"David Bohm was widely considered one of the best quantum physicists of all time."
During his early period, Bohm made a number of significant contributions to physics, particularly to quantum mechanics and relativity theory. As a post-graduate at Berkeley, he developed a theory of plasmas, discovering the electron phenomenon known now as Bohm-diffusion. His first book, Quantum Theory published in 1951, was well-received by Einstein, among others. However, Bohm became dissatisfied with the orthodox interpretation of quantum theory, which he had written about in that book, and began to develop his own interpretation (De Broglie'"Bohm theory)'" a non-local hidden variable deterministic theory the predictions of which agree perfectly with the nondeterministic quantum theory. His work and the EPR argument became the major factor motivating John Bell's inequality, the consequences of which are still being investigated."
HUMAN SUBJECTIVITY AND THE TENDENCY TOWARD FRAGMENTED VIEWPOINTS ACCORDING TO DAVID BOHM
He wrote two books on the subject of mental fragmentation and the nature of these subjective tendencies within the western scientific method :
Wholeness and the Implicate Order (Free pdf available at this link.
Thought as a System (Free pdf available at this link.
From the book Wholeness and the Implicit Order,
The opening lines of the book:
I would say that in my scientific and philosophical work, my main concern has been with understanding the nature of reality in general and of consciousness in particular as a coherent whole, which is never static or complete, but which is in an unending process of movement and unfoldment. Thus, when I look back, I see that even as a child I was fascinated by the puzzle, indeed the mystery, of what is the nature of movement. Whenever one thinks of anything, it seems to be apprehended either as static, or as a series of static images. Yet, in the actual experience of movement, one senses an unbroken, undivided process of flow, to which the series of static images in thought is related as a series of 'still' photographs might be related to the actuality of a speeding car. This question was, of course, already raised in essence philosophically more than 2,000 years ago in Zeno's paradoxes; but as yet, it cannot be said to have a satisfactory resolution.
Then there is the further question of what is the relationship of thinking to reality. As careful attention shows, thought itself is in an actual process of movement. That is to say, one can feel a sense of flow in the 'stream of consciousness' not dissimilar to the sense of flow in the movement of matter in general. May not thought itself thus be a part of reality as a whole? But then, what could it mean for one part of reality to 'know' another, and to what extent would this be possible? Does the content of thought merely give us abstract and simplified 'snapshots' of reality, or can it go further, somehow to grasp the very essence of the living movement that we sense in actual experience? It is clear that in reflecting on and pondering the nature of movement, both in thought and in the object of thought, one comes inevitably to the question of wholeness or totality. The notion that the one who thinks (the Ego) is at least in principle completely separate from and independent of the reality that he thinks about is of course firmly embedded in our entire tradition. (This notion is clearly almost universally accepted in the West, but in the East there is a general tendency to deny it verbally and philosophically while at the same time such an approach pervades most of life and daily practice as much as it does in the West.) General experience of the sort described above, along with a great deal of modern scientific knowledge concerning the nature and function of the brain as the seat of thought, suggest very strongly that such a division cannot be maintained consistently. But this confronts us with a very difficult challenge: How are we to think coherently of a single, unbroken, flowing actuality of existence as a whole, containing both thought (consciousness) and external reality as we experience it?
Clearly, this brings us to consider our overall world view, which includes our general notions concerning the nature of reality, along with those concerning the total order of the universe, i.e., cosmology. To meet the challenge before us our notions of cosmology and of the general nature of reality must have room in them to permit a consistent account of consciousness. Vice versa, our notions of consciousness must have room in them to understand what it means for its content to be 'reality as a whole'. The two sets of notions together should then be such as to allow for
an understanding of how reality and consciousness are related. These questions are, of course, enormous and could in any case probably never be resolved ultimately and completely. Nevertheless, it has always seemed important to me that there be a continuing investigation of proposals aimed at meeting the challenge that has been pointed out here. Of course, the prevailing tendency in modern science has been against such an enterprise, being directed instead mainly toward relatively detailed and concrete theoretical predictions, which show at least some promise of eventual pragmatic application. Some explanation of why I want to go so strongly against the prevailing general current seems therefore to be called for.
