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Why Fact-check? Why preserve a visual record?

The Website Written as a Book
1: Science and Subjective Viewpoints
2: Toward Accurate Collapse Histories
....2.1: Progressive Floor Collapses in the WTC Towers
....2.2: General Global Characteristics of Collapses
....2.3: Mathematical Basis of ROOSD Propagation
....2.4: WTC1 Accurate Collapse History
....2.5: WTC2 Accurate Collapse History
....2.6: WTC7 Accurate Collapse History
3: WTC Collapse Misrepresentations
....3.1: Purpose of the NIST Reports
....3.2: NIST WTC1 Misrepresentations
....3.3: NIST WTC7 Misrepresentations
....3.4: NIST WTC2 Misrepresentations
....3.5: Reviewing the Purpose of NIST and FEMA Reports
....3.6: Bazant Misrepresentation of Collapse Progressions
....3.7: Block Misrepresentations of Collapse Progressions
....3.8: AE911T Misrepresentations of the Collapses
4: Scientific Institutions Can Be Unaware of Contradiction
5: Reassessing the Question of Demolition
....5.1: The Case of WTC1
....5.2: The Case of WTC2
....5.3: The Case of WTC7
6: WTC Collapse Records Studied as Meme Replication
....6.1: Meme Replication in Technical Literature
....6.2: Meme Replication in Mass Media
....6.3: Meme Replication in Popular Culture
....6.4: John Q Public and the WTC Collapse Records

WTC Twin Towers Collapse Dynamics

Official, Legal Attempts to Explain Collapses

Academic Attempts to Explain Collapses Reviewed

On the Limits of Science and Technology

WTC Video Record

WTC Photographic Record
WTC1 Attack to Collapse
WTC2 Attack to Collapse
Fire Progression, WTC1 North Face
Fire Progression, WTC1 South Face
Fire Progression, WTC1 East Face
Fire Progression, WTC1 West Face
Fire Progression, WTC2 North Face
Fire Progression, WTC2 South Face
Fire Progression, WTC2 East Face
Fire Progression, WTC2 West Face
Debris: WTC1 Around Footprint
Debris: WTC2 Around Footprint
Debris: From WTC1 Westward
Debris: From WTC1 Northward
Debris: From WTC2 Eastward
Debris: From WTC2 Southward
Debris: Plaza Area, Northeast Complex
Debris: Hilton Hotel, Southwest Complex
Debris: General, Unidentified Locations
Damage to Surrounding Buildings
Perimeter Column Photo Record
Perimeter Columns: Types of Damage
Core Box Columns: Types of Damage
Complete Photo Archive
Other Major 9-11 Photo Archives
The 911Dataset Project

WTC Structural Information

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Online Misrepresentations of the WTC Collapses

Forum, Blog Representations of the WTC Collapses

The Book Tested Through Experiments

Miscellaneous Notes, Resources
FAQ for Miscellaneous Notes
History Commons 9/11 Timeline
The 911Dataset Project
Skyscraper Safety Campaign
First and Largest 9/11 Conspiracy Theory
Key Words in Book and Website
Trapped Within a Narrowed False Choice
Vulnerability and Requestioning
On Memes and Memetics
Obedience, Conformity and Mental Structure
Denial, Avoidance (Taboo) and Mental Structure
Taboos Against Reviewing the Collapse Events
Extreme Situations and Mental Structure
Suggestibility, Hypnosis and Mental Structure
Awareness and Behavior
Magical, Religious, Scientific Cause-Effect Relations
The Extreme Limits of Mental Dysfunction
Orwell's "Crimestop", "Doublethink", "Blackwhite"
William James, Max Born: Science as Philosophy
Plato on Self Reflection and Mental Structure
Rewriting History, part 1
Rewriting History, part 2
On Smart Idiots

New Ideas in Education

Bohm: Thought as a System

Bohm: Thought as a System

David Bohm: Thought as a System (Free pdf available at this link.)

Beginning of book:

By way of review, we all know that the world is in a
difficult situation and has been basically for a long time;
that we now have many crises in various parts of the world.
We have the fact that there is nationalism all over. People
seem to have all sorts of hatreds, such as religious hatred or
racial hatred, and so on. There is the ecological crisis, which
goes on and off the back burner, and there is the continuing
economic crisis developing. People seem unable to get
together to face the common problems, such as the
ecological one or the economic one. Everything is
interdependent; and yet the more interdependent we get,
the more we seem to split up into little groups that don't
like each other and are inclined to fight each other and kill
each other, or at least not to cooperate.

So one begins to wonder what is going to happen to the
human race. Technology keeps on advancing with greater
and greater power, either for good or for destruction. And
it seems that there is always this danger of destruction. No
sooner does the rivalry between the West and the East sort
of dissolve away than other conflicts pop up elsewhere.
And doubtless others will come up later, and on it goes. It's
sort of endemic; it's not just something that occasionally
happens. It's in the whole situation.

I think we are all familiar with this situation. And with
technology advancing you have the possibility that nuclear
bombs will perhaps soon be available to all sorts of
dictators, even in relatively small nations. There are
biological weapons and chemical weapons, and other kinds
of weapons that haven't yet been invented but surely will.
And then there is the economy to consider. Either we go
into a depression, which will help save the ecology, or we
go into a boom, which will momentarily make us happy but
will eventually ruin the ecology. I mean, the faster we go
into prosperity, the faster we create all of these other problems.
It seems that whichever way you turn, it doesn't really
work. Why not? Is there any way out? Can you imagine
that a hundred or two hundred or five hundred years of
this won't lead to some gigantic catastrophe, either to the
ecology or in some other way? Perhaps more wars, who

People have been dealing with this piecemeal—looking at
symptoms, saying that we've got to solve this problem or
that problem or that problem. But there is something
deeper, which people haven't been considering, that is
constantly generating these problems. We can use the
analogy of a stream, where people are pouring pollution
upstream at the same time they are trying to remove it
downstream. But as they remove it they may be adding
more pollution of a different kind.

What is the source of all this trouble? That is really what
we have been concerned with in all these dialogues of the
past few years. I'm saying that the source is basically in
thought. Many people would think that such a statement is
crazy, because thought is the one thing we have with which
to solve our problems. That's part of our tradition. Yet it
looks as if the thing we use to solve our problems is the
source of our problems. It's like going to the doctor and
having him make you ill. In fact, in 20 per cent of medical
cases we do apparently have that going on. But in the case
of thought, it's far over 20 per cent.

I'm saying the reason we don't see the source of our
problems is that the means by which we try to solve them
are the source. That may seem strange to somebody who
hears it for the first time, because our whole culture prides
itself on thought as its highest achievement. I'm not
suggesting that the achievements of thought are negligible;
there are very great achievements in technology, in culture
and in various other ways. But there is another side to it
which is leading to our destruction, and we have to look at that.
Now I'll try to say what is wrong with thought. I'll just
give a brief summary and then we might start talking about
it, if you like.

One of the obvious things wrong with thought is
fragmentation. Thought is breaking things up into bits which
should not be broken up. We can see this going on. We see
that the world is broken up into nations—more and more
nations. Russia no sooner got rid of the communist
dictatorship than it began breaking up into a lot of little bits
which obviously are unable to manage, and they started
fighting each other. That's a source of concern. It's a
concern for the whole world. There are new nations all over
the world. During the second World War, nationalism
developed in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. They said
'Lithuania for the Lithuanians, Latvia for the Latvians,
Armenia for the Armenians', and so on.

Nationalism has broken things up, and yet the world is
all one. The more technology develops, the more people
depend on each other. But people try to pretend that it's not
so. They say that the nation is sovereign, that it can do what
it likes. And yet it can't. The United States can't do what it
likes because it depends a lot on other countries for things
of all sorts—on the Middle East for oil, apparently on Japan
for money. And Japan obviously can't do what it likes.
Those are just some examples.

It seems very hard for human beings to accept seriously
this simple fact of the effect of fragmentation. Nations fight
each other and people kill each other. You are told that for
the nation you must sacrifice everything. Or you sacrifice
everything for your religious differences. People split into
religious groups. They split into racial groups and say that's
all important. Inside each nation there are various splits.
People are divided up into sections and into all kinds of
interests. The division goes on down to the level of the
family, inside families and so forth. People are supposed to
be getting together, but they can't seem to.

You can see that nations are established by thought. The
boundary of the nation is invented by thought. If you go to
the edge of the nation, there's nothing to tell you that it is a
boundary, unless somebody makes a wall or something. It's
the same land; the people may often be not very different.
But what is one side or the other seems all important. It's
thought that 'makes it so'.

I was informed that most of the nations of the Middle
East were invented either by the British or the French,
whose various bureaucrats drew lines and determined the
boundary of this nation, that nation, that nation. And there
they were. So then they have to fight each other.
In other words, what we are doing is establishing
boundaries where really there is a close connection—that's
what is wrong with fragmentation. And at the same time
we are trying to establish unity where there isn't any, or not
very much. We say we're all one inside the boundary. But
when you look at these groups, they are not actually all
one. They are fighting each other inside the boundary as
much as they are fighting outside.

We can also consider professional groups. In science, for
instance, every little speciality is fragmented from every
other one. People hardly know what is happening in a
somewhat different field. And it goes on. Knowledge is
fragmented. Everything gets broken up.

Thus we have false division and false unification.
Thought is pretending that there is a sharp division outside
and that everything is unified inside, when it's really not so.
This is a fictional way of thinking. But to go on with this
fictional way of thinking seems to be very important, so
important that the actual fact that it is wrong, the fact that
it's not that way at all, is ignored.

It seems strange. Why should people do such a strange
thing? It really could be thought of as irrational at the very
least, or perhaps crazy. So much trouble, which may even
prevent our survival, is created out of such small things.
The more general difficulty with thought is that thought
is very active, it's participatory. And fragmentation is itself a
symptom of the more general difficulty. Thought is always
doing a great deal, but it tends to say that it hasn't done
anything, that it is just telling you the way things are. But
thought affects everything. It has created everything we see
in this building. It has affected all the trees, it has affected
the mountains, the plains and the farms and the factories
and science and technology. Even the South Pole has been
affected because of the destruction of the ozone layer,
which is basically due to thought. People thought that they
wanted to have refrigerant—a nice safe refrigerant—and
they built that all up by thinking more and more about it.
And now we have the ozone layer being destroyed.

Thought has produced tremendous effects outwardly.
And, as we'll discuss further on, it produces tremendous
effects inwardly in each person. Yet the general tacit
assumption in thought is that it's just telling you the way
things are and that is not doing anything—that 'you' are
inside there, deciding what to do with the information. But
I want to say that you don't decide what to do with the
information. The information takes over. It runs you.
Thought runs you. Thought, however, gives the false
information that you are running it, that you are the one
who controls thought, whereas actually thought is the one
which controls each one of us. Until thought is understood—
better yet, more than understood, perceived—it will actually
control us; but it will create the impression that it is our
servant, that it is just doing what we want it to do.
That's the difficulty. Thought is participating and then
saying it's not participating. But it is taking part in

Fragmentation is a particular case of that. Thought is
creating divisions out of itself and then saying that they are
there naturally. The divisions between nations are regarded
as being 'just there', but obviously they were invented by
people. People have come to accept those divisions and that
made them be there. The same holds for the divisions
between religions. Every religion was invented by
somebody's thinking that he had a certain idea about God
that was right and true. Eventually people thought that
other religions weren't right, that other religions were
inferior, perhaps even heretical or evil or wrong, that they
could fight them, try to suppress them and destroy them.
There were vast religious wars. And we may still have
more coming, in spite of all the development of the
enlightenment, knowledge and science and technology. In
fact, science and technology now seem, at least equally well,
to serve those who are perhaps at a more Mediaeval stage
as it serves those who regard themselves as more advanced.
Anybody can use science and technology without
fundamentally altering his own frame of mind which
governs how they are used.

I'm saying thought has the character that it is doing
something and saying it isn't doing it. Now, we really have
to go into that, to discuss it a great deal, because what
thought is actually doing is very much more subtle than
what I've described—that's only the beginning.
Another problem of fragmentation is that thought divides
itself from feeling and from the body. Thought is said to be
the mind; we have the notion that it is something abstract
or spiritual or immaterial. Then there is the body, which is
very physical. And we have emotions, which are perhaps
somewhere in between. The idea is that they are all
different. That is, we think of them as different. And we
experience them as different because we think of them as different.
But thought is not different from emotion. We'll discuss
this in more detail later; but for a very elementary example,
if you think that a certain person has treated you badly you
may get angry. Suppose that somebody keeps you waiting
for a couple of hours. You can get angry thinking: 'What
does he mean treating me like this? He has no concern, no
consideration for me.' You can think of various things: 'He's
always doing this, he treats me badly', and so on. By
thinking that way you can get very angry. Then if he comes
and explains that the train was late, the anger goes. This
shows that the emotion was influenced by thought. By
changing your thought, the anger fades.

