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> 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?
No. This might come across as hair-splitting, but you were never an embryo.
You're a human being, and there's nothing human about an embryo. Human
consciousness isn't born until sometimes during the first year of autonomous
life. However, there is something to Haeckel's notion of phylogeny
providing the mechanics of ontogeny. It's a species memory that infuses the
developing organism. And Haeckel wasn't the first to apply the concept of
memory to developmental biology. Sheldrake is resuscitating an idea that
goes back to the 1870s.
> When Sheldrake (in _The
> Presence of the Past_, last page of chapter 4) brings up these gill slits
> refers to a figure in chapter 1 which is basically Haeckel's highly
> 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?
Haeckel's view of organic memory lacked a mechanism by which it could be
transferred from species to egg. Sheldrake proposes that this occurs
through resonance. Living forms (as well as certain nonliving forms)
resonate with similar forms that preceded them. Thus the embryo in your
mother's womb was resonating with the composite form of the embryos that
came before it. Except for the variations resulting from unique genetic
composition, this accounts for the form of the body as it emerges.
The value of Sheldrake is that he gives us a testable and as yet unfalsified
hypothesis of memory.
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