Oral History Transcript — Dr. David Bohm
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Interview with Dr. David Bohm
David Bohm; March 6, 1987
ABSTRACT: Basic principles of dialectic; Hegelian philosophy; mistranslation of Hegel’s German; influence on Soviet Union, Marx, Lenin, Engels; implicit and explicit order; Mozart and Beethoven’s composition techniques; creative intelligence – Jim Watson and the DNA double helix; discussion with Niels Bohr about his ideas on cosmology, the whole as a process (1959); algebraic topology and quantum mechanics; integration of quantum mechanics and relativity; parallel between mind and matter; sensation and intuition.
TranscriptSession I | Session II | Session III | Session IV | Session V | Session VI | Session VII | Session VIII | Session IX | Session X | Session XI | Session XII
Wilkins:You say that you had an idea about dialectic and then implicit order.
Bohm:I was talking to someone about it yesterday. Brian Goodwin, you remember him?
Wilkins:Brian Goodwin, oh yes.
Bohm:See, we were making the point that the basic principle of dialectic is twofold. One, that everything is in process and including thought itself, and therefore, anytime you pick something you will get a contradiction. Anything fixed must inevitably lead to contradiction. That was the first point. And the second point is that thought always abstracts from the connections, and that also leads to contradiction.
Wilkins:Just a minute. Youíre saying that if you fix things, you have a contradiction.
Bohm:If your thought fixes things.
Wilkins:But youíre not saying that if you have a contradiction, it fixes things. I mean, it goes both ways.
Bohm:Well you see, you can get a rather trivial contradiction by just making a mistake or getting confused or something. If your mind is not too fixed, you can drop that quite easily. If you hold to some principles that are very fixed, you canít drop it. Letís say I thought I was going north but I find out Iím going south, well, you just change. But say if you said, my identity is to go north, itís like saying Iím a Nicaraguan, therefore Iíd rather be going north; then you couldnít change it. Therefore it would inevitably bring about contradiction to the fact. But Hegel points out in the very internal nature of thought itself thereís contradiction. Everybody can see that thought being unduly fixed will lead to contradiction with the fact, if it holds too fixedly against evidence. Some fixity is necessary. You do try to find a way around it and so, on but after awhile you see there is a contradiction. Thatís happening in physics in science all the time. We have certain fixed assumptions and we pursue them as far as we can. At first we assume that, well, may be some further correction, something will save it and then finally we say, well, weíve got a contradiction. Itís like saying Michelson-Morley experiment contradicted the idea that you could measure your speech relative to the ether. It also contradicted therefore the implications of Newtonian conceptions.
Wilkins:So youíre not saying that thought is always leading to contradictions and to unity of opposites and so on.
Bohm:Thatís one level that thought contradicts the fact. Everybody can see thatís not what Hegel is talking about, but that is a common experience.
Wilkins:But thought sort of goes in two ways. In one respect, one thought does lead to another in the way that people normally think of thought.
Bohm:Yes. Now Hegel is saying more than that.
Wilkins:But heís saying that that is so, but also thereís this special feature of thought when you come to a contradiction.
Bohm:Heís saying that if you follow a thought logically, it will lead to a contradiction.
Wilkins:Yes, but when you say, ďfollow logically,Ē you mean that there is a whole sequence of thoughts following one another, one leading after the other.
Bohm:Well, there may be a sequence. In the case of being an unbeing there is only one step.
Wilkins:Yes. But in general, the point is that heís identifying two aspects of thought. One is the one where one thing leads on to another logically. And the other aspect is the one where you come to the contradiction.
Bohm:But heís saying that you will inevitably come to a contradiction if you follow a logical chain because you have made fixed assumptions. You have this notion of verstand remember, something you understand.
Wilkins:Yes. If it was a completely logical chain, it has a fixed assumption.
Bohm:He says that since the very nature of thought is a process, it must come to contradict itself.
Bohm:Now, ipso facto if you make some assumption about some things, some facts, or some reality outside of thought, and you hold to it in a fixed way, since that too is a process, then you will also come to a contradiction.
Wilkins:I think my only point is this: that some people might think, looking quickly at Hegel that what he was saying was all thought is nothing but coming to contradictions and nothing then resolving these unities of opposites. But heís not saying that. What heís saying is that this is only part of the total process. In between these things, there are these one thought leading to another without contradiction.
Bohm:Without visible contradiction, anyway. There might be implicit contradiction. So, heís saying that there are two kinds of thought, roughly. One he calls verstand, which falsely translated as ďunderstandingĒ, but it should be standing firm, or form of logic. The German word is not unterstand but verstand which is a translation of the Latin word for perception, percipere, meaning, to hold firmly, to grasp firmly. Vernehmen is exactly the same word in German. Iím sorry, verstand is a translation of ďto stand firmĒ, not to understand. It can be used roughly and loosely as ďunderstandĒ but when they call it verstand it really means ďform or logicĒ. People using translations of Hegel often mistranslate that as ďunderstandingĒ and it becomes very confusing. Then he also has ďreasonĒ, which in English doesnít have the same meaning as in German. Also, ďunderstandingĒ essentially means something very close to what Hegel means ďreasonĒ. So you can see the kind of confusion that developed. His word for verstand was translated ďunderstandingĒ which would be a better translation of ďreasonĒ then the German word for ďreasonĒ which is vernunft. The German word for ďreasonĒ is vernehmen which is ďto grasp firmlyĒ, the same as ďperceiveĒ in Latin. And ďcomprehendĒ, again the same thing, to grasp altogether.
Wilkins:Wait. Are you suggesting that British philosophers who have studied Hegel, that some of them may have fallen into this trap because they didnít understand the German?
Bohm:Yes, thatís part of it. And also they have missed the meaning of the concept to some extent. Had they understood the concept better then they would have understood the German.
Bohm:Vernunft is roughly translated as ďintuitive reasonĒ, which means it isnít formal logic. Itís sort of flowing. According to Hegel, this flows through contradiction. He says, thought must have a phase of standing firm. Well, you define things, and you go through a form of logic, and sooner or later youíll come to a contradiction.
Wilkins:That standing firm corresponds to a process of moving from one thought to the other.
Bohm:With no visible contradiction. Although there maybe implicit contradiction.
Wilkins:So that is really very misleading if somebody thinks in terms of ďunderstandingĒ.
Bohm:Yes. The word ďunderstandĒ really means almost the same as the German word for ďreasonĒ, it means to grasp it intuitively whole, like a whole. Understanding is not the same as form or logic.
Wilkins:Itís more or less the opposite, really.
Bohm:Yes. So, they got it backward. The word ďunderstandĒ should have been the translation of the German word for ďreasonĒ. And the word verstand should have been translated as ďform or logicĒ or ďa fixed thoughtĒ, or a thought with firmly defined assumptions. When you come to contradiction, then the movement of thought, the creative movement, is to rise, aufgehoben, to come to a new level, which both puts aside. The word ďput asideĒ in German means both ďto get rid ofĒ and also ďto holdĒ, ďto keepĒ in some sense. The German word aufgehoben has that connotation. So we say the two contradictory thoughts are both dropped and yet kept in some sense within the new thought. But they no longer have a primary independent rule. And then you have a new thought which synthesizes, if you want to put it that way, and thatís a creative step. Now that connects to the implicit order in the sense we could say that new thought in some way was already implicit in the old thought. The contradiction in the first thought was implicit and then it became explicit, then the new thought was implicit in the tension between those two.
