06 September 2011

Morphic Resonance

Searching for words to describe unexplained gut responses, inherent empathetic reactions, intrigues me. I've been calling it tribal memory ..racial memory .. subconscious cognition .. etc. Well hogtie me and take me to market; a biologist has a scientific term for this: morphic resonance.

Yes. His name is Rupert Sheldrake and being slightly sidelined from the mainstream he is not exactly a household name like Darwin. “Sheldrake has proposed that memory is inherent to all organically formed structures and systems.”[1]

Sheldrake says, “... memory is inherent in nature. Most of the so-called laws of nature are more like habits. My interest in evolutionary habits arose when I was engaged in research in developmental biology, and was reinforced by reading Charles Darwin, for whom the habits of organisms were of central importance. As Francis Huxley has pointed out, Darwin’s most famous book could more appropriately have been entitled The Origin of Habits.[2]

“The fields organizing the activity of the nervous system are likewise inherited through morphic resonance, conveying a collective, instinctive memory. Each individual both draws upon and contributes to the collective memory of the species.”[3]

That last sentence rings sinister: what are we (inadvertently?) contributing to the universal life force in the family memory pool? Five hundred years from now, will my descendants have an inexplicably irresistible craving for buttered popcorn?

Much as I like his terminology, the man seques into telepathic studies explaining why your dog knows you are coming home before you get there. It's hard to say, from a decidedly unscientific stance, if the test of time will prove his theories. Maybe only his/our descendants will know. Thanks to Mark Rabideau for bringing this to our attention.[4]

This sort of post more properly belongs on my other blog, away from the immediately pressing world of ancestor research, and will be repeated there.

I still maintain that instinctive swooning to the bagpipes is morphic resonance. Cuidich!

[1] “Rupert Sheldrake,” Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupert_Sheldrake : accessed 20 August 2011).
[2] “Morphic Resonance and Morphic Fields,” Rupert Sheldrake, Biologist and Author (http://www.sheldrake.org/Articles&Papers/papers/morphic/morphic_intro.html : accessed 20 August 2011).
[3] Ibid.
[4] Mark F. Rabideau, “Morphic Resonance and Genealogy,” APG Members Only List, 28 July 2011. Mark's website is Many Roads, http://many-roads.com.


CallieK said...

I like it, and I'm pretty sure I experienced it during my recent trip to the UK. Certain places resonated with me immediately- Huddersfield, where my Kilner line comes from, and Dundee (the Anderson line) also evoked a strong feeling of familiarity. And don't even get me started about bagpipes.

Diana Ritchie said...

I think this is the perfect post for a genealogy blog! Give at least a whiff of science to those experiences we've all had when walking on ancestral ground.


BDM said...

It's good to hear that other family historians get the same feelings. Hank Z. Jones' books about Psychic Roots explored some of that .. gee, I haven't looked at them for a long time!