Aside from what I feel to be the intrinsic interest of questions that are so fundamental and deep, I would, in this connection, call attention to the general problem of fragmentation of human consciousness, which is discussed in chapter 1. It is proposed there that the widespread and pervasive distinctions between people (race, nation, family, profession, etc., etc.), which are now preventing mankind from working together for the com-
mon good, and indeed, even for survival, have one of the key factors of their origin in a kind of thought that treats things as inherently divided, disconnected, and 'broken up' into yet smaller constituent parts. Each part is considered to be essentially independent and self-existent. When man thinks of himself in this way, he will inevitably tend to defend the needs of his own 'Ego' against those of others; or, if he identifies with a group of people of the same kind, he will defend this group in a similar way. He cannot seriously think of mankind as the basic reality, whose claims
come first. Even if he does try to consider the needs of mankind he tends to regard humanity as separate from nature, and so on. What I am proposing here is that man's general way of thinking of the totality, i.e. his general world view, is crucial for overall order of the human mind itself. If he thinks of the totality as constituted of independent fragments, then that is how his mind will tend to operate, but if he can include everything coherently and harmoniously in an overall whole that is undivided, unbroken, and without a border (for every border is a division or break) then his mind will tend to move in a similar way, and from this will flow an orderly action within the whole. Of course, as I have already indicated, our general world view is not the only factor that is important in this context. Attention must, indeed, be given to many other factors, such as emotions, physical activities, human relationships, social organizations, etc., but perhaps because we have at present no coherent world view, there is a widespread tendency to ignore the psychological and social importance of such questions almost altogether. My suggestion is that a proper world view, appropriate for its time, is generally one of the basic factors that is essential for harmony in the individual and in society as a whole.
In chapter 1 it is shown that science itself is demanding a new, non-fragmentary world view, in the sense that the present approach of analysis of the world into independently existent parts does not work very well in modern physics. It is shown that both in relativity theory and quantum theory, notions implying the undivided wholeness of the universe would provide a much more orderly way of considering the general nature of reality.
In chapter 3 the same questions are considered within a different context. It begins with a discussion of how reality can be considered as in essence a set of forms in an underlying universal movement or process, and then asks how our knowledge can be considered in the same manner. Thus, the way could be opened for a world view in which consciousness and reality would not be fragmented from each other. This question is discussed at length and we arrive at the notion that our general world view is itself an overall movement of thought, which has to be viable in the sense that the totality of activities that flow out of it are generally in harmony, both in themselves and with regard to the whole of existence. Such harmony is seen to be possible only if the world view itself takes part in an unending process of development, evolution, and unfoldment, which fits as part of the universal process that is the ground of all existence.
Chapter 4 deals with hidden variables in the quantum theory. The quantum theory is, at present, the most basic way available in physics for understanding the fundamental and universal laws relating to matter and its movement. As such, it must clearly be given serious consideration in any attempt to develop an overall world viewing.
The quantum theory, as it is now constituted, presents us with a very great challenge, if we are at all interested in such a venture, for in this theory there is no consistent notion at all of what the reality may be that underlies the universal constitution and structure of matter. Thus, if we try to use the prevailing world view based on the notion of particles, we discover that the 'particles' (such as electrons) can also manifest as waves, that they can move discontinuously, that there are no laws at all that apply in detail to the actual movements of individual particles and that only statistical predictions can be made about large aggregates of such particles. If on the other hand we apply the world view in which the universe is regarded as a continuous field, we find that this field must also be discontinuous, as well as particle-like, and that it is as undermined in its actual behaviour as is required in the particle view of relation as a whole.
It seems clear, then, that we are faced with deep and radical fragmentation, as well as thoroughgoing confusion, if we try to think of what could be the reality that is treated by our physical laws. At present physicists tend to avoid this issue by adopting the attitude that our overall views concerning the nature of reality are of little or no importance. All that counts in physical theory is supposed to be the development of mathematical equations that permit us to predict and control the behaviour of large statistical aggregates of particles. Such a goal is not regarded as merely for its pragmatic and technical utility: rather, it has become a presupposition of most work in modern physics that prediction and control of this kind is all that human knowledge is about.
This sort of presupposition is indeed in accord with the general spirit of our age, but it is my main proposal in this book that we cannot thus simply dispense with an overall world view. If we try to do so, we will find that we are left with whatever (generally inadequate) world views may happen to be at hand.
