note: the following definitions are all from the Glossary at the Rupert Sheldrake site.
formative causation, hypothesis of: The hypothesis that organisms or morphic units at all levels of complexity are organized by morphic fields, which are themselves influenced and stabilized by morphic resonance from all previous similar morphic units
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 resonance.
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 increasingly habitual.
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 of form.
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.
All of which gives the following diagram:
Here is only one possible perspective on how morphic resonance and formative causation fits in to the big picture regarding human understanding (and bias) of the universe:
Rupert Sheldrake Online
Morphogenetic Fields - a page of links