Morphic Fields and Ethnic Collective Consciousness

rupertsheldrakeRupert Sheldrake‘s theory of Morphic and Morphogenetic fields is well known, as well as fairly controversial. His basic idea is that Morphic Fields exist everywhere, influencing (and influenced by) our ideas, thoughts and actions; as well as our psyche and «destiny». According to Sheldrake, the same thing is true of (almost) everything out there in nature:

  • According to Sheldrake, everything that exists, is already swimming inside an Ocean of Morphic and Morphogenetic fields, influencing it (or generated by it); fields that reinforce themselves (as existing Morphic patterns), or cause the emergence of new patterns, different than the predominant ones, from time to time…

Many scientists disagree with Sheldrake’s approach, while others are tempted to agree. Many people who read his stuff with sympathy are hesitant to express agreement, hindered by the dominant Collective Consciousness of Science (and Scientific Consensus) of our time, as well as the apparent (real or imagined) incompleteness of his experimental findings, typically hard (but not impossible) to repeat and verify. However, these findings are far from negligible. If more evidence emerges in his favour later on, Sheldrake will be recognised as a scientist at least as important as Isaac Newton; if not, then the need will remain, for another (Sheldrake-compatible) theory, to explain his findings.

For many people, Rupert Sheldrake is a big riddle, a hard problem of classification, not easily decidable: -His work is (said to be) neither dismissible as «pseudo-science», nor completely verifiable, as (provable) established Science.

Nevertheless, the aim of this short blog-post about Sheldrake’s theory is not to describe it, nor to debate its validity, but a very specific (possibly innovative)… wild speculation, focusing on one particular realm, where the potential application of his theory has eluded attention till now, although it is probably ideally suited for it:

The socio-political realm of Collective Consciousness, as the origin and/or essence of (so-called) human group identity (or sense of identity), as well as «national identity», more appropriately: ethnic collective consciousness.

Well, one reason I write this post (even though the topic is extremely controversial) is because of a strong suspicion that -sooner or later- others will inevitably notice the political and social relevance of Sheldrake’s theory. Most probably, in fact, they are more likely to speculate about this relevance as a result of an entirely different political and philosophical attitude than my own agnostic humanism. In any case, Sheldrake calls himself an «Anglican Christian» and criticizes both Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennet in very unusual, highly interesting ways, e.g. his review of Daniel Dennett’s book :»The Unbearable Brightness of Being Right» – here. I sympathize with some of Sheldrake’s points, but (on the whole) I disagree with his critique: As regards Dawkins, in particular, Sheldrake seems to have missed many points: The kind of religious doctrine against which Dawkins lashes out so brilliantly seems to be based on entirely different grounds than Morphic fields – as such; Morphic fields could also be regarded as perfectly compatible with the atheism of Dawkins, or any other kind of atheism (and/or pantheism). Last, but not least, the particular insecurity-ridden religious theism that Dawkins and Dennett break to pieces does not seem to be anything other than illusion, self-deluded false interpretation of (Inner and Outer) Morphic fields beyond the grasp of our senses. I feel tempted to become Sheldrake’s fan, from another point of view, which is very different: – Agnostic atheism (with strong pantheistic / polytheistic leanings):

  • Sheldrake’s theory is in fact probably much less compatible with Christianity (as a doctrine), than with agnostic atheism and/or pantheism
  • Much closer to Sheldrake’s theory might be e.g. the idea that «All Matter is Conscious» (but there is no need for a Divinity external to it -or different than itself)

So, how does «ethnic consciousness» or (more generally) human collective identity relate to Morphic and Morphogenetic Fields? – Certainly not in the way that nationalists imagine it, to start with. Applying Sheldrake’s approach, it cannot be construed to be a static, God-given or DNA-defined kind of consciousness; nor a «national consciousness» in the sense of nations (as we understand the term today). My strong feeling is that these kinds of Collective Consciousness are in fact no more and no less than Morphic Fields, completely fluid, inherently (ever-)changeable, self-modifiable, adaptive and in perpetual evolution, uninfluenced by the largest part of our conscious experience of them; yet -at the same time- strongly active as an influence on our Psyche (both collectively as groups or societies, as well as individually as persons).

