Oral History Transcript — Dr. David Bohm
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Interview with Dr. David Bohm
David Bohm; February 27, 1987
ABSTRACT: Bohm’s intellectual autobiography; Hegelian philosophy; Saint Nicholas of Cusa – implecatio, explicatio, complicatio – folding and unfolding; Mario Schoenberg on Hegel – causality and chance; Mashulan Groll on Hegel – unity of opposites; nature of thought as a process; translation problems from Hegel’s German; Bertrand Russell and Hegel; Hegelian principles applied to physics; logic – rules of logic, logic of reason, creative logic, higher order logic.
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:Unfolding and infolding, was either putting, speaking in terms, basically similar to what Hegel had said, or your making some of Hegel points in a new form, which made the fundamental nature clearer.
Wilkins:I donít know something like that.
Wilkins:I thought this was interesting. I think my general point is this. Maybe I said this on the telephone. It seems to me that if you come out with something in a publication using your particular mode of expression, that people will say, Yes, we read this, we understand it somewhat and it seems good and we like this and we will take it seriously, or we were trying to think about it more. But it seems to me that if you have difficulty with any kind of new thinking, and one wants to use every possible encouragement to work on it. If you trace any connection between what youíre saying and what other people have said, then people feel encouraged, they think,Ē Oh yes, I have heard about Hegel. I never have understood Hegel. Or, Yes, somebody told me something or other yesterday. This chapter saying which connects with something else? Then they have more confidence and they say now I feel more secure in this whole situation, I am not being given something sort of totally out of the, you know, which I havenít heard, in any sense before. And I think that if you brought out some of these connections, which I think you are bringing out in the intellectual autobiography, it will encourage people a lot to pay more careful attention to your ideas and to work on them more harder and more thoroughly. You give them a bigger element of confidence. You see what I mean? Because I think that people are obviously always ready to give up arenít they? In doing any kind of new sort of thinking. They are always relaxing into the same old mechanical comfortable ways of just chewing the cud. Am I right? I think that people need every possible encouragement to take new ideas seriously. And that is a specific example of that was that your infolding and unfolding puts its order that if you could relate to this to Hegelís thinking, or to anything else which they have some vague familiarity, even if they donít understand the other thing properly. But I think that it reassures them a little bit, you get my point? That they get along if they think that they are stepping out into some world of ideas which was totally new or something, that they get along and say, ďOh my god this couldnít be right.Ē
Bohm:Well, of course you can say that Saint Nicholas of Cusa talked about something like this with a implecatio, explecatio, and complicatio, and these three concepts he felt he had this notion of things being folded and unfolding. ďComplicatioĒ means all folded together, and that is a complicated as just to say folded it all together.
Wilkins:What works were?
Bohm:Well, I canít remember the book but there is a...
Wilkins:I think what I am getting at is if you read that stuff at some stage that you might put something in an extract in your book. I think this will, well, for two reasons. A) it fills in the picture on your intellectual autobiography how much I read this.
Bohm:— well I didnít read that. I read it considerably later.
Wilkins:Yes, okay, all right. But I mean I still feel that, alright I mean put it down like this, but things link up. But I thought the Hegel thing you were saying that you tussled with Hegel for a long time.
Bohm:Yes, thatís right.
Wilkins:And out of this process?
Bohm:Well, this helped, helped a little. What I think about Hegel is that it emphasized the notion of reality as movement as process, first of all, and also as process in which opposites were involved. For example, in my book, Causality and Chance and Modern Physics, was effected considerably by my talks with Mario Schoenberg in Brazil who had written a lot of Hegel. He was as Marxist. And my thought of causality and chance as too opposing movements to opposing which wove together in the whole, right. We have explained that same thing. And given any necessity, or really necessity and contingency more generally, any form of necessity is in the context of contingency; and any form of contingency is in the context of necessity. So they interweave in and unlimited structure and that was the content of my book saying that, and in that since we understand causality and chance are appearing in physics.
Wilkins:Was he a Marxist?
Bohm:Yes, Schoenberg, yes. He was a Marxist. And no, he was trying to take Leninís or whoeverís advice of reading Hegel.
Wilkins:Trying to what?
Bohm:He was one of the few Marxists who took seriously Leninís advice that they should read Hegel.
Wilkins:I see, yes.
Bohm:Hegel was an idealist and Marxists were prejudiced against him because they said, after all, he is an idealist and we are materialists.