Wilkins:Yes, thatís what you mean by an unfolding. In a sense, it was there already.
Bohm:Yes. And Hegel says in a sense itís all there already but it unfolds. That has been translated as ďdevelopmentĒ. The better translation probably, the meaning would have been ďunfoldĒ. Iím sure it was a good translation of the German word but I think the way Hegel uses the word ďdevelopmentĒ is roughly the way you would use the word ďunfoldingĒ.
Wilkins:Yes. I donít know quite what ďdevelopmentĒ means.
Bohm:The root of that is unrolling, like evolution.
Bohm:Same as evolution. ďValĒ is roll, you see. Revolve.
Wilkins:Unrolling is the same as unfolding, isnít it?
Bohm:No. Itís not quite as dynamic. Unrolling you can think on a roll, itís unrolling like a plane. Itís not quite as dynamic. Unfolding is a much more dynamic, a much thoroughgoing transformation.
Wilkins:Yes, but in both cases you have the thing there already.
Bohm:Yes, thatís right. But itís there in a much more subtle way in ďunfoldingĒ.
Wilkins:Yes, I can see unrolling, you mean, is rather a sort of simple and direct mechanical process.
Bohm:And the word ďevolutionĒ has that root. But we could say that Hegel is saying that thought evolves through contradiction and resolution but itís a process that evolves. But unfolds might be more accurate. But if you use both words you get across the sense, I think, of what is meant.
Wilkins:Yes. You mean devolve, revolve.
Bohm:Devolution is to go backward, you see.
Wilkins:Just the thought of turning.
Bohm:You imagine itís rolled up on a printed thing, you see, thatís the picture. Whereas the other picture is a much more radical transformation from the innermost depths. But I wanted to say that this idea about the implicit order was in some implicit in Hegel already. He did use the word ďunfoldĒ in several cases, but he didnít heavily emphasize it.
Wilkins:I suppose it illustrates the point that there is a sort of superiority in new ideas.
Bohm:Remember, I mentioned Nicholas of Cusa with his Implicatio, Explicatio, and Complicatio.
Wilkins:But how much did he talk about that?
Bohm:He didnít write a big thesis on it, but he had a chapter. He talked about it. That idea is sort of there in Hegel. A thought unfolding. The very word ďimplicitĒ as we use it with thought suggests the same thing. To say something is implicit in our thought means it is enfolded, becomes explicit, itís unfolded. If we just take the root of the word, it suggests thatís the way thought goes.
Wilkins:I was looking up the word ďimplicitĒ and there are slightly different meanings. Whether it means when you say it implies something, it means if you make a step forward youíll then find something there. But that to some extent means that in a sense, heís there already.
Bohm:Well, thatís enfolded. Thatís what itís saying. Now, thereís some confusion, I think, because people use the word ďimplicationĒ almost in the sense of logical entailment. But you see, a logical entailment is not exactly — that follows by a rule, whereas implicit usually has no rule, itís just simply something is implicit and we havenít stated it. So we may not even be conscious of it.
Wilkins:Yes. Bringing the logic in is defining the thing much too narrowly.
Bohm:Yes. But they unfortunately use the word ďimplicationĒ as almost a logical consequence. It can be. We could say something has logically unfolded. You could then take the model that you unfold the meaning through a series of logical steps.
Wilkins:I donít think the ordinary dictionary meaning emphasizes the logical elements especially.
Bohm:No, no. But anyway, so, you have this in Hegel.
Wilkins:I still feel that if you didnít want to put some of this stuff about Hegel down in this intellectual autobiography, I would have thought that if you can make clearer what Hegel was saying, that you ought to get it out into the open somewhere. And make it available because I think any clarification in this area is valuable. When you take a chap like Gorbachev, take that the whole situation over there, I mean, itís not beyond the realms of possibility that if Gorbachev remains influential that he would stimulate a new thinking in relation to all their dialectical materialism.
Bohm:Well, if he would say that, he would be running on Hegel and take it seriously.
Wilkins:Yes. If you read his speeches, I mean, he really, philosophically and psychologically, he seems to be extremely good and sort of lively. And thereís none of this sort of dreadful old ritualistic stuff, which is churned out without any thought or any real feeling to it.
Bohm:On the other hand, I donít know if Soviet Marxists would pick up things very readily.
Wilkins:No, I donít think they would no more than the Soviet bureaucrats are going to pick up these ideas that forged democracy. In the Soviet Union, no, it would probably get colossal resistance. But that wouldnít necessarily stop it happening because it seems to me that so much of Western thinking is really very seriously limited by people. You know, thereís so much of Western philosophy is so much a matter of saying, you know, itís either got to go into this compartment or into that. It seems so limited and inflexible.
Bohm:You see, I think Hegel made an opening and Marx made interesting additions, which were not fully digested. And Lenin made some interesting points; so did Engels. Beyond that, I donít think very much has been done. But I think that if you were to go back to Hegel you could criticize his idealism as too strong. I think we need a position which somehow brings out between idealism. You know, the extreme idealism of Hegel and the rather mechanical materialism that people have adopted even including the Soviet Marxists.
Wilkins:I donít know whether the idealism-materialism question is so very important.
Bohm:It may not be important, but Marx thought it was important and so did Engels and Lenin and all those that followed. And therefore, itís important for that reason anyway.
Wilkins:I think Marx was a prisoner of his time in relation to the scientific development of the 19th century.
Bohm:But thatís two questions. One is whether Marx was right in thinking it important; you may question that. And two, but even if he was wrong, we must consider the fact that a lot of people have been affected by that and therefore we have to at least take it into account.
Wilkins:Yes, I agree there. My feeling is I donít think I ever really found any Marxists who seemed to really, or at least couldnít communicate what these dialectical processes really meant.
Bohm:Marx, in turning it upside down, felt that the contradiction was actually a concrete struggle in things and between people and groups and society. And Hegel regarded it as an opposition of ideas.
Wilkins:But if the things in a way were corresponding to ideas then it didnít sort of —
Bohm:Well, yes. In a way the things correspond to it. But the ideas were really the roots. The source of things were Hegel. When you grasp the idea, I donít know if we discussed that last time. When you grasp the essential notion of something then, in a way, you came in contact with it. You can put it picturesquely, that the thought of God is behind things. And if you grasp the thought of God then you have grasped the essence. Youíre in contact with the essence of the thing, right? And therefore, according to Hegel, by grasping the notion of something, you have really removed the division of subject and object. Now, thatís a thing worth pursuing. See, most Marxists are caught on a very mechanistic kind of materialism but they give lip service to dialectic. This idea of struggle can still be very mechanistic.
