David Bohm – Creativity, Perception and the ‘Implicate Order’

In his writings he (Bohm) he not only deals with physics and the philosophy of physics, but also proposes revolutionary views on consciousness. His most famous book is ‘Wholeness and the Implicate Order’, published in 1980, in which he expresses his dissatisfaction with current interpretations of quantum theory and suggests that a hidden order is at work beneath the seeming chaos and lack of continuity of the individual particles of matter. This hidden dimension is Bohm’s ‘implicate order’, the source of all the visible explicate matter of our time-space universe. The implicate order has infinite depth. The world we live in is multidimensional. The most obvious and superficial level is the three-dimensional world of objects, space and time, which he calls the ‘explicate order’. Unfortunately, he says, this is the level at which most of physics operates today, presenting its findings in equations whose meaning is unclear. A clearer understanding becomes possible only by moving to a deeper level, the implicate order. The implicate order is the enfolded order, which unfolds into reality as we perceive it and in which things are separate.

In Bohm’s view, the implicate order is infinite – there could be a super-implicate order, even a super-super-implicate order and so on – each level being more subtle than the last. The source of everything is enfolded in the whole.

Culture is shared meaning in which everybody participates, it is inherently participatory. In contrast, our present culture is not coherent at all, mainly because of its tendency to compartmentalize. We tend to see things (objects, but also people and economies) as separate and not interdependent and that compartmentalization is constantly promoted by what he calls ‘thought’. “Now thought doesn’t know this. Thought is thinking that it isn’t doing anything. I think this is really where the difficulty is. We have to see that thought is part of this reality and that we are not merely thinking about it but that we are thinking it.” (pp54-56)

Reality would mean something that would have some existence independently of being known. It might be that we would know it, but it didn’t require that we would know it in order to exist. (p58)

Quantum mechanics gave no picture, no notion of what was happening. It merely talked about the results of measurements or observations. From such results you can compute the probability of another observation, without any notion of how they are connected, except statistically (p59-60). If you get stuck in a mechanical repetitious order, then you will degenerate. That is one of the problems that has grounded every civilization: a certain repetition. Then the creative energy gradually fades away, and that is why civilization dies. Many civilizations vanished not only because of external pressure, but also because they decayed internally. Many people have realised that creativity is an essential part of science. Creative insight is required for new steps. I feel that creativity is an essential part of science. Creative insight is required for new steps. I feel that creativity is essential not only for science, but for the whole of life (p62).

I tried to get some idea what might be the process implied by the mathematics of the quantum theory, and this process is what I called ‘enfoldment’. The mathematics itself suggests a movement in which everything, any particular element of space, may have a field which unfolds into the whole and the whole enfolds into it. The enfolded order is a vast range of potentiality, which can be unfolded. The way it is unfolded depends on many factors. The way we think and so on is among those factors. The implicate order implies mutual participation of everything with everything. No thing is complete in itself, and its full being is only realised in that participation…In participation we bring out potentials which are incomplete in themselves, but it is only in the whole that the thing is complete. This makes it clear that we are not acting mechanistically, in the sense that we would be pushed and pulled by objects in the surroundings, but rather we act according to our consciousness of them so if you are not conscious of them you cannot act intelligently towards them. Consciousness therefore is really our most immediate experience of this implicate order. Ordinarily we aim for a literal picture of the world, but in fact we create a world according to our mode of participation, and we create ourselves accordingly (pp60-61).

It is a mistake to say it is an environment just surrounding us, because that would be like the brain regarding the rest of the body as part of its environment. We must do justice to each of the parts as well as understanding their relative interdependence in order that there be freedom. The whole is not imposed, but is in each part and each part is in the whole. One is to ‘partake of’. We partake of the whole within ourselves. Another is ‘to take part in it actively’. Both are necessary. (p64)

Tisdall, C, Wijers, L, Kamphof, I (Eds.)(1990) Art meets Science and Spirituality in a changing Economy. SDU Publishers. Amsterdam.


One Response to “David Bohm – Creativity, Perception and the ‘Implicate Order’”

  1. María Adoración García López Says:


    “Mind is not only the result of the interaction of the organism with the environment, from the uterus until death, but also the reflection of the basic organization of the universe: holokinesis, which from the implicit order of the universe becomes explicit as matter, mind and cosmic energies.”

    Dr. Rubén Feldman González.
    Starter Holokinetic Psychology.
    Candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize 2007 through 2011


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