Wilkins:They say it was Lenin who gave him the advice?
Bohm:But Lenin, never the less, said that in spite of that fact that he was an idealist, it would be good to study him.
Wilkins:Do you mean that Lenin gave, was keener on people going to Hegel than Marx was?
Bohm:Well, Marx turned Hegel upside down, and so Marx felt that he had made an advance on Hegel.
Wilkins:Yes, so he didnít say he thought we should go back over the material?
Bohm:No, he thought he had no reason to say it. But then Lenin said that there is a great deal in Hegel that is worth studying still.
Wilkins:You mean whether you turn it upside down or not, the ideas are the same obviously.
Bohm:Yes, so they said you might as well study these ideas because they are still very relevant. Now I think one of the few Marxists I know, anyway, whoever took it seriously was Mario Schoenberg. I was writing up my ideas of causality because I was trying to get some notion of what causality meant because Iíd brought out this as causal interpretation of the quantum theory. I became interested philosophically. And then he brought out the idea that it would be one sided to just discuss causality. He said he ought to put the two together.
Wilkins:Where did Schoenberg come from?
Bohm:Well, he was born in Brazil, but I suppose heís got a Jewish European background.
Wilkins:I see. I have not read any of these books on physics because I sort of rather naively thought; oh this is just on physics. You see so I am afraid I got I havenít looked at them but so.
Bohm:I did start reading Hegel especially when I got to Israel I found some books on Hegel and it developed from there to see everything.
Wilkins:Can you — which books were there??
Bohm:Well, it was logic, there was a book Stace [?] that was a kind of introduction but it didnít go very deep. Then I found Hegelís logic from the encyclopedia and I read that at an enormous. And I meet this fellow, Mashulan Groll later who had studied Hegel thoroughly and we had some talks about Hegel. Groll was also a Marxist who got very interested in Hegel.
Wilkins:You felt he understood Hegel very well?
Bohm:Yes. And one of the points that I think that was Hegel talked about the identity of our identity in difference is the one way of putting unity of opposites. To say that by making the opposites work on each other youíll come to a higher level of understanding. Do you suppose you take identity in difference well obviously theyíre considered to be different at first.
Wilkins:But I suppose the opposites.
Bohm:Opposites therefore they must be different. Now you could easily assert the difference of identity and difference. But it seems then that you are one sided because you have never not yet asserted the identity of identity in difference. The oneness of the mind. But according to Hegel identity in difference have to be understood as both identical and different, right. The identity of identity in difference was a very subtle affair. Because what you have to say what is identity? Now, he doesnít just accept the category of identity, but he induces it from a long chain starting with being and not being, becoming going on into quality-quantity. And having gone through quality then quantity and then quantity giving rise again to quality at a new level, then you have a series of transformations. As quantity changes, there is another quality. But see, quantity changes the quality. So you have gone from one quality to another, on and on. Now that leads to the notion of essence, saying that in spite of all of this change something essential remains constant in that change. And the essence is the feature of identity.
Wilkins:And the constancy is in the protest?
Bohm:Yes. But it is also in the fact that all of the qualities are related as one substance. And therefore quality — the identity is a category of first of all its identity with in all of that change. But then he develops the quality of identity further because if identity is essence it is the essence that is identical while the nonsense is not. All the changing things. Now, the difference is in all of these other things that are changing. Underlining them is supposed to be essence, the true being. Eternal and changing. But now the point is that in a way you could say essence shows, eventually develops to appearance, so you have the changing appearance of a changing show of things. Underlining it is supposed to be an unchanging essence, or identical. Now, it turns out that without the appearance, the essence would be and empty category. If there were no process of appearance, what would we say about essence? So the essence of the essence is the appearance. Therefore the appearance and the essence are essential; they are both part of the identity. In fact, identity is already seen to be — the essence of identity is difference of appearance. If it were not for this difference between essence and appearance, identity would have no meaning.
Wilkins:Yes, I think I follow what you are saying, but I think I remember reading something, I think it was in Finleyís book on Hegel, but funny enough, Finley was professor of philosophy in this college. That he seemed to be saying that being and not being are the same, you see, and I am afraid that I got stuck there.
Bohm:Well, they are in one sense. What they are saying is that if you carry it out to the ultimate abstraction they are the same, because if you remove all qualities from being, you cannot distinguish it from non-being. Well, thatís what Hegel said, though.