Wilkins:I must say Iíve found what theyíve said to be extremely inadequate. I had sort of a go at that in the thing I wrote for your book.
Bohm:I havenít got that.
Wilkins:I tried to raise some questions more than anything else. You say subject and object, somehow —
Bohm:Let me try to repeat Hegelís argument. Letís say we begin by saying the attitude of the practical reason is that the object is really essentially under the domination of the subject. As the purpose of practical reason is to bring the object under — to make it essentially an extension of the subject. He takes the extreme case of where youíre hungry you eat something and assimilate it. But otherwise you assimilate nature to your own needs, and therefore in a way youíre ignoring the object in its own form, and youíre managing to make it subservient to you. Which means that something in the object is really closely related to your thought, but you donít really understand how that happens. But in a way, practical reason is very subjective in its basic orientation. But the trouble is the aims which you use there are rather trivial. Itís like people might say, well, God made cork trees so that people can bottle wine and so on. By making the universe dominated by such trivial considerations you really donít understand things. So, therefore he says the objective attitude, the attitude of science is, also metaphysics, is to take the object, let the object reveal itself, you see, to respect the object. You donít impose your own aims on the object which you do in practical reason. That makes, however, a distinction of subject and object right away. Itís far more intense than in practical reason because the object is going to be assimilated to your need in practical reason. Now, is that clear so far? So then you say, Iíve got to understand this object, I just canít let it stand there separate from me, Iíve got to somehow bring it into me. So then youíve thought about it, you understand the object as a special case of the general or the universal. But now, you have still separated the subject and object because the universal is in you and this particular thing is out there and you donít understand how they are connected. So you have the contradiction of the universal and the particular. But then he says thatís, let me see if I can recall this, thatís resolved because if you go to the higher level, aufgehoben, if you come to the thought, not the particular thought of the object but the notion of the object, this includes both the universal and the particular. Itís a universal which particularizes itself to create the individual. Itís something which I call later the generative order. Weíve discussed that a little, havenít we. Now, see, that would be a way of understanding the essence of the object where thereís no separation of the universal and the particular. But now, one attitude would be, well, I have that in my mind, but who knows whatís going on out there? That would be the Kantian attitude. Thatís the thing in itself. I donít know that. The other attitude of Hegel is that there is an objective notion which does rule the generative process which you could picturesquely call the thought of God. And that when you grasped that notion, you have grasped its essence, youíre not separated from that thing at that deep level. By contacting the thought of God out of which that emerges, you are in contact with it at the deepest level.
Wilkins:By contacting the thought of God —
Bohm:He doesnít call it that, but Iím using that word picturesquely. Letís make a picturesque way of doing it just simply to illustrate.
Wilkins:Do you mean by the thought of God the idea of God?
Bohm:The idea of God which determines the notion of each kind of object. Letís say we have the notion of a certain species of living beings.
Wilkins:So to speak, the idea which was in the mind of God.
Bohm:Yes, which is carried out in matter.
Wilkins:But then if the human being has his idea of God, well that also is equivalent too. He has the right idea, if he grasps the idea of God —
Bohm:But Hegel is saying that is the same as to grasp the idea itself. He says God is the idea, the universal idea. But in so far as you do grasp it, then you are in contact with the essence of nature. Therefore, thereís no separation of subject and object. Thatís his position. You can criticize it.
Wilkins:It seems very reasonable because the whole nature of the way of thinking is to get rid of these rigid separations, isnít it? I mean, that particular rigid separation would necessarily go too. Then, you see, how does this link up with Bohr? Because I mean, Bohr is not thinking about dialectical processes, heís thinking about these complementarities.
Bohm:But I donít think he is a Hegelian, you see.
Wilkins:There do seem to be some degree of overlap, isnít there?
Bohm:Well there is a little bit insofar as we have opposites there is that overlap. But I donít know whether the attitudes of the opposites is all that similar. Because he allows the opposites to be determined by the experimental conditions, now whether you had more of one or more of the other. Whereas with Hegel, itís an intrinsic, dynamic thought itself, a reality itself.
Bohm:Itís essential for Hegel to have the notion of the idea in and for itself, the universal idea. You see, he says the idea begins by being in itself. That is implicit. Then it becomes for itself. It gets to know itself, explicit. But itís now divided against itself. Then it becomes in and for itself and then itís one again. It now understands itself.
Wilkins:I donít follow clearly all those steps. But what is important is the net result of going through these operations where you get a feeling for the total process.
Bohm:The total process unfolding. But you see, this is already suggesting the implicit order. You see, we begin with the idea in itself. He clearly says that it is the idea implicit. It doesnít know itself. Itís just there implicitly. Then he says, the next thing is that objects are for it but then it gets to be for itself. In order to be for itself it has to be for itself as if it were not itself. That is, it produces a sort of an image or whatever you want to call it, in which it feeds itself. But that image is apparently another to itself. So, heís taking ultimately nature as that. But if you take the thought of God, nature is the other of the God but not really the other. God is for Himself in nature. Is that clear what I mean?
Wilkins:Well, more or less. I think in a way it probably doesnít matter because as I see it, one has a lot of sort of what might be termed neat sets of thoughts arranged one after another. The important thing is what they add up to, whether the thing makes sense overall. I suppose itís a little like physics and mathematics, isnít it? I mean the important thing is whether the— Isnít it a little bit similar to some of the physicists who saw solutions and then could only work out the mathematics afterwards. It was one that Piles was referring to, I donít know whether it was Eisenberg he said saw solutions first. But he seemed to be very well aware of the nature of this process and that the way of judging whether the mathematics was right was really by whether the answer sort of seemed to make sense. I think what Iíve got the drift of, at least, and presumably this is what would concern most readers of a book, is whether the general thing ends up sounding reasonable. And that going through these steps of thought can sort of reassure people on another level that the thing is reasonable. Presumably, if you took Hegel, he presumably had some general feeling about the nature of things and sort of sat down and tried to write it all out in these sentences. Didnít he?
Bohm:Yes. But also in writing it he sort of developed it.
Wilkins:Yes. The thing is by writing it out, yes, you can develop it more and you can communicate it more. I can see that. Itís so very important to write it down because otherwise floating all over the place.
Bohm:Then youíre making it explicit. I think that I want to make this distinction it sort of anticipates the implicit order. That thereís a certain thought thatís implicit that is all folded up like a bundle of wool, you donít quite know what it is. Now, you start to unfold it, making it explicit by means of words, images, and so on. Now, all these words and images seem to be something other than you. You seem to be looking at them. Itís explicit. Itís spread out apparently. Itís apparently another reality but it isnít. Now, thatís the relation of the implicit and explicit order. The explicit order is a show, that is the word Hegel uses, a show of the implicit to show the relationship sort of spread out. So, the first step is the unfoldment of the implicit to spread out into the explicit to show itself.
Wilkins:Yes. I see. What youíre saying then is that if letís say someone like Eisenberg sort of senses the nature of the —
Bohm:Like Mozart had it all rolled up in the beginning. That was an extreme case.
