Rupert Sheldrake

excerpts from his works

Born 1942
Born in Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire.  Educated at Newark Preparatory School, Ranby House School and Worksop College (Music Exhibitioner and Science Scholar). He is a biologist and author of Dogs that Know When Their Owners are Coming Home, and Other Unexplained Powers of Animals (1999) a sequel to his best-selling Seven Experiments that Could Change the World (1994). 

Further reading:

SHELDRAKE, R. (1987): A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Formative Causation,  2nd Ed. (1st Ed. Blond & Briggs. London and J. P. Tarcher, Los Angeles, 1981), 287 pp., Collins. London.
SHELDRAKE, R. (1988): The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature, 391 pp., Fontana (HarperCollins), London and Random House, New York.
SHELDRAKE, R. (1990): The Rebirth of Nature: The Greeining of Science and God, 215 pp., Rider. London, Sydney, Auckland, Johannesburg.
SHELDRAKE, R. (1994): Tao prirody: Znovuzrozeni posvatnosti prirody ve vede, z angl. originalu "The Rebirth of Nature", Century 1990, Rider 1991, prelozil A. Hebelka, 226 s., Czech Edition, Gardenia Publishers. Bratislava.

"...The idea that morphogenetic fields contain an inherent memory is the starting point for the hypothesis of formative causation ..."

(from Presence of the Past, London 1988)

"...structure of these [morphogenetic] fields is not determined by either transcendent Ideas or timeles mathematical formulae, but rather results from the actual forms of previous similar organisms. In other words, the structure of the fields depends on what has happened before. Thus, for example, the morphogenetic field of the foxglove species are shaped by influences from previously existing foxgloves ..."
(from Presence of the Past, London 1988)

"...How could such a memory possibly work? The hypothesis of formative causation postulates that it depends on a kind of resonance, called morphic resonance. Morphic resonance takes place on the basis of similarity. The more similar an organism is to previous organisms, the greater their influence on it by morphic resonance. And the more such organisms there have been, the more powerful their cumulative influence ..."
(from Presence of the Past, London 1988)

"...morphic resonance does not involve a transfer of energy from one system to another, but rather a non-energetic transfer of information. However, morphic resonance does resemble the known kinds of resonance in that it takes place on the basis of rhythmic patterns of activity ..."
(from Presence of the Past, London 1988)

"... we all experience the quality of time through what Germans call the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the time. No one knows why different periods of human history should have particular moods, feelings and fashions..."
(from Rebirth of Nature, London 1990)

"..If Gaia is in some sense animate, then she must have something like a soul, an organizing principle with its own ends or purposes ..."

(from Rebirth of Nature, London 1990)

"...The conscious or unconscious purposes of Gaia include the development and maintenance of the biosphere, and they must in some sense include the evolution of humanity.."
(from Rebirth of Nature, London 1990)

"...Instinctive behaviour shows the same holistic, purposive characteristics as morphogenesis.."
(from Rebirth of Nature, London 1990)

"..The starting point for speculation about the nature of biological life is death. What happens when a plant or an animal or a person dies? The body remains. It still weighs the same. It still has the same shape and the same material constituents. Yet it is now dead. It can no longer grow, or move, or maintain itself. It starts to decay. Something seems to have left it - the life force, the breath, the spirit, the soul, the subtle body, the vital factor, or the organizing principle..."
(from Rebirth of Nature, London 1990)

"..To this day, scientists pretend that they are rather like disembodied minds. Unlike other human activities, science is supposed to be uniquely objective. Scientific papers are conventionally written in an impersonal style, seemingly devoid of emotions. Conclusions are meant to follow from facts by a logical process of reasoning...

...All research scientists know that this process is artificial; they are not disembodied minds, uninfluenced by emotion. The reality is very different..."

(from Rebirth of Nature, London 1990)

"..In terms of the hypothesis of formative causation, the purposive organizing field of Gaia can be thought of as her morphic field..."
(from Rebirth of Nature, London 1990)

"Is the genetic programme the same thing as the chemical structure of the DNA? This cannot be the explanation either, because all cells of the body contain identical copies of DNA, and yet they develop differently. Consider your arms and your legs. The DNA in them is the same, but they have different forms. So something else must have been responsible for shaping them as they develop in the embryo."

