Thought as a System / Edition 1by David Bohm
Pub. Date: 12/28/1994
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
In Thought as a System, best-selling author David Bohm takes as his subject the role of thought and knowledge at every level of human affairs, from our private reflections on personal identity to our collective efforts to fashion a tolerable civilization.
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In this wide-ranging set of discussions (an actual continuation of those started in his previous set of Ojai Conference discussions, recorded in his book ¿Unfolding Meaning¿), Professor Bohm strays what seems like light- years away from his main interest, Quantum Physics. Yet, the ideas revealed in his ¿Wholeness and the Implicate Order¿ that deal explicitly with the relationship between mind, thought, consciousness and matter, and how they come together to make up an unbroken whole, provide the background, and the subtext of these discussions. Bohm takes a much deeper human, rather than just a purely Physicist, look at the subject of thought and how its mechanical functioning is turned into meaning and knowledge at every level of human functioning and what that all means. From cognition, to mimes of meaning, to perceptions, to introspection, to individual awareness and personal identity, to products of mind including material objects, all the way up to culture and civilization as a whole, he ruminates on how the accepted fragmented view, which we take as an exact objective mental replica of what is ¿out there¿ ultimately affects how we see and act in the world, and in fact (as he argues) how the world becomes what it is. At one end of his argument -- that we have inherited a belief that mind is of an inherently different and higher order than matter and as a result we feel justified in placing our faith in what we think is objective reality -- Bohm in principle agrees with Freud and other psychologists that human thought is more re-creation of ones internal emotional states, including our feelings which in Bohm¿s view extend also to inanimate objects -- than an actual reflection of what is really ¿out there.¿ At the other end of this argument, he concludes that as a result of our unwarranted faith in what we think is objectivity, we have missed the many Heisenberg effects of our own collective, self-reflexive but ultimately fragmented thoughts. While our thoughts actively form and drive our individual and collective perceptions, its knowledge base, and our collective behavior (which ultimately is derived from them both), in the end they are only all part of a larger fabric of reality, which is a continuous and connected whole: that is, they are only a part of the implicate order. Bohm¿s main point is that thought is ¿participatory reality,¿ not a ¿spectator reality,¿ or a mere ¿report on reality.¿ What we see is not a report on reality, but is reality itself. How we see the world affects how the world is. The individual and his private thoughts are just an idiosyncratic component of a larger movement of values, meanings and intentions. Our private sense of individual control is a neurotic illusion. His final conclusion is that the collective cultural mind and its associated knowledge base have become so automatic that we are in large measure controlled by its invisible hand. And as a result we have become prisoners of a ¿collective stream of consciousness:¿ one that is robbing us of our authenticity, vitality, freedom and sense of order. In this book, Professor Bohm¿s ideas come through much cleaner than in either ¿Unfolding Meaning,¿ or in ¿The Implicate Order,¿ where he straddled the fence between quantum interpretations of mind and the physics of matter in such a way that the reader was left to his own devices to make the inferential leap and connections from mind to matter. Not so in this book which as noted above begins where those discussions left off and is much more understandable.