Wilkins:As I understood it, the Mozart thing, he went around for weeks sort of picking up a little bit here and a little bit there.
Bohm:But it all came together.
Wilkins:Yes, presumably. I suppose youíre right that having picked up a bit here and a bit there and a bit somewhere else, then somehow or other he had a general feeling for some implicit thing built up in him and then. Okay. All these components, like a lot of insects buzzing around.
Bohm:They suddenly form something.
Wilkins:Yes. And that was implicit. And then, of course, having got the thing there he had some sort of feeling for the whole thing in his head and then he had to go write it out.
Bohm:And you could compare that to anybody who has a flash of understanding or a flash of insight. It all clicks and then it takes some time to work it all out.
Wilkins:But of course, the whole thing is based on the collection of a bit here and a bit there. That nothing like that could come into being without all those bits.
Bohm:But it all comes together in the implicit order. Thatís what Iím trying to say. Not in the explicit order. It has to be then worked out in the explicit order.
Wilkins:Yes. Somehow you suddenly realize somehow that all these bits of things around here, you have a feeling for the fact that it all goes together somehow.
Bohm:Yes. Then you unfold it and spread it out to so as to see what it is. Thatís what Hegel was saying. Then there was the idea in-itself implicit that has formed. Then it became for-itself by spreading itself out and looking at it, what it really is. Thatís the second stage. Then Hegel has the third stage which is a much higher stage which is the idea in and for-itself where the unity of what it is in-itself and for-itself. Insofar as it becomes aware of what it is for-itself and connects with what it is in-itself, it reaches a very different stage of unity. We may come back to that later. I think this is also getting into beyond the division of subject and object and itís a very crucial question, you see. People commonly go from the idea in-itself to the idea for-itself. Thatís not an uncommon experience. But the next stage is not so common.
Wilkins:Give an example of that.
Bohm:I canít because itís not very common.
Wilkins:Sorry, the first thing.
Bohm:That was just simply, you get this flash. Itís all there at once, and then you work it out in time, and then spread it out in space, and so on. You draw diagrams, you write it out. You imagine it spread out in front of you. Youíre making it explicit, unfolding it. By looking at it, you see whether thereís any value in the idea, and whether it may have been a false idea, or also what it means, how to go further, and so on. If you just keep it implicit, itís very limited what you can do with it. So that stage is clearly very important but it leads to this division or even contradiction between the observer and the observed. The in-itself is looking at what is for-itself. See, if something is for-you itís sort of there for you. Therefore you see it. Now, if itís in-you, then you donít see it. But if what is in-you becomes for-you, then you see it within you. But then you get into this business that now itís no longer in-you, it seems to be just for-you as if it were something else. But it really isnít. Itís you, still. The question then is to bring that together again in a higher stage which goes to for-itself and then it becomes in- and for-itself. The division of subject and object then disappears but at a higher level. The original unity was at a much lower level. We have a new unity in which you have brought it all together, both the implicit and the explicit.
Wilkins:I think Iíve got part of it.
Bohm:The reason Iím saying this now is itís one of the problems of the implicit order to get to that next stage which I havenít solved, you see. The implicit order thus far is emphasized mostly, although not entirely, the in-itself. The enfolded become unfolded. As it were it becomes for-itself. Now, the question is how do we bring the two back together again, I think, is one of the crucial questions of making progress further. Thatís why Iím emphasizing this now just to anticipate something that might come later.
Wilkins:How is that illustrated by considering physics?
Bohm:Yes. Iíd have to explain the implicit order. Youíll see that thereís a problem in the implicit order which has essentially the same kind of problem, you see. How the explicit order, the way we would put it is, how does the explicit order affect the implicit order? You see the problem. I said the implicit order unfolds to become the explicit order. But there must be a converse process which we havenít got hold of yet which is analogous to this thing that Hegel is talking about. But when we get the converse process, we wonít just add another converse process, it will bring you to another level.
Wilkins:You say you canít give an example of that because —
Bohm:We havenít got it yet. The example is just simply, a concrete example like, letís say, take Mozart. He gets this vision of the thing. Or even if you take Beethoven, he gets some sort of vision of the thing and he starts working it out, you see. So that what he works out then affects whatís in there and that goes back and forth. Beethoven would be a better example of what I have in mind. See, Beethoven was not just working things out mechanically. But he also had perceptions like Mozart, but he didnít get this whole thing right away. He sort of went through a series of stages.
Wilkins:I see. Yes. A number of stages. I see.
Bohm:Each stage was perceptive. And at each stage he got an insight which he had to unfold. He wrote it out whatever, I donít know how he did it. Then from there that affected him and he did something else.
Wilkins:But presumably you could say that Mozart went through the process of collecting up little bits and then they all went together. But having then got that written all that out then presumably he could see it all more clearly having written it out and that would have changed him.
Bohm:Yes, except for the option that he never corrected it after he wrote it out, you see.
Wilkins:No. Surely the mere process of writing it out must have changed him somewhat.
Bohm:It changed him somewhat. Yes. It may have laid the foundation for some more work.
Wilkins:The next thing.
Bohm:The next thing, you see. Yes, thatís true. Yes. But there clearly was a difference in the way Beethoven and Mozart did it but both ways are valid.
Wilkins:I think this whole thing about things suddenly clicking together, I think what most people miss is the fact that they just donít come out of the air. They have been sort of collecting up for quite a while.
Bohm:Yes. And to come back to this root ďintelligenceĒ. That root, intellegere, ďto gather from in betweenĒ, right. The mind has been gathering from in between all sorts of things and then suddenly they jell and thatís the act of intelligent perception. Thatís the act of creative intelligence.
Wilkins:But really, the creativity is being active in the whole gathering process.
Bohm:Itís active in the whole process because there must be a certain creative attitude in the whole process which doesnít gather enough according to fixed rules.
Wilkins:This is the sort of thing Iíve said about the DNA double helix. The idea that Jim Watson just sort of had a creative flashes with his base pairs or something is getting it quite wrong. I mean, he had a creative attitude toward collecting all the bits for some years.
Wilkins:This is what I think people donít realize. They seem to suddenly think he was sitting right there.
Bohm:But hasnít he made it clear in his writings?
Wilkins:Well, I think it is. I thought it was moderately clear from his writing. I think this was the point of my talk, really, which I gave in the college a year or two ago about the discovery was the creative insight which he had in the whole. It was a question, as you say, of general attitude which heíd picked up from his environment there and had this sort of attitude. So, he was constantly going around and finding a bit here and a bit there.
Bohm:Yes. He was open to bits from almost anywhere. From in between all sorts of places.
Wilkins:Yes. But he was using a creative selecting process and an attitude of what was worth collecting.
Bohm:What you mean by creative selection isnít selection. You might call it intellect. You see, intellection. Because selection means to gather apart. See, when you select, you may mean according to a certain set of rules which arenít conscious. Most people selecting would already have a set of rules as to whatís relevant.
