David Bohm's Holographic Consciousness

Implicate and explicate order according to David Bohm

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According to David Bohm's theory, implicate and explicate orders are characterised by:

In the enfolded [or implicate] order, space and time are no longer the dominant factors determining the
relationships of dependence or independence of different elements. Rather, an entirely different sort of basic 
connection of elements is possible, from which our ordinary notions of space and time, along with those of
separately existent material particles, are abstracted as forms derived from the deeper order. These ordinary
notions in fact appear in what is called the "explicate" or "unfolded" order, which is a special and distinguished 
form contained within the general totality of all the implicate orders (Bohm 1980, p. xv).



[edit]David Bohm's challenges to some generally prevailing views

In proposing this new notion of order, David Bohm explicitly challenged a number of tenets that he believed are 

fundamental to much scientific work. Bohm challenges the ideas that:

  1. That phenomena are reducible to fundamental particles and laws describing the behaviour of particles, or 
  2. more generally to any static (i.e. unchanging) entities, whether separate events in space-timequantum 
  3. states, or static entities of some other nature.
  4. Related to (1), that human knowledge is most fundamentally concerned with mathematical prediction of
  5.  statistical aggregates of particles.
  6. That an analysis or description of any aspect of reality (e.g. quantum theory, the speed of light) can be
  7.  unlimited in its domain of relevance.
  8. That the Cartesian coordinate system, or its extension to a curvilinear system, is the deepest conception of
  9.  underlying order as a basis for analysis and description of the world.
  10. That there is ultimately a sustainable distinction between reality and thought, and that there is a 
  11. corresponding distinction between the observer and observed in an experiment or any other situation
  12.  (other than a distinction between relatively separate entities valid in the sense of explicate order).
  13. That it is, in principle, possible to formulate a final notion concerning the nature of reality; e.g. a Theory of
  14.  Everything.

Bohm’s proposals have at times been dismissed largely on the basis of such tenets, without due consideration 

necessarily given to the fact that they had been challenged by Bohm.

Bohm’s paradigm is inherently antithetical to reductionism, in most forms, and accordingly can be regarded as a

form of ontological holism. On this, Bohm noted of prevailing views among physicists: "the world is assumed to

be constituted of a set of separately existent, indivisible and unchangeable 'elementary particles', which are the 

fundamental 'building blocks' of the entire universe … there seems to be an unshakable faith among physicists

 that either such particles, or some other kind yet to be discovered, will eventually make possible a complete and 

coherent explanation of everything" (Bohm 1980, p. 173).

A hydrogen atom and its constituent particles: an example an over-simplified way of looking at a small collection of posited building
 blocks of the universe

In Bohm’s conception of order, then, primacy is given to the undivided whole, and the implicate order inherent

within the whole, rather than to parts of the whole, such as particles, quantum states, and continua. For Bohm,

the whole encompasses all things, structures, abstractions and processes, including processes that result in

(relatively) stable structures as well as those that involve metamorphosis of structures or things. In this view,

parts may be entities normally regarded as physical, such as atoms orsubatomic particles, but they may also be

abstract entities, such as quantum states. Whatever their nature and character, according to Bohm, these parts

are considered in terms of the whole, and in such terms, they constitute relatively autonomous and independent

"sub-totalities". The implication of the view is, therefore, that nothing isfundamentally separate or autonomous.

Bohm 1980, p. 11 said: "The new form of insight can perhaps best be called Undivided Wholeness in Flowing 

Movement. This view implies that flow is, in some sense, prior to that of the ‘things’ that can be seen to form and 

dissolve in this flow". According to Bohm, a vivid image of this sense of analysis of the whole is afforded by 

vortex structures in a flowing stream. Such vortices can be relatively stable patterns within a continuous flow, but 

such an analysis does not imply that the flow patterns have any sharp division, or that they are literally separate 

and independently existent entities; rather, they are most fundamentally undivided. Thus, according to Bohm’s

view, the whole is in continuous flux, and hence is referred to as the holomovement (movement of the whole).

