Much of my scientific research relates to the nature of consciousness, both experimentally and theoretically. I gave the keynote address at the University of Arizona conference “Towards a Science of Consciousness” (audio included below), and made significant contributions to the Journal of Consciousness Studies, most notably in the special edition on the sense of being stared at; the PDFs for which are available under Scientific Papers below.
Scientific Papers on Consciousness
The Journal of Mind and Behavior (2023), Volume 44, Numbers 1 and 2 Pages 1–14
by Alex Gomez–Marin and Rupert Sheldrake
There is a deep divide between people’s direct experiences and the standard understanding of vision as taught in biology and psychology. When the looker cannot be seen and other sensory cues are excluded, the sense of being stared at, also called scopaesthesia, is impossible from the conventional point of view. Yet it seems to happen. Here, we suggest that thinking again about this puzzle, instead of ignoring or denying it, could deepen our understanding of vision and stimulate fruitful research in the life and mind sciences. The evolution of brain processes that imply a movement of influences out of the eyes would make more sense if such influences actually occur than if they are an illusion. Could scopaesthesia actually happen? No, not if minds are inside heads. But what if minds are not confined to brains?
Journal of Consciousness Studies (2021) 28, 8-28.
by Rupert Sheldrake
The standing wave patterns formed on the surface of a vertically oscillated fluid enclosed by a container have long been a subject of The recent panpsychist turn in philosophy opens the possibility that self-organizing systems at all levels of complexity, including stars and galaxies, might have experience, awareness, or consciousness. The organismic or holistic philosophy of nature points in the same direction. Meanwhile, field theories of consciousness propose that some electromagnetic fields actually are conscious, and that these fields are by their very nature integrative. When applied to the sun, such field theories suggest a possible physical basis for the solar mind, both within the body of the sun itself and also throughout the solar system. If the sun is conscious, it may be concerned with the regulation of its own body and the entire solar system through its electromagnetic activity, including solar flares and coronal mass ejections. It may also communicate with other star systems within the galaxy.
Chapter 27 Parapsychology: A Handbook for the 21st century
(2015; eds E. Cardeña, J. Palmer, & D. Marcusson-Clavertz; pp. 350–363) McFarland
Psi is often expressed in everyday life. For example, many dogs and cats seem to anticipate when their owners are coming home, waiting by the door or window before the person is within earshot or within the range of smell (Sheldrake, 1999a). Most people have had the experience of thinking of someone for no apparent reason who then calls on the telephone, and they have reacted by saying something like "I was just thinking about you!" (Sheldrake, 2003a). A large majority of the population has experienced turning round to find they are being stared at, or they have stared at other people from behind and found that they turn around (Sheldrake, 2003a).
In this chapter I discuss research on the natural history of such everyday phenomena, and show how they can lead to more detailed, experimental investigations. Do some animals really know when their owners are coming home in a way that cannot be explained in terms of sensory cues or routine expectation? Can people really anticipate who is calling them on the phone at levels above chance? Is the sense of being stared at real? The available evidence suggests that the answer to all these questions is "yes:' The study of the natural history of psi phenomena provides many suggestive leads for more detailed experimental investigations.
Special Edition of the Journal of Consciousness Studies
A special edition of the Journal of Consciousness Studies (2005) Vol 12 No. 6
Editorial Introduction by Anthony Freeman: The Sense of Being Glared At
Rupert's papers from the Journal:
The complete edition, entitled Sheldrake and His Critics: The Sense of Being Glared At is available in paperback.
In 1981 Rupert Sheldrake outraged the scientific establishment with his hypothesis of morphic resonance. Subsequently he devoted his research to pioneering science, winning popular acclaim and continued establishment opprobium with a series of ground-breaking works. In this special edition of JCS, Rupert summarises his case for the 'non-visual detection of staring'. His claims are scrutinised by fourteen critics, to whom Rupert then responds. Anthony Freeman, in his editorial introduction, explores the concept of "heresy" in science and in religion and asks why it provokes such hostility.
- The Evolution of Telepathy 1 hr 8 min
Rupert's Keynote Address at the Towards a Science of Consciousness Conference in Tucson, Arizona - 12 April 2008.
Is The Sun Conscious?
Recorded at the Electric Universe UK Conference, 7th of July 2018, in Bath.