Wilkins:I couldnít get the meaning and maybe I didnít read what it said.
Bohm:But you see, one must think of the thought of being. Donít think of being because you donít know what being is, you see. Hegel is always discussing the nature of thought as a process. This was something that I felt was very subtle and not appreciated in Hegel; he said pay attention to thought. Now it would ordinarily say pay attention to things. Now if you say pay attention to thought, how it goes, you are treating it as a process.
Wilkins:Do you mean that you thought that other people hadnít properly understood what Hegel was, what was in Hegelís mind?
Bohm:Not fully, you see that, it means that some may have. But I am trying to say that itís a crucial — itís getting close to what Krishnamurti was saying, you see, pay attention to thought; it is a process. Now the process goes through the unity of opposites. So we are not going to say being of things and non-being of things is the same because that would be absurd. But the concept of being the concept of pure non-being is the same. They are the same concept. Same thought.
Wilkins:Well I said yes, but I?
Bohm:Well, try to get to produce this thought of pure being. You see, if I say the being of this, thatís not pure being. The being of that, the being of that. I remove, strip away, more and more characteristics, and finally I just say being. Now I say also you cannot distinguish those two thoughts. There is a mere distinction of intention but not of the thought it self. There is and intention to make them different, but they are not actually that different, until you add a quality to being.
Wilkins:Yes, I think this needs to be spelt out in some length and got very clear. You are producing a book?
Wilkins:Are the readers going to understand your book?
Bohm:I am not sure how much of this I can put in?
Wilkins:Do you think it is not possible to get it clear?
Bohm:It can be made clear, but donít forget Hegel wrote a whole book on it and even then Bert you understand it?
Wilkins:Yes, well I suppose Finley ought to have understood it.
Bohm:Well, I have found that Stace didnít understand, another words, I think.
Wilkins:I think I may have tried Stace.
Bohm:No, several people I looked at.
Wilkins:Wrote a book?
Bohm:Yes thatís right. I looked at several peopleís comments on Hegel and I could feel that they were rather superficial.
Wilkins:Did you try Finley?
Bohm:I think I looked at Finley, and again it was better but it was not really entire satisfactory. I think that these commentaries didnít really get some of the essential points. One of the essential points was Hegel was paying attention to thought as a real process.
Wilkins:Okay, well now you have a very clear thought.
Bohm:Yes. And secondly, he was discussing being he was not discussing the being of things. There is a physicist or scientist who tends to think of the being of something. But he was taking the thought of being. You could discuss the being of the thought of being if you like. Now so we take this thought of being, which has a kind of being which you can pay attention to. See, what you can pay attention to is being. But how do you pay attention to thought? Because thought itself has some kind of being.
Bohm:But usually you pay no attention to that.
Wilkins:The nature of [???].
Bohm:You pay no attention, you only look at the content of thought. Which is the being of this or the being of that, right?
Wilkins:Alright, well I think this is a very clear thought which I think that people could grasp very rapidly.
Bohm:Yes. Now let me take the thought of being. I can say the being of this. Now, I abstract more and more qualities and I try to finally come to the most general thought of being I could get, which would — Any time I put a quality to being itís not fully general, because it could be otherwise. But suppose I say, I now remove all qualities from being; look at my mind there is nothing in it. Except the intention to distinguish it from nothing. Right? Or if I take the thought of nothing, it feels exactly the same as the thought of pure being.
Wilkins:Yes, well look, okay, I see that the drift of your remarks but I think I would have to sort of sit down and quietly turn it over in my own mind. But I think that there is no difference here at all in your getting across to the reader this thing about considering the nature of thought. Because I think lots of people are aware of the fact that this is a problem. I mean Sarah for example, when she was work at medical school or something she had to project or something, and she chose to write an essay on the nature of thought. Well obviously, she got into rather deep water as a writer.
Bohm:It is difficult, that is a very difficult question.