Wilkins:Yes, but he had some rules.
Bohm:No, but not fixed.
Wilkins:Yes, he had both. Yes, you have to have some sort of element of flexibility in it.
Bohm:You have to be able to gather from places that are quite unexpected.
Wilkins:Otherwise, youíre just like a computer. Actually, we had an interesting discussion on the social impact with the students the other night and they got really excited about religion and science. And one of them was saying, you know, if you have faith in science or religion, I forget somebody said, itís like Einstein going after his nose. And then one of the boys said, (?)Ah yes. But you see, if you have faith and youíre following your nose this necessarily implies uncertainty. Which of course, I thought at the moment, it was a very profound point but then you put it around and itís very obvious because you wouldnít need to follow your nose. You just go. But I mean, it is both a profound and an obvious point.
Bohm:You have to explore not to just follow a fixed routine or a fixed path.
Wilkins:Yes, but itís the ability to have this sort of general sort of sense of direction to go in. It is sort of like Combs? commitment and uncommitment and so on. Itís a bit like that, isnít it? Flexibility doesnít mean that you wobble all over the place does it?
Bohm:I think if you use the word openness, the new Russian word.
Wilkins:Yes. Glasnost. But on the other hand, some people think that openness is just sitting there with your mouth open waiting for the flies to go in. It doesnít mean that, does it?
Bohm:No. It means openness to new possibilities. It requires selecting from in between, and not holding too rigidly to the old way of making categories. Now, that fits in with Hegel because you would say there could be nothing worse than opposites. Letís say you setup two opposites, and it seems you must choose one or the other. Hegel says no, you donít have to. You form a new concept which would be like as if it were somewhere in between. Both opposites are in it, but not in any independent way. So when itís characterized, itís somewhere between those two opposites but it goes tangentially into a new direction altogether. Itís like saying between north and south doesnít mean somewhere on a line between them but it may be another direction entirely.
Wilkins:Yes, quite. I think this is where one has to make very clear that in between doesnít mean in a sort of simple geometrical sense. Did you see the book on negotiation called Getting to Yes?
Bohm:I havenít seen it.
Wilkins:If youíd like to have a look at it, I can lend you a copy. Itís up there. But a lot of this is on general problems of negotiation. And the line there seems to be essentially a Hegelian one that if you go into what appears to be so contradictory and mutually exclusive, then you can see the problem in a different sense in which both parties, negotiating parties, see if there can be a solution which both of them will gain something.
Bohm:But it will be a different quality.
Wilkins:Yes. Itís a very sort of simple-minded little book but itís been much acclaimed. I think Iíve got some scribbling in it. But you might like to sort of just glance at it.
Bohm:Iíll take it home.
Wilkins:Yes, thatís good. That is sort of remarked on as sort of being a great advance in the study of negotiation. But really it is all sort of perfectly obvious from a Hegelian point of view.
Bohm:Yes. I would also add that between maybe in the implicit order, you know, between those extremes. In other words, between doesnít mean just on a line between but it means some fundamental revolutionary change within. So that sort of has to be worked out then. Anyway, you can see now that this Hegelian line sort of foreshadows a lot of the implicit order at least implicitly. But again, the whole notion is that the implicit becomes explicit so itís only natural that I want to make some of it more explicit. Of course, at the same time something else becomes implicit. You see, thatís as you were saying about Mozart. Not that thereís room for further development. That was one theme. I also gave you — I was looking at this view of cosmology which I had this notion of the whole understood as process in which every part would in some way reflect the whole. I remember when I was in Copenhagen, I think in 1959, I suddenly had this idea which probably other people have had of an infinity of a spherical mirrors reflecting each other. And, you see, in the image not only does each mirror appear in the other but the reflection, you know, the image of the image and so on. So that thereís a kind of infinite reflection of each into all, right? So that was the picture of the universe I was sort of coming to, except that it was flowing. It was not a static image like the spheres but some sort of flowing movement in which that happened.
Wilkins:Had Bohr died by then?
Bohm:No, he was still alive. I probably did try to talk it over with Bohr. I remember I had some talks with Bohr. I canít remember their content.
Wilkins:He died, I think, quite soon after, didnít he?
Bohm:Probably a year or two after that, yes. But I tried to talk it over with him and he said, well the ideas were beautiful but they werenít really relevant. He felt more that the right approach was along the lines of complementarity. I mean, I canít remember anything more than that. But I think that he was a little hard to discuss with really.
Wilkins:Well, I think that Pais make the point that Bohr is really better at talking than listening.
Bohm:I told you about when we came to a crucial point and heíd start to light his pipe, you know, he would clean out his pipe to try to sort of break the movement. Then heíd drop all his matches and heíd have to pick them up and by that time, of course, weíd forgotten exactly what the point was. It took him quite a while to do all that. I was developing this cosmology of the universal process in which everything would reflect into everything. I wanted to explain space and time itself, its order as arising in this process. That was a generalization of Einsteinís idea in general relativity that measure or metric arises in the process of the field. Itís not given, right? And I thought not merely measure but I was beginning to think that more fundamental notions like order, I was sort of getting a feeling, would arise out of the process. So, you could think this process was infinitely rich and even the ordinary ideas of order in between would arise out of it. The line between it and so on. So the simple line rather than a very rich notion. Itís to simplify the idea of between-ness. The idea that thereís a very rich notion of between which simplifies to that of geometry. Meanwhile in Bristol, I had been studying algebraic topology. I met a mathematician, went to some seminars, and he gave me a book by Hodge. I saw the similarity of the mathematics to quantum mechanics. Weíve discussed that, I think, here before.
Wilkins:Well, I canít say I remember.
Bohm:But you see the idea was, first of all, you break up space. You begin with tessellation, a regular tessellation, and then you make it irregular. Then you make what I call the explosive transformation. You can imagine that each of the syntheses has a lot of little bits inside and they explode into the others, it transforms the space. That already anticipated the implicate order where you folded and unfolded. The notion that you could do all this in just discussing these integrals over syntheses which were a very natural way of doing Maxwellís Equations or equations like that or process equations. You could put it entirely into finite form, matrix form. So I thought that really was very interesting as quantum mechanics as a matrix form. So I said, ďLook, it looks as if topology can be put into a form that looks like quantum mechanics.Ē Then I thought of Einstein. We usually accept space and time as given and we put matter into it. Then he said in terms of gravitation, he explained gravitation as a property of space and time instead of adding it to space and time. That was measured in curvature. Then I said topology goes deeper because topology has to do with relationships more fundamental to measure. Relationships are what is in the neighborhood of what is inside, what is outside, what is between. Such relationships are surely more fundamental to measure like distance or measure of time. So therefore I said, maybe quantum mechanics is the physical manifestation of the topology of space-time as gravity is of the metric. Is that clear what Iím driving at?
Wilkins:I think so. I didnít quite get you but anyway.