[edit]Quantum theory and relativity theory

A key motivation for Bohm in proposing a new notion of order was the well-known incompatibility of quantum 

theory with relativity theoryBohm 1980, p. xv summarised the state of affairs he perceived to exist:

…in relativity, movement is continuous, causally determinate and well defined, while in quantum mechanics

it is discontinuous, not causally determinate and not well-defined. Each theory is committed to its own 

notions of essentially static and fragmentary modes of existence (relativity to that of separate events 

connectible by signals, and quantum mechanics to a well-defined quantum state). One thus sees that a 

new kind of theory is needed which drops these basic commitments and at most recovers some essential

features of the older theories as abstract forms derived from a deeper reality in which what prevails is 

unbroken wholeness.

Bohm maintained that relativity and quantum theory are in basic contradiction in these essential respects, and that

a new concept of order should begin with that towards which both theories point: undivided wholeness. This 

should not be taken to mean that he advocated such powerful theories be discarded. He argued that each was

relevant in a certain context—i.e. a set of interrelated conditions within the explicate order—rather than having 

unlimited scope, and that apparent contradictions stem from attempts to overgeneralize by superposing the 

theories on one another, implying greater generality or broader relevance than is ultimately warranted. Thus, 

Bohm 1980, pp. 156–167 argued: "... in sufficiently broad contexts such analytic descriptions cease to be

adequate ... 'the law of the whole' will generally include the possibility of describing the 'loosening' of aspects 

from each other, so that they will be relatively autonomous in limited contexts ... however, any form of relative 

autonomy (and heteronomy) is ultimately limited by holonomy, so that in a broad enough context such forms are

seen to be merely aspects, relevated in the holomovement, rather than disjoint and separately existent things in


[edit]Hidden variable theory

Bohm proposed a hidden variable theory of quantum physics (see Bohm interpretation). According to Bohm, a key

motivation for doing so was purely to show the possibility of such theories. On this, Bohm 1980, p. 81 said "... 

it should be kept in mind that before this proposal was made there had existed the widespread impression that no

conceptions of hidden variables at all, not even if they were abstract, and hypothetical, could possibly be 

consistent with the quantum theory". Bohm 1980, p. 110 also claimed that "the demonstration of the possibility of 

theories of hidden variables may serve in a more general philosophical sense to remind us of the unreliability of

conclusions based on the assumption of the complete universality of certain features of a given theory, however 

general their domain of validity seems to be". Another aspect of Bohm's motivation was to point out a confusion

he perceived to exist in quantum theory. On the dominant approaches in quantum theory, he said: "...we wish 

merely to point out that this whole line of approach re-establishes at the abstract level of statistical potentialities 

the same kind of analysis into separate and autonomous components in interaction that is denied at the more 

concrete level of individual objects" (Bohm 1980, p. 174).

[edit]The implicate order as an algebra

David Bohm, his co-worker Basil Hiley and other physicists of Birkbeck college, University of London, worked

towards representing the implicate order in form of an appropriate algebra or other pregeometry. They considered 

spacetime itself as part of an explicit order that is connected to an implicit order which they called pre-space. 

The spacetime manifold and properties of locality and nonlocality then arise from an order in such pre-space. 

A. M. Frescura and Hiley suggested that an implicate order could be carried by an algebra, with the explicate order

being contained in the various representations of this algebra.[1] Frescura also suggested that the pregeometry 

could be defined by projective spinors.[2]

[edit]Quantum entanglement

Central to Bohm's schema are correlations between observables of entities which seem separated by great 

distances in the explicate order (such as a particular electron here on earth and an alpha particle in one of the 

stars in the Abell 1835 galaxy, the farthest galaxy from Earth known to humans), manifestations of the implicate 

order. Within quantum theory there is entanglement of such objects.

This view of order necessarily departs from any notion which entails signalling, and therefore causality. The 

correlation of observables does not imply a causal influence, and in Bohm's schema the latter represents

 'relatively' independent events in space-time; and therefore explicate order.

