a scholar at Georgetown I did comparative work with both Teilhard and Bohm's
theory of a "within." Just as a matter of record for the Teilhard List,
I'll post my web article on David Bohm's Theory of the Implicate Order.
--Beatrix This article discusses
the vision David Bohm intuited from his insight (gnosis) into the quantum
world. This vision discerns the characteristics of an evolving cosmos in
process; and, also, it ponders upon the implications for humanity. Bohm's
scientific presentations are not in this article; however, they can be
found in his books listed in the Reference Section at the end of this article.
David Bohm, an American,
was one of the leading quantum physicists of our age. He died recently.
Following a venerable career at the University of California (Berkeley)
and at Princeton's Institute of Advanced Studies, he moved to become Professor
of Theoretical Physics at Birkbeck College of the University of London.
During his later years he linked a formidable knowledge of the history
and philosophy of science to his keen experience as a physicist.
In recent years,
Bohm attempted to explain an ontological basis for quantum theory. The
basis of quantum theory can be summarized in three propositions:
1.) In the
subatomic world, few things can be predicted with 100 percent precision;
however, accurate preditions can be made about the probability of any particular
outcome. Referring to quantum
theory, Bohm's basic assumption is that "elementary particles are actually
systems of extremely complicated internal structure, acting essentially
as amplifiers of information contained in a quantum wave." As a
conseqence, he has evolved a new and controversial theory of the universe--a
new model of reality that Bohm calls the "Implicate Order."
2.) One has to work
with the probabilities rather than certainties, because it is impossible
(for an observer) to describe all aspects of a particle at once (speed
energy (such as light or heat) does not always behave like a continuous
wave--rather it is grainy, because energy can be transferred only in quantum
packages. Therefore, light has a dual character. Under certain circumstances,
it may display wavelike aspects; and in other circumstances, it may have
the characteristics of particles.
The theory of the Implicate Order contains an ultraholistic cosmic view; it connects everything
with everything else. In principle, any individual element could reveal
"detailed information about every other element in the universe." The central
underlying theme of Bohm's theory is the "unbroken wholeness of the totality
of existence as an undivided flowing movement without borders."
During the early
1980s Bohm developed his theory of the Implicate Order in order to explain
the bizarre behavior of subatomic particles--behavior that quantum phyicists
have not been able to explain. Basically, two subatomic particles that
have once interacted can instantaneously "respond to each other's motions
thousands of years later when they are light-years apart." This sort of
particle interconnectedness requires superluminal signaling, which is faster
than the speed of light. This odd phenomenon is called the EPR effect,
named after the Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen thought experiment.
Bohm believes that
the bizarre behavior of the subatomic particles might be caused by unobserved
subquantum forces and particles. Indeed, the apparent wierdness might be
produced by hidden means that pose no conflict with ordinary ideas of causality
Bohm believes that
this "hiddeness" may be reflective of a deeper dimension of reality. He
maintains that space and time might actually be derived from an even deeper
level of objective reality. This reality he calls the Implicate Order.
Within the Implicate Order everything is connected; and, in theory, any
individual element could reveal information about every other element in
Borrowing ideas from
holographic photography, the hologram is Bohm's favorite metaphor
for conveying the structure of the Implicate Order. Holography relies upon
wave interference. If two wavelengths of light are of differing frequencies,
they will interfere with each other and create a pattern.
a hologram is recording detail down to the wavelength of light itself,
it is also a dense information storage." Bohm notes that the
hologram clearly reveals how a "total content--in principle extending over
the whole of space and time--is enfolded in the movement of waves (electromagnetic
and other kinds) in any given region." The hologram illustrates how "information
about the entire holographed scene is enfolded into every part of the film."
It resembles the Implicate Order in the sense that every point on the film
is "completely determined by the overall configuration of the interference
patterns." Even a tiny chunk of the holographic film will reveal the unfolded
form of an entire three-dimensional object.
Proceeding from his
holographic analogy, Bohm proposes a new order--the Implicate Order where
"everything is enfolded into everything." This is in contrast to the explicate
order where things are unfolded. Bohm puts it thus:
order (the Implicate Order) itself has been recorded in the complex movement
of electromagnetic fields, in the form of light waves. Such movement of
light waves is present everywhere and in principle enfolds the entire universe
of space and time in each region. This enfoldment and unfoldment takes
place not only in the movement of the electromagnetic field but also in
that of other fields (electronic, protonic, etc.). These fields obey quantum-mechanical
laws, implying the properties of discontinuity and non-locality. The totality
of the movement of enfoldment and unfoldment may go immensely beyond what
has revealed itself to our observations. We call this totality by the name
holomovement." Bohm believes that the
Implicate Order has to be extended into a multidimensional reality; in other words, the holomovement endlessly enfolds and unfolds into infinite
dimensionality. Within this milieu there are independent sub-totalities
(such as physical elements and human entitites) with relative autonomy.
