- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Last Century Media (October 5, 1982)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781939438348
- ISBN-13: 978-1939438348
- ASIN: 1939438349
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #640,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Ghost in the Machine Paperback – October 5, 1982
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I read "Ghost in the Machine" immediately after I read Rupert Sheldrake's "Science Set Free: 10 Paths to New Discovery." Sheldrake, if you are not aware of him, is a British biologist who has views very similar to Koestler's. Sheldrake began writing about 25 years ago, and he has adopted some of Koestler's terminology, such as "holon." I won't say much more about him, but check him out if you liked Koestler's book. He also has quite a few lectures on youtube.
Basically Koestler (and Sheldrake) say the same thing: Yes, evolution explains a lot, but there are still problems. For one thing, evolution begs the question many times: How do monarch butterflies, for example, fly from Canada to Mexico to winter over? And to make it more interesting, it's not the same butterfly that makes the trip. It takes 4-5 generations of butterflies to make the trip. So how is this programmed into them? Or is it? It's hard to explain on a purely mechanistic basis. To simply say "It's instinct" is to beg the question. Somethin is going on...but what? How?
The same goes for what you might call "psychic" phenomenon. Both Koestler and Sheldrake are intrigued. For example, some dogs seem to know when their owners are coming home--they go to the door, wag their tails, etc. In a videotaped experiment, they find that if the owners are called--randomly--at different times of the day and told to leave their offices and come home, the dogs (who are on tape) begin to get excited and somehow know their owners are coming home. How? Neither Koestler or Sheldrake are suggesting some supernatural mystical intervention, but clearly something is going on, and there's probably a good natural explanation. But so far we don't know what that is.
It's also interesting that this 1967 book holds up 49 years later...and, as one reviewer pointed out, it's probably more acceptable (the bits about altering brain chemistry, etc.) than it was in 1967.
I will say that I found--like other reviewers--the first ⅔ of the book more interesting than the last ⅓ where Koestler seems to be riding a 1960s hobbyhorse about man's inhumanity to man, etc.