Morphogenetic fields have a holistic property that is not present in chunks of matter.
"Morphic"--pertaining to form. "Field"--a force that can cause action at a distance. The force is the cause, or agent, that puts an object at rest into motion or alters the motion of a moving object...such as nuclear, electromagnetic and gravitational.
The idea is that organisms are organized by fields: morphogenetic fields within and around these organisms.
An analogy would be magnetic fields. If you chop up a magnet into small pieces, what you get are not just lots of fragments of the magnet or fragments of the field. You get a lot of little magnets, each with a complete magnetic field.
This is analogous to what you can do with lower animals like flatworms. You can chop them up into pieces and each piece can regenerate into a whole worm. You can cut up a willow tree into hundreds of thousands of cuttings and each one can form a willow tree.
There is something about these organisms that enables them to retain their wholeness even when their material structure is split up into bits. Something in field phenomena that doesn't occur in machines; a wholeness that somehow obtains the form and shape of the structure and in turn shapes the material system that develops under their influence.
Source: SHIFT: At the Frontiers of Consciousness, February 2005