Rupert Sheldrake

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Rupert Sheldrake

Postby MalaBeads » Thu May 16, 2013 1:28 pm

Because the name was mentioned here, i took down my copy of Sheldrake's "A New Science of Life, The Hypotheses of Formative Causation" from the shelf and decided to give it another look (this copy is the soft cover 1981 copyright version - he may have updated it with notes in later editions, i don't know).

Its pretty good reading - not too technical (although it somewhat technical) and I'm making this post to recommend Sheldrake's work in general.

A little background: Sheldrake is a Cambridge educated plant biologist. The first draft of this book was written, as he says in the Preface, during a year and a half stay at Shantivanam Ashram in Tamu Nidal. Some more recent work, which also appeared in book form, is called "Dogs Who Know When Their Owners are Coming Home". This is a much more accessible work and if you've ever lived with a dog, not a lot thats in it will surprise you. Both are recommended reading.

Sheldrake's work is one of those things that i have not thought about in years. It would be shame if somehow it gets lost in the general overload of modern life, where people are endlessly distracted by the next big thing. I guess thats why i decided to mention it here.

I very much recommend the dog book (I no longer have my copy or I would be willing to send it on to someone) and if you have a slightly more scientific bent, then 'A New Science of Life' is quite good. You local library may have either or both also. I love libraries.

:smile:
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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby oushi » Thu May 16, 2013 1:55 pm

Few days ago I came across this interview.

Maybe, somebody will find it interesting.
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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby MalaBeads » Thu May 16, 2013 3:32 pm

oushi wrote:Few days ago I came across this interview.

Maybe, somebody will find it interesting.



Excellent oushi. Thank you very much. Renewed my interest in what he is doing even more.

:smile:
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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby Simon E. » Thu May 16, 2013 5:46 pm

Sheldrake is interesting. As far I am concerned the jury is still out.
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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby Roland » Thu May 16, 2013 8:29 pm

I like his "Trialogues" audio files on his website. Conversations from 1989 to 1998 between Sheldrake, Terrence Mckenna, and Ralph Abraham.
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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby greentara » Fri May 17, 2013 12:02 am

Interesting to read about Sheldrakes stay at Shantivanam Ashram in Tamil Nadu. Shantivanam was Bede Griffiths ashram, Griffith was a Catholic monk who put on sanyasin robes and atttempted to look like a sadhu. He seemed to have a foot in each camp, was he attempting to convert the locals? I was never really attracted to this sort of teaching or preaching.
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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby MalaBeads » Fri May 17, 2013 12:12 am

greentara wrote:Interesting to read about Sheldrakes stay at Shantivanam Ashram in Tamil Nadu. Shantivanam was Bede Griffiths ashram, Griffith was a Catholic monk who put on sanyasin robes and atttempted to look like a sadhu. He seemed to have a foot in each camp, was he attempting to convert the locals? I was never really attracted to this sort of teaching or preaching.


That's interesting, greentara, because 'A New Science Of Life' is dedicated to Bede Griffiths. I didn't know why but now it makes sense. I don't really know anything about him. In the interview that oushi posted, I did see a bit of Catholicism pop up in a comment of Sheldrake's. I like Sheldrake's scientific bent. Don't know about the rest of it.
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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby Wayfarer » Fri May 17, 2013 1:28 am

I saw Bede Griffiths speak towards the end of his life - he visited Sydney when he was very old. Wonderful man, radiant even though he was so frail. I read his biography after that, Beyond the Darkness. I met Sheldrake in the 90's too, he was a very charming, erudite and humorous speaker. His last book was called, in some markets, The Science Delusion (as a rejoinder to Dawkins' God Delusion) and in the US market 'Science Set Free'. It is basically an anti-materialist polemic. I liked it, but then I'm the natural audience for that kind of writing.

Just recently Sheldrake caused a stir at one of the TEDx conferences by giving a talk on some of the points in Science Delusion. There were howls of protest from the scientismists (I just made that up) and the video was taken off the TEDx Video Gallery, which then triggered a whole lot more controversy. There was some discussion of that over on ZFI.