So thought at least can sustain those feelings. The thought
of something pleasant will make you feel good. The
thought that you are doing great will make you feel good inside
—all the good feelings will come out. Or the thought that
you have done something wrong may make the adrenalin
flow, may make you feel guilty. If somebody says you are
guilty, which is a thought, then you can feel very miserable.
Feelings are tremendously affected by thoughts. And
obviously thoughts are tremendously affected by feelings,
because if you are angry you don't think clearly. Likewise,
if you have a feeling of pleasure in something you may find
yourself reluctant to give up that idea which gives you
pleasure, even if it is wrong—you engage in self-deception.
There's a good physical reason that feelings and thoughts
affect each other; you can see it in the structure of the brain.
There is an intellectual centre in the cortex, the outer layers
of the brain. And deeper down there is an emotional centre.
Between them is a very thick bundle of nerves, by which
they communicate very closely. So they are connected.
There was a famous case in the nineteenth century of a man
who had an iron pin driven through his brain by an
explosion. He apparently recovered from this, and he was
physically more or less normal. But although he had been a
very levelheaded man, after he recovered he was totally
unbalanced emotionally, and intellectually he couldn't
maintain any very consistent line of thought. The breaking
of the connection between the emotional and the intellectual
centres prevented the system from functioning.

The intellectual centre will normally tell whether an
emotion is appropriate or not. That is what happens in the
example of being angry about somebody's delaying you
two hours, and then coming along and saying 'The train
was late.' If you believe him, then the intellectual centre
says 'there's no longer any good reason to be angry'. And
the emotional centre duly says 'OK, no reason, I give up my
anger'. And vice versa—the emotional centre may send
information saying that there is danger, or there is this or
that, and the intellectual centre picks it up and tries to find
out what is the danger. It thinks.

Those centres are intimately and closely related. The very
wish to think must come from an emotion or from an
impulse to think. They are really almost two sides of the
same process. But our language separates them and our
thought separates them into fragments. I'm saying that
emotion and intellect are closely connected, but we
introduce into our thought a very sharp division—just like
the one between nations—where there really isn't such a
division. We're introducing a fictional way of thinking
about this situation. If our thinking is fictional, it will
mislead us.

It is worth repeating what I've said the last few years—
that in our language we have a distinction between
'thinking' and 'thought'. 'Thinking' implies the present tense
—some activity going on which may include critical
sensitivity to what can go wrong. Also there may be new
ideas, and perhaps occasionally perception of some kind
inside. 'Thought' is the past participle of that. We have the
idea that after we have been thinking something, it just
evaporates. But thinking doesn't disappear. It goes
somehow into the brain and leaves something—a trace—
which becomes thought. And thought then acts
automatically. The example I gave about the person who
kept you waiting shows how thought reinforces and
sustains anger; when you have been thinking for a while, 'I
have a good reason to be angry', the emotion is there and
you remain angry. So thought is the response from memory—
from the past, from what has been done. Thus we have
thinking and thought.

We also have the word 'feeling'. Its present tense
suggests the active present, that the feeling is directly in
contact with reality. But it might be useful to introduce the
word 'felt', to say there are feelings and 'felts'. That is, 'felts'
are feelings which have been recorded. You may remember
pleasure that you once had, and then you get a sense of
pleasure. If you remember pain you had you may get a
sense of pain. A traumatic experience in the past can make
you feel very uncomfortable when remembered. Nostalgic
feelings are also from the past. A lot of the feelings that
come up are really from the past, they're 'felts'. By failing to
make this distinction we often give too much importance to
some feelings which actually don't have that much
significance. If they are just a recording being replayed,
they don't have as much significance as if they were a
response to the present immediate situation.

Often you may respond according to the way you felt a
long time ago, or the way you became used to feeling in the
past. In effect you could be saying 'when I was a child, a
certain situation made me feel uncomfortable', and then
when any similar situation arises in the present you feel
uncomfortable. You get that discomfort because you don't
see that it doesn't mean anything. But it does seem to mean
a great deal, and it affects you.

So not only is there a false division between thinking and
feeling, but also between feelings and 'felts', and the whole
state of the body. You can see that the way you think can
get adrenalin flowing. You can get neurochemically affected
all over the body. For example, if you are in an area which
you think is dangerous and you see a shadow, your
thought says that there are people around who might attack
you, and then you immediately get a feeling of fear. Your
adrenalin starts flowing, your muscles tense, your heart
beats rapidly—just from the knowledge that there may be
assailants in the neighbourhood. As soon as you look and
say 'it's a shadow', those physical symptoms subside. There
is a profound connection between the state of the body and
the way you think. If people are constantly worried and
under stress about their jobs or something, they may stir up
their stomachs too much and get ulcers and various other
things. It's well known. The state of the body is very
profoundly tied to thought, affected by thought, and vice
versa. That's another kind of fragmentation we have to
watch out for.

All of this will tend to introduce quite a bit of confusion,
or what I call 'incoherence', into thinking or into action
because you will not get the results you expect. That's the
major sign of incoherence: you want to do something but it
doesn't come out the way you intend. That's usually a sign
that you have some wrong information somewhere. The
right approach would be to say; 'Yes, that's incoherent. Let
me try to find out the wrong information and change it.'
But the trouble is, there is a lot of incoherence in which
people don't do that.

For instance, perhaps somebody likes to be flattered and
he then finds that the person who flatters him can take
advantage of him. It happens again and again and again.
He doesn't want that, but it happens. There is an
incoherence there because it's not his intention to be taken
advantage of. But he has another intention he doesn't think
about, which is that he wants the glow of feeling that comes
from the flattery. You can see that one implies the other,
because if he accepts the flattery then he also will accept a
lot of other things the person says or does. He can be taken
advantage of. Therefore, he has both a conscious intention,
and another one which is going against it. That's a very
common situation.

It is the same with nationalism. People didn't set up
nations in order to suffer the way they've suffered—to
suffer endless wars and hate and starvation and disease and
annihilation and slavery and whatnot. When they set up the
nations it was not their intention to do that. But that's what
has happened. And it would inevitably happen. The point
is that people rarely look at the nation and ask, 'what's it all
about?' Rather, they say 'at all costs we've got to go on with
this nation, but we don't want these consequences'. And
they struggle against the consequences while they keep on
producing the situation.

This is another major feature of thought: thought doesn't
know it is doing something and then it struggles against what it
is doing. It doesn't want to know that it is doing it. And it
struggles against the results, trying to avoid those
unpleasant results while keeping on with that way of
thinking. That is what I call sustained incoherence. There is
also simple incoherence, which we can't avoid having
because thoughts are always incomplete—thought can
never be complete, as we'll discuss later. But when we find
that what is happening is contradictory or confused or isn't
doing what we expect, then we should change our thoughts
to reflect what is happening. And in simple situations we
do. When it comes to things that matter to us, though, it
seems we generally don't. Now this is rather odd, because
the things that matter are where we ought to be especially
coherent. However, we feel we can afford to be coherent
only in the things that don't matter too much—which is
another kind of incoherence.

Nobody has the intention of producing this sort of
situation. We are producing these situations contrary to our
conscious intentions because there is another resistance
going on of which we're not very conscious. So whenever
we intend to do something we often unconsciously have a
resistance trying to prevent us from doing it. That's
obviously a big waste of energy, and it is very destructive.
It means we will produce problems without end which
have no solution.

In the recent past the East and the West have got together
for various reasons. But for various other reasons, people
were sending a lot of arms into the Middle East over the
years. It was not their intention to produce an impossible
situation with Iraq. They said; 'Well, we're sending arms to
the Middle East. We want to make money. We have a
certain national policy to maintain. There are many
reasons.' And then it all added up to a very dangerous
situation. If there had been no arms sent there, it would not
have been so serious. Also, in 1973 it was plainly brought
out that the West is very dependent on oil from the Middle
East, which is a very unstable region. For a while people
began to use their oil and their energy more efficiently.
Gradually they became less concerned with doing so. And
then later they say; 'Look! Surprise. We now depend on
them. Half of the oil of the world is theirs. If that goes we're
all finished.'

Clearly it is not people's intention to produce these
situations. Rather, they may say, 'we don't want this
situation, but there are a lot of other things we've got to
have'. But those things will produce these situations.
There's an incoherence there.

We are constantly producing situations and things which
we don't intend and then we say 'look, we've got a
problem'. We don't realize that it is our deeper, hidden
intentions which have produced it, and consequently we
keep on perpetuating the problem. Even now very little is
being done, as far as I can see, about using energy more
efficiently and thus becoming less dependent on Middle
Eastern oil—which would remove much of the whole

So we must ask 'why do we have this incoherence?'
Nobody wants these situations, and yet the things people
think they want will inevitably produce them. It is thought
that makes people say 'that's necessary'. Therefore, thought
has come to this kind of incoherence.

p 52:

There's another way we can look at this which gives
some insight: that is to look at thought as a set of reflexes.
Now, what is a reflex? 'Reflex' means 'to bend back', 'to
turn back'—the same as 'reflect'. If you hit your bone at the
knee, the knee will jerk. What happens is that the nerves
carrying the signal meet somewhere; they cross over,
perhaps in the spine, and go out as a signal to make your
knee jerk. That's one of the most elementary reflexes.
We have a lot of reflexes, and they can be conditioned.
For instance, dogs have a reflex that makes them salivate
when they see food. A reflex means that when a certain
thing happens, as a result something else happens
automatically. Pavlov did an experiment where he rang a
bell while showing food to a dog. He did this many times,
and after a while the dog would salivate without seeing
food, just from hearing the bell. Perhaps the bell reminded
the dog of the food, or perhaps eventually it skipped that
stage and the bell just made the dog salivate directly. But
the reflex was conditioned by the bell; in other words, it
was subject to another condition.

That is the basic form of conditioning—to repeat
something quite often. It somehow leaves a mark in the
system, in the nerves, and then a reflex has been altered.
You can see the conditioning of reflexes all the time. In fact,
a great deal of our routine learning consists in establishing
conditioned reflexes. As an example, when you learn to
drive a car, you are trying to condition your reflexes so that
they will be appropriate. It's the same when you learn to write
—you don't want to have to think all the time of how
you're going to form the letters—or when you learn to walk
or to do various other things. So certain reflexes are
established and conditioned.

We've said that when we have a thought it registers in
the memory. It registers in the form of a reflex. Memories
often take that form—you see something and it reminds
you of something or it makes you do something or it makes
you see something in a certain way. Those are a kind of
reflex. And conditioned reflexes can affect the feelings.
Somebody may say something to you, and you get a certain
feeling in response to what was said. It may frighten you,
which could affect your adrenalin, and that could affect
your thoughts; then one thought leads to another and that
leads to another. You get a chain of thought.
You could say that elementary thoughts may take the
form of a series of reflexes—such as, if somebody asks you
your name you have an immediate answer. It's a reflex.
With a more difficult question there's a way the mind
searches in the memory for answers; there is a 'searching
reflex' set up—the mind searches the memory, finds an
answer that may seem to fit, and then that answer comes
out and you can see whether it does fit or not.

I'm proposing that this whole system works by a set of reflexes
—that thought is a very subtle set of reflexes which is
potentially unlimited; you can add more and more and you
can modify your reflexes. Suppose like a logician you say:
'All swans are white. This bird is a swan therefore this bird
is white.' But then you modify this by saying 'I've seen that
some swans may not be white.' And so on. Even the whole
logical process, once it's committed to memory, becomes a
set of reflexes. You think logically by a set of reflexes. There
may be a perception of reason beyond the reflexes, but
anything perceived becomes sooner or later a set of reflexes.
And that's what I want to call 'thought'—which includes
the emotion, the bodily state, the physical reaction and
everything else.

I say that it's useful to look at this as a system of reflexes.
A reflex just operates, as we've seen in the case of the
kneejerk. However, we don't usually think that thought is
like the knee-jerk reflex. We think we are controlling
thought and producing thought. That way of thinking is
part of our whole background. But I'm suggesting that it's
not generally so—that a vast part of our thought just comes
out from the reflex system. You only find out what the
thought is after it comes out. Now, this really overturns a
great deal of the way we look at the mind or the personality
or our entire cultural background.

So it's worth pondering that this whole system, which we
are calling 'thought', works as a system of reflexes. The
question is: can you become aware of the reflex character of thought
—that it is a reflex, that it is a whole system of reflexes
which is constantly capable of being modified, added to,
changed? And we could say that as long as the reflexes are
free to change then there must be some kind of intelligence
or perception, something a bit beyond the reflex, which
would be able to see whether it's coherent or not. But when
it gets conditioned too strongly it may resist that
perception; it may not allow it. Is that clear what I mean?
The point is that these reflexes serve us if they are not too
rigid. And if they don't work, if they are incoherent, we can
drop them or they may drop themselves. On the other
hand, when the reflex gets very strong and rigid it won't be dropped.
I think there is a neurophysiological chemical reason for
that. Every thought involves some change in the chemistry
of the system. A strong thought with a lot of emotion, for
instance, involves a bigger change. Or a constant repetition
builds up the change. And both together make a very
powerful effect. It's been observed that the nerves in the
brain don't quite touch each other, but there are synapses
which connect them. Researchers say that experience,
perception, thought, and so on, establish synapse
connections. We may assume that the more you repeat a
pattern, the stronger those connections become; and after a
while they get very strong, very hard to shake. You could
say that something happens in the chemistry, in the
physics, in the neurophysiological process. So this is not
purely an intellectual problem or an emotional problem or
even a physical problem. Rather, the reflexes get
conditioned very strongly, and they are very hard to change.
And they also interfere. A reflex may connect to the
endorphins and produce an impulse to hold that whole
pattern further. In other words, it produces a defensive
reflex. Not merely is it stuck because it's chemically so well
built up, but also there is a defensive reflex which defends
against evidence which might weaken it. Thus it all
happens, one reflex after another after another. It's just a
vast system of reflexes. And they form a 'structure' as they
get more rigid.

p 56:

But now the question is: are those reflexes
coherent? According to the theory of evolution, incoherent
systems don't last very long. This is called 'natural
selection'. In thought, however, we seem to be able to keep
up these incoherent systems of reflexes, at least quite a
while. Sometimes the people who have them might not live
very long, but in our society we have arranged conditions
where we can go on with a lot of incoherence without
actually leading to a selection process. The point is that
reflexes can become incoherent and get stuck because of all
these mechanisms.

p 56:

What I mean is that if there is sustained incoherence, it just keeps on going
in spite of the fact that there is evidence which would show
that it's incoherent. Now, we could say that an intelligent
response on seeing incoherence would be to stop it, to
suspend it and begin to look out for the reason for the
incoherence and then to change it. But I say there is a
defensive incoherence. An incoherent train of thought
which gets attached to the endorphins will typically defend
itself, because you will feel very uncomfortable when it is
questioned; the questioning starts to remove the endorphins.

p 69:

I'd like to extend this whole idea a little further. We
inevitably have a kind of thought about thought, an
intellectual map of the thought process which is sort of
endemic; it's spread all through our culture—we pick it up
here and there. For instance, saying 'think positively' is a
kind of intellectual idea about thought, implying that you
should control thought in order to deal with depression.
There are all sorts of ideas circulating around.