My suggestion is that at each stage the proper order of operation of the mind requires an overall grasp of what is generally known not only in formal, logical, mathematical terms, but also intuitively, in images, feelings, poetic usage of language, etc. (Perhaps we could say that this is what is involved in harmony between the 'left brain' and the 'right brain'.) This kind of overall way of thinking is not only a fertile source of new theoretical ideas: it is needed for the human mind to function in a generally harmonious way, which could in turn help to make possible an orderly and stable society. As indicated in the earlier chapters, however, this requires a continual flow and development of our general notions of reality.
The title of this chapter is 'Fragmentation and wholeness'. It is especially important to consider this question today, for fragmentation is now very widespread, not only throughout society, but also in each individual; and this is leading to a kind of general confusion of the mind, which creates an endless series of problems and interferes with our clarity of perception so seriously as to prevent us from being able to solve most of them.
Thus art, science, technology, and human work in general, are divided up into specialities, each considered to be separate in essence from the others. Becoming dissatisfied with this state of affairs, men have set up further interdisciplinary subjects, which were intended to unite these specialities, but these new subjects have ultimately served mainly to add further separate fragments. Then, society as a whole has developed in such a way that it is broken up into separate nations and different religious, political, economic, racial groups, etc. Man's natural environment has
correspondingly been seen as an aggregate of separately existent parts, to be exploited by different groups of people. Similarly, each individual human being has been fragmented into a large number of separate and conflicting compartments, according to his different desires, aims, ambitions, loyalties, psychological characteristics, etc., to such an extent that it is generally accepted that some degree of neurosis is inevitable, while many individuals going beyond the 'normal' limits of fragmentation are classified as paranoid, schizoid, psychotic, etc. The notion that all these fragments are separately existent is evidently an illusion, and this illusion cannot do other than lead to endless conflict and confusion. Indeed, the attempt to live according to the notion that the fragments are really separate is, in essence, what has led to the growing series of extremely urgent crises that is confronting us today. Thus, as is now well known, this way of life has brought about pollution, destruction of the balance of nature, over-population, world-wide economic and political disorder, and the creation of an overall environment that is neither physically nor mentally healthy for most of the people who have to live in it. Individually there has developed a widespread feeling of helplessness and despair, in the face of what seems to be an overwhelming mass of disparate social forces, going beyond the control and even the comprehension of the human beings who are caught up in it.
Indeed, to some extent, it has always been both necessary and proper for man, in his thinking, to divide things up, and to separate them, so as to reduce his problems to manageable proportions; for evidently, if in our practical technical work we tried to deal with the whole of reality all at once, we would be swamped. So, in certain ways, the creation of special subjects of study and the division of labour was an important step forward.
Even earlier, man's first realization that he was not identical with nature was also a crucial step, because it made possible a kind of autonomy in his thinking, which allowed him to go beyond the immediately given limits of nature, first in his imagination and ultimately in his practical work.
Nevertheless, this sort of ability of man to separate himself from his environment and to divide and apportion things ultimately led to a wide range of negative and destructive results, because man lost awareness of what he was doing and thus extended the process of division beyond the limits within which it works properly. In essence, the process of division is a way of thinking about things that is convenient and useful mainly in the
domain of practical, technical and functional activities (e.g., to divide up an area of land into different fields where various crops are to be grown). However, when this mode of thought is applied more broadly to man's notion of himself and the whole world in which he lives (i.e. to his self-world view), then man ceases to regard the resulting divisions as merely useful or convenient and begins to see and experience himself and his world as actually constituted of separately existent fragments. Being guided by a fragmentary self-world view, man then acts in such a way as to try to break himself and the world up, so that all seems to correspond to his way of thinking. Man thus obtains an apparent proof of the correctness of his fragmentary self-world view though, of course, he overlooks the fact that it is he himself, acting according to his mode of thought, who has brought about the fragmentation that now seems to have an autonomous existence, independent of his will and of his desire. Men have been aware from time immemorial of this state of apparently autonomously existent fragmentation and have often projected myths of a yet earlier 'golden age', before the split between man and nature and between man and man had yet taken place. Indeed, man has always been seeking wholeness - mental, physical, social, individual.
