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LATEST DIALOGUES David Bohm, Implicate Order and Holomovement
by David Storoy, August 8, 2014
in Cosmology, Philosophy, Quantum Physics
graphic: Eli Vokounova
“Space is not empty. It is full, a plenum as opposed to a vacuum, and is the ground for the existence of everything, including ourselves. The universe is not separate from this cosmic sea of energy.” – David Bohm.
David Bohm was one of the most distinguished theoretical physicists of his generation, and a fearless challenger of scientific orthodoxy.
His interests and influence extended far beyond physics and embraced biology, psychology, philosophy, religion, art, and the future of society. Underlying his innovative approach to many different issues was the fundamental idea that beyond the visible, tangible world there lies a deeper, implicate order of undivided wholeness.
David Bohm was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on December 20, 1917. He went to Pennsylvania State University to study physics, and later to the University of California at Berkeley to work on his PhD thesis with J.Robert Oppenheimer.
While at Berkeley, Bohm, an idealist, became involved in politics and he was labeled a communist by the FBI led by J. Edgar Hoover. This prevented him from getting a clearance to work with Oppenheimer on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos to produce the first atomic bomb during the World War II. However, while working on his doctorate at Berkeley, he discovered “the scattering calculations of collisions of protons and deuterons” which was used by the Manhattan Project team, and was immediately classified. As a result, Bohm was denied access to his own work and wasn’t allowed to write or defend his thesis. Oppenheimer had to certify before the faculty of the university that Bohm had indeed successfully completed his research. Bohm was awarded his PhD in physics.
Bohm was surprised to find that once electrons were in a plasma, they stopped behaving like individuals and started behaving as if they were part of a larger and interconnected whole. He later remarked that he frequently had the impression that the sea of electrons was in some sense alive.
In 1947, he became an assistant professor at Princeton University, where he met Albert Einstein. Einstein found Bohm to be a kindred spirit, a like-minded colleague with whom he could have fascinating conversations about the nature of the universe.He extended his research to the study of electrons in metals. Once again the seemingly haphazard movements of individual electrons managed to produce highly organized overall effects. Bohm’s innovative work in this area established his reputation as a theoretical physicist.
In 1951 Bohm wrote a classic textbook entitled Quantum Theory, in which he presented a clear account of the orthodox, Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics. The Copenhagen interpretation was formulated mainly by Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg in the 1920s and is still highly influential today. But even before the book was published, Bohm began to have doubts about the assumptions underlying the conventional approach.
The holomovement is a key concept in David Bohm`s interpretation of quantum mechanics and for his overall worldview. It brings together the holistic principle of “undivided wholeness” with the idea that everything is in a state of process or becoming (or what he calls the “universal flux») For Bohm, wholeness is not a static oneness, but a dynamic wholeness-in-motion in which everything moves together in an interconnected process. The concept is presented most fully in Wholeness and the implicate order published in 1980.
Referring to quantum theory, Bohm’s basic assumption is that “elementary particles are actually systems of extremely complicated internal structure, acting essentially as amplifiers of information contained in a quantum wave.” As a consequence, he has evolved a new and controversial theory of the universe. A new model of reality that Bohm calls the “Implicate Order.”
The theory of the Implicate Order contains an ultra-holistic cosmic view; it connects everything with everything else. In principle, any individual element could reveal “detailed information about every other element in the universe.” The central underlying theme of Bohm’s theory is the “unbroken wholeness of the totality of existence as an undivided flowing movement without borders.”
During the early 1980s Bohm developed his theory of the Implicate Order in order to explain the bizarre behavior of subatomic particles. Behavior that quantum physicists have not been able to explain. Basically, two subatomic particles that have once interacted can instantaneously “respond to each other’s motions thousands of years later when they are light-years apart.” This sort of particle interconnectedness requires superluminal signaling, which is faster than the speed of light. This odd phenomenon is called the EPR effect, named after the Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen thought experiment.
Bohm believes that the bizarre behavior of the subatomic particles might be caused by unobserved subquantum forces and particles. Indeed, the apparent weirdness might be produced by hidden means that pose no conflict with ordinary ideas of causality and reality.
Bohm believes that this “hiddeness” may be reflective of a deeper dimension of reality. He maintains that space and time might actually be derived from an even deeper level of objective reality. This reality he calls the Implicate Order. Within the Implicate Order everything is connected; and, in theory, any individual element could reveal information about every other element in the universe.