The layers of the Implicate Order can go deeper and deeper to the ultimately
unknown. It is this "unknown and undescribable totality" that Bohm calls
the holomovement. The holomovement is the "fundamental ground of all matter."
Finally, the manifest
world is part of what Bohm refers to as the "explicate order." It is secondary,
derivative; it "flows out of the law of the Implicate Order." Within the
Implicate Order, there is a "totality of forms that have an approximate
kind of recurrence (changing), stability, and separability." It is these
forms, according to Bohm, that make up our manifest world.
uses analogies most ingeniously as he attempts to simplify his theory.
Bohm suggests that instead of thinking of particles as the fundamental
reality, the focus should be on discrete particle-like quanta in a continuous
field. On the basis of this quantum field, Bohm breaks down the Implicate
Order into three categories:
The first category is the original, "continuous field" itself along with its movement.
Bohm likens this continuous field to a television screen displaying an
infinite variety of explicate forms. The
The second category is obtained by considering superquantum wave function acting upon
the field. ("This is related to the whole field as the original quantum
wave is related to the particle.") More complex and subtle, this second
category applies to a "superfield" or information that guides and
organizes the original quantum field. Bohm considers it to be similar to
a computer which supplies the information that arranges the various forms--in
the first category.
And last, Bohm believes
that there is an underlying cosmic intelligence that supplies the information--the
Player of this game who is the third category. Following this analogy,
Bohm sees the whole process as a closed loop; it goes from the screen to
the computer to the Player and back to the screen.
Bohm's theory of
the Implicate Order stresses that the cosmos is in a state of process.
Bohm's cosmos is a feedback universe that continuously recycles
forward into a greater mode of being and consciousness.
Bohm believes in
a special cosmic interiority. It is the Implicate Order, and it
implies enfoldment into everything. Everything that is and will be in this
cosmos is enfolded within the Implicate Order. There is a special cosmic
movement that carries forth the process of enfoldment and unfoldment (into
the explicate order). This process of cosmic movement, in endless feedback
cycles, creates an infinite variety of manifest forms and mentality. Bohm
is of the opinion that a fundamental Cosmic Intelligence is the Player in this process; it is engaged in endless experimentation and creativity.
This Player, the Cosmic Mind, is moving cyclically onward and onward accruing
an infinity of experienced being!
The structural outline
of Bohm's cosmic model is as follows: the Ground of All Existence, Matter,
Consciousness, and the Cosmic Apex.
The ground of All Existence
At the very depths
of the ground of all existence Bohm believes that there exists a special
energy. For Bohm it is the plenum; it is an "immense background of energy."
The energy of this ground is likened to one whole and unbroken movement
by Bohm. He calls this the "holomovement." It is the holomovement that
carries the Implicate Order.
Bohm also refers
to a law in the holomovement. He theorizes that the 'order in every immediately
perceptible aspect of the world is to be regarded as coming out of a more
comprehensive Implicate Order, in which all aspects ultimately merge in
the undefinable and immeasurable holomovement. Holonomy, through a wide
range of aspects, can be considered a "movement in which new wholes are
What is it that emerges
from this ultimate ground, this "unknown totality of the universal flux?"
It is the extension of the Implicate Order into a multidimensional reality.
It is the interplay between the implicate and the explicate orders. It
is the flow of matter, manifested and interdependent, towards consciousness.
Matter: inanimate and animate
Right off Bohm refers
to the particle, the most essential building- block of matter. He considers
the particle,fundamentally, to be only an "abstraction that is manifest
to our senses." Basically, for Bohm, the whole cosmos is matter; in his
own words: "What is is always a totality of ensembles, all present
together, in an orderly series of stages of enfoldment and unfoldment,
which intermingle and inter-penetrate each other in principle throughout
the whole of space."
order, however, is secondary--derivative. It flows out of the law of the
Implicate Order, a law that stresses the relationships between the enfolded
structures that interweave each other throughout cosmic space rather than
between the "abstracted and separate forms that manifest to the senses."
of "manifest" is basically that in certain sub-orders, within the "whole
set" of Implicate Order, there is a "totality of forms that have an approximate
kind of recurrence, stability and separability." These forms are capable
of appearing tangible, solid, and thus make up our manifest world.