It is instructive to consider that the word 'health' in English is based on an Anglo-Saxon word 'hale' meaning 'whole': that is, to be healthy is to be whole, which is, I think, roughly the equivalent of the Hebrew 'shalem'. Likewise, the English 'holy' is based on the same root as 'whole'. All of this indicates that man has sensed always that wholeness or integrity is an absolute necessity to make life worth living. Yet, over the ages, he has generally lived in fragmentation.
Surely, the question of why all this has come about requires careful attention and serious consideration. In this chapter, attention will be focused on the subtle but crucial role of our general forms of thinking in sustaining fragmentation and in defeating our deepest urges toward wholeness
or integrity. In order to give the discussion a concrete content we shall to some extent talk in terms of current scientific research, which is a field that is relatively familiar to me (though, of course, the overall significance of the questions under discussion will also be kept in mind).
What will be emphasized, first of all in scientific research and later in a more general context, is that fragmentation is continually being brought about by the almost universal habit of taking the content of our thought for 'a description of the world as it is'. Or we could say that, in this habit, our thought is regarded as in direct correspondence with objective reality. Since our thought is pervaded with differences and distinctions, it follows that such a habit leads us to look on these as real divisions, so that the world is then seen and experienced as actually broken up into fragments.
The relationship between thought and reality that this thought is about is in fact far more complex than that of a mere correspondence. Thus, in scientific research, a great deal of our thinking is in terms of theories. The word 'theory' derives from the Greek 'theoria', which has the same root as 'theatre', in a word meaning 'to view' or 'to make a spectacle'. Thus, it might be said that a theory is primarily a form of insight, i.e. a way of looking at the world, and not a form of knowledge of how the world is.
In ancient times, for example, men had the theory that celestial matter was fundamentally different from earthly matter and that it was natural for earthly objects to fall while it was natural for celestial objects, such as the moon, to remain up in the sky. With the coming of the modern era, however, scientists began to develop the viewpoint that there was no essential difference between earthly matter and celestial matter. This implied, of course, that heavenly objects, such as the moon, ought to fall, but for a long time men did not notice this implication. In a sudden flash of insight Newton then saw that as the apple falls so does the moon, and so indeed do all objects. Thus, he was led to the theory of universal gravitation, in which all objects were seen as falling toward various centres (e.g. the earth, the sun, the planets, etc.). This constituted a new way of looking at the heavens, in which the movements of the planets were no longer seen through the ancient notion of an essential difference between heavenly and earthly matter. Rather, one considered these movements in terms of rates of fall of all matter, heavenly and earthly, toward various centres, and when something was seen not to be accounted for in this way, one looked for and often discovered new and as yet unseen planets toward which celestial objects were falling (thus demonstrating the relevance of this way of looking).
The Newtonian form of insight worked very well for several centuries but ultimately (like the ancient Greek insights that came before) it led to unclear results when extended into new domains. In these new domains, new forms of insight were developed (the theory of relativity and the quantum theory). These gave a radically different picture of the world from that of Newton (though the latter was, of course, found to be still valid in a limited domain). If we supposed that theories gave true knowledge, corresponding to 'reality as it is', then we would have to conclude that Newtonian theory was true until around 1900, after which it suddenly became false, while relativity and quantum theory suddenly became the truth. Such an absurd conclusion does not arise, however, if we say that all theories are insights, which are neither true nor false but, rather, clear in certain domains, and unclear when extended beyond these domains. This means, however, that we do not equate theories with hypotheses. As the Greek root of the word indicates, a hypothesis is a supposition, that is, an idea that is 'put under' our reasoning, as a provisional base, which is to be tested experimentally for its truth or falsity. As is now well known, however, there can be no conclusive experimental proof of the truth or falsity of a general hypothesis which aims to cover the whole of reality. Rather, one finds (e.g., as in the case of the Ptolemaic epicycles or of the failure of Newtonian concepts just before the advent of relativity and quantum theory) that older theories become more and more unclear when one tries to use them to obtain insight into new domains. Careful attention to how this happens is then generally the main clue toward new theories that constitute further new forms of insight.