More strength to him, I say. I don't agree with everything that he writes but at least he has the courage to stand up against the mindless materialism of the secular culture.
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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby MalaBeads » Fri May 17, 2013 1:42 am

jeeprs wrote:he has the courage to stand up against the mindless materialism of the secular culture.


Yes, I think so too. I like smart and I especially like smart that will say things no one else is either willing to or can't see. But there has to be some humility too which I think he has. Too often the smart ones are incredibly arrogant which is a real turn off.

I put "Setting Science Free" on reserve today at my local library.

Plus, he wrote about dogs!! What's not to like??

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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby Jikan » Fri May 17, 2013 2:06 am

It's a shame, then, that the "mindless" materialists* of our secular culture seem able to put together much more coherent and plausible arguments than defenders of the faith such as Sheldrake, at least to my poor head.

Rupert Sheldrake has been a distinguished biochemist and cell biologist, but his latest book, The Science Delusion, is disturbingly eccentric. Fluently superficial, it combines a disorderly collage of scientific fact and opinion with an intrusive yet disjunctive metaphysical programme.


http://philosophynow.org/issues/93/The_ ... _Sheldrake

for the record, "mindless materialism" referenced above is an oxymoron. Philosophical materialism has many detailed considerations of the mind that are not reducible to each other nor to constipated reductionism of the sort D Dennett is famous for, and hence, cannot responsibly be described as mindless. Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception is but one example.
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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby Wayfarer » Fri May 17, 2013 2:28 am

Merleau Ponty was not a materialist. He is also a critic of scientific materialism who described the scientific point of view as being 'always both naive and at the same time dishonest'.

And Sheldrake's book was aimed precisely at the likes of Daniel Dennett who are regarded as the authoritative representatives of philosophical materialism. What's 'intrusive about his 'metaphysical program' is simply that he has one.

There's another philosopher, much more mainstream than Sheldrake, by the name of Thomas Nagel, whose current book is called Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. His book - the title basically sums it up - has also triggered outrage amongst the likes of Steve Pinker, Daniel Dennett and the other evangelical atheists. Even more so, in a way, because Nagel is a professed atheist who does not appear to have strange beliefs about morphic fields and the like.
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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby Wayfarer » Fri May 17, 2013 2:54 am

Where is 'science' in the heirarchy of human knowledge? It is above some things, and below others. Certainlty when it comes to finding out anything that can be found out about the natural world, it is the only method. That's what science is, and does. It is a method for finding things out, which also enables us to get many things done. In that realm it is indispensable.

But I am of the firm view that human beings and the nature of human existence - the kinds of issues that Buddhism addresses - are not in scope for the scientific method. They are much more immediate, intimate, and up-close. That is why they are suitable topics for philosophy, self-inquiry, and meditation. As soon as you start to say that these things can be made the object of scientific enquiry, then you are immediately beginning to treat people as objects. That is the major shortcoming of materialism, and it is highly insidious, and happening a great deal in our modern world. It needs to be pointed out, criticized and resisted. You don't have to be anti-science to say that, but if you do say it, you will often be characterised as 'anti-science'. That says a lot.

See H H The Dalai Lama's statement on Science at the Crossroads. H H has always had a strong interest in science, meets regularly with scientists, and is Patron of the Mind and Life conferences. Yet he too recognizes the dangers of materialism:

The danger...is that human beings may be reduced to nothing more than biological machines, the products of pure chance in the random combination of genes, with no purpose other than the biological imperative of reproduction.


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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby MalaBeads » Fri May 17, 2013 4:29 am

I suppose one of things that I like about what Sheldrake seems to be trying to do is he is using the scientific method to go beyond science in a sense. To look at things that have never been considered properly scientific, things like meditation, psychic phenomenon, and the like.

Its an interesting point about what happens when you do that, do you turn people, meditation, etc. into "objects" in the process and therefore lose something essential, something ineffable? Maybe so.

