Morphic Resonance & Morphic Fields: Collective Memory & the Habits of Nature
By DR. RUPERT SHELDRAKE—
The word morphic comes from the Greek morphe, meaning form. Morphic fields organise the form, structure and patterned interactions of systems under their influence – including those of animals, plants, cells, proteins, crystals, brains and minds. They are physical in the sense that they are part of nature, though they are not yet mentioned in physics books.
All self-organising systems are wholes made up of parts which are in turn lower-level wholes themselves – such as organelles in cells, cells in tissues, tissues in organs, organs in organisms, organisms in social groups. At each level, the morphic field gives each whole its characteristic properties, and coordinates the constituent parts.
The fields responsible for the development and maintenance of bodily form in plants and animals are called morphogenetic fields.
The existence of these fields was first proposed in the 1920s and this concept is widely used within biology. But the nature of these fields has remained obscure.
I suggest they are part of a larger family of fields called morphic fields. Other kinds of morphic fields include behavioural and mental fields that organise animal behaviour and mental activity, and social and cultural fields that organise societies and cultures. All of these organising fields are different kinds of morphic field.1
Morphic fields are located within and around the systems they organise. Like quantum fields, they work probabilistically. They restrict, or impose order upon, the inherent indeterminism of the systems under their influence.
For example, of the many direction in which a fish could swim or a bird fly, the social fields of the school or flock restrict the behaviour of the individuals within them so they move in coordination with each other rather than at random.2
The most controversial feature of this hypothesis is that the structure of morphic fields depends on what has happened before. Morphic fields contain a kind of memory. Through repetition, the patterns they organise become increasingly probable, increasingly habitual. The force these fields exert is the force of habit.
Whatever the explanation of its origin, once a new morphic field, a new pattern of organisation, has come into being, the field becomes stronger through repetition. The more often patterns are repeated, the more probable they become.
The fields contain a kind of cumulative memory and become increasingly habitual. All nature is essentially habitual. Even what we view as the fixed “laws of nature” may be more like habits, ingrained over long periods of time.
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