So, instead of supposing that older theories are falsified at a certain point in time, we merely say that man is continually developing new forms of insight, which are clear up to a point and then tend to become unclear. In this activity, there is evidently no reason to suppose that there is or will be a final form of insight (corresponding to absolute truth) or even a steady series of approximations to this. Rather, in the nature of the case, one may expect the unending development of new forms of insight (which will, however, assimilate certain key features of the older forms as simplifications, in the way that relativity theory does with Newtonian theory). As pointed out earlier, however, this means that our theories are to be regarded primarily as ways of looking at the world as a whole (i.e. world views) rather than as 'absolutely true knowledge of how things are' (or as a steady approach toward the latter).
When we look at the world through our theoretical insights, the factual knowledge that we obtain will evidently be shaped and formed by our theories. For example, in ancient times the fact about the motions of the planets was described in terms of the Ptolemaic idea of epicycles (circles superimposed on circles). In Newton's time, this fact was described in terms of precisely determined planetary orbits, analysed through rates
of fall toward various centres. Later came the fact as seen relativistically according to Einstein's concepts of space and time. Still later, a very different sort of fact was specified in terms of the quantum theory (which gives in general only a statistical fact). In biology, the fact is now described in terms of the theory of evolution, but in earlier times it was expressed in terms of fixed species of living beings. More generally, then, given perception and action, our theoretical insights provide the main source of organization of our factual knowledge. Indeed, our overall experience is shaped in this way. As seems to have been first pointed out by Kant, all experience is organized according to the categories of our
thought, i.e., on our ways of thinking about space, time, matter, substance, causality, contingency, necessity, universality, particularity, etc. It can be said that these categories are general forms of insight or ways of looking at everything, so that in a certain sense, they are a kind of theory (but, of course, this level of theory must have developed very early in man's evolution). Clarity of perception and thought evidently requires that we be generally aware of how our experience is shaped by the insight (clear or confused) provided by the theories that are implicit or explicit in our general ways of thinking. To this end, it is useful to emphasize that experience and knowledge are one process, rather than to think that our knowledge is about some sort of separate experience. We can refer to this one process as experience-knowledge (the hyphen indicating that these are two inseparable aspects of one whole movement).
Now, if we are not aware that our theories are ever-changing forms of insight, giving shape and form to experience in general, our vision will be limited. One could put it like this: experience with nature is very much like experience with human beings. If one approaches another man with a fixed 'theory' about him as an 'enemy' against whom one must defend oneself, he will respond similarly, and thus one's 'theory' will apparently
be confirmed by experience. Similarly, nature will respond in accordance with the theory with which it is approached. Thus, in ancient times, men thought plagues were inevitable, and this thought helped make them behave in such a way as to propagate the conditions responsible for their spread. With modern scientific forms of insights man's behaviour is such that he ceases the insanitary modes of life responsible for spreading plagues and
thus they are no longer inevitable.
What prevents theoretical insights from going beyond existing limitations and changing to meet new facts is just the belief that theories give true knowledge of reality (which implies, of course, that they need never change). Although our modern way of thinking has, of course, changed a great deal relative to the ancient one, the two have had one key feature in common: i.e. they are both generally 'blinkered' by the notion that theories
give true knowledge about 'reality as it is'. Thus, both are led to confuse the forms and shapes induced in our perceptions by theoretical insight with a reality independent of our thought and our way of looking. This confusion is of crucial significance, since it leads us to approach nature, society, and the individual in terms of more or less fixed and limited forms of thought, and thus, apparently, to keep on confirming the limitations of these forms of thought in experience.
This sort of unending confirmation of limitations in our modes of thinking is particularly significant with regard to fragmentation, for as pointed out earlier, every form of theoretical insight introduces its own essential differences and distinctions.
On the other hand, if we regard our theories as 'direct descriptions of reality as it is', then we will inevitably treat these differences and distinctions as divisions, implying separate existence of the various elementary terms appearing in the theory. We will thus be led to the illusion that the world is actually constituted of separate fragments and, as has already been indicated, this will cause us to act in such a way that we do in fact produce the very fragmentation implied in our attitude to the theory.