"Through detailed study of embryos, a number of influential embryologists have come to the conclusion that the developing limbs and organs are shaped by what they call morphogenetic fields. This term is not as daunting as it sounds at first: it means fields that give rise to form, or 'form fields' (the word 'morphogenetic' comes from the Greek morphe which means form, and genesis which means coming-into-being."

"If the hypothesis of morphogenetic fields could be confirmed by experiment, it would involve the discovery of a new set of laws providing connections between thing across space and time - laws that have not yet been recognised by science. And still more laws may be discovered in the future, whose existence has not so far even been suspected."

"However, these [morphogenetic] fields are just as real as the magnetic and graviational fields of physics, but they are a new kind of field with very remarkable properties. Like the known fields of physics, they connect similar things together across space, with seemingly nothing in between - but in addition they connect things together across time, so that creatures can learn from the experience of previous members of the same species even when there is no direct contact.
The idea is that the morphogenetic fields that shape a growing animal or plant are derived from the forms of previous organisms of the same species. The embryo as it were 'tunes in' to the form of past members of the species. The process by which this happens is calledmorphic resonance."

"... some cases of evolutionary atavism, in which species reproduce features of other species long since extinct, may be due to their picking up a sort of 'ancestral memory' by the process of morphic resonance. Horses, for instance, are sometimes born with two toes, like their distant ancestors."

"This hypothesis, which is known as the hypothesis of formative causation leads to a range of surprising predictions that provide ways of testing it experimentally. For instance, if a number of animals, say rats, learn a new trick that rats have never performed before, then other rats of the same kind all over the world should be able to learn the same trick more easily, even in the absence of any known kind of connection or communication. The larger the number of rats that learn it, the easier it should become for subsequent rats everywhere else."

"The evangelists of neo-Darwinism usually present their theory as if it were an established scientific fact that any rational person is bound to accept, whether he or she likes it or not. However, this is far from being the case..."

"...Indeed, behind its scientific facade, it [the neo-Darwinian theory] appears to have become for many of its followers remarkably like a religion. This seems to be the reason why they propagate their dogmas so zealously, guard against heresies so vigilantly, and deny the truth of all other faiths so vehemently."

"Darwin and his followers prefer the idea of gradual changes because they wish to avoid anything that might seem miraculous... But this is nothing more than intellectual prejudice, and armchair speculations about hypothetical missing links do not prove anything one way or another."

"In the plant kingdom, for example, species with many different kinds of leaves and flowers seem to survive equally well in the same environment; so how could similar selection pressures have given rise to such widely different forms?"

"...most biologists reject the existence of telepathy, precognition, psychokinesis, and indeed the whole range of the so-called paranormal. This refusal is not based on an examination of the facts, but merely on the grounds that because these things cannot at present be explained, they cannot possibly happen."

"Imagine an intelligent and curious person who knows nothing about electricity or electromagnetic radiation. He is shown a television set for the first time. He might at first suppose that the set actually contained little people, whose images he saw on the screen. But when he looked inside and found only wires, condensers, transistors, and so on, he might adopt the more sophisticated theory that the screen images somehow arose from complicated interactions among the components of the set. This hypothesis would seem particularly plausible when he found that the images became distorted or disappeared completely when components were removed, and that the images were restored to normal when these components were put back in their proper places."

"In Australia... there were until recent times no placental mammals. Instead, the marsupials evolve to produce a range of species that duplicated in remarkable ways the characteristics of [placental] mammals elsewhere in the world. There were pouched versions of the wolves, cats, ant-eaters, moles, flying squirrels, and so on. Coneivably, these marsupials somehow 'tuned in' to the morphogenetic fields of comparable mammals living on other continents."

"...accepts the reality of matter, as materialism does; it accepts the reality of the mind, as interactionism does; and it also accepts the existence of an inherent creativity in nature, as pantheism does. But it goes further in that it suggests the existence of a creative consciousness that transcends the Universe, and that is the source of its existence and of the laws that govern it. This divine consciousness also constitutes the goal towards which the evolutionary process is drawn in a ever more conscious manner."

"In fact, there is surprisingly little conflict between modern scientific theories of the development of the Universe and the sequence of events described in the first chapter of Genesis."

"Even before the publication of Origin of Species, several writers pointed out that the theory of evolution did not contradict the idea of the creation of species by God, because God might just as well make a new species by transforming an existing one as by forming it directly from non-living matter. On this view, the Creator was continually guiding the evolutionary process and making new species through it. One advantage of this interpretation was that it supplied a ready explanation for the relatively sudden appearance of new kinds of animals and plants "

Glossary of Terms
(from Presence of the Past)

                   adaptation: An attribute of an organism that appears to
                      be of value for something, generally its survival or
                      reproduction.  The purposive, or seemingly purposive,
                      nature of adaptations can be thought of in terms of
                      teleology or teleonomy (q.v.).

                   allele: Each gene (q.v.) occupies a particular region of
                      a chromosome, its locus. At any given locus, there may
                      exist alternative forms of the gene. These are called
                      alleles of each other.

                   atavism: The reappearance of characteristics of more
                      or Im remote ancestors. Also called reversion or
                      throwing back.

                   atom: In the philosophy of atomism (q.v.), the eternal,
                      invariant, impenetrably hard, homogeneous, ultimate
                      unit of matter. In chemistry, the smallest unit or part of
                      an element that can take part in a chemical reaction. In
                      modern physics, a complex structure of activity, with a
                      central nucleus orbited by electrons. Nuclei and their
                      constituent particles are in turn complex structures of

                   atomism: The doctrine that all things are composed of
                      ultimate, indivisible atoms of matter endowed with
                      motion. These ultimate particles are the enduring basis
                      of all reality. In the modern form of this philosophy,
                      atoms have been superseded by fundamental subatomic

                   attractor:  A term used in modern dynamics to denote a
                      limit towards which trajectories of change within a
                      dynamical system move. Attractors generally lie within
                      basins of attraction. Attractors and basins of attraction
                      are essential features of the mathematical models of
                      morphogenetic fields due to Rene Thom.

                   chreode: A canalized pathway of change within a
                      morphic field.

                   chromosomes: Microscopic, threadlike structures found
                      in the nuclei of living cells, and also in cells without
                      nuclei such as bacteria. They are made up of DNA and
                      protein and contain chains of genes.

                   cybernetics: The theory of communication and control
                      mechanisms in living systems and machines.

                   dialectical materialism: A form of materialism that
                      sees matter not as something static, on which change and
                      development have to be imposed, but as, containing
                      within its own nature those tensions or "contradictions"
                      that provide the motive force for change.

                   DNA: Deoxyribonucleic acid, a molecule consisting of
                      a large number of chemical units called nucleotides
                      attached together in single file to form a long strand.
                      Usually two such strands are linked together parallel to
                      each other and coiled into a helix. DNA is the material
                      of genetic inheritance, but in higher organisms only a
                      small proportion of the DNA appears to be in genes.
                      DNA contains four kinds of nucleotide, and the
                      sequence of the nucleotides is the basis of the genetic
                      code. DNA strands pass on their structure to copies of
                      themselves in the process of replication, and the genetic
                      code of genes can be "translated" into the sequences of
                      amino acids which are joined together in chains to form
                      proteins. Protein synthesis takes place on the basis of
                      strands of RNA (ribonucleic acid), which serve as
                      templates. These are "transcribed" from the DNA of

                   dominance: In genetics, a dominant gene is one that
                      brings about the same phenotypic (q.v.) effects whether
                      it is present in a single dose along with a specified
                      allele (q.v.), or in a double dose. The allele that is
                      ineffective in the presence of the dominant gene is said
                      to be recessive.

                   dualism: The philosophical doctrine that mind and
                      matter exist as independent entities, neither being
                      reducible to the other (cf. materialism).

                   energy: in general, the capacity or power to produce an
                      effect. in the technical sense of physics, energy is the
                      property of a system that is a measure of its capacity for
                      doing work. Work is technically defined as what is
                      done when a force moves its point of application.
                      Energy can be potential or kinetic, and it comes in a
                      variety of forms: electrical, thermal, chemical, nuclear,
                      radiant, and mechanical.