He also used the term unfoldment to characterise processes in which the explicate order becomes relevant

(or "relevated"). Bohm likens unfoldment also to the decoding of a television signal to produce a sensibleimage on

screen. The signal, screen, and television electronics in this analogy represent the implicate order whilst the 

image produced represents the explicate order. He also uses an example in which an ink droplet can be introduced

into a highly viscous substance (such as glycerine), and the substance rotated very slowly such that there is 

negligible diffusion of the substance. In this example, the droplet becomes a thread which, in turn, eventually 

becomes invisible. However, by rotating the substance in the reverse direction, the droplet can essentially reform. 

When it is invisible, according to Bohm, the order of the ink droplet as a pattern can be said to be implicate within 

the substance.

In another analogy, Bohm asks us to consider a pattern produced by making small cuts in a folded piece of 

paper and then, literally, unfolding it. Widely separated elements of the pattern are, in actuality, produced by the

 same original cut in the folded piece of paper. Here the cuts in the folded paper represent the implicate order and 

the unfolded pattern represents the explicate order.

[edit]The hologram as analogy for the implicate order

Bohm employed the hologram as a means of characterising implicate order, noting that each region of a 

photographic plate in which a hologram is observable contains within it the whole three-dimensional image, which 

can be viewed from a range of perspectives. That is, each region contains a whole and undivided image.

In Bohm’s words:

There is the germ of a new notion of order here. This order is not to be understood solely in terms of a regular

arrangement of objects (eg., in rows) or as a regular arrangement of events (e.g. in a series). Rather, a total order

is contained, in some implicit sense, in each region of space and time. Now, the word 'implicit' is based on the 

verb 'to implicate'. This means 'to fold inward' ... so we may be led to explore the notion that in some sense each

region contains a total structure 'enfolded' within it".[3]

Bohm noted that although the hologram conveys undivided wholeness, it is nevertheless static.

In this view of order, laws represent invariant relationships between explicate entities and structures, and thus 

Bohm maintained that in physics, the explicate order generally reveals itself within well-constructed experimental 

contexts as, for example, in the sensibly observable results of instruments. With respect to implicate order, 

however, Bohm asked us to consider the possibility instead "that physical law should refer primarily to an order of

undivided wholeness of the content of description similar to that indicated by the hologram rather than to an order

of analysis of such content into separate parts …".[4]

In a holographic reconstruction, each region of a photographic plate contains the whole image

[edit]Implicate orders in art

In the work Science, Order, and Creativity (Bohm and Peat, 1987), examples of implicate orders in science are 

laid out, as well as implicate orders which relate to painting, poetry, and music.

The authors emphasize the role of orders of varying complexity, which influence the perception of a work of art as

a whole. They note that implicate orders are accessible to human experience. They refer for instance to earlier 

notes which reverberate when listening to music, or various resonances of words and images which are perceived

 when reading or hearing poetry.

[edit]A common grounding for consciousness and matter

Karl Pribram and colleagues have presented evidence that indicates that memories do not in general appear to be localized in specific regions of brains

The implicate order represents the proposal of a general metaphysical 

concept in terms of which it is claimed that matter and consciousness

might both be understood, in the sense that it is proposed that both matter

and consciousness: (i) enfold the structure of the whole within each region,

and (ii) involve continuous processes of enfoldment and unfoldment. For

example, in the case of matter, entities such as atoms may represent 

continuous enfoldment and unfoldment which manifests as a relatively

stable and autonomous entity that can be observed to follow a relatively 

well-defined path in space-time. In the case of consciousness, Bohm 

pointed toward evidence presented by Karl Pribram that memories may be 

enfolded within every region of the brain rather than being localized

 (for example in particular regions of the brain, cells, or atoms).

Bohm went on to say:

As in our discussion of matter in general, it is now necessary to go into the question of how in 

consciousness the explicate order is what is manifest ... the manifest content of consciousness is based 

essentially on memory, which is what allows such content to be held in a fairly constant form. Of course, to

make possible such constancy it is also necessary that this content be organized, not only through

relatively fixed association but also with the aid of the rules of logic, and of our basic categories of space, 

time causality, universality, etc. ... there will be a strong background of recurrent stable, and separable 

features, against which the transitory and changing aspects of the unbroken flow of experience will be seen 

as fleeting impressions that tend to be arranged and ordered mainly in terms of the vast totality of the 

relatively static and fragmented content of [memories].[5]

Bohm also claimed that "as with consciousness, each moment has a certain explicate order, and in addition it 

enfolds all the others, though in its own way. So the relationship of each moment in the whole to all the others is 

implied by its total content: the way in which it 'holds' all the others enfolded within it". Bohm characterises

consciousness as a process in which at each moment, content that was previously implicate is presently 

explicate, and content which was previously explicate has become implicate.

