Re: Sheldrake

Ton Maas (
Tue, 16 Dec 1997 10:24:27 +0100

Message-Id: <v03102809b0bbf501eef7@[]>
In-Reply-To: <>
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 10:24:27 +0100
From: Ton Maas <>
Subject: Re: Sheldrake

>> My main problem with the likes of Sheldrake (learning at the "billiard
>> ball" level of physics) and Teilhard (who attributed mental capabilities =
>> fundamental particles) is that if their flagrant denial of an Eternal
>> Verity (to freely quote Saint Augustine), namely the fundamental
>> distinction between Creatura and Pleroma, happens to be true, we might as
>> well close shop and go fishing, because in that world anything would
>> explain everything. It was the original genius of Lamarck - who once
>> remarked that we should not attribute mental characteristics to an organi=
>> if it doesn't feature sufficient internal complexity (properly formulated
>> more than a century-and-a-half later by cyberneticians) - that gave us th=
>> notion of emergence and the relation between "matter" and "mind".
>I think this does wrong to Sheldrake. What he does is to confront us
>with evidence (true or false, I do not know) that people 'know
>perticular things when they should not according to our theories.
>He then explains them with his theory of 'fields' of knowledge, like
>magnetic fields. His particular mechanism to explain however is no
>denial of mind, but rather an extention of it (or at least can be
>seen like it). One that we haven't been able to lay ourt fingers on.

Hmm. I can understand some of the parties who like to think he's right. The
Steinerians are most certainly among them - they have embraced Sheldrake as
the next prophet, one who will hopefully provide some scientific
justification of old Rudolph's philosophical meanderings. As far as I know
his "proofs" are still pretty much unsubstantiated. He seems to operate
within a niche of followers and his impact on the larger scientific
community is quite small. Francisco Varela claims that Sheldrake is a
"dualist in disguise" and if I had to place my bet between them, I wouldn't
hesitate for one second. I can't help but think of Wilhelm Reich's tragic
dance with physics, which ultimately drove him to fraud in trying to
substantiate his claims of an as-yet undetectable form of energy. What I
find most suspicious about the whole thing, is the implication that this
morphogenetically "shared" knowledge seems to be *direct* and unmediated
rather than processed, filtered and interpreted.

>By the way, does anyone have a reference to systematique zoologice
>from Lamarck, but an English translation?

No, but I have a Dutch translation of the first volume of his Philosophie



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