KeywordsTheoretical Biology; Philosophy of Mind
Biofield; Biologic field; Biophysics; Energy field; Vital force; Bioinformation; Alternative medicine; Complementary medicine; Bioelectromagnetics; Coherence; Mind; Consciousness
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AbstractCenturies ago, science discarded all notions of a vital force, although it retained concepts of invisible physical forces despite frequent objection by strict empiricists. Yet the concept of a vital force or élan vital is central to virtually all indigenous knowledge and perennial wisdom worldwide. It is often regarded as the quintessence of life. In recent decades a concept similar to the "vital force" has emerged at the frontiers of science, known as the "biofield." The biophysical paradigm embraces a "field" view of life that may be considered complementary to the dominant "particle" view, the biomedical paradigm. While the latter maintains that life is composed of a hierarchy of organized biological substructures down to the level of biomolecules and genes, the biophysical paradigm maintains that the essence of life is like a flame, burning matter into energy, and dancing like a flame--coherent yet somewhat chaotic. The biofield is a field of energy intimately connected with each organism that holds information central to its higher order of being. It has been proposed as having mind-like properties as super-regulator of the biochemistry and physiology of the organism, coordinating all life functions, and key to understanding life's integral wholeness. Although Western science has essentially neglected the field concept of life in recent decades, today more scientists embrace it for its integrative and explanatory powers.