The more one thinks of the problem (to understand the Collective Consciousness of living humans), the more one realises the relevance of Sheldrake’s theory (I think): His theory is capable of shedding light on historical and sociological paradoxes; all kinds of collective human phenomena and events that can’t be easily explained in other ways. Well, one of them is the (psychological) sense of group-identity; collective identity, experienced by people who speak the same language and/or live in the same area, and/or possibly in accordance with certain customs, cultural habits, beliefs and traditions: In one term: Ethnic Consciousness, as a mutable self-sustaining, auto-poetic Collective Moprhic Field, in perpetual flux, with characteristics differing from place to place, etc.

Furthermore, this new approach to «Ethnic Consciousness» as a collective Morphic Field can explain paradoxes like the collective (sense of) identity of… Greek people: The presence of Greek Language (and the implicit morphic fields contained in Greek language and Greek culture ) in a particular place called Greece have managed to generate a particular sense of continuity, often misinterpreted as genetically based or religious, or dismissed as non-existent and contrived: However, Morphic fields act independently of our conscious wishes most of the time. They are energy fields affecting human beings living together in any area for any large length of time. For this reason, Greek (Hellenic) identity also emerged in people whose genes are not Greek at all, but they imagined themselves to be Greek, acted as if they are Greek and -most importantly- experienced the Outer World as if they were Greek. The strong Morphic fields that arose, as a result, have reinforced and preserved themselves even more strongly than language, religion or genes: these particular Morphic fields might be precisely no more and no less than the sum total of Greek «identity» itself.

  • Another example of a strange ethnic collectivity that has exhibited a similar, equally (if not more) powerful «sense of identity» than we (the Greeks), mysteriously preserved almost intact throughout history are… Jewish people – I think! 🙂
  • As an immediate consequence of these… wild speculations, the first thing that arises -inescapably- is that the emerging New Global Consciousness, can be a New Morphic Field, as the «Synthesis arising from an Antithesis to a Thesis» (the Antithesis being the downfall of nation-based collective identity today) and that it is thereby inherently incomprehensible by mechanistic ideologies that (on the one hand) successfully criticize e.g. narrow-minded nationalism but (on the other hand) fail completely to recognize the positive, deeper and wider dimensions of the Emerging New Global Consciousness: Far from a mere «market consumer consciousness» attributed to a mere «homunculus«, the Global sense of Collective Identity that might be emerging in our time can be the very first Conscious Unification of our Inner Worlds, as a Collective Consciousness of our Species (the whole Species as a Unified Whole of Individualities, for the very first time in Human History).



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    Cognition in the Wild by Edwin Hutchins
    (full text Cognet pdf, free on some campuses, from MIT):

    Edwin Hutchins combines his background as an anthropologist and an open-ocean racing sailor and navigator in this account of how anthropological methods can be combined with cognitive theory to produce a new reading of cognitive science. His theoretical insights are grounded in an extended analysis of ship navigation – its computational basis, its historical roots, its social organization, and the details of its implementation in actual practice aboard large ships. The result is an unusual interdisciplinary approach to cognition in culturally constituted activities outside the laboratory – «in the wild». Hutchins examines a set of phenomena that have fallen between the established disciplines of psychology and anthropology, bringing to light a new set of relationships between culture and cognition. The standard view is that culture affects the cognition of individuals. Hutchins argues instead that cultural activity systems have cognitive properties of their own that differ from the cognitive properties of the individuals who participate in them…

  2. @mikis Mazarakis (author of the ping-back post link above).

    I had a quick look through your site. It’s an amazingly innovative philosophical and scientific excursion into extremely similar ideas (to my own)…

    This post has been hardly noticed by most people, since it doesn’t offer any particularly sensational Spectacle. However, your link today made me feel that my efforts were not in vain.

    Here is the passage linked to my own:

    Perception is the entity retrieving information
    and interpretation the entity communicating the ideas that arise from this information
    to the organism
    through language –
    a process of reconstructing the material universe
    in both the individual and collective consciousness
    constructing an immaterial universe,
    a universe of ideas

    (the link to THIS post was in «collective consciousness»).

  3. Welcome Mikis,
    your ideas are extremely valuable; yesterday I was too tired to answer, it was my hope to click first into the link you gave me.

    Will come back on this…


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