Wilkins:Quite. But she saw that it was something interesting. And I think that she was warned of it by all of her supervisors. I think that they were superficially thinking this was going to get into rather deep philosophical waters. But I think what I am getting at lots of people were seeing, okay you have got something there, and if this point is not being made clear, there is discussions of Hegel, then I think people immediately think, ďWow, this is something good. We must go along with this.Ē
Bohm:Yes. The next point he makes is that if the two are identical, the difference between them has collapsed, so we have a contradiction because by asserting the being and non-being are different because the word ďnonĒ has been attached to non-being it must be different. Nevertheless, we have said as thoughts they are identical. Therefore they are saying that — that contradiction is removed by the thought of becoming, and the thought of becoming we have being and not the thought of being the thought of nonbeing. But they are no longer independent self-subsistent thoughts, but they are sort of what do you call moments of the thought of becoming. You have the beginning and ending for example, beginning and ending cannot stand by themselves as thoughts.
Wilkins:But what you have put in — I mean, you have introduced time in there. Havenít you? What I mean?
Bohm:It isnít time, not yet, but it is movement, you see. We have beginning and ending as examples of the thought of becoming.
Wilkins:Yes, alright we can introduce movement.
Bohm:The beginning and ending made the thought together. Itís when they are thought together you have got becoming. And becoming you do not distinguish, you do not say that being and non-being are separated, but they must be simultaneously present, the thought of being the thought of non-being.
Wilkins:Are you saying that I can follow that business but can you go further and say all these entities of opposites have this element of movement in them?
Wilkins:Thatís a basic thing?
Bohm:Becoming is the simplest case; it is harder to see in complex thoughts.
Wilkins:Alright. Well, I think this business is very, very important.
Bohm:Let me say that identity in difference have a movement. Identity moves into difference and difference into identity.
Wilkins:Yes, well I think that it is very easy for people to take this being and not being and then say, ďOkay we got becoming.Ē Now I donít think that is at all difficult to people. But I think they might think, ďOh well, you know that they could just have thought this one up, this was clever, and how significant is it? But if that can be taken as a model for all these?
Bohm:Yes, let me explain how you can do it. You see suppose we now assert the following thought: The being of being and non-being is becoming. That becoming is, right? In other words, we no longer say being is, as Parmenides said, and non-being is not. Right? And now we say becoming is what is. That is Heraclitian. Now if we say being is, then we are asserting the being of being and non-being? Because for becoming to be, it must be being and non-being together. But if we say becoming is what is, what is real, then there must be both being and non-being in it. So therefore, we have to say non-being is. You see, we are not applying the thought is to both being and non-being. Now it is important to say that we are not thinking about things yet, though this may reflect on things.
Wilkins:You know thinking about thought?
Bohm:Yes. So we say the being of being and non-being, but we could also say that the non-being of being on being that becoming also is a limited category. And finally, it collapses into another category, and now it comes into contradiction. And so it goes on developing in that way. Now so the appearance of contradiction is a sign that of movement. If we say that the reality is movement, but any time you abstract anything not moving, it will always be the opposite. They will come into contradiction. Any attempt to assert a thought that it is not moving must lead to contradiction. So we say contradiction we can — but it is the function of thought to assert these static things. Right? Therefore a thought must come out into contradiction. That part of its process. But contradiction maybe taken as something which just makes it worthless, or in certain ways it becomes the step to the new thought.
Wilkins:Yes, so you are saying thought, the nature of thought is to produce static things you say?
Bohm:Yes, thatís its purpose. The way we develop thought is we want to produce something fixed and it is useful. You see now itísÖ
Wilkins:Sure, that you wonít pick it up and therefore so on and so on.
Bohm:Now you see now there are two kinds two modes of thought which you can use one is called Verstand in German, which has been falsely translated by the fellow who transcend the logic as understanding.
Bohm:Yes. Itís a bad translation which throws you way off, because the word ďunderstandĒ means to comprehend as well. Hegel clearly uses the word comprehend in the other sense of what he calls reason, but the German word for reason is Vernunft, which comes from verb for verhehmen meaning to take hold of, and it means to perceive through the mind. You see the word perceive also means in Latin to take hold of. Paris of pere, to take hold of; and fernum to take hold of. Really it must of have been a translation. So now the idea is that Vernunft is called intuitive reason or a perceptive reason, whereas Verstand formal logic and static reason. Now it is necessary for the flowing reason to develop into, crystallize into static reason. But then we make the mistake of saying thatís the truth, and when once it is crystallized thatís going to stand forever. So I say the word Verstand really means to stand, you want something that stands. Which we need. But it doesnít stand forever. And therefore it goes back to flowing reason. Now the contradiction is the way it stops standing; it collapses and starts to flow into something new. So we are thinking thought is a process, which when you try to make it stand eventually it must come into contradiction with itself because thought does not stand. Not merely the reality does not stand, thought is part reality, but thought itself cannot stand, ití a process.