I know I'm not critical enough in the best sense of the word. I'm a fan. Much too subjective for the scientific world!
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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby oushi » Fri May 17, 2013 7:34 am

Roland wrote: like his "Trialogues" audio files on his website. Conversations from 1989 to 1998 between Sheldrake, Terrence Mckenna, and Ralph Abraham.

Those "Trialogues" are a must see (at least a part of it). Only then we can truly understand the approach of people like Sheldrake. This is not science, it is an art created by mind, intellectual art, which is much more interesting.
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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby MalaBeads » Fri May 17, 2013 11:56 am

oushi wrote:
Roland wrote: like his "Trialogues" audio files on his website. Conversations from 1989 to 1998 between Sheldrake, Terrence Mckenna, and Ralph Abraham.

Those "Trialogues" are a must see (at least a part of it). Only then we can truly understand the approach of people like Sheldrake. This is not science, it is an art created by mind, intellectual art, which is much more interesting.


That is a very interesting way to look at what he's doing - art. In a sense, its true that it doesn't matter what you call it.

To me, it is sort of the anti-science science, which is right up my alley, so to speak. Will definitely look at the trialogues later.

Thanks.
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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby oushi » Fri May 17, 2013 12:54 pm

MalaBeads wrote:To me, it is sort of the anti-science science, which is right up my alley, so to speak.

I would refer to it as sharp and blurry approach. Science is this sharp device that somehow glorifies its detailed and precise way of working with things. The problem is, that it is based on miracles, or creates miracles. I mean, raising dead and walking on water is nothing compared to Big Bang. Science takes one, or few miracles, and creates a very precise, sharp structure upon it. If something goes wrong in the process, all other miracles that doesn't fit the picture are discarded. This creates a paralysis, like today physics suffer. That doesn't stop us from believing what they say. How many of us saw an atom? None I assume. Still we take is as a given. How many of us experienced something science cannot explain, and we discard it simply because of that.
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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby MalaBeads » Fri May 17, 2013 2:16 pm

oushi wrote:
MalaBeads wrote:To me, it is sort of the anti-science science, which is right up my alley, so to speak.

I would refer to it as sharp and blurry approach. Science is this sharp device that somehow glorifies its detailed and precise way of working with things. The problem is, that it is based on miracles, or creates miracles. I mean, raising dead and walking on water is nothing compared to Big Bang. Science takes one, or few miracles, and creates a very precise, sharp structure upon it. If something goes wrong in the process, all other miracles that doesn't fit the picture are discarded. This creates a paralysis, like today physics suffer. That doesn't stop us from believing what they say. How many of us saw an atom? None I assume. Still we take is as a given. How many of us experienced something science cannot explain, and we discard it simply because of that.


Interesting. I think back to Aristotle's definition of science as 'true and certain knowledge". That fits in in with your idea of a "sharp approach". Science, and most scientists, think they KNOW. True and certain. Of course there is a tremendous amount that they do not know, and any good scientist will be the first to acknowledge that. Seems to me, Sheldrake is just trying to say to them, "wait just a minute...there's more to even what you know, than you know." And of course, they (the scientific establishment) don't like that because he is calling into question they very methods by which they claim this "true and certain knowledge".

In my mind, Sheldrake is a true scientist but the definition of that may have to be expanded to include how he approaches events.

I think he is quite precise in what he is doing, that's the whole point, he is using their very methodology but applied to subjects that are "blurry".
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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby MalaBeads » Fri May 17, 2013 7:59 pm

Another resource if anyone is interested in a talk by Rupert Sheldrake on the central theses of "Science Set Free".

There is also a second part of this talk on YouTube, easily findable if you listen to the first.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0waMBY3qEA4&sns=em
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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby oushi » Fri May 31, 2013 8:15 am

Very good Ted Talk. I like the approach of questioning everything.

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Re: Rupert Sheldrake

Postby MalaBeads » Sun Jun 02, 2013 3:55 am

oushi wrote:Very good Ted Talk. I like the approach of questioning everything.



Excellent! Im very happy to be seeing what he. Is doing again after so many years of moreorless forgetting about his work.

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