I'm suggesting that we need to present some sort of map
of thought which may be more coherent than the unspoken
map implicit in our culture, because if we are being guided
by incoherent ideas which are already part of our reflex
system we will go wrong. And we can't just choose not to
go wrong, because those incoherent ideas are already part
of the reflex system. Therefore, the first step is at least to
look at some other ideas which may be more coherent.
Later we'll have to ask whether anything can really touch
the reflexes, because if there is no way to affect them then
we're stuck.

Now, I want to add something to this notion of reflex.
One of the most powerful thoughts people have is the
thought of necessity. It is much more than a thought. The
word 'necessary' means 'it cannot be otherwise', and the
Latin root means 'don't yield'. It suggests the emotional-
physical stance of resisting, holding. That's the other side of
the reflex system: when you say 'it cannot be otherwise', in
effect you're saying: 'It has got to be this way. I have to
keep it this way.' You have a hold. Something that is
necessary is a very powerful force which you can't turn
aside. Yet you may say 'I have to turn it aside'. Thus we
establish an order of necessity, saying 'this turns aside for
that, and this for that'.

This notion of necessity is crucial to our whole ordering
of thought; as is its opposite, which is contingency.
'Contingency' means 'what can be otherwise'. If something
can be otherwise, its meaningful to try to change it. If it
cannot be otherwise, then there's no use trying. This will
have a tremendous effect. If you think something is
impossible to do, you are bringing in necessity by saying
that it necessarily can't be done. Therefore, you can't do it
and you will not try. So the assumption that something is
impossible may well trap you into making it impossible. On
the other hand, you may assume something is possible
which is not, and just batter your head on a stone wall.
We have to get straight on what is necessity and what is
contingency. And in each situation this is what you're
doing all the time. You're trying to assess the necessity and
contingency. We may see an object and say 'this will not
turn aside from my hand'. I don't expect my hand to go
through the object; if it went through I'd be very surprised.
As an illustration, there was an exhibition of holography
which projected a very realistic image of a ship, and two
people came in who evidently didn't know anything about
it. One woman came over and decided to take hold of the
ship and her hand went through it. She didn't understand
and there was a look of horror on her face. And she said to
her companion 'let's get out of here'.

We count on the notion of necessity, saying: 'This will
stand up. This will be stable. This cannot be turned aside.'
We count on the earth being something that won't turn
aside. And when it shakes we find it very disturbing—
psychologically as well as physically.

The point is that the notion of necessity and contingency
is always operating. Everybody is using it all the time
without even thinking about doing so; it becomes part of
our reflexes. And this is important, because this also is
connected with our idea of reality—things which are real
won't be turned aside. They will sort of resist; they're
pushing, and so on. Now, there are various ways of testing
for reality. Things we consider real are stable, they resist,
they have a kind of internal necessity that holds. The whole
idea of reality is bound together with the concept of
necessity, as in the example I just gave: if your hand goes
through the ship it's a sign that it is not real.

The notion of reality is also clearly very important in our
whole psychic make-up. The difference between being real
or unreal or illusory is crucial. So the notion of necessity
creates a powerful reflex—'it really has to be that way'. If
we not only add emotion and repetition to the reflex, but also
add the notion of necessity, the reflex becomes very powerful
—especially if we say 'it's always necessary'. Something
may be necessary some of the time, but then it may have to
turn aside at another time. But if we say 'it's always
necessary', that means it is absolutely necessary, it cannot
turn aside. For instance, if we say that the nation is
sovereign, then that becomes absolute necessity and there's
no way of turning that aside. And if two nations assert their
sovereignty in the same place, what can they do? There is
no way to turn aside, and therefore they have to fight. Or
two religions in the same way—'God is absolute necessity',
and 'God has got to be this way and not that way'.

There are similar questions all through life. Wherever
people are finding it hard to get along you will discover
that they have different assumptions as to what is necessary
or absolutely necessary. If you look at it you can see that
that's what they're fighting about. One feels this is
necessary and the other that, and they cannot turn aside.
Negotiation is an attempt to make people turn aside for
each other and to adjust and adapt, which admits that there
is some contingency in what they thought was necessary.
The question of dialogue, which we're going to get into,
is involved very much in what you assume to be necessary.
The assumptions of what is necessary are what prevent
dialogue. They create a set of reflexes to defend with
absolute force. They give power to the reflex.

The instinct of self-preservation is generally regarded as a
very powerful set of reflexes built in by a set of genes, but
the notion of absolute necessity will override that every
time. You may say 'my instinct is to preserve life'. But if the
country says 'it's absolutely necessary to risk it', then you
have to risk it. Most people will feel that way. Or if you say
'God demands it', then the demands of God may override
all the instincts. Or whatever it is. Your ambition may
override the instincts, if it's absolutely necessary to achieve
your ambition.

There's a tremendous force in this. This notion of
necessity is not merely intellectual. It involves everything. It
involves the chemistry, which means that all the adrenalin
you need will be released when you have to defend your
assumptions of necessity. Whatever is needed will be made
available. And then too, this may have a very valuable side
to it. If you are ever going to accomplish anything, you
need some of that sense of necessity. If you don't think
something is very necessary you won't have much energy
to do it. You could say that nobody ever went through
difficulties to accomplish anything without feeling that it
was necessary. So if you feel that going into thought is
necessary then perhaps it will continue against the
difficulty. On the other hand, you may feel that some crazy
incoherent thing is absolutely necessary and go on with that.
Therefore, it's important to pay attention to these notions
of necessity—what is assumed to be necessary and
absolutely so, and how it moves you. You begin to notice
that. You get that feeling of urge. You're impelled; you have
an impulse to act. 'Impelled' means 'being pushed from
within'. Sometimes you are being compelled, which is a bit stronger
—a compulsive urge. Or propelled. Or perhaps even
repelled. But it's all the same process—it's necessity at
work, giving a push.

Thus you feel an impulse and you say 'that's me, having
an impulse'. You don't see that there is a system involving
the thought beneath the impulse. And your intentions may
arise in that system. Thus researchers have made electrical
measurements and shown that there is some
electrochemical process in the brain that precedes your
conscious intention. The impulse is coming from the whole
system. It's built up.

Now, it's important to see that this is all connected,
because this is not a place where it's correct to break up
things and to separate them. In some cases it is correct to
separate things—such as saying that the table is separate
from the chair because one can move independently of the
other. But when things are tightly connected then we
shouldn't separate them in our minds. We may distinguish
certain things for the sake of convenience. The word
'distinguish' means 'to mark apart'. A distinction is merely
a mark which is made for convenience; it doesn't mean that
the thing is broken. It's like a dotted line, whereas when we
represent something as divided it's a solid line. So in our
minds we should draw dotted lines between thinking and
feeling and chemistry and so on, not solid lines. Likewise, it
would be good to draw only a dotted line between
countries as well—because actually it's a distinction, rather
than a division of two different things which are independent.
We have to be able to think of this clearly; even though,
as I said, that by itself won't really change the reflexes. But
if we don't think of it clearly then all our attempts to get
into this will go wrong. Clear thinking implies that we are
in some way awakened a little bit. Perhaps there is
something beyond the reflex which is at work—in other
words, something unconditioned.

The question is really: is there the unconditioned? If
everything is conditioned, then there's no way out. But the
very fact that we are sometimes able to see new things
would suggest that there is the unconditioned. Maybe the
deeper material structure of the brain is unconditioned, or
maybe beyond. We'll discuss that later. It doesn't matter at
this stage where it is, as long as it could act. If there is the
unconditioned, which could be the movement of
intelligence, then there is some possibility of getting into this.
We are saying that, perhaps unbeknownst to us, the
unconditioned may have operated a little. We're not trying
to say that the conditioning is absolutely solid and frozen,
all and forever; that's the point. And if we are going to do
this sort of thing that we're doing, to be coherent we at least
have to suppose that there may be the unconditioned. If we
don't suppose that, it may be then that we are totally
incoherent in our very attempt to do it. If we say that there
cannot be the unconditioned, then it would be foolish for us
to try to do anything with the conditioning. Is that clear?

p 89:

At the end of the morning session we were
discussing what we called a 'system', and saying that it
seems valuable to try to learn something about this system.
We said that the core of this system is really thought,
though it involves all aspects of our being. We talked about
the way the system works, and said that through
observation you may be able to see this process happening
and thereby learn something about it. Also, we were saying
that with all sorts of emotional disturbances, such as anger,
you could first find the words which will stir up the
disturbance so that you can then get something to observe.
In this way you can learn about the relationship between
the word, the thought and all that follows—the feeling, the
state of the body and so on. Of course, in doing that you are
suspending the anger—holding it in front of you, so to
speak. It's not so strong that you feel you absolutely must
express it, nor are you keeping it hidden.

So you're beginning to get acquainted with the system,
with how it really works. However, if you don't have that
element of accurate language or an accurate representation
in thought, then you don't see the system because the core
of it is missing. Thought generally has it that you just 'see'
what is happening; then the next thought comes along and
says 'what is happening is something that is independent of
thought '. And thus you get caught in that same fault again.
The point is that you have to see this, to be actually seeing
that this is happening—that thought is behind this system.
Otherwise the system seems to stand by itself, independent
of thought.

Take any company, such as General Motors, as an
example of something organized by thought. We have the
thought that it exists and has a certain structure. But it is
that very thought which ties the factories and everything
else together as a company. What we consider to be General
Motors is entirely organized by thinking. Except for that
thought—I mean, unless people believed that it existed—it
wouldn't exist. There might be the factories and buildings
and all, but people wouldn't know what they're supposed
to be doing or how they're supposed to be related, and so
forth. The thought is at the core of it, and there is a whole
system which develops out of that.

Now, we want to be able to see our system of reflexes in
operation; and I'm suggesting that we have to have it there
in front of us to see it, but suspend our reactions.
The second point about the use of language is that after
you see something about how the system is working, you
should also put that into words, because you want to
inform the thought process of what you have seen. In other
words, you may see something; but if the thought process
doesn't know about it it will just go on as before. The
thought process itself doesn't 'see'. It can only get
information. Its typical way of getting information—on
such an abstract level anyway—is from words. Therefore,
I'm saying that it is essential to use words to elicit this
thing, to make it visible to thought; and also we may then
use words to state what we have seen. But we don't want to
do it the other way around—to say 'this is the way it is',
and then to see it that way. If it's done that way it leads to
trouble, to illusion, which I'm going to discuss as we go
along. This is a key point.

p 94:

He may have one thought
saying 'I must do this'. He has another thought saying 'it
would be wrong to do it'. And he gets a third thought
which justifies it anyway. The whole thing is one reflex
after another. I think we have to see this system just
working, working, working. Now, perhaps somehow
intelligence can come in and get us out of this. But I'm
saying that as long as the system works, you don't know
what is happening any more than you know why your leg
should jump when the knee bone is hit.

Q: Are you saying that the system is working by itself
reflexively, mechanically, but it gives the impression that
there's a 'me' as a centre?

Bohm: Yes. The system contains a reflex which produces
the thought that it is I who am doing everything. It has a
very elaborate system of covering up what is happening.
We'll go into that, but it will take some time to do so; and I
think we should go on from here if nobody has any urgent question.

I wanted to say more about thought. Thought is
incomplete. The thought of the table doesn't cover all about
the table. It picks up a few points about it. But clearly the
table actually involves a vast number of things—its atomic
constitution, all sorts of structure inside the material, how
it's all related to everything, and so on. Our thought of it as
a table is a simplification, or an 'abstraction'.

One way of looking at it is to say that thought provides a
representation of what you're thinking about—the way an
artist makes a picture which represents somebody but isn't
somebody at all. Sometimes a few little lines are enough to
represent that person, but clearly the person is far more
than that; there is an immense amount which is not in the
representation. Likewise, thought does not provide
complete information or a complete picture or account of
the thing it is supposed to be about. The thought of the
table has only a few salient features, and also it's somewhat
ambiguous; the thought of 'table' includes a lot of possible
things that might be tables, such as all sorts of strange
shapes and sizes. And then, occasionally, something comes
along which you wouldn't expect to be used as a table.
Thought is constantly adding different forms and shapes
and such.