                   entelechy: In Aristotelian philosophy, the principle of
                      life, identified with the soul or psyche. The entelechy is
                      both the formal or formative cause and the final cause,
                      or end, of a living body; thus there is always an
                      internalized purpose in life. In the vitalism (q.v.) of
                      Hans Driesch, entelechy is the nonmaterial vital
                      principle, a directive, teleological causal factor which
                      brings about harmonious developmental, behavioural,
                      and mental processes (cf. genetic program and morphic

                   epigenesis: The origin of new structures during
                      embryonic development (cf. preformation).

                   evolution: Literally, a process of unrolling or opening
                      out. In biology, originally applied to the development of
                      individual plants and animals, which according to the
                      doctrine of preformation depended on the unrolling or
                      unfolding of pre-existing parts. Only in the 1830s was
                      this word first applied to the historical transmutation of
                      organisms; by the 1860s and 1870s it had come to refer
                      to a general process of transmutation, which was
                      generally assumed to be directional or progressive.
                      Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection
                      enabled this process to be thought of as blind and
                      purposeless, and this interpretation is central to
                      neo-Darwinism (q.v.), the dominant orthodoxy in
                      modern biology. A variety of other evolutionary
                      philosophies postulate an inherently creative principle
                      in matter or in life; and some see in the evolutionary
                      process the manifestation of a directional or purposive
                      principle. According to modern cosmology, the entire
                      universe is an evolutionary system.

                   field: A region of physical influence. Fields interrelate
                      and interconnect matter and energy within their realm of
                      influence. Fields are not a form of matter; rather, matter
                      is energy bound within fields. In current physics,
                      several kinds of fundamental field are recognized: the
                      gravitational and electromagnetic fields and the matter
                      fields of quantum physics. The hypothesis of formative
                      causation broadens the concept of physical fields to
                      include morphic fields as well as the known fields of

                   force: In general, active power; strength or energy
                      brought to bear. In physics, an external agency capable
                      of altering the state of rest or motion of a body.

                   form: The shape, configuration, or structure of
                      something as distinguished from its material. In the
                      Platonic tradition, the term Form is used to translate the
                      Greek term eides and is interchangeable with the term
                      Idea. Particular things we experience in the world
                      participate in their eternal Forms, which transcend
                      space and time. By contrast, in the Aristotelian
                      tradition, the forms of things are immanent in the things
                      themselves. From the nominalist point of view, forms
                      have no objective reality independent of our own minds.

                   formative causation, hypothesis of: The hypothesis
                      that organisms or morphic units (q.v.) at all levels of
                      complexity are organized by morphic fields, which are
                      themselves influenced and stabilized by morphic
                      resonance (q.v.) from all previous similar morphic

                   gene: A unit of the material of inheritance. Genes
                      consist of DNA and are situated in chromosomes; an
                      individual gene is a short length of chromosome that
                      influences a particular character or set of characters of
                      an organism in a particular way. Alternative forms of
                      the same gene are called alleles. The unit of the gene is
                      defined in different ways for different purposes: for
                      molecular biologists it is usually regarded as a cistron,
                      a length of DNA that codes for a chain of amino acids in
                      a protein. For some schools of neo-Darwinism, the gene
                      is the unit of selection, and evolution is the change of
                      gene frequencies in populations.

                   genetic program: A program is a plan of intended
                      proceedings, as in a concert or computer program. The
                      concept of the genetic program implies that organisms
                      inherit plans of intended proceedings; these plans are
                      assumed to be carried in the genes. The genetic program
                      is the principal metaphor through which conceptions of
                      purposive activity and of formative causes are
                      introduced into modern biology (cf. entelechy).

                   genotype: The genetic constitution of an organism (cf.

                   gestalt: A German term roughly meaning form,
                      configuration, shape, or essence. The term is used to
                      refer to unified wholes, complete structures or totalities
                      which cannot be reduced to the sum of their parts.

                   habit: A bodily or mental disposition; a settled
                      tendency to appear or behave in a certain way,
                      generally acquired by frequent repetition; a settled
                      practice, custom, or usage. The word habit also means
                      dress or attire, as in a monk's habit. In biology, it is
                      used to refer to the characteristic mode of growth or
                      appearance of a plant or animal; and crystallographers
                      refer to the habits of crystals, meaning the characteristic
                      forms they assume. On the hypothesis of formative
                      causation, the nature of morphic units at all levels of
                      complexity tends to become increasingly habitual
                      through repetition, owing to morphic resonance.

