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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 9 May 2011
For anyone who feels there's "more to life" than our present scientific view lets on, and doesn't want to float away in a mystical denial of reality, this book is just what's needed. Rupert Sheldrake almost certainly does not have all the right answers but more importantly he is asking the right questions.

As a medic and PhD engineer, I am sure that future generations will look back at our present mechanical model of life and say "How on earth did they think this would explain the observed facts?" This is your chance to be in at the beginning of phase 3 in the understanding of biology (phase 1: it's all a mystery; phase 2: it's just chemistry...).

The most mind-expanding book I've read in the last year.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2014
The first edition was published in 1981 and scurrilously attacked by John Maddox as editor of Nature. Among many others I riposted as vigorously as any but Sheldrake was hammered by a sycophantic science community (much as Daryl Bem has recently been). This revised edition has been carefully restated but in some ways lacks the vigour of the original edition. In the original there was a boldness in stating that morphic resonance must be seen as a feature of material physics: in this edition there are qualifying caveats and adverbial clauses that inhibit the claim for the relevance of morphogenetic fields and formative causation to material physics; for those who can read between the lines Sheldrake has hoisted his banner for others to be drawn to, but I am a little saddened by the loss of the original vigour because by now material physics should have realised the relevance of formative causation to the process realm of quantum mechanical events. Instead of beating the bushes of every physical law for an answer to emerge, the scientific community should recognise that morphogenetic fields must exist in an adjacent dimension to the physical universe.
The book should be read at least twice with an open mind and should be on the shelves of everyone enquiring into the nature of physical reality (this applies as much to those with an interest in matters of the spirit)
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on 21 October 2009
As the late American Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy, once stated in a speech he delivered in South Africa decades ago, "Moral Courage" is the willingness to incur the backlash of your own peer group for the sake of the truth as you see it.

Dr. Rupert Sheldrake has demonstrated such Moral Courage for decades, himself - standing up under the poorly substantiated ridicule of the scientific community for his daring theories of Formative Causation, Morphogenetic Fields, and Morphic Resonance, which contradict the unproven (but generally accepted in mainstream scientific circles) material reductionist theories of a random, chaotic and mindless universe giving birth to an equally random and mindless process of abiogenesis and evolution.

This book is the up-to-date compilation of his more than 30 years of research and experimentation. It will surprise, challenge and enlighten you.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2009
A scholarly work which would be a meaty read for an A-level science student, giving a clear view of the new approach to sciences pioneered by James Lovelock, Bruce Lipton, and the author inter alia. I was given this book by an intelligent friend who was unable to get through it.
The book is well structured. In 220 pages of thesis he describes several poorly-resolved questions in biology and presents his theory of morphogenetic fields. He applies it convincingly to biological problems (why things grow into a certain form, inheritance of form and behaviour, instinct and learning) with a sprinkling of chemistry (crystal growth and form) and physics (upward drift of melting points). There follows an appendix suggesting ten experiments which could prove the existence of morphic fields and 53 pages of notes references and indexes.
Despite his very well thought out theory and the interesting subject matter, the style, language and terminology that Sheldrake uses (perhaps through necessity) in this book are unlikely to appeal to an "average person". I much preferred and enjoyed his "Seven Experiments that could Change the World" which is a much lighter and more accessible read, yet simply describes his "morphic field" in a far more interesting way.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 February 2014
Rupert Sheldrake is an English author, lecturer, and researcher , he was a biochemist and cell biologist at Cambridge University from 1967 to 1973 and principal plant physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics until 1978

After reading an interview with Rupert Sheldrake in Fortean times , I just had to begin reading his books.
The work is well written and builds an understanding of the various views on the nature of life processes within the universe.
The work may upset some deeply entrenched scientists because of the ideas presented.
What's more troubling is that because of this some people will never read his work but will vigorously deny any reality of the principals presented.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2013
Rupert Sheldrake looks as the inner workings of nature and I enjoy his books. I can see why people who are alternative like them, because he is demonstrating the wonders of nature from a scientific point of view without losing the magic.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 13 February 2012
When struggling through this book, I can see some of the ideas Sheldrake is trying to put forward. It's good that he is trying to answer some of the questions we all have in the backs of our minds - the ones others have tried to avoid.

However, I found that the writing was so unbearably defensive that it made it an almost impossible read. Particular points were repeated over and over -and over- again, where once would have been just fine. Books nowadays are meant to be accessible to as many people as possible. This is not. Reading it was like being barked at by a bad lecturer who has been just told he's wrong.

I understand that this book is trying to put across a new kind of thinking, and I find that incredibly refreshing! I only wish that Sheldrake had found somebody to write down his views for him. He is clearly a scientist, not an author.
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on 5 July 2015
Sheldrake has always proved thought provoking and open minded but it is inevitable that individuals, open to the possibility that the current paradigm is inaccurate, are attacked vigorously by those invested in the status quo. Luckily he seems un-phased by these attacks and since they consist largely of re-stating the prevailing state of affairs combined with copious amounts of hot air he is likely to remain so. Meanwhile he is a writer that makes some of the current paradoxes in our knowledge more accessible, interesting and baffling.
Worth reading if only to quench the notion that science is approaching a complete and total understanding of the Universe and to prick the pompous bubble of Scientism.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 September 2012
A New Science of Life by Rupert Sheldrake, Blond & Briggs, 1981; Paladin, 1983; 238 ff

This book was written by Cambridge biologist Rupert Sheldrake during the time he spent at an ashram in India with the Catholic mystic, Bede Griffiths. Sheldrake worked in India for a decade and spent 18 months in the ashram in Shantivanam while writing this, his first book. Sheldrake was working at Harvard when Thomas Kuhn book on The Structure of Scientific Revolutions appeared. This led Sheldrake to realise that the world-view described by science was a model or paradigm as Kuhn called it and it was liable to modification if new facts appeared. The book generated a great deal of controversy when it first appeared. The science magazine New Scientist called it `An important scientific enquiry into the nature of biological and physical reality'. On the other hand, the editor of Nature, another science journal of original publications, thought the book should be burned as scientific heresy. But this was the first book in modern times to present what may be described as metaphysics as a scientific reality.

The essence of the book is to present the hypothesis that there is an entirely natural energy that interacts with and thereby influences living creatures. This concept was termed `vitalism' and the idea has been dismissed by most biological scientists of the 20th century. However, there were several eminent scientists in the late 19th and early 20th century who did accept the concept, without being able to define the nature of this energy. Prominent were three researchers in the 1920s - the German biologist Hans Spemann, Russian scientist Alexander Gurwitch and Austrian-American biologist Paul Weiss. They called this influential energy the `morphogenetic field' as it seemed to influence the development of the embryo. Sheldrake adopted this term, and called its influence on living tissue `formative causation'. When the field exerts an effect on mind rather than on the body, Sheldrake modified the term to `morphic field'. Hans Driesch was another eminent biologist who supported the idea of morphogenetic fields but he called the mechanism through which they act `entelechy', borrowing a term from Aristotle.

This book presents the biological evidence for suggesting such an energetic influence. Readers do not need to be biologists to follow the argument as there are many illustrations. There are notes and references at the end of each chapter and a more comprehensive list at the end of the book. This text is really essential reading for any advocate of New Age thinking regarding the complementarity between science and spirituality.
A new edition of this popular book was published in February 2009.

Howard Jones is the author of Evolution of Consciousness
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on 28 November 2014
If you thik that Darwin has fixed the history of Nature and human being, read this book and discover a total new point of view. You can thrust this theory or not but you will be happy to know more about.
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