Everyman’s Science reproduced1 the presidential address of Sir JC Bose to the Indian Science Congress held during 30th January to 4th February, 1927 in the Vol. XXXIX No.4, October- November”04. The address was aptly titled as The Unity of Life. He said that,” It is a misreading of the Laws of Nature to regard conflict as the only factor in evolution; far more potent than competition is mutual aid and cooperation in the scheme of life”.
Unity of Life
Prof Bose disagrees to distinguish animal life from plant life and said, “This (distinguishing animal life from plant life) is wholly incorrect and it is the paralyzing influence of wrong speculations that had arrested the advance of knowledge” and he continued, “…Since the intricate problems of animal life would naturally find their solution in the study of corresponding problems in the simpler vegetable life. This would mean the possibility of very great in the Sciences of General Physiology of Agriculture, of Medicine and even of Psychology”. He draws comparison of the digestive systems of insect eating bacteria to that of stomach of an animal. He compares heart beat and blood circulation in animals to propulsion of sap in plants by periodic pulsation.
Power of Directive Control by Will
Sir Bose said, “Now the full scientific attention has not been given to the power of Will in controlling the bodily functions. Very few have realized how great becomes the power of Will, intensified by the practice and concentration. There can be no doubt of predispositions which can be conferred on the nerve by internal power of will in facilitating or inhibiting the nervous impulse. The effect of attention or expectation in enhancing perception is familiar as also is the power of suggestion”.
The power of directive control of will as explained by Sir Bose reminds us of the placebo effect and the power of suggestion to the hypnotic effect. It is important to note that the ideas of Sir Bose are being reinvented2, 3
by the group of scientists studying plant intelligence and plant neuro – biology.
The will is internal to the living system manifesting as internal/ bound will and free will. The internal or bound will is a preset programme that guides/ directs the living system for example the instinctual behavior. The free will is the ability to create a new programme and or choosing an appropriate programme from among the available alternatives. Will is the emergent property of a living system.
The second law of biology
Bose’s law of biology may be stated as, “Living systems respond to not only to external stimuli but also to internal stimulus of will which is an emergent property of the system.
Anthony Trewavas, 2003, Aspects of Plant Intelligence, Annals of Botany 92:1-20.