                   heredity: The transmission of characters from ancestors
                      to their descendents. Originally understood in a broad
                      sense which included the inheritance of acquired
                      characteristics and habits of life; restricted in modern
                      biology to mean the inheritance of genes (see Mendelian
                      inheritance, neo-Darwinism). According to the
                      hypothesis of formative causation, heredity includes
                      both genetic inheritance and the inheritance of morphic
                      fields by morphic resonance.

                   holism: The doctrine that wholes are more than the sum
                      of their parts (cf. reductionism).

                   holon: A whole that can also be part of a larger whole.
                      Holons are organized in multi-levelled nested
                      hierarchies or holarchies. This term, due to Arthur
                      Koestler, is equivalent in meaning to morphic unit

                   homoeotic mutation: A mutation causing one part of the
                      body to develop in a manner appropriate to another
                      part: for example, a leg growing where an antenna
                      normally does in a fruit fly.

                   information: To inform literally means to put into form
                      or shape. information is now generally taken to be the
                      source of form or order in the world; information is
                      informative and plays the role of a formative cause, as
                      for example in the concept of "genetic information."

                   information theory: A branch of cybernetics (q.v.) that
                      attempts to define the amount of information required to
                      control a process of given complexity. Information in
                      this narrow technical sense is measured in bits. A bit is
                      the amount of information required to specify one of two
                      alternatives, for example to distinguish between 1 and 0
                      in the binary notation used in computers.

                   interactionism: A form of dualism (q.v.) according to
                      which mental events can cause physical events, and vice

                   Lamarckian inheritance: The inheritance of acquired
                      characteristics. Until the late nineteenth century, it was
                      generally believed that characteristics acquired by
                      organisms in response to the conditions of life or as a
                      result of their own habits could be inherited by their
                      descendents, and both Lamarck and Darwin shared this
                      general opinion. The possibility of this type of
                      inheritance is denied on theoretical grounds by the
                      current orthodoxy of genetics (cf. Mendelian

                  materialism: The doctrine that whatever exists is either
                      matter or entirely dependent on matter for its existence.

                  matter: That which has traditionally been contrasted
                      with form or with mind. In the philosophy of
                      materialism, matter is the substance and basis of all
                      reality, and is usually conceived of in the spirit of
                      atomism. In Newtonian physics, matter, distinguished by
                      mass and extension, was contrasted with energy.
                      According to relativity theory, mass and energy are
                      mutually transformable, and material systems are now
                      regarded as forms of energy.

                     mmechanics: In its broad, traditional sense, the body of
                      practical and theoretical knowledge concerned with the
                      invention and construction of machines, the explanation
                      of their operation, and the calculation of their
                      efficiency. In physics, the study of the behaviour of
                      matter under the action of force. in the present century,
                      Newtonian mechanics has been substantially modified
                      by relativity theory and has been replaced by quantum
                      mechanics as a method of interpreting physical
                      phenomena occurring on a very small scale.

                   mechanistic theory: The theory that all physical
                      phenomena can be explained mechanically (see
                      mechanics), without reference to goals or purposive
                      designs (cf. teleology). The central metaphor is the
                      machine. In the seventeenth century, the universe was
                      conceived of as a vast machine, designed, made, and set
                      running by God and governed by his eternal laws. By
                      the late nineteenth century, it was commonly regarded as
                      an eternal machine which was slowly running down. In
                      biology, the mechanistic theory states that living
                      organisms are nothing but inanimate machines or
                      mechanical systems: all the phenomena of life can in
                      principle be understood in terms of mechanical models
                      and can ultimately be explained in terms of physics and

                   meme: A term coined by Richard Dawkins, who
                      defines it as "a unit of cultural inheritance, hypothesized
                      as analogous to the particulate gene and as naturally
                      selected by virtue of its 'phenotypic' consequences on
                      its own survival and replication in the cultural

                   memory: The capacity for remembering, recalling,
                      recollecting, or recognizing. From the mechanistic point
                      of view, animal and human memory depend on material
                      memory traces within the nervous system. From the
                      point of view of the hypothesis of formative causation,
                      memory in its various forms, both conscious and
                      unconscious, is due to morphic resonance.