Wilkins:Yes, well I think I get the drift of this. But I do feel that if I think some of this needs to be sort of set down and one has to go over in oneís mind. I mean I find it rather difficult especially after having sort of discussed various matters for some time, sort of difficult to follow. You know, I get sort of tired. But donít you think itís possible to get?
Bohm:Well, if they try to do some of it, yes. I mean, do you think what I have said is clear enough?
Wilkins:Well, I mean I think it has the seeds of character, I mean; this isnít quite putting it rightly. It seems to me that that type of thing you are saying ought to be clear.
Bohm:Well, yes. Maybe if I said something more. People ordinarily just look at the continent and think that thought can just reflect its continent and just adjust to its continent.
Wilkins:Yes, I think the more ways that one can say that kind of thing, expressing it differently, the easier it is to grasp it. Because I think you probably agree that I mean that most sort of comprehension of sort of new ideas comes from people — Well, theyíve got a partial, they sort of refer back to other bits of thoughts or understanding that had already, donít they, and they stop sort of somehow new stuff they kind of fit it in, and then finally you get a new structure built up, and then they have sort of grasped the new ideas which to be important. Havenít they?
Wilkins:I think that the whole grasping is a series of processes. And so I think that if you put it from certain different angles, then it is being dumped processes of grasping the whole. And it may be that one way you express it in words they have difficulty following, where another you express it is easier for them.
Bohm:Yes, that is quite a difficult a
Wilkins:I would have thought in principle and it ought to be quite possible to do this. I mean, after all, Bertram Russell said that he used one of the other, I forget what his term was, one of the greatest or biggest philosophers ever, although he didnít, he thought that heíd spotted some holes and his thought came crashing down. Which seemed just like contradiction in terms.
Bohm:Well, there are holes in some of his steps, and it doesnít mean that itís all comes down. I mean you see because some of his steps are not convincing. But I mean there are many parts, which are still very convincing.
Wilkins:I would have thought myself that he was much more active or that Russellís thoughts would come crashing down on Hegelís.
Bohm:I think the people to understand Hegel he would have to see that the whole thing is a flowing movement of thought itself that you are attending to. Now the people may say my thoughts can do anything; I just have to reflect reality. But the thought is a process within inherit dynamic of its own. It cannot help but come to contradiction when continued. I would have made the stand. And this is what Hegel is saying.
Wilkins:Yes, well this is a special point about it having to come to contradiction. You see what I mean about this whole business of trying to communicate anything to a reader or and audience, you have to be trying all of the time to find out what sort of ground that they are standing on already, and then sort of work up from that being the long from that position. I mean it is sort of a general thing. And that I would have thought that it ought to be possible.
Bohm:Yes I say that one of the important concepts Hegel had comes out in German that the contradiction is offkeyhobin [?], which means both kept and put aside. In the new level you put aside the old contradiction. But to put aside has a double meaning in German as in English that it may be put aside to just get out of the way or maybe put aside in order to be kept.
Wilkins:To be referred back to?
Bohm:Yes, to have some significance you see. So it is still there. But it is not the same because now it is what is called a moment, a vanishing moment, and itís not there as a independent reality but as a vanishing moment or sort of a form lying on something else. But still itís there. So being a non-being are forms on becoming, you see. They are abstracted from becoming. Now you see then, I was just thinking, if you ask about becoming you get into a contradiction, see, if you have now said the coming is what you are going to stick with. But you said everything becomes, but this thought of becoming just remains what it is. You would have come to a contradiction because now, because we have said that thought weíre applying these categories to thought itself and not just to things. And therefore, if you say becoming as a universal, and yet the thought of becoming does not become, thatís a contradiction. So it collapses. And he comes to the saying that the thought of becoming becomes another thought, the thought of determinate being or it becomes itself. You see.
Wilkins:I think some of that I would have thought should be very clear to the readers and people.
Bohm:But see that is the difficult point to say that you are talking about thought and the principles must apply to very thought that you are using.
Wilkins:Yes, okay, well I think that is a very clear point. Itís a very kind of sort of concrete point.
