Rupert Sheldrake

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in deutscher Sprache: Rupert Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake (2008)
Parts of the following article are based on the Wikipedia article „Rupert Sheldrake“ from Wikipedia, as read on 20.8.18, under the licence of Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported (short version). A list of the authors is available on the respective page of Wikipedia. Changes are possible and probable.
A very good biography on Sheldrake and account of his work is to be found here.

Rupert Sheldrake (* 28 June 1942 in Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire) is a British author and biologist. In 1981 he developed the hypothesis of what he called morphic fields, which influence the development of structures in nature.


Sheldrake studied biology and biochemistry at Cambridge and later philosophy at Harvard University. In 1967 he received his PhD in biochemistry, taught at Clare College, where he was head of research in biochemistry and cell biology until 1973. There, as well as at the Royal Society, he dealt with the holistic tradition in biology, carried out research on plant development and cell ageing, and formulated the theory of what he called morphic fields, his basis for the hypothesis of a memory of nature.

From 2005 to 2010, Sheldrake was director of the Perrott-Warrick Project, funded by a foundation that benefited Trinity College in Cambridge. The project investigated unexplained abilities attributed to humans and animals.[1] This includes the animal experiments that investigated whether pets could feel the arrival of their keeper in advance.[2]

The Time in India

In Hyderabad in southern India, he spent about six years studying the physiology of tropical vegetable plants. From 1974 to 1978, he researched the physiology of tropical legumes as a leading plant physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). He remained a consultant for this institution until 1985.

His contact with Indian philosophy and transcendental meditation led him to Father Bede Griffiths, an English Benedictine monk who lived in a small Christian ashram in southern India, where he sought to combine the Christian tradition with the Eastern tradition. In the early 1980s Sheldrake lived in the Ashram for a year and a half and wrote his first book A New Science of Life in 1981, which he dedicated to Griffiths. In it, Sheldrake proposed the hypothesis of the causes of form development and postulates that nature has an inherent memory.

Scientific Position

Sheldrake questions the foundations of contemporary science and points out that these are not proven truths, but that all theories are based on assumptions. In the case of a large number of today's scientists, however, these unprovable presuppositions have become doctrines that are claimed to be established facts. Sheldrake rejects the term "law of nature" because he assumes that the talk of "laws of nature" has a religious background and is anthropomorphic in origin. To speak of "laws" implies a deity assumed in some religions, who sits like an "emperor" in "heaven" and enacts laws and pays attention to their enforcement.
Sheldrake speaks instead of habits of nature, which makes what proves itself, through the morphic field, easier and easier for all other users to fall back on. For example, rats in Munich could also learn something that (demonstrably) rats in Cambridge or New York could then acquire more quickly. The same applies to crystals, the assembly of which would be cumbersome at first and would take a lot of time; later experiments in other parts of the world would be much faster and easier.
The morphic fields would thus have to go far beyond any localization in a brain, otherwise they would not be available to others. Here too he gives examples from science. Furthermore, he says that a universe without consciousness cannot produce consciousness. Consequently, there should be consciousness in the universe. Scientists are facing a problem here that they then have defined as an "delusion". Only that this "delusion" is a part of consciousness and thus contradicts the unconsciousness of the universe (his words). Sheldrake particularly resents the dogmatic attachment of "materialistic science", which considers everything that cannot be measured physically or chemically to be nonsense. There are arguably 10 dogmas, which he enumerates above all. Among other things the so-called "constants", which are partly only determined by the respective physicists (he mentions examples, among other things the speed of the light, which deviated from the "constant", until it came to the determination together with fixed parameters).

Morphogenetic Fields

Main article: Morphic Field

In A New Science of Life (1981) Sheldrake presents his Hypothesis of Morphic Resonance, which postulates the existence of so-called morphogenetic fields which are supposed to influence form development in nature. The biologist Adolf Portmann has also expressed basically similar ideas on shape formation in plants and animals[3]. Since then, Sheldrake's hypothesis has undergone various extensions. For example, morphogenetic fields should not only extend to forms, but to the laws of nature themselves, which thus become "habits of nature". With the Morphogenetic Fields Sheldrake gives an extended meaning to a term from developmental biology coined in the 1920s. Following on from the morphogenetic fields, Sheldrake examined the extrasensory abilities of humans and animals.

Receptions and Criticism

Sheldrake's model of morphogenetic fields has found a very broad acceptance in philosophically open-minded circles, especially in the 90s in the so-called New Age movement, and since then has served as a popular explanatory model for many connections between mind and nature - also independently and outside the scientific version presented by himself.

A number of materialistically oriented scientists rejected Sheldrake's bio-physical model.[4][5][6] Others demanded clear evidence and experiments to support his theses. Since then, Sheldrake has been working with other scientists on various projects. Some quantum physicists, including David Bohm and Hans-Peter Dürr, have argued for a serious investigation of the hypothesis.[7]

Rupert Sheldrake is also a victim of slander of the international pseudo-skeptics, which in Germany includes the GWUP. His article in Wikipedia is closely monitored so that it remains defamatory rather than neutral. Sheldrake is thus also a Wikipedia victim.


  • A New Science of Life. Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Tarcher, 1981 (second edition 1985, third edition 2009). ISBN 978-1-84831-042-1.
  • The Presence of the Past: morphic resonance and the habits of nature, New York, NY: Times Books, 1988. ISBN 0-8129-1666-2.
  • The Rebirth of Nature The greening of science and God, New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1991. ISBN 0-553-07105-X.
  • together 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 0-939680-97-1.
  • Seven Experiments that Could Change the World , New York, NY: Riverhead Books, 1995. ISBN 1-57322-014-0
  • together with Matthew Fox: Natural Grace dialogues on creation, darkness, and the soul in spirituality and science, New York, NY: Doubleday, 1996. ISBN 0-385-48356-2.
  • together with Matthew Fox: The Physics of Angels exploring the realm where science and spirit meet, San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996. ISBN 0-06-062864-2
  • together with Ralph Abraham and Terence McKenna: The Evolutionary Mind: Trialogues at the Edge of the Unthinkable Rhinebeck, NY: Monkfish Book Pub. Co., 2005. ISBN 0-9749359-7-2.
  • Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home and other unexplained powers of animals, New York, NY: Crown, 1999 (second edition 2011). ISBN 978-0-307-88596-
  • The Sense of Being Stared At and other aspects of the extended mind, New York, NY: Crown Publishers, 2003. ISBN 0-609-60807-X
  • Science Delusion Freeing the spirit of enquiry, London: Coronet, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4447-2795-1 (U. S. Title: Science Set Free: 10 Paths to New Discovery)
  • Science and Spiritual Practices, London: Coronet, 2017. ISBN 978-1-444-72792-0
  • Ways To Go Beyond, And Why They Work: Seven Spiritual Practices in a Scientific Age, London: Coronet, 2019. ISBN 978-1-473-63007-9



  1. Article in: The Times of 7 September 2006
  2. Rupert Sheldrake: Das erweiterte Bewusstsein. Außersinnliche Fähigkeiten von Menschen und Tieren. In: Tattva Viveka, Nr. 21, 2004 (
  3. Adolf Portmann: An den Grenzen des Wissens, Econ, Wien 1974, et al. p. 136ff, ISBN 3-430-17599-2
  4. Introduction by Hans-Peter Dürr on the book "Rupert Sheldrake in der Diskussion"
  5. Anthony Freeman: The Sense of Being Glared At. In: Journal of Consciousness Studies, 12, No. 6, 2005, p. 4-9.
  6. John Maddox, A book for burning? (Editorial). In: Nature 293: S. 245-246 (September 24, 1981)