The example I've given is that the word 'table' calls up a
representation in your mind of an image of some sort of
typical table. There are countless forms an actual table
could take. When you see an object which fits one of those
forms or somewhere between those forms you may
immediately recognize it; or if it is similar to those forms,
even in some vague way, then it may still call up the notion
of table, or the word 'table'. You can see that that's a kind
of reflex. The various representations of 'table' are all put
together. So when you look at a table there is a reflex in
your mind. You don't actually utter the word 'table', but
there's a potential reflex: 'that's a table'. If somebody were
to ask you, you would immediately say 'that is a table'. The
information is there in your mind, already on tap.

Therefore, a thing is recognized by the fact that it would
fit a particular representation—it would be one of the
possible forms of that representation. And any form of that
will operate the reflex, and consequently you recognize it.
Then when you think about it, you can think of all the
things that are attributed to it and associated with it, and
also connect up to other reflexes. Everything you think
about is connected to reflexes which will involve what you
can do with it. In the example of the table, the
representation of the table in your mind is connected to
reflexes involving what you can do to the table—that you
can put things on it, or whatever. So you are already
automatically ready to put something on there if the
occasion arises.

Can you see how it's all connected up? The intellectual
reflexes and the visual reflexes and the emotional and the
physical and the chemical and everything are all connected
up, so that you are ready immediately to take action. If it
turns out that the object is not a table, it won't do what you
expect. Then you say that it's incoherent. And if your mind
is working right you say: 'Something is wrong. I've got to
change something.'

That's the way thought works. It gives you vast amounts
of connected, logically interrelated information. Also, the
symbol is somewhat open, it's ambiguous. The word 'table'
is the symbol, whose meaning is ambiguous. It can include
all sorts of other things. It has a tremendous potential for
connecting things up.

You could say that the earliest thoughts before there was
language would probably have involved images. Somebody
raised that question: that before a child can use words, it
probably uses vaguely defined images to stand in for the
things it's thinking about. For instance, animals will see a
part of an object and expect the whole, and so will very
young children. It seems clear that part of the object can call
up the whole, or objects that are vaguely similar could call
up the whole class. It makes a reflex—that symbol makes a
new reflex which connects all the other reflexes. Everyone
of these objects that the symbol can stand in for has in itself
a set of reflexes of what you can do with it, and that symbol
connects it all. It's another reflex which connects all those reflexes.

So you begin to see thought organizing itself into a very
complex, rich structure. I've hardly begun to touch on it; it
includes thought, logic, reason, etc. You form very abstract
symbols. For example, we talked today about the symbol of
necessity and contingency—the two words. If you ask 'what
are they?' you are unable to imagine what they are. I mean,
you have no picture of what is necessity or what is
contingency, but you have a vast number of things with
which those words will connect. And any time you want to
bring order into what you are seeing, one of the things you
have to do is sort out what is necessary and what is
contingent in that particular situation.

Another set of very abstract things is the general and the
particular. The general is the reflex of inclusive and the
particular narrows it down. And you treat things by the
general and the particular. This table is something general,
but the particular is also worked out; the table is made of
wood, it is a certain shape, it's right here, and so forth.
There are a vast number of things. And if you were to try to
find out how all this thought process works, you could
probably spend a lifetime and still not get there.

I say this to show that thought is not just the culprit, that
thought is not pure wickedness. We have this whole very
subtle and very complex structure—which we probably
know very little about—that does everything for us.
Thought is part of a system which includes all our reflexes,
our relations to other people, all that we do, all our society,
and everything. But it has a flaw in it.

As I said, thought works by representation—by a symbol
and by a representation. A symbol stands in for the thing. A
word is a symbol. You can use simplified images as
symbols. The Chinese ideographic language came originally
from pictures, and they were finally simplified and became
mere symbols. But the alphabetic symbol is still more
powerful, because it need have no resemblance whatsoever
to what it represents. It's far more flexible. Such is the
power of language.

You have innumerable symbols, and the symbol produces
a representation; it presents the thing again, as it were. It
gives you a kind of feeling for it. You can, for instance,
represent a human face by a circle with two dots and a little
triangle for the nose and then a mouth. If the mouth is
curved up it represents a smiling, happy person; if the
mouth is curved down it represents somebody who is
unhappy and frowning. If you look at that, you will get the
feeling of a smiling, happy person or a frowning person. It's
a kind of representation of the meaning of the thing.
And representations can get more and more detailed,
become more like artists' pictures. They may be diagrams,
they may be blueprints, they may be all types of things.
That's all thought taking different forms. Every one of those
things is thought. You have to keep all that in mind.

p 99:

Q: What we're doing is making a better map.

Bohm: Yes.

As I've pointed out, one of the key difficulties has always
been that thought does something and then says that what
it is doing is not thought. Thought creates a problem and
then tries to do something about it while continuing to
make the problem, because it doesn't know what it is
doing. It's all a bunch of reflexes working.

Remember that 'thought' is a past particle. It's what has
been registered in the memory. That registration is through
a set of reflexes; so whenever a form appears which fits that
whole set, that symbolic representation will stand in for
whatever fits actually being perceived. For example, if it fits
the representations that would be brought up by the word
'table' then you get all the reflexes to the table right away,
which makes it very useful. But you can also make a
mistake and make a wrong movement; then you are
incoherent and you have to say: 'OK, it's wrong. I've got to
go over it.'

I'm discussing how thought would properly work—and
does in fact work in many areas—first, to show that
thought is not all bad; and second, because to understand
what has gone wrong we should have some understanding
of how it would work when it is right.

p 103:

There could be a view of absolute necessity as just a
perception, saying that at this moment you clearly have to
do a particular action. But suppose you also say 'it's
absolutely necessary for me to achieve my ambition, or to
do various things'. That may be the past—it may be this
whole system saying that.

So we have this situation: thought provides
representations, which we can produce, outside or inside, as
symbols that we can communicate, and which also hold
everything together and connect everything.

Q: And the mass media?

Bohm: The mass media carry them all. They disseminate
them. That's a good word—'disseminate'. The symbols act
like seeds. The media scatter them, and then those
representations all become seeds of further reflexes. For the
people who receive them they become new reflexes—they
take root and become new reflexes. That's all a system.

And you can see that thought is inherently going to be
incomplete. It can at best provide an abstract
representation, it will not contain the thing itself. The thing
itself is not only more than could be contained in the
representation; but additionally, thought is not always
right. The thing itself is always in some way different from
what we think it is. It is never exactly what we think.

Also, some of our thought is mistaken when extended.
For example, people believed that Newton's laws would
hold forever because they held for several hundred years.
And yet quantum theory and relativity came in and
overturned them. During the late nineteenth century, Lord
Kelvin, one of the leading theoretical physicists, said that it
was no use for young people to go into theoretical physics.
He said that the major discoveries of physics were finished,
and that what was left was only a matter of refinements
and the next decimal points. However, the thing didn't
work out that way. Nevertheless, some physicists now talk
about a 'theory of everything'. They don't have it but they
say that they're going to have it, they expect it.

Thought is always trying to claim that it knows
everything. It has that tendency in it, and we have to say
why. This is a very dangerous tendency, which leads to self-
deception. It doesn't leave open the unknown. It doesn't
leave open that the thought is only a representation. And
you must leave room in your thought for something more
and something different. Healthy thought requires that it
intrinsically be built so that it always has room for that. I'm
saying that whatever the representation is, it could be
something more and something different. At most we could
say that as far as we know a certain representation may be
accurate. That leaves room for something more and
something different. Now, that would be healthy thought,
proper thought. Orderly thought would have to have that
form and structure.

But a great deal of our thought doesn't have that. For
example, religious thought often doesn't have it. A lot of
our political thought doesn't have it. Even a lot of our
scientific thought, as I've just explained, doesn't have it.
That's a crucial point: one of the ways thought goes wrong
is that it claims, implicitly at least, to be able to know everything
—that it could get rid of uncertainty and get rid of the
unknown. There is this drive in thought to say that it will
eventually get hold of everything. I don't know whether
that drive has always been there; but it is there, and as
civilization develops it seems to get even stronger.

Such thought gives a sense of security. A lot of thought is
aimed at increasing our security. And in a legitimate way it
does provide for greater security. We use thought to store
up food, to acquire shelter, and do various other things. But
then thought gradually begins to extend and say: 'I not only
need that kind of security, I need other kinds. I need
emotional security. I need relational security. I need to know
—to be sure of everything.' And once thought has security,
that provides for the endorphins to coat the pain nerves and
you feel good. But as soon as that's questioned, the
endorphins are removed and the nerves get all excited and
there is a drive to think the thoughts that will give you
security, saying 'I know it all'. That's part of the reflex system.

Therefore, can we stay with the fact that thought does not
know it all? There is always uncertainty, at least as far as
we can see. There is always the unknown. Our
representations are adequate only up to a point.

For instance, a circular table looks like an ellipse from
various directions. But we know that those are all different
appearances of a single circular form. So we represent the
table as a circle. We say 'that's what it is, a solid circle'. But
then scientists come along and say 'That's mostly empty
space; it is atoms moving around. It's really quite different
from the solid circular object it appears to be. It's only very
roughly a circle. A cloud might look like a circle, but it's
not.' Thus according to these scientists the essence is now
the atoms; the circle is only an appearance. But then, ideas
about the atom itself have changed over the years.
Originally, the word 'atom' meant something that couldn't
be cut. Then later physicists said an atom is made of
electrons and protons and neutrons and mostly empty space
—the atom is only an appearance and these other particles
are the essence. And then came quarks. And then came
other things.

You could wonder if they are ever going to finish this, or
whether it's always just a representation—which may be
adequate or not. That is, it may be a correct representation
up to a point. If it's correct it will guide us coherently, to
the extent that it is correct. But at some stage, since
representation is incomplete, it must cease to guide us
coherently; and then we need to change our thought.

So we do not expect to find some eternal truth about the
nature of matter. The nature of matter as far as we can see
could be infinite, unlimited—qualitatively as well as
quantitatively. There is no valid reason why we should
think of matter as limited. In the nineteenth century people
thought that it was limited in one way. In the twentieth
century we now have different ideas. And in the twenty-
first or the twenty-second they may think entirely
differently, and they will look for a new final theory which
could be very different from what we have now. And then
it might go on and on. But there is no justification for that.
It's not the right way to think. To think that way is going to
mix up the thought process.

p 115:

However, there are a lot of examples of how
representation affects perception. I gave the one of where
you have an indistinct letter and somebody states what it is
and you then see it that way. If, on the other hand, the
figure is distinct, then you cannot easily see the effect of
representation. But in an ambiguous situation it becomes
clear that the way you are thinking is affecting the way you
see. There are hundreds of examples of that kind.

Q: And you're suggesting that this is actually the general
case, although we may think it is an exception.

Bohm: Yes. I'm saying that is the way perception works—it
is highly affected by thought and by representation and by
imagination, and so on. And in fact, that is quite inevitable.
But we do not seem to see this happening.

There are historians who say that in very early times
people had a more participatory type of thought. They
would think that they were participating in some of the
things they saw, like saying that they participated in the
totem of the tribe or in the whole of nature. And the
Eskimos apparently had a belief that there were many
many seals, but that each one was a manifestation of the
one seal—the spirit of the seal. That is, the one seal was
manifesting as the many. Therefore, they could pray to this
spirit of the seal to manifest so they could have something
to eat. Now, if you thought all seals were individuals, that
prayer would be ridiculous because you are asking this
individual seal just to come and be eaten. But to the spirit
of the seal it would be 'but of course, I'll just manifest for
the Eskimos and I'll still be here'. I think that the American
Indians looked at the buffalo that way.

The earlier people felt that they were participating in
nature. And in some way they were more keenly aware of
the participation of their thought. However, in another way
they were perhaps overdoing it—in the sense that they
were supposing the reality of some of the things which
were being projected by the thought, in a way that may not
have been entirely right.

Then we developed instead a more objective kind of
thought which said; 'we want to have a thought about
something where we don't participate, where we just think
about it and know just what it is.' That made possible
science and technology, and so forth. But that also went too
far, because we began to apply that objective thought
universally and said it applied inside, outside—to
everything. And then we say there is no participation
whatsoever by thought.

Now, that is clearly wrong. I've pointed out that there is
a great deal of participation by thought, and how it creates
the world. And I'm saying also that thought clearly
participates in perception, and that that is the crucial form
of participation. Thought participates in everything; but our
ideal of objective thought is absolute non-participation—the
idea that thought is just simply telling you the way things
are and doing nothing whatsoever. In some areas that's a
good approximation; but our thought has supposed that to
be the universal situation.

Thus, we could say that here is one of the questions
where thought is going wrong. And this could be said to be
very close to the fundamental flaw in the process—namely,
that thought is doing this thing and doesn't realize that it's
doing it.

p 123:

If thought didn't do anything, it might be that
another solution would come. The agitation might just
disappear. It may be that if you stay with the fact that there
are no endorphins for a little while, the system will soon
come to an equilibrium. There may be no real problem at all
except that thought says 'quick, I must do something'.

Let me say a few more points here. We have this question
of thought affecting perception. This will be very crucial
tomorrow when we discuss the thought and the thinker or
the observer and the observed, or whatever you want to call
it, because the question arises: if thought affects what we
perceive, how are we going to separate the two?

