David Bohm on Perception

David Bohm was a great thinker, not only a quantum physicist, but a great philosopher who also wrote about creativity, dialogue and consciousness. I include this video as I have been greatly influenced by Bohm, and his ability to think creatively about paradoxes, and how to overcome them.

I also try and teach people about the history of science. Goethe said that “the history of science is science itself.” Bohm in this video makes a very similar observation, in that science is not actually the acquisition of knowledge, but it is the development of new ways of looking at things. This way of looking can be seen as enfolded within the world view of the times in which the science was carried out, and can not be separated from the prevailing world views, or notions of order.

Bohm also succinctly defines a view of integral thinking, where each individual view of reality is like a mirror, which is in itself limited. But the more views we can integrate, the deeper our knowledge of the world will be.

The more views we can get, the deeper our understanding of the reality there is. The essence, or what I call the true being, we can never get hold of. Every view is limited, it’s like a mirror looking this way, or that way.

Theories do not give final true knowledge, they give a way of looking at something. The very word “theoria” in Greek means “theatre” so it is the theatre of the mind which gives insight into the thing.

Science is primarily a perceptual enterprise, and not in gaining knowledge, though knowledge appears. Knowledge is a by-product. By understanding something, you can have contact with it, so long as it is coherent. It shows that our perception is correct. So we must distinguish between correct appearances and incorrect or illusory appearances.

Our thinking process should be called an extension of our perceptual process when done rightly, and not primarily the accumulation of knowledge.


8 responses to “David Bohm on Perception

  1. That’s very interesting and relevant for me at the moment Simon. Thanks for posting. Can you advise me which of Bohm’s work to read first please? I’m most interested in discussions of the holographic universe. Thanks

    • Hi

      I would probably read “Wholeness and the Implicate Order” first, if you are interested in Bohm’s conception of the implicate order. However, to be honest I struggled a little with Bohm, as the first book I read was a complication of his writings. It is quite expensive, but one of the best books introducing Bohm is Paavo Pylkkänen’s “Mind Matter and the Implicate Order”. I was taught by Henri Bortoft, who worked with Bohm in the 1950s when Bortoft and Bohm (with Hiley) were working on the problem of wholeness in nature and physics. This book really helps to explain Bohm with amazing clarity, and as Henri told me, Paavo really “gets” Bohm, being a student and colleague of his.

      Bohm really talks in detail about “order” and so you may want to also consider ‘Science, Order and Creativity” co written by F. David Peat, as a good introductory text too, since to understand Bohm, you have to understand his critiques of current conceptual thinking in science.

  2. If you can get the book from a library then that is brilliant as it is an excellent introduction to Bohm.

    It is quite difficult to explain the “implicate order” – this is a term Bohm introduced to explain the illusory nature of the “physical” world. Scientists have been confused about the phenomena where two electrons seem to be able to communicate instantly across time and space (non-locaility). Bohm solves this “paradox” by suggesting that there is a higher order of reality whereby the two electrons can be thought of as a single “whole”. Therefore matter as we see it folds and unfolds from this “implicate” order of reality.

    The thing to watch out for in the use of the term “holographic” in holographic universe is that this is a useful metaphor, but the metaphor misses the dynamic nature of Bohm’s theory.

    Have a look here for my essay “The Scientists Search for the Soul” where I give a brief introduction to Bohm:


  3. thank you Simon. I’m going to read your ‘The Scientists Search for a Soul’ essay first. I reallly appreciate this guidance. I will keep in touch. Thanks again x

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

    Dr. Rubén Feldman González.

    Iniciador de la Psicología Holokinética.
    Candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize 2007 through 2011


  5. Pingback: Reflections on Quantum Wholeness | Transition Consciousness·

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