sheldrake's largely speculative but compelling hypothesis, even if proved totally false, is a welcome breath of fresh air in a tired debate. I found it a fascinating read.
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By R. Schwartz on February 4, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book, a hypothesis on an unconventional theory that just as well can be completely acknowledged as science, as many of the conventional science theories always started with unproven hypothesis, such as Newton's gravitational fields until proven at a later time. Quantum physics, relativity, and many other ideas are true science without fully documented mechanistically determined answers all tested in line with Karl Popper. If your a science reader and interested in biology, physics and evolution, then this book is a must to read. It is the conventionalists and those who are unable to allow a paradigm shift that have attacked this theory as pseudo science. This book is from 1981 and since then there have been more experiments regarding this theory and also Sheldrake has another book from 1995 on the same with more details called The Presence of the Past.

The theory consists of an addition to the chemical and physical properties of materialism, something in addition to the DNA code in random mutations and non-random natural selection, an additional force what many vitialists have always acknowledged; the idea of higher organizational states. And here it is the theory of morphogenetic fields and formative causation. The idea of morphogenetic fields first developed by embryologists such as Conrad Waddington and later mathematically by theoreticians such as Rene Thomas.

The ideas starts with no answer to what causes the first change, but continues with a theory as to subsequent developments. As each thought is created, enlarged, elaborated on, taught, as each experience develops a certain particular field in a particular person, animal, and all organic and inorganic matter and energy, there is a change in that particular morphogenetic field.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Brian Wallace (Co-author of It's Not Your Hair) on February 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
Sheldrake is adept at drawing theoretical correlations between various realms of science and life itself in a manner that simultaneously alienates both the poet and the scientist. How can you not love that?
Dealing with those thoughts that transcend modern language and modern scientific methodology will appeal to those readers who really want to gravitate to the cutting edge and not miss a beat.
Anything by Sheldrake is worth the price of admission into a world usually not discussed but often experienced.
Stay curious, be patient, and peer into this man's mind. He is willing to venture into those most curious areas of thought and does so with authority and humor.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Theseus Augustus on January 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
I strongly recommend mathematician and physicist Roger Penrose and his book "The Emperor's New Mind" for a completely different approach to the conclusion that Mind, at least human sapience, is non-mechanistic in nature, and that current science does not have the facts or theory to explain consciousness at this point in time. He feels, and builds a very strong case for the idea, that quantum physics plays a role in the operation of the brain. I suspect that quantum physics will play an increasing role in the exploration of morphic resonance as well, and that we discover DNA-controlled processes are affected by quantum mechanics.
Penrose's book is interesting in that he does not have a bit of "New Age" orientation about him, yet he comes to some very similar conclusions about the operation of Mind that Sheldrake finds with the processes of Life.
I feel the two books should be read in tandem.
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17 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Evolver on October 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
There's really not much to say about the content of the book that others haven't covered just as well. It's an extremely interesting, unorthodox, and provocative idea that may hold promise in cracking some tough nuts in developmental biology, and as an evolutionary biologist I respect Sheldrake's work and his willingness to explore non-mainstream concepts. However, he makes it clear, and I want to emphasize, that what he's putting forth here is a hypothesis, NOT a theory in the 'philosophy of science' sense. A hypothesis is a possible explanation for a pattern of natural phenomena; a scientific theory is a hypothesis that's been supported by experimentally-derived evidence. Calling Sheldrake's hypothesis a theory is utterly incorrect. No evidence for a morphic field has ever been found, and their existence is not established. No faith should be put in their existence or in the theory's applicability to real life. Sheldrake's hypothesis is interesting and warrants further exploration, but do not make the mistake of regarding it as equivalent to the established fact of a scientific theory.
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