We have with the body a very interesting situation called
proprioception, which means 'self-perception'. If you move
any part of your body, you know that you have moved it—
the movement resulted from your intention. You know that
immediately, without time, without an observer, without
having to think. If you can't tell that, then you're in a very
bad way. There are people who have lost it and they can't
move coherently, because you must be able to distinguish
between a movement that you have created and one that
occurred independently.

I've often cited the case of a woman who woke up in the
middle of the night hitting herself. What had happened was
that she'd had a stroke that damaged her sensory nerves,
which would tell her what she was doing. But the stroke
left the motor nerves so that she could still move her
muscles. Apparently she had touched herself, but since she
wasn't being informed that it was her own touch she
assumed right away that it was an attack by somebody else.
Then the more she defended the worse the attack got. When
the light was turned on, the proprioception was
reestablished because she could then see with her eyes what
she was doing, so she stopped hitting herself. There was
also a case published of another woman who somehow lost
proprioception overnight, and couldn't move her body
without watching every movement. She had to learn to
watch very skilfully and somehow to get along; apparently
that never changed.

Normally this quality of proprioception exists for the
body. And one of the things we need to see is the relation
between the intention to move and the movement—to see
immediately that relation, to be aware of it. We're usually
not very aware of this intention to move, but we can be. If
somebody wants to make his movements more accurate or
skilled he will find his intention is not that well defined—
he doesn't move the way he hopes. Somebody who wants
to play the piano, for instance, has to learn that relation
better so that his fingers will do what he wants them to do.
So a greater quality of proprioception occurs in that regard.

The essence of the movement may be in the intention to
move, which unfolds into the whole movement. For
example, we knew of a man who had a degenerative
disease and was unable to move at all. He could barely talk.
And yet he taught movement in a university. The question
is how he could do it. You could guess that, being very
intelligent and unable to move, he was somehow much
more aware of the intention than we are, because we focus
our attention on the result. Therefore, getting the intention
right may be very crucial to making the movement right.
Thus there is some relation between the intention to move
and the movement; and there is something in between that
you are vaguely aware of, which is proprioception.

There is one point I would like to bring up now which is
related to this. I'm going to say that thought is a movement—
every reflex is a movement really. It moves from one thing
to another. It may move the body or the chemistry or just
simply the image or something else. So when 'A' happens
'B' follows. It's a movement.

All these reflexes are interconnected in one system, and
the suggestion is that they are not in fact all that different.
The intellectual part of thought is more subtle, but actually
all the reflexes are basically similar in structure. Hence, we
should think of thought as a part of the bodily movement,
at least explore that possibility, because our culture has led
us to believe that thought and bodily movement are really
two totally different spheres which are not basically
connected. But maybe they are not different. The evidence
is that thought is intimately connected with the whole system.

If we say that thought is a reflex like any other muscular reflex
—just a lot more subtle and more complex and changeable—
then we ought to be able to be proprioceptive with thought.
Thought should be able to perceive its own movement, be
aware of its own movement. In the process of thought there
should be awareness of that movement, of the intention to
think and of the result which that thinking produces. By
being more attentive, we can be aware of how thought
produces a result outside ourselves. And then maybe we
could also be attentive to the results it produces within
ourselves. Perhaps we could even be immediately aware of
how it affects perception. It has to be immediate, or else we
will never get it clear. If you took time to be aware of this,
you would be bringing in the reflexes again. So is such
proprioception possible?

p 147:

First I thought I'd say a little more about proprioception. I
understand some people still feel it's not clear. The basic
thing is that you are directly aware of your body, of how
your body is moving; whereas if you watch a tree moving,
for instance, you are aware that that's quite independent of
you. Proprioception makes you aware of your whole body
as belonging to you, as part of you. You're aware of what is
happening and how your intentions affect it, and so forth.
And we can always get better at proprioception. People
who are skilled, such as athletes or dancers, must have a
very good proprioception of exactly how they are moving.
They don't have to stop to think. They may have an
intention in their thought as to what they want to do; but
while they are actually doing it they don't stop to analyse
exactly how it's going and compare that with what they intended.

That's the kind of thing that is involved in
proprioception. But that awareness can break down. I read
about somebody who had something happen to him, and
then afterwards he felt that the right side of his body didn't
belong to him—he was no longer aware of it as his own.
The point is that we are immediately aware of the
difference between a movement which originates by itself
and one which we have thought about, without actually
having to think 'this is what I'm aware of'. I'm suggesting
that this proprioception should be extended into thought, so
that we are aware of thought as it participates. Thought's
participation produces all sorts of things. And it affects
perception—what you think affects what you perceive
outside and how you feel inside.

p 153:

The important point is actually to
see for yourself the proprioception of thought, to see it in action.

I would like to discuss the imagination so that we could
understand its role here, because it is very closely related to
this question. 'Imagination' means 'making an image',
'seeing the image of something that is not there'; in other
words, fantasy, fancy, and so on. But really there is no
fundamental distinction between the processes of
imagination and perception. We've said that the entire
consciousness is actually created by a process which is being
guided by information from the senses.

That process gives rise to our perception, and that
process is a kind of imagination. You could call that primary

Also, we can start to imagine things which are not there,
things which are not indicated by perception. And that may
be creative imagination. We can imagine forms of things that
are unknown, which can then be brought into existence.

And we have another kind of imagination, which comes
from the past, from the reflexes—the reflexive imagination,
which could be called 'fancy' or 'fantasy'. This again could
be useful, because we can imagine things and imagine
ourselves going in certain ways or doing certain things, and
solve problems that way. But it can be dangerous because
this fantasy may slip over into apparent perception; it can
participate in perception the way we said that thought does.
When you're lost in fantasy, you seem to be almost
perceiving the thing imagined. And you are not only
apparently perceiving what you fantasize, you are
apparently experiencing and perceiving the self that is
doing it. In other words, it's all built out of thought. You
can be an entirely different person in fantasy from what
you would be outside, such as is portrayed in the book, The
Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Therefore, in fantasy you can create yourself and create a
world. But then fantasy may start to merge with your
perception of reality. Some people have suggested that
when the infant's memory first starts to work it's mostly
fantasy. According to the child psychologist Piaget, young
children do have a lot of fantasy in thought. They may
imagine that they are magically affecting things. And then
they have to learn to distinguish certain 'fantasies' which
are to be called 'reality', namely the ones that pass the tests
for reality: those which stand up, which everybody sees,
which resist being pushed, which are not affected by how
you think about them, and so forth.

So the reality which you perceive is affected by your
thought. Thought is working as a kind of imagination being
infused into your perception. It becomes part of what you
see. And that imagination is necessary. But if it gets held
too strongly and resists evidence of incoherence, then it
leads to all the problems we're talking about.

That's the general picture. You can see therefore that you
have to watch the imagination carefully. It can be creative
and it can be also very destructive, because the fantasy
realm can merge with reality and create a resistance to
seeing that it is fantasy. It will create reflexes that resist
seeing it, because you create such beautiful fantasies that
you don't want to give them up. They feel very good, the
endorphins are produced and everything else. Hence, there
is a movement —a reflex —to hold them and to resist
thoughts which say that they are not right, or they are not
the way it is. Thus you get illusion and all that.

I think that this notion of fantasy will help you to
understand better how thought can enter into perception.
And even when you don't think you are fantasizing it is
still entering perception, because perception is all basically
of the same nature as the process of imagination. If you
think of the fact that perception is created from the brain in
response to information, it follows inevitably that we can
easily produce perceptions which are not right; and we
have to correct them.

p 161:

Q: Is insight available to all of us? And does it take an
emotional opening for it to come in?

Bohm: We don't know where it comes from. I'm suggesting
that it is available to all of us. But the reflex of thought is
continually resisting and defending against it, because the
insight may be seen as a threat to the structure which you
want to hold.

Q: Insight affects the conditioning; it may even be that not a
lot of it survives—that a lot of the conditioning dies, it

Bohm: It's a threat to the conditioning, yes. But the
conditioning is, in fact, not all that important. However, the
conditioning contains a reflex which informs you that the
conditioning is very important.

Now, I wonder if we shouldn't go into the question of the self-
image. We've already sort of touched on it by thinking of
the imagination and fantasy giving a sense of a self that
could be very different from your usual sense. And you
really feel it, you experience it. Or you can be watching
television or a play or a movie and getting lost in the
characters and feel that that character actually is you. In
fact, you're experiencing the character through yourself,
because the television image is nothing but a lot of dots of
light on the screen. All the things you see in there are really yourself.

And that's how you perceive everything. Clearly, there is
a kind of imagination involved in looking at the television
image. If you were to look at it carefully you would see
nothing but flashing lights. But you see people, trees,
characters; you see emotional conflicts and danger; you see
anger, fear, pleasure. But it's all yourself. It's all the
imagination being infused into the picture on the screen—
just as it gets infused into perception. So when you're
looking at the television set, what you experience must
come from something like the imagination. Where else
could it come from?

It becomes more and more clear how thought enters into
perception. Thought, though, doesn't know it's doing it. In
fact, most of the time you don't need to know. However,
when there is incoherence you do need to know. This is the
point: if there is a resistance to knowing it when you need
to know, if there are reflexes that resist knowing, then there
is trouble.

You can't keep track of all that—every time you watch
the television set, thinking 'well, this is really me, projecting
into the television screen'. It's like the rainbow. I see a
rainbow out there; but according to physics, actually there
are drops of rain falling and light refracting off of them. The
same sort of thing happens when you're looking at the
television. There are spots of light, and you see all sorts of
things happening; but it's the same nature as the rainbow.
It's closer to the actuality to say that there is a process going
on in the television set—a complex process with the light,
with your nerves, with everything. You can't get hold of it
all. It's a representation; that drama is representing
something in many, many levels. And what you see and
experience is that representation.

I'm trying to make it more clear how this thing is actually
a very common experience and not so hard. We are
infusing our imagination, our past, our knowledge into
what we see—not 'we' are doing it, but it's doing it itself.
And that isn't necessarily bad. It may be very necessary in
many contexts. However, when we fail to see that this is
happening then we are in danger, especially if there is
resistance to seeing it. And we are conditioned to resist
seeing that this is happening. That's really where the self-
deception arises.

Now, it's around the self-image that the problem is most
difficult. We've got a kind of self-image that is almost like a
television programme going on inside; its going on in the
nerves, and so forth. And this image has several parts. One
part seems to be 'somebody' inside at whom you are
looking. Another part seems to be 'somebody' who is
looking. We have different words for these. The word 'I'
stands for the subject, the one who sees, who acts, who
does, who determines everything, who has will. 'Will' is the
same as 'determine' and 'intention'. 'I am determined'
means strong will. 'I' is the active agent: I will, I determine,
I see, I choose, I think. And also there is 'me' to whom it's
all done. 'Me' is the object, everything happens to me. Then,
the basic concept, the 'self', is what unites those two. I and
me are two sides of myself. So there are me, myself and I.
That's a concept of the self.

We've discussed this many times, that the word 'I' by
itself means almost the same as God. It's the ultimate
source of everything. In the story of Moses who came to the
burning bush in the desert and asked the voice what was its
name, the voice said that His name was 'I Am That I Am'. 'I
Am' was His first name and 'I Am' was His second name.
Later the voice said again that 'I Am' was his name; when
Moses asked 'who shall I say sent me?' the voice said 'You
shall say that "I am" sent you'. Evidently 'I Am' was
considered to be the name of God, which was very sacred,
not supposed to be repeated, and so on.

That's a kind of perception—that the phrase 'I am' by
itself represents the pure subject, the pure source, the one,
the source of everything; and that 'me' represents the object.
But we identify or equate 'I am' with 'me', saying 'I am this,
I am that, I am what I am, I am all the things attributed to
me'. However, there comes a problem in equating 'I am'
with 'me', because 'me' is always limited; 'little you', they
say, 'who are you to think you are great, the great "I Am"?'.
Whereas 'I am', without adding anything more, does not
have any implicit limitation.

The essential point is that the 'me' is always limited, but
we feel that 'me' is the same as 'I am', as 'I'. Now, this
creates a conflict. People want to say: 'I'm the greatest. I'm
the best. I'm the most wonderful.' We have this great,
bright and shining image. And then the world comes along
and says 'You're nothing. You're just fooling yourself.
You're nobody.' It deflates that image, which becomes a
shock and creates a great pain—the fantasy of pleasure can
equally turn into the fantasy of pain and fear and horror. In
a fantasy you can really get into all that.

But it's very hard to keep the thought of 'I' and 'me' orderly
—to make sense of it, to make it coherent. People don't
know how to resolve this contradiction between 'I am' and
'me'. People say: 'You should not treat me as an object. I
don't like it. I'm insulted, hurt.' And society says: 'Who do
you think you are that you should be different from
everybody else and not be treated as an object? You think
that you shouldn't be limited.' Yet 'me', by definition, is an object.

The little child may feel that there is no limit, that he's
everything. He forms that thought, that reflex, that fantasy.
Whether it reflects anything real or not we don't know.
What is important is that it sets up a reflex, saying 'that's
me'. He would hardly form an identity without that. He
also depends on other people to tell him what he is and
who he is. However the great, bright and shining being he
sees from within is not always seen from without. Other
people don't back that up. They may treat him as God
when he's a very young child, but then a time suddenly
appears when they don't.