                   Mendelian inheritance: Inheritance by means of pairs
                      of discrete hereditary factors, now identified with
                      genes. One member of each pair comes from each
                      parent. The genes may blend in their effects on the body,
                      but they do not themselves blend and are passed on
                      intact to future generations.

                   mind: In Cartesian dualism, the conscious thinking mind
                      is distinct from the material body; the mind is
                      non-material. Materialists derive the mind from the
                      physical activity of the brain. Depth psychologists point
                      out that the conscious mind is associated with a much
                      broader or deeper mental system, the unconscious mind.
                      In the view of Jung, the unconscious mind is not merely
                      individual but collective. On the hypothesis of
                      formative causation, mental activity, conscious and
                      unconscious, takes place within and through mental
                      fields, which like other kinds of morphic fields contain
                      a kind of in-built memory.

                   molecule: A chemical unit. The smallest amount of a
                      chemical substance that is capable of independent
                      existence. Each kind of molecule has a characteristic
                      atomic composition, a specific structure, and specific
                      physical and chemical properties.

                   morphic field: A field within and around a morphic unit
                      which organizes its characteristic structure and pattern
                      of activity. Morphic fields underlie the form and
                      behaviour of holons or morphic units at all levels of
                      complexity. The term morphic field includes
                      morphogenetic, behavioural, social, cultural, and mental
                      fields. Morphic fields are shaped and stabilized by
                      morphic resonance from previous similar morphic units,
                      which were under the influence of fields of the same
                      kind. They consequently contain a kind of cumulative
                      memory and tend to become increasingly habitual.

                   morphic resonance: The influence of previous
                      structures of activity on subsequent similar structures of
                      activity organized by morphic fields. Through morphic
                      resonance, formative causal influences pass through or
                      across both space and time, and these influences are
                      assumed not to fall off with distance in space or time,
                      but they come only from the past. The greater the degree
                      of similarity, the greater the influence of morphic
                      resonance. in general, morphic units closely resemble
                      themselves in the past and are subject to self-resonance
                      from their own past states.

                   morphic unit: A unit of form or organization, such as an
                      atom, molecule, crystal, cell, plant, animal, pattern of
                      instinctive behaviour, social group, element of culture,
                      ecosystem, planet, planetary system, or galaxy. Morphic
                      units are organized in nested hierarchies of units within
                      units: a crystal, for example, contains molecules, which
                      contain atoms, which contain electrons and nuclei,
                      which contain nuclear particles, which contain quarks.

                   morphogenesis: The coming into being of form.

                   morphogenetic fields: Fields that play a causal role in
                      morphogenesis. This term, first proposed in the 1920s,
                      is now widely used by developmental biologists, but the
                      nature of morphogenetic fields has remained obscure.
                      On the hypothesis of formative causation, they are
                      regarded as morphic fields stabilized by morphic

                   mutation: A sudden change. Mutations are observed in
                      the phenotypes of organisms, and can generally be
                      traced to changes in the genetic material. The term
                      mutation is now generally taken to mean a random
                      change in a gene.

                   nature: Traditionally personified as Mother Nature.
                      The creative and controlling power operating in the
                      physical world, and the immediate cause of all
                      phenomena within it. Or the inherent and inseparable
                      combination of qualities essentially pertaining to
                      anything and giving it its fundamental character. Or the
                      inherent power or impulse by which the activity of
                      living organisms is directed or controlled. From the
                      conventional point of view of science, nature is made
                      up of matter, fields, and energy and is governed by the
                      laws of nature, usually thought to be eternal.

                   neo-Darwinism: The modern version of the Darwinian
                      theory of evolution by natural selection. It differs from
                      Darwin's theory in that it denies the possibility of
                      Lamarckian inheritance (q.v.); heredity is explained in
                      terms of genes passed on by Mendelian inheritance
                      (q.v.).  Genes mutate at random, and the proportions of
                      alternative versions of genes, or alleles, within a
                      population are influenced by natural selection. In its
                      most extreme form, neo-Darwinism reduces evolution to
                      changes of gene frequencies in populations.

                   organicism: A form of holism according to which the
                      world consists of organisms (or holons or morphic
                      units, q.v.) at all levels of complexity.  Organisms are
                      wholes made up of parts, which are themselves
                      organisms, and so on; they are organized in nested
                      hierarchies. The parts of organisms can be understood
                      only in relation to their activities and functions in the
                      ongoing whole. Organisms in this sense include atoms,
                      molecules, crystals, cells, tissues, organs, plants and
                      animals, societies, cultures, ecosystems, planets,
                      planetary systems, and galaxies. In this spirit, the entire
                      cosmos can be regarded as an organism rather than a
                      machine (cf. mechanistic theory).