It is important to give some emphasis to this point. For example, some might say: 'Fragmentation of cities, religions, political systems, conflict in the form of wars, general violence, fratricide, etc., are the reality. Wholeness is only an ideal, toward which we should perhaps strive.' But this is not what is being said here. Rather, what should be said is that wholeness is what is real, and that fragmentation is the response of this whole to man's action, guided by illusory perception, which is shaped by fragmentary thought. In other words, it is just because reality is whole that man, with his fragmentary approach, will inevitably be answered with a correspondingly fragmentary response. So what is needed is for man to give attention to his habit of fragmentary thought, to be aware of it, and thus bring it to an end. Man's approach to reality may then be whole, and so the response will be whole.
For this to happen, however, it is crucial that man be aware of the activity of his thought as such; i.e. as a form of insight, a way of looking, rather than as a 'true copy of reality as it is'.
Consider, for example, the atomic theory, which was first proposed by Democritus more than 2,000 years ago. In essence, this theory leads us to look at the world as constituted of atoms, moving in the void. The ever-changing forms and characteristics of large-scale objects are now seen as the results of changing arrangements of the moving atoms. Evidently, this view was, in certain ways, an important mode of realization of wholeness, for it enabled men to understand the enormous variety of the whole world in terms of the movements of one single set of basic constituents, through a single void that permeates the whole of existence. Nevertheless, as the atomic theory developed, it ultimately became a major support for a fragmentary approach to reality. For it ceased to be regarded as an insight, a way of looking, and men regarded instead as an absolute truth the notion that the whole of reality is actually constituted of nothing but 'atomic building blocks', all working together more or less mechanically.
Of course, to take any physical theory as an absolute truth must tend to fix the general forms of thought in physics and thus to contribute to fragmentation. Beyond this, however, the particular content of the atomic theory was such as to be especially conducive to fragmentation, for it was implicit in this content that the entire world of nature, along with the human being, including his brain, his nervous system, his mind, etc., could in principle be understood completely in terms of structures and functions of aggregates of separately existent atoms. The fact that in man's experiments and general experience this atomic view was confirmed was, of course, then taken as proof of the correctness and indeed the universal truth of this notion. Thus almost the whole weight of science was put behind the fragmentary approach to reality.
The point of view discussed above is similar, in certain key ways, to that held by some of the Ancient Greeks. This similarity can be brought out by considering Aristotle's notion of causality. Aristotle distinguished four kinds of causes:
A good example in terms of which this distinction can be understood is obtained by considering something living, such as a tree or an animal. The material cause is then just the matter in which all the other causes operate and out of which the thing is constituted. Thus, in the case of a plant, the material cause is the soil, air, water and sunlight, constituting the substance of the plant. The efficient cause is some action, external to the thing under discussion, which allows the whole process to get under way. In the case of a tree, for example, the planting of the seed
could be taken as the efficient cause.
It is of crucial significance in this context to understand what was meant by formal cause. Unfortunately, in its modern connotation, the word 'formal' tends to refer to an outward form that is not very significant (e.g. as in 'formal dress' or 'a mere formality'). However, in the Ancient Greek philosophy, the word form meant, in the first instance, an inner forming activity which is the cause of the growth of things, and of the development and differentiation of their various essential forms. For example, in the case of an oak tree, what is indicated by the term 'formal cause' is the whole inner movement of sap, cell growth, articulation of branches, leaves, etc., which is characteristic of that kind of tree and different from that taking place in other kinds of trees. In more modern language, it would be better to describe this as formative cause, to emphasize that what is involved is not a mere form imposed from without, but rather an ordered and structured inner movement that is essential to what things are. Any such formative cause must evidently have an end or product which is at least implicit. Thus, it is not possible to refer
to the inner movement from the acorn giving rise to an oak tree, without simultaneously referring to the oak tree that is going to result from this movement. So formative cause always implies final cause.