So you have this tremendous conflict. You have what
Freud called the narcissistic image. There's the Greek
legend of Narcissus, who saw a beautiful man in the water
and didn't realize it was his own image. He fell in love with
it. But he could never get to that image, and he pined away
and died. The irony was he already had that for which he
was longing, he already was that for which he was longing.
However, he didn't believe it or wouldn't accept it. He said
'that's somebody else, whom I need'.

The point is: when we produce this self-image in fantasy
it then becomes the thing longed for. And we say 'there it is
far away from me, and I've got to reach it'. But this is
another fantasy, another image. And it creates the sense 'I
need to have that'.

The sense of necessity gives the greatest force and power
there is in human affairs. You can't resolve that. And the
child never really learns—not in our current society, nor
probably in any society of which we know—to get free of
this image, to get free of being bound to this image.
Therefore, when the image is punctured it hurts. The
fantasy of this great, glorious, shining being is then turned
into a fantasy of somebody who is despised and looked
down upon and limited—who is nothing much, and all that
sort of thing—which creates pain. And that creates the need
to have other people tell me how great I am and it creates
the sense 'I need to get proof of how great I am by what I
do or by what I own', and that sort of thing.

This is very powerful. Human affairs are very powerfully
dominated by all that. And a megalomaniac would say 'I
must govern the world in order to show what I am', as did
Alexander the Great. It was reputed that neither he nor his
mother ever got along with his father. He identified with
his mother, and somehow they came to hate his father.
Probably he felt a strong necessity to show his father how
great he was, so to do that he conquered the world. And
then when he had done that, he said that he was very sad
because he had no more worlds to conquer. In other words,
he had to keep on conquering the world, he never could
stop, because he had to feed that image all the time.

p 165:

The point is: when we produce this self-image in fantasy
it then becomes the thing longed for. And we say 'there it is
far away from me, and I've got to reach it'. But this is
another fantasy, another image. And it creates the sense 'I
need to have that'.

The sense of necessity gives the greatest force and power
there is in human affairs. You can't resolve that. And the
child never really learns—not in our current society, nor
probably in any society of which we know—to get free of
this image, to get free of being bound to this image.

Therefore, when the image is punctured it hurts. The
fantasy of this great, glorious, shining being is then turned
into a fantasy of somebody who is despised and looked
down upon and limited—who is nothing much, and all that
sort of thing—which creates pain. And that creates the need
to have other people tell me how great I am and it creates
the sense 'I need to get proof of how great I am by what I
do or by what I own', and that sort of thing.

This is very powerful. Human affairs are very powerfully
dominated by all that. And a megalomaniac would say 'I
must govern the world in order to show what I am', as did
Alexander the Great. It was reputed that neither he nor his
mother ever got along with his father. He identified with
his mother, and somehow they came to hate his father.

Probably he felt a strong necessity to show his father how
great he was, so to do that he conquered the world. And
then when he had done that, he said that he was very sad
because he had no more worlds to conquer. In other words,
he had to keep on conquering the world, he never could
stop, because he had to feed that image all the time.

Q: But the philosopher Diogenes beat him down. He was
living in nature, enjoying the sunshine, and Alexander the
Great came and stood in front of him and cast a shadow.
The philosopher said to him: 'Could you please get away?
You are blocking something you can't give me—the
sunshine.' The wisdom of the philosopher beat down his image.

Bohm: Well, I suppose Alexander probably always
suspected that it wasn't quite true. I mean, he wasn't
stupid; he was really very intelligent. But he was caught in
this image. And he had tremendous power because of it.
People would do anything for him because he had such
power. You can see how this whole thing works. Everybody
has this same image, which has been beaten down.
However, if the soldiers saw Alexander the Great with a
bright glorious shining image, they could identify with it;
they would feel, 'I'm that way too'. So they would do
anything for him. Whatever he said for them to do, they
did. And therefore they became very powerful.

You can see the power of all this imagination and fantasy.
Throughout all the world that sort of thing has produced
effects like that. There was Hitler, and there have been all
sorts of other people. And we haven't resolved this question.
The point is now that this self-image contains two parts.
At first that seems reasonable, because even physically
there is 'I' who is looking and 'I' at whom the looking is done
—'I' who is the subject and 'I' who am the object. I say:
'Here is my body. I am looking at it.' The body is the object
of the looking. But I am also the subject—'I' who am
looking. It seems that I am looking at myself—a reflexive
act. It makes sense, right? I wash myself, I shave myself, I
do all sorts of things like that.

And then when we form the image inside it seems that
there is 'I' who is the subject, looking at 'me' who is the
object. Down in the chest area somewhere perhaps is the
object, and up in the head is somebody looking. That can be
arranged by fantasy quite easily—we've discussed how
thought enters perception: once thought says that that's the
way it is, then we perceive it that way.

But now if that 'thing' which is perceived in that way
were actually there, it would be extremely important and
precious, wouldn't it? It would be this great, glorious
shining God—or at least it ought to be. It would be the
centre of existence and everything. For the little child it is.
And in fact, it never goes away for anybody. So that which
is inside here has tremendous importance and necessity. It's
not merely the chemistry, but the chemistry is given
extremely high value by the importance and necessity
attached to the meaning. They go together, because there
are enormous chemical effects going on—
neurophysiological effects of such a great shining image,
which is perceived as reality, and also tremendous meaning
which holds it. Therefore, when all that doesn't work
properly it really disorganizes the system.

Thus this self-image becomes central. And everything
becomes arranged to feed and sustain it in as good a way as
possible. We try to arrange thoughts that way. We try to get
people to support it. We try to produce situations, such as
acquiring wealth—people will make a lot of money to show
that they are really very great people. They make far more
money than they need for whatever they want to do. They
keep on making money. And if the mere making of money
isn't enough, then they buy all sorts of things—far more
than they need—to show that they are great people.

Why do people do this? It's accepted, it's taken for
granted that they will do it. But we need to look into this.
Why? What's behind it? You can see that there is a process
going on here which involves the whole system. And
people will reinforce each other in all of it, because people
get their identity from one another—everybody says 'you
are this, you are that, you are the other'. Or else you get
your identity by what you do, or by thinking of where you
came from, or what your ancestors were, and all that. So
you get a sense of identity built up out of thought, which
says 'that's terribly important'. You have to prove that
you're there.

But this structure actually has no basis whatsoever except
thought, which is a very flimsy base. And since that
structure apparently is all-important, it would be very
important to prove that it is solidly grounded. Otherwise it
will be rather alarming to see this all-important structure
with no ground.

p 172:

We've been discussing this self-image—the self as
observer and the self as observed. They seem to be separate
because they have been imaged that way. The image
produces the perception of that separation.

Perhaps, if you want, we'll talk about it for a little while.
We said that clearly the human being actually is there in
some sense—he is actual. The question is: does the human
being exist with a permanent identity? And, if there is one,
what would it be? We said that this notion of identity
doesn't seem to be very coherent. The whole basis is very
ephemeral, insubstantial in thought.

Then there was the suggestion of another way of looking
at the human being. The ground of any person is really
unknown. It might be in the whole totality of whatever is—
of all matter, even beyond matter. We ourselves are matter
which has come together from all over the world. The
carbon in us has probably come from carbon dioxide, which
has been diffusing over the entire atmosphere. It may have
been somewhere on the other side of the world and it got
into plants and into animals, and so forth, and then got into
us. Likewise with the oxygen and water, and so on. So
materially our ground is really in the whole universe. Thus,
you could then follow it through scientifically and say that
it came from the earth, and that the earth was formed from
hot gas which came from stars, or whatever, and those
came from interplanetary dust—on and on, back to the Big
Bang and even beyond. Therefore, we could say all of that
has conspired to produce us—the material structures that
we are. Thus, we would have to say that in some sense this
matter is actual.

But our thoughts about it are not actual. They are
representations, they contain forms. The thought about the
table contains a form. But the table doesn't actually end the
way we see it—at the atomic level it would sort of shade
out a bit. And in modern physics, one of the things they say
is that empty space is full of energy, a vast amount of
energy. Each wave in empty space has a certain minimum
energy, even when it's empty, and if you add up all the
waves it would be infinite. But if you add up waves down
to a certain length called the Planck length (ten to the minus
thirty-three centimetres—a very short distance—beyond
which we might expect the present law of physics not to
hold) the total in a cubic centimetre would be more than the
energy of all the matter in the universe. The idea, then, is
that space is mostly full, and that matter is a small ripple on
it. You can make a very strong case for that according to
modern physics.

Similarly, we could say that whatever is behind the mind—
the consciousness, or whatever you want to call it—is a vast
stream; and on the surface are ripples which are thought.
This seems to be an analogy. Even when we talk of things
being 'here', they are really small ripples on some vast
energy which is circulating. The only reason that this
energy doesn't show up is because matter and light go right
through it without deflecting. What we experience is empty
space. But it may also be regarded as the fullness of space,
which is the ground of all existence. Matter is, then, a small
variation on this ground.

We now, however, begin to think of the forms in thought,
by which we try to represent matter. Those forms are much
more abstract than matter. We can elaborate those forms in
all sorts of ways—make very realistic looking pictures, and
so forth—but they are not the material things themselves.
Like maps, those forms may serve as guides and lead to
coherent action, if they are correct representations.
Otherwise they lead to incoherence and all the problems
that come from that.

That's the general picture. The things which we actually
see are there in some sense; and we are going to discover in
our relation with them that we will be coherent if there is
correct thought. But the ground of the thing is much, much
deeper. At the very least it's in the material structure, which
is far more solid than the thought about it. And then
beyond the material structure is another structure, which
may be even infinitely more solid than that, or far more
substantial than that.

Now, maybe mind is another 'side' of that same thing—
that which we call energy on one side is mind on the other
side. That is, energy is pervaded with a kind of intelligence,
out of which perhaps insight comes, or deeper perceptions
of truth. That's the suggestion.

Then what about ourselves? We say that our ground is in
all that. But we have all sorts of representations of ourselves
which are really rather superficial. And we try to identify
with them. But then once we do that, we have this quality
of thought which infuses it into perception. We apparently
perceive the thing we are representing—it seems to be
there. It's like the rainbow; we see a rainbow, but what we
have is drops of rain and light—a process. Similarly, what
we 'see' is a self; but what we actually have is a whole lot
of thoughts going on in consciousness. Against the
backdrop of consciousness we are projecting a self, rather
than a rainbow. If you walk toward the rainbow you will
never get there. The image of the table is produced in the
same way, but if you walk toward the table you will get
there and touch it.

I'm suggesting that if you try to touch the self, it will be
the same difficulty as trying to touch the rainbow. We have
a representation of the self, which is really arising in a
process. We don't know this process very well; but the
attempt to treat the self as an object is just not going to
mean anything. So instead, suppose we say that this self is
unknown. Its origin, its ground is unknown. And it is
constantly revealing itself, through each person or through
nature or through various other ways.

p 182:

Well, that's a question we're raising. The only
answer would be whether we do it or don't. We can't really
answer this from knowledge. If it is unknown and it can't
be answered from knowledge, it seems to call for something
else, which we've been calling 'perception of truth' or
'insight'. And we have been going into various kinds of
thoughts, looking at thoughts which are getting in the way
of this and which are part of our culture.

Perhaps we all are having some insight into this at some
level, that it has some effect. But it will require a lot of work
to get actually into all the chemistry which holds the old way.
That's the point I would like to make. Now, if you don't
want to call it 'insight' you could call it 'perception of
truth'. And we could raise the question of what is truth.
Our culture has similarly produced a lot of confusion
around that, which makes it hard to get into it.

One theory of truth is that true ideas correspond to
reality, such as the true idea of the table would correspond
to the reality of the table. But we've just seen that this can't
be because every idea is a representation—an abstraction
which leaves out most of the reality. It's hard to know what
it corresponds to. For example, if a map is a correct map,
does it correspond to anything in the country? On the map
are lines and dots representing cities, roads, rivers and
boundaries. Those lines on the map are abstractions. They
are not actually lines anyway—if you look at them carefully
you can see they are little dots, printed dots of ink, all
strung near each other. And, similarly, the lines between
the countries don't exist either. They've been imagined by
people. A fence or wall may eventually be put up, but it
was put up by people who thought there was a line there.

Thus there is a correspondence between one abstraction and
another, which guides you. But it's a correspondence of
form, certain abstract forms, but not to reality—the reality
itself escapes you. Every one of those things which
corresponds in that way doesn't stand by itself as reality.
There may be a correspondence of that kind, which is
part of a correct idea. And a correct idea will not only lead
to that kind of correspondence, but also to coherent action.
But I would like to say that truth is something more. An
idea may be correct or incorrect or somewhere in between;
but truth is something deeper. We should reserve the word
'truth' for something much deeper.

The root of the word 'true' in English means 'straight',
'honest' and 'faithful'—like 'a true line'. And in Latin, the
word verus is a root word which means 'that which is'. So
you could say that a rough idea of the meaning of the word
'truth' would be 'straight, honest and faithful to that which
is'. But there will be no truth unless the mind is straight,
honest and faithful; unless it doesn't engage in self-
deception; unless the chemistry allows it. Fo

p 189:

At the end of the morning session we were saying
that all this thought—this whole system—is even more
social and cultural than it is individual. And it is necessary
to go into that in order to see the whole of it, to see the
essential features of it. The way we are proposing to do that
is by dialogue. The word 'dialogue' has the root 'dialogos'.
In Greek 'dia' means 'through' and 'logos' means 'the
word' or 'the meaning'. We may picture meaning flowing
between people. 'Dia' doesn't mean 'two' but 'through'.
Therefore, many people can participate—it is between us or
among us.