                   paradigm: An example or pattern. in the sense of T. S.
                      Kuhn (1970), scientific paradigms are general ways of
                      seeing the world shared by members of a scientific
                      community, and they provide models of acceptable
                      ways in which problems can be solved.

                   phenotype: The actual appearance of an organism; its
                      manifested attributes. Contrasted with the genotype,
                      which is the particular genetic material the organism has
                      inherited from its parents.

                   physicalism: A modern form of materialism. The
                      doctrine that all scientific propositions can in principle
                      be expressed in the terminology of the physical
                      sciences, including propositions about mental activity.

                   Platonism: The philosophical tradition that, following
                      Plato, postulates the existence of an autonomous realm
                      of Ideas or Forms or essences existing outside space
                      and time and independently of manifestations of them in
                      the phenomenal world.

                   protein: A complex organic molecule composed of
                      many amino acids linked together in chains, called
                      polypeptide chains. The sequence of amino acids is
                      specified by the sequence of nucleotides in the DNA of
                      genes. There may  be one or more such chains in a
                      protein, and the chains are folded up into  characteristic
                      three-dimensional configurations. Proteins are found in
                      all  living organisms, and there are many different kinds
                      of protein molecule.  Many proteins are enzymes, the
                      catalysts of biochemical reactions; others play a variety
                      of structural and other roles.

                   preformation: The theory (now known to be false) that
                      the entire diversity  of structure of adult organisms
                      pre-exists in the fertilized egg. Embryonic  development
                      supposedly consisted merely of the manifestation of this
                      preformed structure as it enlarged and unfolded, or
                      "evolved" (cf. epigenesis).

                   Pythagoreanism: The belief that the universe is
                      somehow essentially mathematical. its fundamental
                      mathematical reality transcends space and time.
                      Closely akin to Platonism.

                   reductionism: The doctrine that more complex
                      phenomena can be reduced  to less complex ones (cf.
                   holism). In philosophy, the theory that human  behaviour
                      can ultimately be reduced to the behaviour of inanimate
                      matter  governed by the laws of nature. In biology, the
                      belief that all the phenomena  of life can ultimately be
                      understood in terms of chemistry and physics.  Closely
                      associated with the mechanistic theory, materialism, and
                      atomism  (q.v.).

                  regulation: in embryology, the normal development of
                      an embryo, or part  of an embryo, in spite of the
                      disturbance of its structure in some way, as by
                      removing some of it, adding to it, or rearranging it. For
                      example, half of  a young sea-urchin embryo will
                      develop into a small but normally proportioned larva
                      and eventually into a normal sea urchin.

                  synapse: An area of functional contact between nerve
                      cells or between nerve  cells and effectors such as
                      muscle cells.

                   systems theory: A form of holism concerned with the
                      organization and  properties of "systems" at all levels of
                      complexity. Much of the early inspiration for this
                      approach came from an attempt to establish parallels
                      between  physiological systems in biology and social
                      systems in the social sciences. The systems approach
                     has been deeply influenced by cybernetics (q.v.). The
                      central  metaphor in much systems thinking is the
                      self-regulating machine.

                   teleology: The study of ends or final causes; the
                      explanation of phenomena by reference to goals or

                   teleonomy: The science of adaptation. "in effect,
                      teleonomy is teleology made respectable by Darwin"
                      (Dawkins, 1982). The apparently purposive structures,
                      functions, and behaviour of organisms are regarded as
                      evolutionary adaptations established by natural

                   vitalism: The doctrine that living organisms are truly
                      vital or alive, as opposed to the mechanistic theory that
                      they are inanimate and mechanical. Living organization
                      depends on purposive vital factors, such as entelechy
                      (q.v.), which are not reducible to the ordinary laws of
                      physics and chemistry. Vitalism is a less far-reaching
                      form of holism than organicism (q.v.), in so far as it
                      accepts the mechanistic assumption that the systems
                      studied by physicists and chemists are inanimate and
                      essentially mechanical.

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