Bohm:Well, you see the first thing is to notice the contradiction between the quasi-Euclidean space-time and quantum mechanics. If you begin with Cartesian space-time, which is basically Euclidean, then it was modified by Einstein to curvilinear coordinates, but the idea was never very different. It was continuous and well determined and so on. Now, that was an ideal medium for discussing classical physics, also Einsteinís gravitational theory, and so on. The essential features of that mathematics was continuous, was causally determined, and it was entirely local. Mainly only local connections count. Is that clear? Either things are connected at points or by infinitesimal differences to have differential equations. Is that clear what the concept is?
Wilkins:No, Iím afraid it isnít. In what sense is it local?
Bohm:Well, if you write a differential equation you see that the value, the change which occurs from one point to the next, it depends on some rule applying to an infinitesimal distance. You cannot apply it to a finite distance. Therefore, the connection is called local because that distance eventually goes to zero. But we say the fundamental connections are essentially local. So we have continuity, determinism, and locality. Now, in quantum mechanics we have discontinuity, indeterminism, and non-locality. So it seems the concepts of quantum mechanics directly contradict those of space-time. Either you say there are two approaches. Einsteinís view was the space-time concepts are right and quantum mechanics must eventually be developed and modified into a new theory in such a way that it fits in. He followed that line. He didnít really succeed and I didnít really feel it was a promising line myself either. Most physicists donít. Now, the other line was to say that the quantum mechanics was the basic, new fact. Therefore, space-time must fit in with quantum mechanics. Just as Einstein had said before, if gravity — one must bring gravity and space-time together. So, the other way around, to say the properties of space-time must be the source of the quantum properties just as Einstein said the properties of space-time are the source of gravity. Rather than saying we have space-time and then we impose gravity. I say, we have space-time and we impose quantum mechanics, we get into a wild contradiction, you see. Nobody formed a very good picture.
Wilkins:Yes, I think thatís straightforward.
Bohm:Yes. So my idea was that we would want to have a fundamentally quantum mechanical approach. Not only that, but a super quantum mechanical approaches in the sense that space-time would be the basis out of which we would abstract quantum mechanics as one of the properties of matter. Now, it seemed that this topology was a step in that direction because it was putting the laws of space-time, the connection of inside-outside, order, between, and various things, in the matrix form of quantum mechanics rather than the differential equation form of relativity and classical physics.
Wilkins:I see. Space-time are beginning to take on some of the characteristics of quantum mechanics.
Bohm:And one of the characteristics of quantum mechanics was called the unitary transformation in which any region would then unfold into many regions. See, that was the basis for the property of interference. If a wave is going out and you use Huygenís Construction to say each wave is spread by little bits and therefore any one region can be transformed into the whole and the whole into any one region. But then, that property of Huygenís Construction was exactly the topological transformation the mathematicians were talking about in topology. So that encouraged me to think that quantum mechanics could be brought together with the more fundamental properties of space-time then those which Einstein had considered. I was thinking on that line. I also had that image of all the mirrors reflecting each other and so on which is tied up with this approach. The image of the flow of everything, the vortex. The particle has a kind of flowing pattern within the whole from which its interactions would follow because of the flow being pulled. So I had an idea of a kind of cosmology/metaphysics that I was developing which had all this in it. All that was in it so the general, qualitative form.
Wilkins:Well, where did that lead?
Bohm:I was saying that I was thinking about it, you see. My first thing was to try to work out some of the properties, to understand this algebraic topology better. I saw that there were limitations. It nicely handled, Maxwellís Equation could be put into this form or Laplaceís Equation and a number of equations. Dirac Equation could be put into it up to a point but not when you put interactions with magnetic fields, electromagnetic fields. And then Einsteinís Equation, we didnít know how to put it in that form. That didnít seem to work. So, it seemed it was an interesting clue but some way limited. So it seemed somehow the topological and the measured properties we didnít know how to bring together. I was sort of working on that. There were all these contradictions in the attempt to do this. The whole idea was an attempt to resolve a fundamental contradiction so there was a Hegelian idea in there from the very beginning. I wasnít trying to resolve it just by mathematical calculation but by a physical concept that would resolve it. The general attitude of physicists has been that if you can find a calculus that fits the rules of relativity and quantum mechanics, then thatíll be it. Now, they never found one that did it exactly but they had, by means of renormalization, they were able to get a set of rules that would sort of look as if it would do it. Do you understand what I mean?
Wilkins:You mean that they did join the two areas up, but you say not really very satisfactorily.
Bohm:They produced a lot of calculated results but conceptually it was very unsatisfactory. You didnít know what the concepts meant and anyway, you start with one piece of mathematics and then you renormalize by subtracting infinite amounts of all sorts of things and you get whatís really a different theory from the one you started with. It turned out, a lot of correct results were deduced from this new theory.
Wilkins:So is this the present status of physics?
Wilkins:Quantum mechanics and relativity havenít been properly integrated.
Bohm:Not conceptually. People are still working on it. I mean string theories and so on are an attempt to do that.
Wilkins:I see. That is a very fundamental point.
Bohm:I mean, they have hopes. The people working on string theory have hopes theyíre going to do it but again, we have to see. But even then, I say itís all pure mathematics. Now Greene, who works here at Kings(?) College, said that before you get principles, it may take twenty or thirty years. This was a new situation. In the past we used to start from principles and then go to the mathematics, now he says weíre starting with the mathematics and weíll have to find the principles later. But I donít feel able to work that way. If they can do it —
Wilkins:Which department is Greene in?
Bohm:Heís in the mathematics, you know, the physics. Itís not the pure mathematics.
Bohm:At Kings, yes. The approach that I like is to try to get the principles physically, by reasoning, by thought, by the Hegelian manner or approach.
Wilkins:Yes. So what you were doing then was an interesting idea but so far it hasnít actually borne any fruit so to speak.
Bohm:Yes. It has developed in some way but it has not yet. Now, on the other hand, we could say that the string theory also hasnít borne any fruit. It has merely partially solved some of the problems of the internal, theoretical problems. But it may twenty, thirty, forty years before it can bear fruit.
Wilkins:So then you would say that this is about the central problem in physics then?
Bohm:In theoretical physics, yes. This is the most interesting problem. The cosmological problem is the other but theyíre related. Then there are other problems which are not solved like the really right integration of thermodynamics with the fundamental laws and so on. But I think theyíre all three, these are the three basic problems and perhaps they should all come together. Now, I also made an argument at the time that relativity and quantum theory and special theory of relativity and the general theory of relativity and quantum theory. See, these are involved in this problem. Special relativity and quantum theory donít fit together very well. Iíve explained that. General relativity has some stillbirth problems that people are now working on hoping that super symmetries will help and that is that the metric itself has to be quantized because itís dynamic. It becomes discontinuous and non-local and all those funny things. It becomes impossible to say what you mean by distance and near and far and continuity or discreetness. You see, conceptually it becomes a total mess. And you can say that the fluctuations, the quantum fluctuations of the gravitational field become the major factor when you get down to a distance of about 10-33 centimeters. Thatís determined by its gravitational constant.
Wilkins:Ten to the minus what?