Bohm:I think that what I would try to do is say that these principles should be thought of — similar principles and should be thought of as applying in physics, saying that matter is basically a process and what is this becoming and so on. And I thought that this Hegelian approach could help in the analyzing their movements. Say for example, as necessity and contingency, causality and chance.
Wilkins:Well, yes. So what youíre saying is that your saying that thought in away is like matter? But itís just another?
Bohm:Itís in movement, but itís not the same movement as matter. But itís a movement capable of reflecting matter in general.
Wilkins:And what, when you use the word consciousness you see this is what were I think sometimes I get in difficulty. Are you using consciousness and thought as being equivalent?
Bohm:Well, it depends on how you use it, but certainly consciousness includes thought. This for Hegel includes attention. As with [???]. You see, I wanted to bring three words, consciousness, awareness, and attention. The word consciousness literally means knowingness, whether it means what people know together culturally and socially or individually. Now consciousness can be very abstract. It can be just know abstractly something or making and image of it. You are conscious of it if you know it in that sense. You say I know various facts about Mars, and so on, and am conscious in that sense. But awareness is not the same as that. Awareness is based on the word weary. It means watchful, sensitive, and hateful. Therefore youíre in some sense being sensitive to the process, you know, to the details to difference in similarity without fixed concepts with awareness.
Wilkins:Well, that is a sort of state of being?
Bohm:Yes, itís a state of being and but so is consciousness. But its consciousness has to do with knowledge organized as concepts.
Wilkins:Yes, but if you take thought you then say thought everybody regards that as [???].
Bohm:Well, thought is part of consciousness.
Wilkins:Yes but they regard thought as being very clearly a process.
Bohm:Yes, but they are not aware of it as a process. You see they are only aware of the content. People are not aware that of the flow thought as you are aware of the running of water.
Wilkins:Well, they are aware of the fact that one thought leads on to another.
Bohm:No, but thatís merely abstractly; they donít actually see it happening while they are thinking.
Wilkins:Yes, but at least they know.
Bohm:They know about it. They are not aware of it; they know about it. Thatís the difference.
Wilkins:Yes, I see yes. I think this is a very important point. If we could be familiar with this knowing about it that you have this thought here and?
Bohm:They know about it, but they donít actually — If you are looking at a stream, you donít really, somebody can tell you I know about the fact that this part of this stream flows into another, but you may be aware of it, which is quite different. Now awareness requires attention. Now attention means literally stretching the mind towards something in Latin. But the attention I like to think of as a way of scanning the whole content of the brain to apprehend it into a whole. The eye will scan objects by jumping from one thing to another. Each person has a different pattern and it depends on what he knows, and so on. Now you might say there are all sorts of content in the brain, but this has to be brought together and attending to it. You may know all sorts of things that may actually work automatically. You know how to find your way home and you donít need to pay a lot of attention and so on. But attention means stretching the mind to it, and so I had a dream I told you once where I had thought of a million fingers of light like laser pencils feeling out the brain. Sort of bringing it — And now what happens from there on we canít say. But letís say that there is an intelligence that apprehends the meaning of it. But then attention is a two-way process. Itís like holding and object in your hand and learning about it. It is simultaneously changing it as you move and learn. So attention is changing the content of the brain as if it apprehends the content. And according to the perception of what it means. What we usually mean by consciousness includes all three. But you see, if there were no awareness and attention, consciousness would be a very limited affair. I mean, for example, you could read in a book about something and say that you know it, right? But you would not be aware of it and attentive to it. But then, according to Hegel, we can therefore be aware of thought and attentive to thought. Now generally people — we are not, we do not do that as a rule, you see, very rarely. We usually know about it. We know that thought has gone through a series of stages. But when we are thinking intently we really donít notice that.
Bohm:We are noticing the content of thought; attention is going there.
Wilkins:I think people have this illusion that there is some sort of, pro succession of thought is linked by some kind of very definitive object, donít they?
Bohm:No, thatís what Hegel is saying, that there are process which has this he may not (you know you can question whether he describes this correctly) but his proposal is that the process is this development of contradiction and offkeyhoben and such.
Wilkins:Yes, you mean that is form of logic then?
Bohm:If he calls it logic, he says thatís the real logic of reason, flowing reason. Whereas thereís a static, there is an abstraction that is frozen, erschtand, which has formal logic, as is logic. And people identify the logic of thought with that, but that is only a part of it.
Wilkins:You mean this is a much more mechanical step?