Of course, we also know final cause as design, consciously held in mind through thought (this notion being extended to God, who was regarded as having created the universe according to some grand design). Design is, however, only a special case of final cause. For example, men often aim toward certain ends in their thoughts but what actually emerges from their actions is generally something different from what was in their design,
something that was, however, implicit in what they were doing, though not consciously perceived by those who took part. In the ancient view, the notion of formative cause was considered to be of essentially the same nature for the mind as it was for life and for the cosmos as a whole. Indeed, Aristotle considered the universe as a single organism in which each part grows and develops in its relationship to the whole and in which it has its proper place and function. With regard to the mind, we can understand this sort of notion in more modern terms by turning our attention to the flowing movement of awareness. As indicated earlier, one can, in the first instance, discern various thought patterns in this flow. These follow on each other relatively mechanically, through association determined by habit and conditioning. Evidently, such associative changes are external to the inner structure of the thoughts in question, so that these changes act like a series of efficient causes. However, to see the reason for something is not a mechanical activity of this nature: Rather, one is aware of each aspect as assimilated within a single whole, all of whose parts are inwardly related (as are, for example, the organs of the body). Here, one has to emphasize that the act of reason is essentially a kind of perception through the mind, similar in certain ways to artistic perception, and not merely the associative repetition of reasons that are already
known. Thus, one may be puzzled by a wide range of factors, things that do not fit together, until suddenly there is a flash of understanding, and therefore one sees how all these factors are related as aspects of one totality (e.g. consider Newton's insight into universal gravitation). Such acts of perception cannot properly be given a detailed analysis or description. Rather, they are to be considered as aspects of the forming activity of the mind. A particular structure of concepts is then the product of this activity, and these products are what are linked by the series of efficient causes that operate in ordinary associative thinking - and as pointed out earlier, in this view, one regards the forming activity as primary in nature as it is in the mind, so that the product forms in nature are also what are linked by efficient causes. Evidently, the notion of formative cause is relevant to the view of undivided wholeness in flowing movement, which has been seen to be implied in modern developments in physics, notably relativity theory and quantum theory. Thus, as has been pointed out, each relatively autonomous and stable structure (e.g., an
atomic particle) is to be understood not as something independently and permanently existent but rather as a product that has been formed in the whole flowing movement and that will ultimately dissolve back into this movement. How it forms and maintains itself, then, depends on its place and function in the whole. So, we see that certain developments in modern physics imply a sort of insight into nature that is in respect to the notions
of formative and final cause, essentially similar to ways of looking that were common in earlier times.
Nevertheless, in most of the work that is being done in physics today the notions of formative and final cause are not regarded as having primary significance. Rather, law is still generally conceived as a self-determined system of efficient causes, operating in an ultimate set of material constituents of the universe (e.g. elementary particles subject to forces of interaction between them). These constituents are not regarded as formed
in an overall process, and thus they are not considered to be anything like organs adapted to their place and function in the whole (i.e. to the ends which they would serve in this whole). Rather, they tend to be conceived as separately existent mechanical elements of a fixed nature.
The prevailing trend in modern physics is thus much against any sort of view giving primacy to formative activity in undivided wholeness of flowing movement. Indeed, those aspects of relativity theory and quantum theory which do suggest the need for such a view tend to be de-emphasized and in
fact hardly noticed by most physicists, because they are regarded largely as features of the mathematical calculus and not as indications of the real nature of things. When it comes to the informal language and mode of thought in physics, which infuses the imagination and provokes the sense of what is real and substantial, most physicists still speak and think, with an utter conviction of truth, in terms of the traditional atomistic notion that the universe is constituted of elementary particles which are 'basic building blocks' out of which everything is made. In other sciences, such as biology, the strength of this conviction is even greater, because among workers in these fields there is little awareness of the revolutionary character of development in modern physics. For example, modern molecular biologists generally believe that the whole of life and mind can ultimately be understood in more or less mechanical terms, through some kind of extension of the work that has been done on the structure and function of DNA molecules. A similar trend has already begun to dominate in psychology. Thus we arrive at the very odd result that in the study of life and mind, which are just the fields in which formative cause acting in undivided and unbroken flowing movement is most evident to experience and
observation, there is now the strongest belief in the fragmentary atomistic approach to reality.
Of course, the prevailing tendency in science to think and perceive in terms of a fragmentary self-world view is part of a larger movement that has been developing over the ages and that pervades almost the whole of our society today: but, in turn, such a way of thinking and looking in scientific research tends very strongly to re-enforce the general fragmentary approach because it gives men a picture of the whole world as constituted of nothing but an aggregate of separately existent 'atomic building blocks', and provides experimental evidence from which is drawn the conclusion that this view is necessary and inevitable. In this way, people are led to feel that fragmentation is nothing but an expression of 'the way everything really is' and that anything else is impossible. So there is very little disposition to look for evidence to the contrary.