Bohm:Thirty-three. Itís a long way down, but as a matter of principle, itís important. But itís a long way from any experiment. So you could say that probably the whole present physics breaks down there. You cannot define the gravitational potential, you cannot define length. It becomes dubious that you could define the velocity of light or a Lorentz Transformation. And you could then question, maybe, quantum mechanics also doesnít work. In mathematics, why should any of this stuff work? Now the other extreme, which is very similar, is to go into a singularity of a black hole or the so-called beginning of the universe, where if you extrapolate to the singularity, you get a similar situation where nothing could be defined because all the fields are fluctuation too much. So it does look as if the theory itself has contradictions which indicate its limits. Now the suggestion is that probably some very new theory may be needed but the fundamental new concepts may not be, may be the dominant concepts down around to 10-33 centimeters and therefore they show up very weakly even a nuclear physics distances or cosmic rays. Therefore itís not easy to get hold of it. The idea was that some new concept behind space and time was needed which might not even continue the present quantum mechanics as well as gravitational theory and special relativity. You see, I didnít think one should regard special relativity as sacred as some people do because anyway general relativity already contradicts special relativity. It says that Lorentz Transformation only holds in regions where the curvature of space could be neglected. And also at very small distances, you canít define it either for the reasons I explained. So therefore, you could say that one should be open to some view in saying special relativity, general relativity, and quantum mechanics might break down and possibly would tie up with thermodynamics because irreversible processes may be involved in all this too. So it seemed that weíre approaching a situation where all these basic laws of physics are sort of hinting that something must change. That was the situation. I was sort of looking at all this.
Wilkins:Roughly, what were the dates?
Bohm:That was in 1959. I had this idea about all the spheres reflecting each other. It was about that time I was looking at algebraic topology. I continued in 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965. I was sort of gradually developing this. That was laying this foundation for the implicit order. I said, well okay, physicists donít seem to want to proceed by just physical intuition maybe they want more mathematics. I would like to weave together the physical intuition and the mathematics. It seemed that one would try to find some direct interpretation of the mathematics of quantum theory in this way, in terms of space, the properties of space. Then I can remember (but I canít remember the date) I was watching a program on the BBC where they were talking about spin echo, but they gave it an example. This example of the droplet which was immersed in glycerin which spread out and then came back together again. It kind of pulled it into the glycerin and then unfolded. That sort of stuck in my mind that that would be very significant.
Wilkins:You saw it on television.
Wilkins:Itís interesting the amount of things one picks up watching television. Iím not quite sure whether this is the same what I saw in the article in Scientific American a month or two ago about stretching things very considerable how they sort of disappear. Anything there is as you go on stretching them, they reappear in certain stages in a faint, though contrasted manner. I think it may be essentially the same sheer. But what youíre getting in the cylinders, youíre getting sheer, arenít you?
Wilkins:Youíre not simply getting stretching.
Bohm:No, itís sheer and itís gradually sheering, splitting out. Now you see, it becomes a set of bands of ink. And then it looks as if thereís nothing there and then when you turn it back, it would draw back to its original form. And then they continue, they go back in again.
Wilkins:Yes. But I mean the sheer and the stretching is just a particular sort of geometrical transformation, isnít it, so the other of simple stretching might also work, mightnít it?
Bohm:I suppose it could, yes.
Wilkins:Iíll look up that article. I just glanced at it in the library the other day. It had a photograph of a manís face and then on a computer, you stretch that photograph, and you stretched it more and gradually you got a lot of lines going across in the direction of stretching and the face disappeared. But the interesting thing was at certain precise degrees of stretching, the face came back. I donít whether the sheering model maybe this wouldnít happen at all, would it?
Bohm:No, I donít think so. I think you would just have to turn it back to get it back.
Bohm:Well, that stuck in my mind as an important point because it was obviously tied up with all these topological transformations that I had been thinking about. The idea of exploding what was in each region of space and spreading it out into a large region. Then, what was the next step? Then sometime later, a time which I canít remember, I began to think about the hologram. Probably there were programs on the BBC again. And it struck me that the essential point about the hologram was not its three dimensionality but rather that each part of the hologram contained the image of the whole. Then I thought that it was rather similar to, you get interference bands which are rather similar to the bands you had with the sheering of the ink drop. Theyíre not the same but something similar. The idea then, those interference bands implicitly contain the image, three dimensionally. And similarly, all those bands implicitly contain the ink drop. So I said, in both cases you have enfoldment. But now the point about the hologram as Greenís function that determines the interference. Itís the organís construction that determines the interference. But that construction is fundamental to all wave equations and to all quantum mechanics. You see, the whole Feynmann diagram and all that is just a systematic way of doing that construction. And therefore the entire log of quantum mechanics were in that image, you see.
Wilkins:In which image?
Bohm:Of the hologram. Because we say that enfolding and unfolding were the basic movement of quantum mechanics.
Wilkins:So the mathematics of the two things were equivalent.
Bohm:Similar, anyway. And that connected up with some real similarities of that topological structure.
Wilkins:I see. So this similarity is on a more sophisticated level than the one which you write in your book pointing out general features of similarity expressed in words.
Wilkins:Well in your wholeness in implicit order.
Bohm:What about it?
Bohm:What are you saying?
Wilkins:When youíre comparing whatís happening in quantum mechanics with the hologram, I mean, well maybe you have got it in another chapter in the book. I donít know. Anyway, I get your point. Iíd simply ask you a question. In that book, do you in point deal with this mathematical equivalence?
Bohm:Well, no. Not in detail. I do some. I show the equivalence of the quantum mechanical algebra. The similarity to it anyway.
Wilkins:To the hologram?
Bohm:I wanted to bring it all together, and that suggested a different view of the whole of reality. Turn it upside down, you see. Instead of saying that the explicit order is fundamental, I would say that the enfolded order was fundamental and the explicit unfolds. I turned it upside down. See, everybody knows about unfoldment and so on. Thatís part of our culture. But we say really whatís happening is thereís a bunch of particles and this unfoldment is only a way of talking about the particles are moving. In the case of the ink drop in fact there was a particle model underlying it, therefore it was only an analogy. In the case of the hologram there isnít. And especially if you consider the quantized nature of the field of the hologram rather than its classical nature. I didnít do that in my book but it gets far more difficult. But then you really find out that you canít make a mechanical model at all. So I said letís turn it upside down and say thereís a fundamental. The basic order is the enfolded order. And the unfolded order emerges from it. Rather as we were saying in the idea in the mind. So that suggested also a parallel between mind and matter, the operate in the same order which helps to solve this problem which Descartes produced by saying mind and matter were distinct and unrelated. There was no way to relate them, they were so different. Descartes had said matter is extended substance and mind is not. Itís thinking substance and he said, how could they be related, theyíre so different. He said God related them because Heís beyond both. But when you drop God, you donít know how to relate them. But if I say mind and matter are basically similar, theyíre in the same order, therefore itís not an insuperable question to think of how they might be related.
Wilkins:Well, this is set out in the later chapters in that book.
Bohm:Yes, but I should include some of that here.
