Saturday, June 17, 2017

David Bohm

   "We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us."     - Joseph Campbell

Does consciousness create reality?  Some physicists admit the universe is immaterial, mental & spiritual. Although we might not be able to answer these questions with absolute scientific certainty, we do know that yes, a correlation between consciousness and our physical material world does indeed exist in some way, shape or form.

I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”  –  Max Planck, theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918

Cosmology is the branch of metaphysics that deals with the world as the totality of all phenomena in space and time. Historically, it has had quite a broad scope, and in many cases was founded in religion. This highlights the problem of religious “skepticism” of science and its theories. Religious people have a deep mistrust of science, a mistrust that is reciprocated by the disdain of scientific community for religion. It is fair to say that nothing less than a chasm separates the two camps in the public view.

Some would say that everything we know about our universe, we have learned through the scientific method. When you say "true science" you really mean "empirical. Empiricism is a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience. Scientific reductionism is a process where a complicated issue is broken down in an attempt to understand the integral parts.  The presumption being that understanding the parts will lead to an understanding of the whole.

Followers of the old Scientism believe that reality is essentially dead matter. Scientists once adamantly opposed any subjectivity in science. Now in the philosophy of physics, this idea has recently come back to haunt logical empiricists with considerable vengeance. There are several studies (such as the quantum double slit experiment) that clearly show that consciousness, or factors that are associated with consciousness are directly correlated with our reality in some way.

When Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger leaned toward the side of mysticism it irritated many scientists. But in the philosophy of quantum equations, meaning could seem to fit on either side. The mysticism controversy in quantum mechanics did not involve among just a few physicists and mystics, but it attracted the physics community at large. Some of the ideas resurfaced again in Eugene Wigner’s 1961 paper on the subject, which inspired popular books such as The Tao of Physics and The Dancing Wu Li Masters, which seek to connect quantum physics to Eastern mysticism for a new generation, along with the recent film What the Bleep Do We Know? Apparently science & technology meet full circle at the doorway to cosmic consciousness.

Metaphysics has traditionally been understood as reasoning beyond the reach of science, sometimes even claiming realities that are beyond its grasp. Because of this, metaphysics has often been contemptuously dismissed by scientists and philosophers who wish to remain within the bounds of what can be scientifically proven. Yet scientists at the frontiers of physics unwittingly engage in metaphysics, as they are now happy to contemplate whole universes that are, in principle, beyond human reach.

The necessity of metaphysics in forging a compatible worldview just won't seem to go away. It seems that we  have come full circle to Quantum mysticism which is a set of metaphysical beliefs and associated practices that seek to relate consciousness, intelligence, spirituality, or mystical world-views to the ideas of quantum mechanics and its interpretations. This New Age incarnation wants to combine ancient mysticism with quantum mechanics.

“It was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”  Eugene Wigner, theoretical physicist and mathematician. He received a share of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963

There are few scientists of the twentieth century whose life's work has created more excitement and controversy than that of physicist David Bohm (1917-1992). Although he was a famous scientist he was not arrogant or proud and remained unbiased and open-minded which allowed him to be one of the principal scientists able to question the limits of science itself.

Perhaps it was because of this unorthodox approach that he pioneered a new way if thinking that combined inquiry into the nature of biological and physical reality. Bohm surmized that each scientist does his little bit of computations, generally limited to very small-scale phenomena, that may describe something about physics but doesn't see the whole. Science has been based on an assumption that describing or measuring every smaller particle would somehow lead to an understanding of the ultimate nature of physical reality.

Bohm points out the fallacy of that mechanistic view, and explains how it has contributed to the misuse of science for destructive purposes. He was clearly deeply concerned about the furture of humanity and the source of humanity's incoherence. Bohm was alarmed by what he considered an increasing imbalance of man and nature and wondered what is going to happen to the human race if technology keeps on advancing with greater and greater power, either for good or for destruction, which he described as a "systematic fault".

In his book On Creativity, quoting the work of Alfred Korzybski, Bohm expressed the view that "metaphysics is an expression of a world view" and is "thus to be regarded as an art form, resembling poetry in some ways and mathematics in others, rather than as an attempt to say something true about reality as a whole." He had a causal interpretation of quantum physics leading to the theory of the implicate order and undivided wholeness.

As with all truly great thinkers, David Bohm’s philosophical ideas found expression in his character and way of life. The mystical connotations of Bohm’s ideas are underlined by his remark that the implicate domain "could equally well be called idealism, spirit, consciousness. The separation of the two -- matter and spirit -- is an abstraction. The ground is always one."

Bohm's view of the interconnectedness of mind and matter led him to address societal problems. And he wrote a proposal for a solution that has become known as "Bohm Dialogue", allowing for appreciation of differing personal beliefs. His philosophy and was deeply influenced by both Einstein and J. Krishnamurti. Bohm trusted this interior, intuitive nature as a way of arriving at solutions. When he met Einstein, he learned that he too experienced subtle, internal sensations that appeared to lie much deeper than ordinary rational and discursive thought.

Krishnamurti influenced Bohm greately. They were engaged in intense dialogues spanning three decades and they clearly had deep respect and concern for each other. Bohm envisioned a transformation for those who grasped quantum mechanics in depth: a world of interconnection and interdependence, of direct and instantaneous communication, in which we have learned to harness the energies of compassion.

David bohm was interviewed by David Suzuki where he said that we give our attention to and arrange our thoughts according to what we desire and will tend to believe whatever seems will serve that purpose. And we often justify what we like or dislike. Confirmation bias is a phenomenon wherein decision makers have been shown to actively seek out and assign more weight to evidence that confirms their hypothesis, and ignore or underweigh evidence that could disconfirm their hypothesis.

Some polls demonstrate that many of those in academia and industry who do science, consider themselves “spiritual,” not necessarily affiliated with any particular religion, but still consider spirituality important.

"... the problems at the root of the tragedy of contemporary science is —its corporatization and militarization—. Describing science as tragedy would have seemed peculiar to most people as recently as the first half of the 20th century. The reputation of science was then golden. The expectation that modern science could and soon would solve all of humanity’s problems was almost universal.

....The out-of-control proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction is perhaps the worst of contemporary science’s tragic fruits, but there are others. The misuse and abuse of science to justify destroying the Earth’s habitability has also become a source of widespread anxiety. These and other perils have a common root: the corruption of Big Science by Big Money. More precisely, they are the consequence of a profit-driven economic system that hamstrings humanity’s ability to make rational economic decisions.

Science is presumed to be a reliable source of knowledge based on objective fact rather than subjective bias. By definition, that requires research to be conducted impartially by scientists with no conflicts of interest that could affect their judgment. But a science harnessed to the maximization of private profits cannot avoid material conflicts of interest that are anathema to objectivity."

The famous Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics argues that we cannot speak about an objective reality other than that which is revealed through measurement and observation. Those who do not favor the Copenhagen interpretation and prefer the alternative proposed by David Bohm, might want to read Bohm's many published dialogues on the topic of Eastern mysticism.

For the first time in a single volume, The Essential David Bohm offers a comprehensive overview of Bohm's original works from a non-technical perspective. Including three chapters of previously unpublished material, and a forward by the Dalai Lama, each reading has been selected to highlight some aspect of the implicate order process, and to provide an introduction to one of the most provocative thinkers of our time.

Thanks to Dr. Harriet Natsuyama for her helpful advice and her valuable understanding of what it is that scientists and sages have in common.