Rupert Sheldrake is the modern champion of the Hypothesis of Formative Causation and Morphic Resonance, which in effect proposes that,
“Morphic resonance occurs between… rhythmic structures of activity on the basis of similarity, and through this resonance past patterns of activity influence the fields of subsequent similar systems.” (P109, Presence of the Past, Sheldrake)
A recent article entitled Is RNA inheritance possible? seems to offer evidence that a non-DNA-based inheritance is at work in Arabidopsis plants. The article states that,
“Arabidopsis plants homozygous for recessive mutant alleles of particular gene may inherit genomic information that is not found in the parent plant, but that existed in earlier generations.”
However, it goes on to suggest that this is some kind of RNA inheritance mechanism – a kind of archaic back-up system. It may well be discovered to be so on further research, and would be a very interesting prospect in itself, but at the bottom of the article a correction is issued,
“When originally posted, this story’s first sentence suggested that researchers had found evidence for RNA-based inheritance. In fact, they reported evidence for non-DNA-inheritance, but did not specifically find evidence for RNA-based inheritance.”
So, at the moment, and as it stands, there are plants that, though born of mutant parents, have grown as though their parents were the non-mutant variety. This, it seems to me, is evidence in favour of formative causation – in this case a new novel form of an organism has offspring that revert to an older pre-mutant form. It is as though the morphic field of the pre-mutant variety has imposed its form upon some of the offspring of the mutant variety.