The Nature of Energy. A conversation with Rupert Sheldrake & Mark Vernon

An audio version of this conversation is at my podcast, Talks and Thoughts, available via podcast feeds.

Energy is a key organising principle in modern science, the conversation of energy being a grounding and universal law. But what is energy?

In this episode of the Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues, Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon examine the history of the idea and the word. In science, energy is a relatively recently notion, emerging in its current form in the 19th century, drawing much on mechanics.

The word itself was coined by Aristotle, in the 4th century BCE, carrying a sense of vital actuality and living presence. That meaning is still remembered in Orthodox theology, which describes the energeia of God. The conversation ranges over the promiscuity of energy in the natural world to the spiritual notion of energy, including the subtle energies of the body.

The implications of shaping the idea of energy through mechanical metaphors also has important ramifications, from the descriptions of economics and the efficacy of psychology to the experience of God. Further, the most recent physics argues that energy is not conserved after all as the universe expands.

For more conversations between Rupert and Mark see: