The Biology of the Spirit

The Biology of the Spirit by Edmund W. Sinnott

The Biology of the Spirit

Edmund W. Sinnott

“If in the universe there is an organizing principle, it may be that some of it dwells in each of us as his own soul.”

The cover of this book by an American botanist, originally published in 1955, carries the description: An eminent modern scientist examines the biological evidence for the existence of the human spirit. For those who find such words stirring, the contents of this book will be equally riveting.

What is the origin of life? What is the force in all living things that drives them from their protoplasmic beginnings toward their own integrated completion? In other words – What is life’s life force? Sinnott argues that the greatest unsolved problem of biology can only be meaningfully approached with the engaged participation of scientists, philosophers, artists, poets and mystics. He also contends that his own field of biology, the science of life, is not looking deeply enough. He shares what his experience examining living organisms has revealed to him about the innermost nature of life itself.

Protoplasm, he explains, the fundamental basis of all life, behaves the same way in all living systems, from microbes to pine trees to human beings. Living organisms develop with a “persistent directiveness” that is undeniably “goal-seeking.” They have an unshakable ability to self-regulate and to form, to adapt to external forces, to hold steady and move forward toward their own culmination – to become.

“On man’s appearance, with his capacities for memory, imagination, and rational thought, the simple goal-seeking of life . . . was transformed to conscious purpose and the high aspirations of his mental and spiritual life . . . What so implants these goals and purposes in living stuff that in development and behavior it ever seeks to reach them and to set up still higher ones?”

Human beings are desiring, questing, creative beings, Sinnott stresses. And is not the human spirit, the seat of our spontaneous urgencies and passionate aspirations, the highest expression of biological goal-seeking? Is spirit not the ultimate manifestation of the creativeness found in all living stuff?

For those who would ask if spirit is not in fact the organizing power in all of nature, if in our most creative moments we are not in touch with the power of life itself, the power that drives the entire universe forward – here is a serious biologist who will nourish your thoughts in remarkable ways.

Today’s explorers in the fields of complexity theory and consciousness studies will find in Edmund Sinnott a true pioneer. And all thoughtful persons and spiritual seekers will find enrichment in The Biology of the Spirit.

The Gleam of Light Team

The Biology of the Spirit
Edmund W. Sinnott
1955, The Viking Press (and other editions since)

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