Re: Shaggy Dog vs. Psychic Dog

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Mon Aug 27 2001 - 01:09:19 BST

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    From: "Scott Chase" <>
    Subject: Re: Shaggy Dog vs. Psychic Dog
    Date: Sun, 26 Aug 2001 20:09:19 -0400
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    >From: "Dace" <>
    >To: <>
    >Subject: Re: Shaggy Dog vs. Psychic Dog
    >Date: Sun, 26 Aug 2001 13:30:53 -0700
    >Sheldrake isn't denying the importance of standard research. He's just
    >putting it in a different context, one that can explain things like life,
    >organic wholes, and memory on their own terms.
    Well, not only does it seem to me, unversed in such things as I am, that
    Sheldrake hyperextends the morphogenetic field concept, generalizing it as a
    morphic field good for not only development of vertebrate limbs and eyes but
    also for the phenomena of culture and individual behavior, but he likewise
    hypertextends memory whereby formative causation and inherent memory account
    not only for my ability to recollect whatever I can at this moment of
    Sheldrake's two books I own, but the ability of proteins to fold and the
    ability of crystals to form. IMO this takes things a tad too far. His
    becomes a hyperextended hyperexplanation for everything under the sun which
    vibrates, has form and communicates with its past states, unconstrained by
    any possibility of attenuation by an inverse square law, a spooky
    non-energic action at a distance across space and time. No fading out over

    I'm not much for invoking the razor, but though Sheldrake wants to add
    something complementary to gene action and the tenuous developmentalist
    concept of the morphogenetic field, he is multiplying entities or
    explanatory principles well beyond necessity, which I can't see having been
    established for either morphic resonance or formative causation. This
    doesn't detrct from the fun factor in reading Sheldrake's books. I wouldn't
    consider them as candididates for burning at all, just interesting
    speculations to shelve next to Jung and Teilhard on my bookcase.

    Like the morphogenetic field notion, the meme is too tenuous to handle the
    stress imposed upon it by something as shaky as morphic resonance, though
    there may be a distant and indirect affinity in respect to the mnemic
    analogy of memory and heredity.

    So...when I was a wee embryo and developed so-called gill-slits was I
    remembering a time when an ancestor way back when was a fish? Was I
    resonating with this ancestral water dweller? When Sheldrake (in _The
    Presence of the Past_, last page of chapter 4) brings up these gill slits he
    refers to a figure in chapter 1 which is basically Haeckel's highly stylized
    drawings of vertebrate embryos. Would Sheldrake's formative causation or
    morphic resonance be any more valid than Haeckel's mnemic analogy of
    perigenesis and plastidules in this regard? As an aside Sheldrake, when
    taking about the "tree of life" uses a figure depicting Haeckel's tree of
    life (aka Stammbaum?).

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