“Why are rabbits rabbit-shaped? Once blue tits began pecking the tops off milk bottles, why did the habit spread magically across Europe? After Roger Bannister ran the four-minute mile, why did it begin to be broken everywhere?
In ‘The presence of the past’ Rupert Sheldrake’s explosive scientific theory provides a new and radical solution to the conundrums of life. Dr. Sheldrake’s hypothesis is that memory is inherent in nature – all natural systems from crystals to man inherit a collective memory of their kind. Thus, rabbits are rabbit-shaped not only because their DNA encodes their proteins, but also because nature has a ‘morphic field,’ in their case, a rabbit-habit, that informs their growth and instinctive behaviour.
According to Dr. Sheldrake’s theory of ‘formative causation,’ this inherent memory depends upon ‘morphic resonance,’ a process that involves action at a distance in both space and time. Far from being stored as material traces within our brains, our own memories result from our tuning in to ourselves in the past.”
(The above extract is from the back cover of Dr. Sheldrake’s book. In this book, the author offers an explanation of the kind of learning being displayed by birds and humans which spreads quickly across the globe autonomously. He suggests that there may be a mechanism in Nature which enables a collective memory – a capacity shared by both humans and other species – underpinned by a causal field referred to as a morphic field.
Some definitions are now called for. A field is a region of physical influence. A morphic field is a field within and around a morphic unit which organises its characteristic structure and pattern of activity. A morphic unit is a unit of form or organisation. Morphic resonance is the influence of previous structures of activity on subsequent similar structures of activity organised by morphic fields. Morphogenesis refers to the form-shaping fields NOT inherited through genes.
Something like morphic resonance is necessary to make sense of inheritance, the evolutionary nature of Nature. So says the author.
This challenging and interesting approach might be worth examining. The definitions above are from the Internet.