Wilkins:Yes, quite. I think actually in relation to that book when I was going through one of the chapters again, I was getting just a little bit unclear on some points. Maybe it would be sensible if I brought the book in.
Wilkins:I think maybe the difficulty is that these various systems which youíre referring to, concrete things like the hologram and the ink drop. You point out in various stages that these are sort of only analogies and there are limits to the analogies. There maybe that thereís certain things that appear to be contradictions and what you say are simply a consequence of the limitation to the analogies.
Bohm:The best analogy youíve got to the implicit order is your own experience with your thought process.
Wilkins:Sorry. In what respect?
Bohm:Because it unfolds into an image which is explicit or into a process.
Wilkins:I see. Can you say that again?
Bohm:You see, like I was explaining with Hegel, the idea is first implicit only in itself and then it unfolds, it spreads out, in the imagination or in some other form like writing or painting. It becomes explicit, unfolded. You could say the painterís idea is implicit but made explicit, unfolded on the painting.
Wilkins:Itís like Einstein with his sort of feeling. So youíre saying, what was the first point?
Bohm:Iím saying that the best way of appreciating by what I mean by the implicit order is to consider this process.
Wilkins:Ah, yes. You mean of what you have, say, an intuition of which you then, the whole process of making this explicit.
Bohm:Now Iím saying nature works in a similar way and therefore the particles of nature, the separate things, are not the ground but the ground is the implicit order out of which these forms emerge and constantly go back and emerge. They grow. Itís the constant repetition of the form or the constant recurrence of the form which we recognize and we only see that little bit and we donít see the whole from which it comes. I call that the holomovement remember.
Wilkins:Because I suppose the reason that most people wonít see this point is that without having turned it over quite a lot they wonít be aware of the fact that these explicit thoughts that they have, have somehow derived from something implicit, will they?
Wilkins:The average person doesnít seem to be aware of this or only very vaguely so. But I think it seems to me to be a perfectly clear idea.
Bohm:You could then take Mozart, you know, take the painter.
Wilkins:Thereís no reason why people shouldnít be able to follow that. But it does need explanation.
Bohm:Yes. That suggests that nature is infinitely subtle. Itís not really. Subtle means intangible basically. But the tangible and the manifest are the product of the intangible and the unmanifest. That turns a mechanistic point of view upside down because they say the tangible and the manifest are fundamental. And the intangible and unmanifest are abstractions of our mind. Now Iím proposing that the intangible and the unmanifest are the reality and the tangible and the manifest are the recurrent, relatively independent features that unfold. Just as they are in the mind. You see, the explicit thoughts that appear in your mind arise from intangible, non-manifest background.
Wilkins:Yes. So the underlying processes in the mind are these sort of vague, well I donít know. Itís a whole complex of all sorts of things going on, isnít it? Itís coming in through perception and then contributing to general attitudes which then give rise to sort of rather undefined notions which then, you mean, go on to become more explicit.
Wilkins:So what youíre saying is the basic nature of thought is this alternation which is implicit to explicit.
Bohm:And back again.
Wilkins:And back again. Whereas the question of feelings and thoughts is somewhat secondary.
Bohm:Well thatís part of that. You see, feeling may unfold into thought and thought into feeling. According to a certain vague feeling, it may unfold into a well-defined thought. But then, that well-defined thought may give rise to a further feeling.
Wilkins:I always thought needs a feeling to keep it moving, doesnít it?
Bohm:Yes, but the thought also contributes to the feeling.
Wilkins:Yes. But then how does that sort of relationship between those two things, which as you say are sort of part of an ongoing process, how does that relate to the whole? Of course, they always said there was intuition and perception, no, sensation which was another complementarity he referred to. Would that correspond to the particulars going in through sensation?
Bohm:Thatís getting a little too — We want to look at thought alone, you see that, you see, thought can affect feeling and out of feeling will unfold into thought. Now like Einsteinís vague feelings unfolded into thoughts but that in turn went back into the feeling.
Wilkins:Yes. Thereís probably no particular point in trying to dissect the? Well, I mean you are in a way if youíre talking about the explicit and the implicit. Youíre doing a sort of a kind of a deception there, arenít you?
Bohm:Well, itís a distinction not a dissection. Weíre not saying theyíre separate. Thatís the point.
Wilkins:Yes. But I mean the thinking and feeling is another.
Bohm:Well itís a distinction.
Wilkins:Of distinguishing. Anyway, thereís no need to make any heavy weather about the fact that there are these different ways of distinguishing the fundamental nature of thought. Thatís your point.
Wilkins:There might be other ways of distinguishing elements in thought. At least thatís two.
Bohm:Yes. You distinguish say form and content. There are all sorts of distinctions like that. The whole dialectic of Hegel is based on studying those distinctions and they how develop.
Wilkins:I might try to see what you meant by sensation and intuition because I have never quite grasped that and it maybe that thatís another thing makes one get that part of it clearer that way. Because intuition is certainly sort of general whereas sensations are, well, theyíre not always particular, are they?
Bohm:I donít have much feeling for that.
Wilkins:Certainly, intuitionís sort of a general, vague, sort of feelings about a total situation. Whereas, I mean, that seems to be what that means. Whereas sensation — Well, maybe heís meaning to use the word sensation as being sort of particular in things and in that sense it would be the same thing. The one being general and the other particular.
Bohm:Yes. And the whole point of Hegel is to see the oneness of the general and the particular by rising to another level. Now thatís something which we have to go into. Thatís later because that maybe a clue to what has to be done with the implicit order in nature.
Wilkins:You mean sort of carry it on to the next stage. Iíll look up this thing on Jung because it would be interesting. Itís the other pair which Iíve never been able to sort of grasp. Did do that because well your point is there are a whole lot of these distinctions, pairs that you can distinguish. But it would be interesting to see if that one does come the same way because as I may have said, the only place I could find Jungís thought laid out clearly was in his Tavistock lectures where he was talking to a whole lot of psychoanalysts. And he really began to explain what in the hell he was bloody well talking about in front of these people. He wrote most of his books. He used, throwing all these words around and never making clear what he really meant by them. I could look that up.
Bohm:Yes. That might make the discussion next time. Anyway, I think thatís the best. And also, see with the quantum mechanics is the example of the implicit order. You see, the point is you will only find analogies within the ordinary spheres like classical mechanics. Itís the basic. The laws are really not, the fundamental laws are really taken there to be the explicit laws. So, physics starting around the time of Newton and Descartes and before began to emphasize these explicit laws and began to think that was all there is. By reducing everything to that, they got into mechanism. Now, the implicit order is created in the sense that the ground of this holomovement that was undefinable, the total movement, which includes mind and matter. Therefore the possibility of their relationship.
Wilkins:Yes. So that none of these things can be finally tied up. It does seem the peculiar characteristic of the human mind, every century or so, starts to shout about how theyíve got everything tied up, havenít they?
Yes. Well I think thatís part of the search for in the sense that they wanted to avoid the sense of uncertainty and insecurity —