One view of relationship would be to look at two people
as two points connected by a dotted line showing their
relationship as a secondary feature. Another view is a solid
line with a point at each end—which is to say that the
relationship is the main thing and the people are at the
ends, are the extremes of it. And in the dialogue we might
perhaps be that way.

Just as thought separates the self into the subject and
object, into the observer and the observed—which is all one process
—so thought separates people. But when people are really
in communication, in some sense a oneness arises between
them as much as inside the person.

Of course, 'dialogue' has not been commonly used in that
sense. For example, people talk about dialogues in the
United Nations; they say things like 'we negotiate'.
However, negotiation is only the beginning. If people don't
even know how to get started they may trade off various
points trying to find out at least how to proceed; but if you
merely trade off points and negotiate then that doesn't get
very far.

The view of the dialogue which I am suggesting goes
very much further than that. I read many, many years ago
of an anthropologist who visited a North American Indian
tribe of hunter-gatherers. They would meet in a circle of
about thirty or forty people, and they would talk directly
with each other. Apparently there was no particular
authority, though it may be that the older people were
more listened to because they were supposed to be wiser.
They talked with no agenda, no purpose; they made no
decisions and they ended the circle for no apparent reason.
And after that they apparently understood each other well
enough so that they knew what to do. That was their way
of life; they met again and again, in sort of a sustained way.

It seemed to me at that time that this would be the right
way to live. But in modern civilization, or even in older
ones, we don't appear to be able to do so. People seem to
require an authority or hierarchy, or else they make
determinate decisions. They don't quite understand each
other when they are talking, so they never, really, can
maintain this sort of thing.

But it is becoming more and more urgent that people
should be able to talk together, because technology is
making it dangerous if we cannot. The point is: what does it
mean to be able to really communicate, for people to try to
talk together?

Suppose we put about four or five people together. That
is quite a different situation from having twenty or thirty
people together. Four or five people can get to know each
other and adjust; they can sort of avoid all the difficult
questions. In a way they may be reproducing a more family-
type situation; somebody may take on the authority or
leadership if they want to do something. But with thirty or
forty people, or even twenty, then a new thing comes in:
there are many different points of view, and you get
something more like a cultural situation of a society.

In society we have a culture. I say a culture is basically a
shared meaning. Without that shared meaning society will
fall apart; it's a kind of cement that holds society together.
If people want to get together to do anything things must
mean the same to them or they can't do it. It would be at
cross purposes if everything had a different meaning for
different people.

However, in our society there are many subcultures in
which things mean something very different—ethnic
subcultures, religious and economic subcultures, educated
professions, people in different groups—thousands of
different divisions. And if people try to get together, from
those groups or even within one of those groups, they may
have somebody who runs the thing and then they can try to
do what they want. But if they were given a leaderless,
agendaless group they probably would feel very anxious
and not know what to do. Even if they went through that
anxiety, they would find sooner or later that they all had
different views and opinions—that they were not
communicating, and each one was doing things which were
irritating the others, making the others angry. Each one
would have a way of thinking which would make the
others feel very uncomfortable or exasperated. They start
blaming each other for all these things, as I've seen happen,
and the whole thing degenerates. They just fall apart; they
say 'what's the use?'.

In fact, that kind of difficulty arises whenever people try
to get together for a common purpose, whether in the
government or in business or wherever. You find that this
is the kind of thing that is going on. For instance, the
legislators really don't get together in Congress to come to a
common meaning; they just trade off certain points in order
to pass bills. In contrast, I understand that when the
Constitution of the United States was written, the writers
spent a long time working together on it in the same place.
They hammered it all out so that they would all agree on
the Constitution, which was a relatively unified document—
though it had certain problems in it which were not unified,
such as those which led to the Civil War, and so on.
Now, that's a kind of introduction to the concept of
dialogue. And for merely practical purposes we would
need dialogue. But in addition it has a much deeper
significance, which we will go into later.

If you went through this process, though, you would find
difficulties. First of all, some people become dominant.
They talk easily and run the show. Others keep quiet,
perhaps because they are afraid of making fools of
themselves; but they feel somewhat resentful of those who
are dominant, and that would also split the group. Some
people act out roles, and other people find this very
irritating. All sorts of things would be happening. These are
all problems which will arise when a group tries to get
together, but they are still on the surface.

Suppose we got through all that. Then come more
difficult things. People have different basic assumptions
about the important things in life—assumptions as to what
is really necessary, what is really true, the way people
ought to be, what our real purpose ought to be, and all that.
And as we've seen, these assumptions are in the form of
reflexes. People don't quite know they have them. But when
the assumptions are challenged, suddenly a person may
jump up with an emotional charge. And then it goes back
and forth; the whole group can polarize between two such

We once tried to hold a dialogue in the early period in
Israel, and somebody said very quietly and innocently that
the trouble between Jews and Arabs is Zionism—the main
trouble is that Zionism keeps them apart. Then suddenly
somebody else rose up with his eyes popping out, and said
that without Zionism the State would fall to pieces. So there
were two different assumptions: one was that it was really
necessary to drop this idea of Zionism, and the other was
that without it Israel would be impossible. Both were
correct in a way, but there was no way to bring them together.

Such assumptions generate tremendous power. They're
really assumptions of necessity. And what can happen in
such cases is that a lot of people are then drawn in who
weren't before. In this instance the thing became very heated
—full of this electrochemical smog—and the people who
hadn't at first been worried about it were all drawn in. But
a few were able to deflect it a bit, so it didn't go too far. It
didn't get resolved; a dialogue would have to be sustained
a long time to resolve a thing like that. However, it did
reach the point where the people could at least talk to each
other. The fellow didn't walk out, and they were able to
listen to some extent to those two opposing assumptions or opinions.

This may seem a small point, but it's really crucial. The
world is full of different assumptions of that kind—such as
the ones between capitalism and communism which, until
recently, divided the world. Each country has assumptions
of its sovereignty. And its neighbour has a contrary
assumption that it is right and it is sovereign, and so on.
These are assumptions all the way through: 'who's the
boss', 'I'm the one who runs it'. But somebody else wants to
run it: 'I would be better able to do it.' There are so many
assumptions, and they are very powerful. They are
assumptions of necessity. All the literature and the dramas
in the culture contain them; they are in there implicitly. The
Greek dramas were full of those assumptions of necessity,
which created the tragedies. The hero, who was really a
very fine person, very consistently stuck to his assumptions
of necessity and thus destroyed himself and everybody
around him.

And this is all collective. It's not just an individual thing.
There are whole groups who stick together because of this.
We pick up these assumptions from the culture. 'Culture'
has the same root as 'cultivate'; we sort of cultivate it in
some way. The culture contains all these meanings of what
is necessary; we have all that.

Now, with any group of people—including this one, if
we were to stick at it and meet, say, once a week for an
indefinite period; not forever, but indefinitely—in the
beginning you would be polite, you would find various
topics to talk on about which you could agree. As an
example, there was one group where there were some
liberal left-wingers on one side and conservatives on the
other. They found a lot of things to talk about which had
nothing to do with their politics. Then gradually they ran
out of those things, and somehow they began to have to
talk about the things on which they didn't agree. And then
it wasn't so easy.

Sooner or later, in this group or in any group, these types
of problems would arise. And if we can't face them then we
can't work together. But suppose you have to work
together. I'll give a typical problem which some of us have
been thinking about recently. The directors or the executive
officers of companies need to work together in a group and
also with the rest of the company. But each person has a
different assumption, which is a kind of reflex, and he
doesn't know he has it. Thus, people may be implicitly
following different policies and therefore going off in
different directions. Although they're supposed to be
working together, they are really resisting each other.

The same is true in the government. Clearly the
government is full of people resisting one another. They're
cancelling each other's efforts and confusing the whole
thing. And in every organization you will find that. Even if
you set up a chief on top, the others have their own
opinions and they won't necessarily follow the directives
from the top. They may seem to follow them, but there is a
resistance underneath. They are not following him, and he
can't get his policies carried out.

So we need an effort to talk. What can we do with this?
I'm saying that there is a way—which means dialogue.
It's really the same problem with the individual. We've
said that the individual has contrary intentions inside of
him, contrary reflexes. Suppose somebody is angry and he
wants not to be. He says; 'Being angry is terrible. It's going
to destroy what I'm doing, but I'm still angry.' On one hand
he has the intention to remain angry and on the other hand
he has the intention to stop being angry. The two intentions
may be in the same person or in different people, but it
operates that way. And if you set up a group, it works
much the same.

When we talked about the individual we said that you
have to stay with this conflict, you don't escape it. You stay
with it, you even bring it out. And you begin to get some
insight, you begin to see how thought is producing conflict.
As an individual you need to see that staying with this,
doing this, is more important than any particular issue you
are trying to resolve. In other words, if you can do this you
have gone to a deeper level beyond the issues that are
disturbing you.

The same is true in the group—we stay with this conflict
of intentions, reflexes, assumptions. Every assumption is
implicitly a reflex and a set of intentions. And just as
happens with the individual, so it moves out into the
group. Each person is affected by the other people's
thoughts, so that the reflexes of one person become the
reflexes of the other

p 211:

We've been discussing dialogue, to give the
meaning and to give a 'vision of dialogue'. Tomorrow,
those who stay will try to begin something of a dialogue
throughout the day. But I think in the remaining time today
we'd like to discuss a few other points which we always
consider in these seminars.

One of the points is this question of separation. Once we
form the thought of separation—the image and the
imagination of separation—we perceive things and people
as separate. Then we make them separate, as when we
draw a line between countries and perceive two countries
and we then create two countries.

So we could say that though our bodies are individual,
nevertheless they are capable of a close connection on
another level through communication, which we've talked
about. The thought process is a fundamentally collective
system anyway. You would not have it in its present form
except through a culture and a society. A language could
only exist that way.

The individuality that we have—or that we think we have
—is to a large extent the product of our culture, which
creates the particular image of the individual. But all the
people in a certain culture have more or less the same
image of their individuality. It's clear that thought
determines the question of what is connected or separate,
how you see it, and so on.

In our personal consciousness there is the impression that
there is an observer and an observed, there is a thinker who
produces thoughts separate from himself. And once
thought has formed the image of the self as 'me' and 'I',
then there is the view that it is 'I' who creates thought. In
other words, thought has explained its origin through the
image by attributing itself to that image, just as you could
attribute the sound of the telephone to the image in the
television set and feel it to be there. In a similar way, the
feeling could be created that somewhere in the head is the
source of thought.

Also, you have the division between the self and the
world. You say: 'I end at my skin. Outside is the world.'
And you experience it that way. But that experience can be
very variable. There's the example of a blind man with a
stick. If he holds the stick tightly he may feel that he ends at
the end of the stick; but if he loosens his hold, then he may
feel that he ends at his fingertips. Similarly, if a person
identifies himself as part of a country he may feel that he
ends at the boundary of his country, and if somebody
crosses the boundary he feels attacked. Or you may feel you
are one with the universe. Or vice versa, you have the
opposite sense—the thought which tries to go inward,
inward to the very essence, the core of the self, down to one
point, thinking that that point is 'me' and the rest is being
observed by me.

But it's all an image. It changes around according to the
situation. That image may be more correct or less correct in
various situations. Where the connection is close it may be a
correct representation, and where it's loose it is not. So it
would require seeing the coherence of that to see how it
works in each case.

We have this notion, then, that the agent, the thinker,
creates the thought. And a person may identify himself
with almost anything. Descartes said 'I think, therefore I
am', which meant his essential being was in the action of thinking
—he felt that the action defined his being. And many
people may feel that way from time to time.

Now, we're suggesting that thought is a system
belonging to the whole culture and society, evolving over
history, and it creates the image of an individual who is
supposed to be the source of thought. It gives the sense of
an individual who is perceived and experienced, and so on.
This would be conducive to the next step, which is for
thought to claim that it only tells you the way things are
and then the individual inside decides what to do with the
information—he chooses. This is the picture which emerged
gradually: thought tells you the way things are and then
'you' choose how to act from that information.

p 214:

Usually what first happens is that the 'me' has been
hurt and 'I' must remove or get rid of the pain. 'What can I
do?' That's the first reaction. So you start a train of thought:
'Who did it? Who's to blame?' And you say: 'OK, that one's
to blame. I must take revenge.' That would be one way out.
Or, 'that person must apologize'. Or else another reaction
would be to say, 'I should not be hurt'. But then there's a
conflict, because the same thought process which makes
you be hurt is also fighting and saying you should not be hurt.

Thus, you have these two situations, these two
movements. It's really all one, but there is that apparent
division which has been built up by this process of thought.
We have a representation of the self as capable of being the
observer and the observed. Just as we say 'I can look at my
body', so we say 'I can look inside and see that it's been
hurt'. That analogy is drawn, but it doesn't work. The
process in which I look at my body has a certain meaning;
but the process in which there is an observer who steps
back to look at the hurt inside has no meaning, because it's
just two images. It might as well be going on in a television
screen. It's like the rainbow, which is really not there but
has a real process behind it—rain and light.

So there is a process behind all this, creating this sense of
an observer who is supposed to do something. That
observer apparently is perceived. And then thought comes
along, takes that as if it were a fact, and proceeds to try to
overcome the hurt. Whereas if that thought stopped, there
would be no problem. Children have a saying: 'sticks and
stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.' It
may be true in a sense, but it doesn't work. People still get
hurt by names because of the thought which creates the
image, which produces either pleasure or hurt.

