The Evolutionary Mind: Conversations on Science, Imagination, & Spirit
By Rupert Sheldrake, Terence MCKenna, and Ralph Abraham
Monkfish Book Publishing Company, Rhinebeck, New York 12572
$16.95 (226 pps)

Review by David Jay Brown
(507 words)

The Evolutionary Mind contains fascinating conversations
between three of the most interesting thinkers of our
time--revolutionary biologist Rupert Sheldrake, chaos
mathematician Ralph Abraham, and the late visionary
ethnobotanist Terence McKenna. These interdisciplinary
discussions--or "trialogues," as they're called--explore
the frontiers of human thought with profound philosophical
reflection, uncanny scientific precision, and playful
elvish humor.

The deep thinking and imaginative speculation in this book
covers an incredible range of fascinating topics--from the
nature of time to the end of reality. Each of the three
participants takes turns initiating a discussion, and then
the other two join in, almost like circus jugglers adding
layers of spellbinding complexity to their performance.
A rare alchemy is created when these three brilliant scholars,
who have been close friends for many years, begin talking
and exchanging ideas, provoking and challenging one another
into new dimensions of thought.

The result is an explosion of new ideas, novel theories,
and exciting revelations. Some of the many compelling
topics explored in these conversations include the
unexplained powers of animals, the nature of language,
the increasing complexity in the universe, the values
and pitfalls of skepticism, fractal geometry and the
evolution of consciousness, the boundaries between
reality and the imagination, and the relationship between
psychedelic shamanism and visual mathematics.

Another important theme that is explored in this book is
how apocalyptic visions of "the end of history" are related
to the ecological crisis facing this planet, and what McKenna
called "the transcendental object at the end of time," that
he believed is pulling us toward it, like a great attractor,
with alarmingly accelerating speed. At times there is a great
sense of urgency to these discussions, as though they were a
wake-up call to the human species. As the conversations become
progressively more and more speculative, mysticism and religion
frolic hand-in-hand with mathematical models, computer science,
quantum physics, and evolutionary biology, as these witty and
mischievous philosophers contemplate the cutting edge of
scientific thought and itŐs relationship to spirituality
throughout the ages.

What emerges from these insightful conversations is a kind of
collective intelligence that appears to transcend their
limitations as individuals. The combined perspectives come
together to form a higher mind of sorts, which is more
intellectually balanced and more imaginative than one might
expect from examining each of their ideas separately.
It's as though each of these extraordinary individuals
holds a piece to the cosmic puzzle, and the pieces begin
to come together when they explore the frontiers of
thought creatively together.

Some of the trialogues in this collection were previously
published in 1998 under the title The Evolutionary Mind
Trialogues on the Edge of the Unthinkable, although this
revised edition also contains several new trialogues that
were conducted shortly before Terence died in 2000.
Now that Terence has left the corporeal plane, there won't
be any more of these philosophically-stimulating,
mind-expanding discussions. The Evolutionary Mind is a
treasure trove of fruitful ideas, that deserve to be
savored, like the finest of wines, and reflected upon,
like the most precious of jewels.

David Jay Brown is the author of three volumes of interviews
with leading-edge thinkers, Conversations on the Edge of the
Apocalypse, Mavericks of the Mind and Voices from the Edge.
He holds a master's degree in psychobiology from New
York University, and was responsible for the California-based
research in two of British biologist Rupert Sheldrake's books
on unexplained phenomena in science: Dogs That Know When
Their Owners Are Coming Home and The Sense of Being Stared At.
To find out more about David's work visit his award-winning
Web site: