Sheldrake, Rupert (1942– )
British biochemist with specialized experience in plant research
who has proposed a bold new theory of formative causation,
concerned with the origin and growth of form and characteristics
in nature. While not denying the inheritance of
characteristics through the gene complex, he has suggested a
literal view of what has been termed for convenience ‘‘morphogenetic
fields’’ as actual structures independent of time and
space. Although Sheldrake’s field theory applies primarily to
organisms, plants, and animals, it also has important relevance
to concepts of parapsychological phenomena, such as telepathy,
clairvoyance and reincarnation.
Robert Sheldrake was born June 28, 1942, in Newark Notts,
England. He was educated at Clare College, Cambridge University,
England, becoming a fellow and director of studies in
biochemistry and cell biology. In 1973, he was awarded a
Rosenheim Research Fellowship of the Royal Society. Instead
of taking a professorship at a university, he decided to study
growing plants first hand, and he became a member of the staff
of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid
Tropics in Hyderabad, India. He became a consultant to the institute
in 1978.
In 1966, Sheldrake was associated with the Epiphany Philosophers,
a group of scientists and philosophers at Cambridge
University concerned with exploring interconnections between
science, philosophy, and mysticism. This contact stimulated his
early ideas on formative causation. Other influences were the
theories of Henri Bergson and Hans Driesch.
Sources
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Sheldrake, Rupert. A New Science of Life the Hypothesis of
Formative Causation. London Blond & Briggs; Los Angeles J.
P. Tarcher, 1981.
———. The Presence of the Past. New York New York Times
Books, 1988.
———. The Rebirth of Nature The Greening of Science and God.
New York Bantam, 1990.

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