Morphic Fields of Self Organising Systems
Speaker: Author Rupert Sheldrake, Trinity College, Cambridge
Venue: Gordon Lecture Theatre
Morphic field theory and systems theory, are closely related but represent different approaches, to understanding self-organising systems. One of the main differences is that morphic field theory explicitly emphasises that such systems have an inherent memory, both of their own past states and of other similar systems in the past. Thus the formation of crystals is influenced by the forms of previous crystals, leading to habits building up over time. All species of animals and plants have collective memories, on which individual draw and to which they contribute. Social groups are also organised by morphic fields and connections between members of social groups allow for non-local interactions, enabling phenomena like telepathy to be considered in a new way. The complementarity of the morphic field and systems approach will be discussed.
Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and author of more than 75 scientific papers and ten books. A former Research Fellow of the Royal Society, 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. He then studied philosophy at Harvard University, where he was a Frank Knox Fellow, before returning to Cambridge, where he took a Ph.D. in biochemistry. He was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge University, where he carried out research on the development of plants and the ageing of cells. At Clare College he was also Director of Studies in biochemistry and cell biology. From 1968 to 1969, based in the Botany Department of the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, he studied rain forest plants. From 1974 to 1985 he worked at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, India, where he was Principal Plant Physiologist. 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. He is the current Perrott-Warrick Scholar and Director of the Perrott-Warrick Project. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, near San Francisco, and an Academic Director and Visiting Professor at the Graduate Institute in Connecticut. He has appeared in many TV programs in Britain and overseas, and was one of the participants (along with Stephen Jay Gould, Daniel Dennett, Oliver Sacks, Freeman Dyson and Stephen Toulmin) in a TV series called A Glorious Accident, shown on PBS channels throughout the US. He has often taken part in BBC and other radio programmes. He has written for newspapers such as the Guardian, where he had a regular monthly column, The Times, Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Sunday Times, Times Educational Supplement, Times Higher Education Supplement and Times Literary Supplement, and has contributed to a variety of magazines, including New Scientist, Resurgence, the Ecologist and the Spectator.
Books by Rupert Sheldrake
A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Formative Causation (1981), The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature (1988), The Rebirth of Nature: The Greening of Science and God (1992), Seven Experiments that Could Change the World: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Revolutionary Science (1994) (Winner of the Book of the Year Award from the British Institute for Social Inventions), Dogs that Know When Their Owners are Coming Home, and Other Unexplained Powers of Animals (1999) (Winner of the Book of the Year Award from the British Scientific and Medical Network), The Sense of Being Stared At, And Other Aspects of the Extended Mind (2003).