Monday, December 27, 2010
My Criticism of David Bohm
The work of David Bohm also had an impact on my spiritual development. Bohm was definitely a significant scientific figure in the field of physics, and his discoveries and intuition drove him in the direction of mysticism, where he met Jiddu Krishnamurti. First of all, I’d like to go into some of his body of work to which I agree. He spent quite a bit of time in his books talking about the importance of dialogue where all the parties drop their assumptions, beliefs and preconceived notions, and simply listen and speak openly. This view was quite idealistic, and actual dialogue for most people ends up being a bit messier. You have one person in a group who wants to do all the talking, and the parties involved believe their unique position in the correct one, so there isn’t much listening on part of anyone, only an attempt to teach from all parties involved. Many discussions end up getting off track into areas not all that spiritually significant. However, Bohm had noble ideals, but when put in practice, they tend to fail. Bohm also had the position where he believed that the observer and the observed were one movement, and that the division is an artificial construction invented by cognition. Bohm, who was heavily influenced by Jiddu Krishnamurti sometimes used sloppy wording such as suggesting that ‘Thought’ is the problem. He also explained that the thinker erroneously believed that he is choosing to think, whereas the truth is that thinking is caused by deterministic factors. The last part makes sense. It implies that free will is an illusion, which I agree with. However, Bohm and Krishnamurti often talked about an ending of time, as an ending of thought. This is confusing, as what they should have stated in that the timeless is realized when thinker realizing that thinking is ultimately caused, and that thinking can be rooted in irrational emotions, and therefore some ‘thought’ is trash that shouldn’t be taken seriously, but examined and critically negated. Sometimes the lack of subtlety in their language was confusing.
Bohm also talked about his explicate/implicate order theory where the world of form or appearances that we see is constantly dying, and being reborn from a deeply order that we are unable to detect. He imagined a sort of enfoldment process where particles vibrated in and out of the explicate order, sort of like breathing. This sort of theory is fine to discuss, but Bohm and Krishnamurti would often bring up theories such as this to imply that perhaps enlightened consciousness was immortal. Basically, they were looking for ideologies to support a belief in an afterlife. As a philosopher, I see the danger in that sort of thinking, because one has to question the motive for wanting to cleave to afterlife fantasies, when the truth is the activity is probably rooted in a fear of death, and it is safer to simply stick with ‘what is’ and what we can be certain of in the here and now. However, Bohm had a powerful and intuitive imagination that surpassed most of his contemporary physicists at the time. Even Albert Einstein was unable to accept some of his theories such as non-local interaction between hidden quantum variables, which is generally accepted today. Einstein couldn’t accept of the novel QM theories proposed by Bohm because they seemed to conflict with Newtonian physics, and Einstein expected QM to behave according to that model as well. Bohm was also able to criticize the QM professors of the day who were content with mathematical models that made far too many assumptions, and didn’t come close to capturing what was taking place at the quantum level. Bohm realized that the math should be secondary, and discovery, imagination and experimentation should be primary. He was basically discontented with how many scientists where satisfied plugging numbers into incomplete theories, without thinking much about what it all meant. In hindsight though, I think Bohm may have been a tad naïve. Despite his understanding of causality, he was notorious for being a tad too open to individuals who preached superstitious phenomena and pseudoscience. Bohm was probably guilty of creating an unrealistic image of Jiddu Krishnamurti, and becoming severely attached to him, as during one of their last spats, Bohm suffered a serious depression afterwards, to which he needed to be medicated for. Overall, Bohm was a complicated intellectual with many strengthens and many weaknesses. A radical mind in many ways.