Bohm also declares
that the "implicate order has to be extended into a multidimensional reality."
He proceeds: "In principle this reality is one unbroken whole, including
the entire universe with all its fields and particles. Thus we have to
say that the holomovement enfolds and unfolds in a multidimensional order,
the dimensionality of which is effectively infinite. Thus the principle
of relative autonomy of sub-totalities--is now seen to extend to the multi-dimensional
order of reality."
this higher-dimensional reality by showing the relationship of two televised
images of a fish tank, where the fish are seen through two walls at right
angles to one another. What is seen is that there is a certain "relationship
between the images appearing on the two screens." We know, Bohm notes,
that the two fish tank images are interacting actualities, but they are
not two independently existent realities. "Rather, they refer to a single
actuality, which is the common ground of both." For Bohm this single actuality is of higher dimensionality, because the television images are two-dimensional
projections of a three-dimensional reality, which "holds these two-dimensional
projections within it." These projections are only abstractions, but the
"three-dimensional reality *is* neither of these--rather it is something
else, something of a nature beyond both."
If there is apparent
evolution in the universe, it is *because the different scales or dimensions
of reality are already implicit in its structure.* Bohm uses the analogy
of the seed being "informed" to produce a living plant. The same can be
said of all living matter. "Life is enfolded in the totality and--even
when it is not manifest, it is somehow implicit." The holomovement is the
ground for both life and matter. There is no dichotomy.
What lies ahead?
For Bohm it is the development of consciousness!
Bohm conceives of
consciousness as more than information and the brain; rather it is information
that enters into consciousness. For Bohm consciousness "involves awareness,
attention, perception, acts of understanding, and perhaps yet more." Further,
Bohm parallels the activity of consciousness with that of the Implicate
Order in general.
notes, can be "described in terms of a series of moments." Basically, "one
moment gives rise to the next, in which context that was previously implicate
is now explicate while the previous explicate content has become implicate."
Consciousness is an interchange; it is a feedback process that results
in a growing accumulation of understanding.
Bohm considers the
human individual to be an "intrinsic feature of the universe, which would
be incomplete--in some fundamental sense" if the person did not exist.
He believes that individuals participate in the whole and consequently
give it meaning. Because of human participation, the "Implicate Order is
getting to know itself better."
Bohm also senses
a new development. The individual is in total contact with the Implicate
Order, the individual is part of the whole of mankind, and he is the "focus
for something beyond mankind." Using the analogy of the transformation
of the atom ultimately into a power and chain reaction, Bohm believes that
the individual who uses inner energy and intelligence can transform mankind.
The collectivity of individuals have reached the "principle of the consciousness
of mankind," but they have not quite the "energy to reach the whole, to
put it all on fire."
Continuing with this
theme on the transformation of consciousness, Bohm goes on to suggest that
an intense heightening of individuals who have shaken off the "pollution
of the ages" (wrong world views that propagate ignorance), who come into
close and trusting relationship with one another, can begin to generate
the immense power needed to ignite the whole consciousness of the world.
In the depths of the Implicate Order, there is a "consciousness, deep down--of
the whole of mankind."
It is this collective
consciousness of mankind that is truly significant for Bohm. It is this
collective consciousness that is truly one and indivisible, and it is the
responsibility of each human person to contribute towards the building
of this consciousness of mankind, this noosphere! "There's nothing else
to do--there is no other way out. That is absolutely what has to be done
and nothing else can work."
Bohm also believes
that the individual will eventually be fulfilled upon the completion of
cosmic noogenesis. Referring to all the elements of the cosmos, including
human beings, as projections of an ultimate totality, Bohm notes that as
a "human being takes part in the process of this totality, he is fundamentally
changed in the very activity in which his aim is to change that reality,
which is the content of his consciousness." Bohm is intuiting that the
human person and mankind collectively, upon accomplishing a successful
noogenesis, will come to fullness within that greater dimension of reality--the
The Cosmic Apex
Bohm refers to this
ultimate level--the source of the nonmanifest--as the Subtle Nonmanifest,
something akin to spirit, a mover, but still matter in the sense that it
is a part of the Implicate Order. For Bohm, the Subtle Nonmanifest is an
*active intelligence* beyond any of the "energies defined in thought."
Trying to describe
the Subtle Nonmanifest, Bohm states that the "subtle is what is basic and
the manifest is its result." (ive intelligence "directly transforms matter."