One may indeed say that our memory is a special case of the process described above, for all that is

recorded is held enfolded within the brain cells and these are part of matter in general. The recurrence and

stability of our own memory as a relatively independent sub-totality is thus brought about as part of the very

same process that sustains the recurrence and stability in the manifest order of matter in general. It follows,

then, that the explicate and manifest order of consciousness is not ultimately distinct from that of matter in


[edit]Connections with other works

Epithelial Cells stained for keratin and DNA: such parts of life exist because of the whole, but also to sustain it

Many have seen strong connections between his ideas and ideas traditionally associated

with Eastern Philosophy and religion. Bohm himself seemed also to see such connections, as evidenced by his 

close relationship with Jiddu Krishnamurti. There are particularly strong connections to Buddhism. Some 

proponents of new age beliefs (such as shamanism) claim a connection with their belief systems as well. Bohm's

ideas are also used in certain meditation practices.[citation needed]

Bohm's views bear some similarities to those of Immanuel Kant, according to Wouter Hanegraaff. For example, 

Kant held that the parts of an organism, such as cells, simultaneously exist to sustain the whole, and depend upon

the whole for their own existence and functioning.[citation needed] Kant also proposed that the process of thought 

plays an active role inorganizing knowledge, which implies theoretical insights are instrumental to the process of 

acquiring factual knowledge. Kant restricted knowledge to appearances only and denied the existence of knowledge

of any "thing in itself," but Bohm believed that theories in science are "forms of insight that arise in our attempts to

 obtain a perception of a deeper nature of reality as a whole" (Bohm & Hiley 1993, p. 323). Thus for Bohm the 

thing in itself is the whole of existence, conceived of not as a collection of parts but as an undivided movement.

In this view Bohm is closer to Kant's critic, Arthur Schopenhauer,[citation needed] who identified the thing in itself

with the will, an inner metaphysical reality that grounds all outer phenomena. Schopenhauer's will plays a role 

analogous to that of the implicate order; for example, it is objectified (Bohm might say it is "made explicate") to 

form physical matter. And Bohm's concept that consciousness and matter share a common ground resembles 

Schopenhauer's claim that even inanimate objects possess an inward noumenal nature. In The World as Will and

Representation, Schopenhauer (1819/1995) described this ground thus:

When I consider the vastness of the world, the most important factor is that this existence-in-itself, of which the
world is the manifestation, cannot, whatever it may be, have its true self spread out and dispersed in this 
fashion in boundless space, but that this endless extension belongs only to its manifestation, while
existence-in-itself, on the contrary, is present entire and undivided in everything in nature and in everything that
lives. (Schopenhauer 1995, p. 60)
For Bohm, life is a continuous flowing process of enfoldment and unfoldment involving relatively autonomous entities. DNA 'directs' the environment to form a living thing. Life can be said to be implicate in ensembles of molecules that ultimately form life.

[edit]See also


  1. ^ F. A. M. Frescura, B. J. Hiley: Algebras, quantum theory and pre-space, p. 3–4 (published in Revista Brasileira
  2.  de Fisica, Volume Especial, Julho 1984, Os 70 anos de Mario Schonberg, pp. 49-86)
  3. ^ F. A. M. Frescura: Projective spinor geometry and prespace, Foundations of Physics, vol. 18, rn. 8, pp. 777-808, 
  4. DOI: 10.1007/BF01889310, Part II. Invited Papers Dedicated To David Bohm, Springer 1988 (abstract)
  5. ^ Bohm 1980, p. 149
  6. ^ Bohm 1980, p. 147
  7. ^ Bohm 1980, p. 205
  8. ^ Bohm 1980, p. 208


[edit]Further reading

[edit]External links

Subpages (1): Holonomic brain theory