One might in fact go so far as to say that in the present state of society, and in the present general mode of teaching science, which is a manifestation of this state of society, a kind of prejudice in favour of a fragmentary self-world view is fostered and transmitted (to some extent explicitly and consciously but mainly in an implicit and unconscious manner).
As has been indicated, however, men who are guided by such a fragmentary self-world view cannot, in the long run, do other than to try in their actions to break themselves and the world into pieces, corresponding to their general mode of thinking. Since, in the first instance, fragmentation is an attempt to extend the analysis of the world into separate parts beyond the domain in which to do this is appropriate, it is in effect an attempt to divide what is really indivisible. In the next step such an attempt will lead us also to try to unite what is not really unitable. This
can be seen especially clearly in terms of groupings of people in society (political, economic, religious, etc.). The very act of forming such a group tends to create a sense of division and separation of the members from the rest of the world but, because the members are really connected with the whole, this cannot work. Each member has in fact a somewhat different connection, and sooner or later this shows itself as a difference
between him and other members of the group. Whenever men divide themselves from the whole of society and attempt to unite by identification within a group, it is clear that the group must eventually develop internal strife, which leads to a breakdown of its unity. Likewise when men try to separate some aspect of nature in their practical, technical work, a similar state of contradiction and disunity will develop. The same sort of
thing will happen to the individual when he tries to separate himself from society. True unity in the individual and between man and nature, as well as between man and man, can arise only in a form of action that does not attempt to fragment the whole of reality.
Our fragmentary way of thinking, looking, and acting, evidently has implications in every aspect of human life. That is to say, by a rather interesting sort of irony, fragmentation seems to be the one thing in our way of life which is universal, which works through the whole without boundary or limit. This comes about because the roots of fragmentation are very deep and pervasive. As pointed out, we try to divide what is one and
indivisible, and this implies that in the next step we will try to identify what is different.
So fragmentation is in essence a confusion around the question of difference and sameness (or one-ness), but the clear perception of these categories is necessary in every phase of life. To be confused about what is different and what is not, is to be confused about everything. Thus, it is not an accident that our fragmentary form of thought is leading to such a widespread range of crises, social, political, economic, ecological, psychological, etc., in the individual and in society as a whole. Such a mode of thought implies unending development of chaotic and meaningless conflict, in which the energies of all tend to be lost by movements that are antagonistic or else at cross-purposes.
"The real test of a map is whether it guides us correctly through a city. If it's a wrong map we will find incoherence in our actions."
"The observer is an intrinsic part of the whole. That is what quantum mechanics is teaching."
"When we come to a theory as broad as a world view, we find it very hard to detect incoherence because something like a world view tends to state that things that don't fit are irrelevent, or we say we're going to get them in order later, we haven't solved that problem yet. So incoherence can easily be not noticed."
"For the western world view, its limits have not been seen."
Interviewer: "What do you see as the weakness of the Western world view?"
Bohm: "It focuses too much on analysis and tends to lead to fragmentation."
Bohm: "It (the Niels Bohr interpretation) is the main stream but not very many physicists understand it well because it is very subtle."
"Niels Bohr would say that we cannot discuss (an underlying quantum mechanism) at all. We can only discuss the probability of obtaining a certain result of a phenomenon."
"Bohr called it (quantum mechanics) an algorithm for calculating experimental results of the phenomena. A wave function is part of an algorithm and no more than that."
"The reason (the mainstream theory) is not known is that is so unintelligible that it is hard to understand what it says." (Recall Feynman: "I think it is safe to say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.") Here both Bohm and Feynman, arguably the physicists that have the most knowledge of the underlying theory, claim that practically nobody understands the roots of the theory. Niels Bohr claims it should only be seen as an algorithm that gives correct results, nothing more.
"Actually they (5 billion people) are a whole but it is incoherent. You see, they cannot avoid being a whole. .... If 2 people are enemies, each one makes the other. ... Enemies are extremely closely related. People who hate each other are extremely closely related, except they are in an incoherent relationship, one that is destructive."
Created on 04/11/2014 01:18 PM by admin
Updated on 04/30/2014 03:06 AM by admin