And finally, Bohm says it straight: "there's a truth, an actuality, a being
beyond what can be grasped in thought, and this is intelligence, the sacred,
Bohm poetically thinks
of this cosmic Subtle Nonmanifest in a state of meditation. But what is
it doing? Meditation means "to reflect, to turn something over in the mind,
and to pay close attention." Without explanation, Bohm wonders aloud that
while we meditate on that which we term the subtle nonmanifest, does the
Subtle Nonmanifest concentrate on *its* Subtle Nonmanifest?" Does this
mean that the Cosmic Apex ponders upon something beyond or outside of itself?
Possibly Bohm is considering the infinite potential of what he terms "multidimensional
reality." He might also be thinking of the possibility of Something Separate.
For Bohm, the Cosmic
Apex is a Holy Intelligence. It is a Player who operates in a feedback
universe. The Player is the Impicate Order. Bohm provides the analogy
of the "continuous field," the information, and the Player of the whole
game. This process is ever endless, ever expanding or evolving, as the
Player gathers all to itself. The player continuously grasps itself. This
is the Play of the Cosmic Process!
of the Cosmic Model
There are certain
characteristics that can be discerned from Bohm's cosmic model. They are
Order, Intelligence, Personalization, Creativity, and a sense of Holiness.
Bohm believes that
a special cosmic energy holds the All together, and this cosmic energy
follows a cosmic law (order). Bohm refers to it as the law in the holomovement.
His viewpoint is that of "wholeness." The law of his holographic cosmic
system is simply a movement which enables new "wholes" to emerge. These
new holistic aspects may appear possibly to have some autonomy, but ultimately
they are all aspects of the All.
there is information; it is information, an inwardness, according to Bohm,
that enters into consciousness. Bohm speculates that this inwardness in
consciousness may be likened to an *insight* which could, if refined, be
used as an instrument for letting the "energies (of the Subtle Nonmanifest)
come through." Bohm refers to this as an "active intelligence."
Bohm considers thought
as basically mechanical in its operation. What makes the mechanical thought
process relevant is intelligence. Bohm puts it thus: "The perception of
whether or not any particular thoughts are relevant or fitting requires
the operation of an energy that is not mechanical, an energy that we shall
call intelligence." He continues: "For example, one may be working on a
puzzling problem for a long time. Suddenly, in a flash of understanding,
one may see the irrelevance of one's whole way of thinking about the problem,
along with a different approach--such a flash is essentially an act
Bohm believes that
if intelligence is an "unconditioned act of perception," than the intelligence
cannot be grounded in "structures such as cells, molecules, atoms, and
elementary particles." The operation of intelligence, for Bohm, has to
be beyond any factors that can be included in any knowable law. The "ground
of intelligence must be in the undetermined and unknown flux, that is also
the ground of all definable forms of matter." For Bohm, intelligence has
always been at the very core of the Implicate Order!
Bohm is somewhat
reserved about the theoretical prospects of cosmic personalization; nonetheless,
he points to such a possibility in vague, cyclic terminology about human
projections: "each of these elements is a projection, in a sub-totality
of yet higher dimension. So it will be ultimately misleading and indeed
wrong to suppose, for example, that each human being is an independent
actuality who interacts with other human beings and with nature. Rather,
all these are projections of a single totality. As a human being takes
part in the process of this totality, he is fundamentally changed in the
very activity in which his aim is to change that reality which is the content
of his consciousness."
Bohm considers that
consciousness is an exchange between the explicate and implicate orders.
Consciousness is part of the play of the cosmic process, grasping itself
(through its sub-totalities) into higher and higher levels of consciousness.
Logically, if cosmic sub-totalities (such as human beings) can be considered
to be persons (of which only a few are developing toward higher levels
of Personhood), than through the feedback interchange, the cosmos is becoming
progressively personalized as well.
This Cosmic Knower,
Player of the Cosmic Process, is pure energy. It is intelligent. It
is conscious. It is a Person. And this Player is also creative!
creativity, Bohm introduces a new concept in which he describes the Implicate
Order as a kind of generative order. He notes that "This order is
primarily concerned not with the outward side of development, and evolution
in a sequence of successions, but with a deeper and more inward order out
of which the manifest form of things can emerge creatively."