Now, in so far as you have the image or fantasy which
gives pleasure, that same fantasy turns around to give pain
when the opposite information gets into it. You are very
vulnerable once you depend on fantasy or image to give
pleasure, because that creates the sense of 'me', and then
comes the division—when the pleasure doesn't work and
the struggle and the fight and conflict, and so on. If that
division did not occur there would be no conflict.

Actually, no real division occurs, but as I've already said,
the appearance of division takes place in the image. If there
were no such appearance of division there would be no
occasion for conflict. There would be a perception that this
is thought. There would be proprioception of thought,
expressed in words as: 'this is a train of thought which
produces pain.' Then thought would just stop, because you
don't want the pain.

But there are all sorts of assumptions, such as: 'I am too
important to give up on this thought. I can't allow myself to
give up the pain.' Is that assumption clear? It's a common
one. People who are hurt have an assumption: 'I can't allow
myself to give up that pain because then I would be sort of
negating myself, saying that I have no importance. That
cannot be allowed. It's absolutely necessary to maintain my

If we had an insight right away into all this—that the
observer is the observed, as Krishnamurti so often said—
then it would all evaporate. The point is that we have a
resistance to that insight. We have the fact that there is
confusion and incoherence. And we have the fact that we
do not have perception which sees what is going on. There
is this chemistry, this reflex, which keeps people going in
the same way. The chemistry is affected by the division,
and the division is sustained by the chemistry because the
body now demands relief. Being disturbed by the
chemistry, the body demands relief.

Suppose you hurt your arm. You would notice a
disturbance and say 'I feel pain'. And then the thought
would come up and say 'what's the cause of the
disturbance?'. So you would sort of step back in your mind
and look, and say: 'OK, I see that my arm has been hurt. I
must do something.' That would make sense, because the
thought and the arm are not really that closely connected.
But when it comes to the psychological pain it doesn't make sense.

p 239:

It's very subtle and complex. But maybe the depth
of the physical domain is equally subtle and complex.
That's the suggestion. We're drawing inferences and
making suggestions to consider.

Now, this ties with thought. We discussed the observer
and the observed being perceived as separate, with a space
between them. But we said that that is in the image. If it
were not an image, that separation would imply that there
would be time to act, that it would take time to cross the
space. And, having that space in time, the observer would
be independent enough so that he could think about the
observed a little while and then do something.

But if that separation is just simply an image, when in
fact the observer and the observed are all one thought
process, then whatever you call 'the observer' has already
been affected by the thing he wants to observe. Namely, if
he wants to observe anger he has already been affected by
anger in a distorted way. So he doesn't have any time.
There is no space. There is no time. There is nothing but
thought, which has been affected by anger. And this
requires an insight, which would free the whole process.

Wherever there is a certain space and a certain
independence, it leaves the possibility of taking time. In the
physical sense that coheres, it can work coherently—the
further away something is the more time you have to deal
with it, the more time you have to think. But in the thought
process the thing is so entangled—involved and folded
together—that there isn't that time, there isn't that space.


The preface of the book:

In Thought as a System theoretical physicist David Bohm
takes as his subject the role of thought and knowledge at
every level of human affairs, from our private reflections on
personal identity to our collective efforts to fashion a
tolerable civilization. Elaborating upon principles of the
relationship between mind and matter first put forward in
Wholeness and the Implicate Order, Dr Bohm rejects the notion
that our thinking processes neutrally report on what is 'out
there' in an objective world. He explores the manner in
which thought actively participates in forming our
perceptions, our sense of meaning and our daily actions. He
suggests that collective thought and knowledge have
become so automated that we are in large part controlled by
them, with a subsequent loss of authenticity, freedom and
order. In three days of conversation with fifty seminar
participants in Ojai, California, Dr Bohm offers a radical
perspective on an underlying source of human conflict, and
inquires into the possibility of individual and collective

In Bohm's view, we have inherited a belief that mind (or
thought) is of an inherently different and higher order than
matter. This belief has nurtured a faith in what we call objectivity
- the capacity to observe and report neutrally on some
object or event, without having any effect on what we are
looking at, or without being affected by it. Historically, this
perspective has given us a scientific and cultural world
view in which isolated, fragmentary parts mechanically
interact with one another. Bohm points out that this
fragmentary view corresponds to 'reality' in significant
respects, but suggests that we have overextended our faith
in the objectivist perspective. Once we make the critical
(and false) assumption that thought and knowledge are not
participating in our sense of reality, but only reporting on
it, we are committed to a view that does not take into
account the complex, unbroken processes that underlie the
world as we experience it.

To help bring into focus thought's participatory nature,
Bohm undertakes an extensive redefinition of thought itself.
To begin with, thought is not fresh, direct perception. It is
literally that which has been 'thought' - the past, carried
forward into the present. It is the instantaneous display of
memory, a superimposition of images onto the active, living
present. On the one hand, this memory is what allows us to
perform even the simplest of tasks, such as getting dressed
in the morning. On the other hand, memory is also
responsible for various aspects of fear, anxiety or
apprehension, and the actions that proceed from these
memories. Thought, then, is also inclusive of feelings, in the
form of latent emotional experiences. Not only negative,
painful emotions are folded into thought, but pleasurable
ones as well. Indeed, the whole spectrum of emotions as we
typically experience them is seen by Bohm as thought-related.
The manner in which feeling and thought interpenetrate
one another is central to Bohm's view of the functioning of
consciousness. Throughout the mind and body, he says,
they form a structure of neurophysiological reflexes.
Through repetition, emotional intensity and defensiveness,
these reflexes become ‘hard-wired’ in consciousness, to such
an extent that they respond independently of our conscious
choice. If, for example, someone tells you that a member of
your family is both ugly and stupid, you will most likely
have instantaneous surges of adrenalin and blood pressure
that are inseparable from your thought: 'He is wrong! He is
rude and malicious for saying such things!’ The thought
‘He is wrong!' will tend to justify and perpetuate the bodily
surges. Likewise, the surges will tend to certify the thought.
In time, the experience will fade, but it is effectively stored
in the memory and becomes 'thought'. There it waits to be
instantly recalled the next time a similar situation is

In addition to emotions and reflexes, Bohm includes human
artifacts in his definition of thought. Computer systems,
musical instruments, cars, buildings - these are all
illustrations of thought in its fixed, concrete form. From
Bohm's perspective, to make a fundamental separation
between thought and its products would be the equivalent
of suggesting that whether a person is male or female is a
separate phenomenon from the genetic process that
determined the sex to begin with. Such a separation would
in fact illustrate the very fragmentation under examination.
Finally, Bohm posits that thought and knowledge are
primarily collective phenomena. Our common experience is
that we have personal thoughts that come from our
individual 'self'. Bohm suggests that this is a culturally
inherited sensibility that overemphasizes the role of isolated
parts. He inverts this view, noting that the 'flow of
meaning' between people is more fundamental than any
individual's particular thoughts. The individual is thus seen
as an idiosyncrasy (literally, 'private mixture') of the
collective movement of values, meanings and intentions.
The essential relevance of Bohm's redefinition of thought is
the proposal that body, emotion, intellect, reflex and artifact
are now understood as one unbroken field of mutually
informing thought. All of these components interpenetrate
one another to such an extent, says Bohm, that we are
compelled to see 'thought as a system' - concrete as well as
abstract, active as well as passive, collective as well as individual.
Our traditional world view, in an attempt to maintain a
simple, orderly image of cause and effect, does not take into
account these subtler aspects of thought's activity. This
leads to what Bohm calls a 'systemic fault' in the whole of
thought. The issue here, says Bohm, is that 'thought doesn't
know it is doing something and then struggles against what
it is doing'. For example, flattery is a pleasing experience
which usually sets up a reflex of receptivity toward the one
who flatters. If Jane fails to flatter John when he expects her
to, or takes advantage of him in some unpleasant way, John
will attribute his subsequent bad feelings to something Jane
did. He fails to see that he participated in constructing the
reflex that produced not only the good feelings, but the bad
ones as well. A similar process of incoherence is at work in
the nation-state. When the United States attributes
diabolical characteristics to various Middle East countries
that thwart its easy access to oil, it is not taking into account
its own central involvement in an international petroleum-
based economy which quite naturally gives inordinate
power to those who possess crude oil. In this case, the
reflexive response may be war. The feature common to both
examples is the sense of being in control with an
independent response: 'I will get even with her' or 'we
must demonstrate where the real power lies'. In Bohm's
view, the real power is in the activity of thought. While
independence and choice appear to be inherent in our
actions, we are actually being driven by agendas which act
faster than, and independent of, our conscious choice. Bohm
sees the pervasive tendency of thought to struggle against
its own creations as the central dilemma of our time.
Consequently, we must now endeavour not only to apply
thought, but to understand what thought is, to grasp the
significance of its immediate activity, both in and around us.
Is it possible, then, to be aware of the activity of thought
without acquiring a new agenda, namely, the intention to
'fix' thought? Can we suspend our habit of defining and
solving problems, and attend to thought as if for the first
time? Such open learning, says Bohm, lays the foundation
for an exploration of proprioception. Proprioception (literally,
'selfperception') is that which enables us to walk, sit, eat, or
engage in any other daily activity without having
constantly to monitor what we are doing. An instantaneous
feedback system informs the body, allowing it to act
without conscious control. If we wish to scratch a mosquito
bite on the back of our leg, it is proprioception that allows
us to scratch the bite without (a) looking at our hand, (b)
looking at our leg or (c) having the mistaken impression
that someone else is scratching our leg.

Dr Bohm points out that while proprioception of the body
comes naturally, we do not seem to have proprioception of
thought. If, however, mind and matter are indeed a
continuum, it is reasonable to explore the extension of
physiological proprioception into the more subtle material
activity of thought. Bohm suggests that the immediacy and
accuracy of bodily proprioception are inhibited at the level
of thought due to the gross accumulation of reflexes,
personified in the image of a 'thinker' - an interior entity
who seems to look out on the world, as well as looking
inwardly at emotions, thoughts and so on. This thinker,
says Bohm, is a product of thought, rather than a
transcendental entity; and the thinker is steadfastly
committed to preserving some variation of its own reflexive
structure. Here the state of open learning is crucial for new
understanding. If the reflexive structure can be simply
attended to, rather than acted upon (as the thinker would be
inclined to do), then the momentum which drives the
reflexes is already being dissipated. In this vein, Bohm
outlines a series of practical experiments which call into
awareness the interplay of words and feelings in the
formation of reflexes. This conjunction of open learning and
concrete experiments with the thought-feeling dynamic
suggests the beginning of proprioception of thought.
Such proprioception is intimately related to that which Dr
Bohm refers to as 'insight'. We often associate insight with
the 'a-ha!' phenomenon of having suddenly grasped the
significance of some puzzle or problem. Bohm's notion of
insight includes such particular instances, but extends to a
much more general, and generative, level of application. He
sees insight as an active energy, a subtle level of intelligence
in the universe at large, of a different order from that which
we commonly experience in the mind/matter domain. He
suggests that such insight has the capacity to directly affect
the structure of the brain, dispelling the 'electrochemical
fog' generated by accumulated reflexes. Quite unlike the
memoryladen structure of a 'thinker' operating upon
thought, proprioception provides a medium of appropriate
subtlety for the activity of such insight. In this way,
learning, proprioception and insight work together, with
the potential to reorder our thought processes and bring
about a general level of coherence unavailable through
thought alone.

While all these experiments can be undertaken by
individuals, Bohm points to a complementary mode of
inquiry through the process of group dialogue. He suggests
that such meetings have no advance agenda, other than the
intention to explore thought. And though a facilitator may
be useful in the beginning, the meetings should be free of
authority so that people speak directly to one another. In
groups of twenty to forty people, the systemic and reflexive
nature of thought can come clearly into focus, eliciting a
wide range of responses from the participants. Self-images,
assumptions and prejudices may all emerge, often with
their attendant emotions - defensiveness, anger, fear and
many others. The virtue of such an approach, says Bohm, is
that the group may be able to detect the flow of meaning
passing amongst its members. This meaning may be the
content of some particular subject; it may also be the
quickened pulses that pass through the group as the result
of conflict between two or more members. Such dialogue
holds out the possibility of direct insight into the collective
movement of thought, rather than its expression in any
particular individual. Bohm suggests that the potential for
collective intelligence inherent in such groups could lead to
a new and creative art form, one which may involve
significant numbers of people and beneficially affect the
trajectory of our current civilization.

Throughout Thought as a System Dr Bohm emphasizes that
the model of thought he puts forward is propositional. Not
only does he deny any final knowledge of these issues for
himself; he claims that no such knowledge is even possible.
Such knowledge would be thought, which can only make
approximate representations. Dr Bohm often invoked
Alfred Korzybski's observation that any object of thought
(including, for Bohm, thought itself) is both 'more than
what we think, and different'. None the less, as we do rely
to a great extent on images and representations, a relatively
accurate map of the processes of thought, based on clear
observation and sound inferences, is surely more desirable
than a flawed map. It was Dr Bohm's intention that Thought
as a System be approached as just such a propositional map,
to be tested against direct life experiences, and measured by
its veracity and its usefulness in reducing conflict and
sorrow in the world at large.

Created on 04/28/2014 12:23 PM by admin
Updated on 05/05/2014 04:13 AM by admin
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