Bohm:Thatís right. Yes. It has its place, itís necessary to define, it is necessary for the flowing reason to define itself and make it stand for a while.
Wilkins:I think this is what cause most peopleís lines of sort of dominated by, this sort of fact, that the whole mechanical logic does sort of occupy everything, and thatís?
Bohm:Letís put it that thought when it flows has a creative logic as it went. We could say that itís creative reason rather than mechanical reason.
Wilkins:Yes, because you mean that in general one thought cannot be derived.
Wilkins:Yet it comes into being, and therefore there must be some essentially created element in it.
Bohm:There may be. Anyway there is room for that, you see. To say that it may come out mechanically from the unconscious. But maybe there is a creative element. But just as weíre saying that there is a sequence of these computer things?
Wilkins:Yes, but if it came mechanically out of the cot [?].
Bohm:It may be illogical as it comes out by the rules of former logic as it comes out of the unconscious? Now it may be illogical for creative reasons or for mechanical reasons. You know, people may be neurotic people will produce illogical thoughts because they are mechanically conditioned.
Wilkins:Oh yes. Well I mean, not only the neurotic people. This is happening all of the time.
Bohm:Yes, but what I am trying to say the mere fact that the rules of logic are not obeyed is not the proof of creativity.
Wilkins:No, No. I agree. Thatís quite true.
Bohm:Sometimes when the rules of logic are not obeyed this is a sign of higher order logic. Sometimes itís merely a sign that the mechanism is not working right.
Wilkins:Yes, I suppose there is a bit of a problem that when you start to getting onto these different motions of creativity and everything, one wonders whether the thought might get a little out of hand.
Wilkins:I donít know. And this is always — well, it is like giving a lecture, that if you put too many things in the lecture that it would be hard to follow. I mean, one?
Bohm:Yes thatís what I was trying to say that I donít know how much of this they can get.
Wilkins:Yes, I think in general, you see, youíll say a good lecture is one which has one main theme and so everything sort of builds up. Well, I say itís like a piece of music or something but it sort of holds together as coherence.
Bohm:Yes, if you were to take say Mozart, was said to have produced a whole composition all at once and then it all unfolded you know by playing and all of the parts were properly ordered. You see, you could say that they have a kind of logic.
Wilkins:Oh, you mean that you may be finding a new way of expressing what he meant by saying you saw the whole thing in his mind at once? I must say I find that a sort of a bit bewildering.
Bohm:It sort of unfolded, but we say that the order of the thing is present in this unfolded form.
Wilkins:Youíre referring to this statement of his that he would be playing around with various bits of music for weeks on end, then he would go for a walk in the country and suddenly the whole thing would appear in his mind.
Bohm:Yes, and then he just has to unfold it time.
Wilkins:Yes, therefore he had to go back and write it out.
Bohm:Yes, write it out or play it.
Wilkins:He said that it did not matter if there were other people in the room chatting with him or something, he could just write it out because it was already there. But he couldnít — he had to be alone walking in the country for this thing suddenly to appear.
Bohm:Yes, so there is an order there which is not the order of succession. It is the order of generation and creation. Somehow it produced all of that. Now, letís say that it unfolded in a certain logic of succession as well. But if you only look at the logic of succession you cannot appreciate the meaning of it. Now, that is the same about reason, we may think of reason as playing a series of notes. But then the meaning of it is sort of suddenly perceived and things even far back suddenly are relevant here and it all goes together into something new. So if you just stay where it is on that level, they will begin to contradict. If you canít jump to another level then you have a contradiction.
Wilkins:Yes, I think I saw this sort of thing going on when we went to Bolshoi and the Moscow thing, that you would have all of these people walking about on the stage and then sounds going and everything, and every now and again, somehow the magic worked. You have to sort of experience something happening. And presumably it somehow all added up to something which was much bigger than the various dancers all hopping around on stage.
Bohm:Yes, which is the generative order again. The choreographer the person who wrote the ballet or the music, they have got to think of all of the steps to put it on. The question is how did those steps appear? They appeared from some conception of the whole.
Wilkins:Yes. I mean that otherwise this thing could be meaningless.
Yes. Now you see that the puzzle of the computer is that the steps seem to just be in there mechanically, but even in mechanical things there is implicit something more that mechanically. But it is only through the person who perceives it so far that it is there. Order is a question of context, and in certain context certain orders would be called random. But in another context they are effective.