Bohm believes that
the generative order "proceeds from an origin in free play which then unfolds
into ever more crystallized forms." Generative order can be seen in the
work of an artist. Bohm uses the example of Mandelbrot's mathematically-derived
fractals to illustrate more scientifically this cosmic generativity. "Fractals
involve an order of similar differences which include changes of scale
as well as other possible changes." Bohm notes that "By choosing different
base figures and generators, but each time applying the generator on a
smaller and smaller scale, Mandelbrot is able to produce a great variety
of shapes and figures--All are filled with infinitesimal detail and are
evocative of the types of complexity found in natural forms."
For Bohm the Holy
is a "being beyond what can be grasped in thought." and Bohm calls the
Subtle Nonmanifest "holy" in the sense that it is whole. It is a Presence
within cosmic energy.
The Bohm cosmic model
also suggests that this "holiness" has existed since the foundation of
the cosmos. It is present in the cyclical process of the universe. It is
pure, active intelligence from which all that is manifest in the cosmos
comes. It acts through an inwardness in consciousness. It enfolds information
into the many levels of consciousness, into all of life. It is the Implicate
Order which is the Ground of All Existence.
Humanity is the pilgrim
in this cosmic process. What does Bohm have to say about the human condition?
What of Evil?
For Bohm there are the evils of disorder (which causes suffering) and death.
Bohm does not believe that there is disorder at the level of the non-human
universality, rather it is at the level of humanity--mainly because of
ignorance. Nature has allowed humanity the luxery to make mistakes, because
humankind must have the "possibility of being creative." It is our fledgling
ranking in this cosmic process that places us in these circumstances of
choice and possible chaos. Disorder, and its consequent suffering, will
prevail as long as all the different elements (of any given system, whether
a human body or human society) "chaotically grow independently of each
other, don't work together."
Bohm is dispassionate
about Life and Death. He uses the analogy of a live oak tree. Creation-dissolution-creation
all coexist in that live oak tree. The "leaves are continually forming
and some are dropping off at the same time, so that it looks as if it's
a constant tree." Bohm continues, noting that "its from the nonmanifest
that the tree is continually forming and into the nonmanifest that it is
What of the evil
of Ignorance? The ignorance of humanity, in Bohm's opinion, is a matter
of closed mindedness. He considers it the "darkness in the human brain."
It is a matter of the human ego closed to the Universal Mind, to the supreme
intelligence who communicates through the mode of insight.
According to Bohm,
is pure perception. Because of the low level of our ego development
(manifested by our grandiosity, our emotional fears and pressures, our
ignorant worldviews, and our gross extraversion), this insight is more
than often deflected by a closed mind. The opposite of the closed mind
is the openness to interiority. Human beings must look within in order
to meet and scrutinize universal insight.
What does Bohm think
of human Consciousness and Creativity? For Bohm unfolded creative
intelligence originated in the depths of the generative order (the Implicate
Order). "In the free play of thought," Bohm says that the "creative intelligence
responds to opposition and contradiction with new proposals." He believes
that every aspect of human experience, whether physical or mental, emotional
or intellectual, can be "profoundly affected by creative intelligence,
wherever this is able to act." And this in Bohm's mind is a breakthrough
experience, because through the action of cosmic creative intelligence
"everything may take on a new meaning."
What of Human
Destiny, how does Bohm consider this? Bohm's overall vision of human
destiny is short and straightforward: "The consciousness of mankind is
one and not truly divisible." Each person has a responsibility to achieve
this and nothing else. "There is no other way out. That is absolutely what
has to be done and nothing else can work."
Bohm believes that
only through collective cooperation can man accrue the high degree of energy
required to "reach the whole of the consciousness of mankind." Bohm believes
that the individual is in total contact with the Implicate Order. In that
sense, the individual "is part of the whole of mankind and in another sense
he can get beyond it."
Bohm goes no further.
It can only be speculated that Bohm is thinking of a kind of ascension,
of a new way of being, perhaps of a New Being?
AND THE IMPLICATE ORDER.
Bohm and B.J. Hiley, THE UNDIVIDED UNIVERSE.
Bohm and J. Krishnamurti, THE ENDING OF TIME.
Bohm and J. Krishnamurti, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY.
Bohm and F. David Peat, SCIENCE, ORDER, AND CREATIVITY.
Wilber (ed.), THE HOLOGRAPHIC PARADIGM.
Bohm, "Quantum Theory as an Indication of a New Order in Physics--Implicate
and Explicate Order in Physical Law," PHYSICS (GB), 3.2 (June 1973), pp.
Bohm, B.J, Hiley, and P.N. Kaloyerou, "Ontological Basis for the Quantum
Theory," PHYSICS REPORTS (Netherlands) 144.6 (January 1987), pp. 323-348.