|The following is taken from the glossary page of
the Rupert Sheldrake website. For a detailed work on Morphogenesis see
his book "The Presence of the Past".
field: A region of physical influence.
Fields interrelate and interconnect matter and energy within their realm
of influence. Fields are not a form of matter; rather, matter is energy
bound within fields. In current physics, several kinds of fundamental
field are recognized: the gravitational and electromagnetic fields and
the matter fields of quantum physics. The hypothesis of formative causation
broadens the concept of physical fields to include morphic fields as well
as the known fields of physics.
form: The shape, configuration, or structure
of something as distinguished from its material. In the Platonic tradition,
the term Form is used to translate the Greek term eides and is interchangeable
with the term Idea. Particular things we experience in the world participate
in their eternal Forms, which transcend space and time. By contrast, in
the Aristotelian tradition, the forms of things are immanent in the things
themselves. From the nominalist point of view, forms have no objective
reality independent of our own minds.
formative causation, hypothesis of: The
hypothesis that organisms or morphic units (q.v.) at all levels of complexity
are organized by morphic fields, which are themselves influenced and stabilized
by morphic resonance (q.v.) from all previous similar morphic units.
genetic program: A program is a plan of intended
proceedings, as in a concert or computer program. The concept of the genetic
program implies that organisms inherit plans of intended proceedings;
these plans are assumed to be carried in the genes. The genetic program
is the principal metaphor through which conceptions of purposive activity
and of formative causes are introduced into modern biology.
holon: A whole that can also be part of a larger
whole. Holons are organized in multi-levelled nested hierarchies or holarchies.
This term, due to Arthur Koestler, is equivalent in meaning to morphic
information: To inform literally means
to put into form or shape. information is now generally taken to be the
source of form or order in the world; information is informative and plays
the role of a formative cause, as for example in the concept of "genetic
information theory: A branch of cybernetics
(q.v.) that attempts to define the amount of information required to control
a process of given complexity. Information in this narrow technical sense
is measured in bits. A bit is the amount of information required to specify
one of two alternatives, for example to distinguish between 1 and 0 in
the binary notation used in computers.
memory: The capacity for remembering, recalling,
recollecting, or recognizing. From the mechanistic point of view, animal
and human memory depend on material memory traces within the nervous system.
From the point of view of the hypothesis of formative causation, memory
in its various forms, both conscious and unconscious, is due to morphic
mind: In Cartesian dualism, the conscious thinking
mind is distinct from the material body; the mind is non-material. Materialists
derive the mind from the physical activity of the brain. Depth psychologists
point out that the conscious mind is associated with a much broader or
deeper mental system, the unconscious mind. In the view of Jung, the unconscious
mind is not merely individual but collective. On the hypothesis of formative
causation, mental activity, conscious and unconscious, takes place within
and through mental fields, which like other kinds of morphic fields contain
a kind of in-built memory.
morphic field: A field within and around
a morphic unit which organizes its characteristic structure and pattern
of activity. Morphic fields underlie the form and behaviour of holons
or morphic units at all levels of complexity. The term morphic field includes
morphogenetic, behavioural, social, cultural, and mental fields. Morphic
fields are shaped and stabilized by morphic resonance from previous similar
morphic units, which were under the influence of fields of the same kind.
They consequently contain a kind of cumulative memory and tend to become
morphic resonance: The influence of previous
structures of activity on subsequent similar structures of activity organized
by morphic fields. Through morphic resonance, formative causal influences
pass through or across both space and time, and these influences are assumed
not to fall off with distance in space or time, but they come only from
the past. The greater the degree of similarity, the greater the influence
of morphic resonance. in general, morphic units closely resemble themselves
in the past and are subject to self-resonance from their own past states.
morphic unit: A unit of form or organization,
such as an atom, molecule, crystal, cell, plant, animal, pattern of instinctive
behaviour, social group, element of culture, ecosystem, planet, planetary
system, or galaxy. Morphic units are organized in nested hierarchies of
units within units: a crystal, for example, contains molecules, which
contain atoms, which contain electrons and nuclei, which contain nuclear
particles, which contain quarks.
morphogenesis: The coming into being
morphogenetic fields: Fields that play
a causal role in morphogenesis. This term, first proposed in the 1920s,
is now widely used by developmental biologists, but the nature of morphogenetic
fields has remained obscure. On the hypothesis of formative causation,
they are regarded as morphic fields stabilized by morphic resonance.
Platonism: The philosophical tradition
that, following Plato, postulates the existence of an autonomous realm
of Ideas or Forms or essences existing outside space and time and independently
of manifestations of them in the phenomenal world.
Pythagoreanism: The belief that the
universe is somehow essentially mathematical. its fundamental mathematical
reality transcends space and time. Closely akin to Platonism.
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