Borrowing ideas from holographic photography, the hologram is Bohm’s favorite metaphor for conveying the structure of the Implicate Order. Holography relies upon wave interference. If two wavelengths of light are of differing frequencies, they will interfere with each other and create a pattern. “Because a hologram is recording detail down to the wavelength of light itself, it is also a dense information storage.” Bohm notes that the hologram clearly reveals how a “total content–in principle extending over the whole of space and time–is enfolded in the movement of waves (electromagnetic and other kinds) in any given region.” The hologram illustrates how “information about the entire holographed scene is enfolded into every part of the film.” It resembles the Implicate Order in the sense that every point on the film is “completely determined by the overall configuration of the interference patterns.” Even a tiny chunk of the holographic film will reveal the unfolded form of an entire three-dimensional object.
Proceeding from his holographic analogy, Bohm proposes a new order–the Implicate Order where “everything is enfolded into everything.” This is in contrast to the explicate order where things are unfolded. Bohm puts it thus:
“The actual order (the Implicate Order) itself has been recorded in the complex movement of electromagnetic fields, in the form of light waves. Such movement of light waves is present everywhere and in principle enfolds the entire universe of space and time in each region. This enfoldment and unfoldment takes place not only in the movement of the electromagnetic field but also in that of other fields (electronic, protonic, etc.). These fields obey quantum-mechanical laws, implying the properties of discontinuity and non-locality. The totality of the movement of enfoldment and unfoldment may go immensely beyond what has revealed itself to our observations. We call this totality by the name holomovement.”
Bohm believes that the Implicate Order has to be extended into a multidimensional reality; in other words, the holomovement endlessly enfolds and unfolds into infinite dimensionality. Within this milieu there are independent sub-totalities (such as physical elements and human entities) with relative autonomy. The layers of the Implicate Order can go deeper and deeper to the ultimately unknown. It is this “unknown and undescribable totality” that Bohm calls the holomovement. The holomovement is the “fundamental ground of all matter.”
THE HOLOGRAM AND HOLONOMY
In collaboration with Stanford neuroscientist Karl Pribram, Bohm was involved in the early development of the holonomic model of the functioning of the brain, a model for human cognition that is drastically different from conventionally accepted ideas. Bohm worked with Pribram on the theory that the brain operates in a manner similar to a hologram in accordance with quantum mathematical principles and the characteristics of wave patterns.
The holonomic brain theory or model, developed by neuroscientist Karl Pribram initially in collaboration with physicist David Bohm, is a model of human cognition that describes the brain as a holographic storage network. Pribram suggests these processes involve electric oscillations in the brain’s fine-fibered dendritic webs, which are different from the more commonly known action potentials involving axons and synapses.These oscillations are waves and create wave interference patterns in which memory is encoded naturally, in a way that can be described with Fourier Transformation equations. Pribram and others noted the similarities between these brain processes and the storage of information in a hologram, which also uses Fourier Transformations(mathematical).In a hologram, any part of the hologram with sufficient size contains the whole of the stored information. In this theory, a piece of a long-term memory is similarly distributed over a dendritic arbor so that each part of the dendritic network contains all the information stored over the entire network.This model allows for important aspects of human consciousness, including the fast associative memory that allows for connections between different pieces of stored information and the non-locality of memory storage (a specific memory is not stored in a specific location, i.e. a certain neuron).
A main characteristic of a hologram is that every part of the stored information is distributed over the entire hologram.Both processes of storage and retrieval are carried out in a way described by Fourier transformation equations. As long as a part of the hologram is large enough to contain the interference pattern that part can recreate the entirety of the stored image, except with more unwanted changes, called noise.
An analogy to this is the broadcasting region of a radio antennae. In each smaller individual location within the entire area it is possible to access every channel, similar to how the entirety of the information of a hologram is contained within a part.
Another analogy of a hologram is the way sunlight illuminates objects in the visual field of an observer. It doesn’t matter how narrow the beam of sunlight is. The beam always contains all the information of the object, and when conjugated by a lens of a camera or the eyeball, produces the same full three-dimensional image. The Fourier transform formula converts spatial forms to spatial wave frequencies and vice versa, as all objects are in essence vibratory structures. Different types of lenses, acting similarly to optic lenses can alter the frequency nature of information that is transferred.
This non-locality of information storage within the hologram is crucial, because even if most parts are damaged, the entirety will be contained within even a single remaining part of sufficient size. Pribram and others noted the similarities between an optical hologram and memory storage in the human brain. According to the holonomic brain theory, memories are stored within certain general regions, but stored non-locally within those regions. This allows the brain to maintain function and memory even when it is damaged. It is only when there exist no parts big enough to contain the whole that the memory is lost. This can also explain why some children retain normal intelligence when large portions of their brain in some cases, half are removed. It can also explain why memory is not lost when the brain is sliced in different cross-sections.
A single hologram can store 3D information in a 2D way. Such properties may explain some of the brain’s abilities, including the ability to recognize objects at different angles and sizes than in the original stored memory.
Pribram proposed that neural holograms were formed by the diffraction patterns of oscillating electric waves within the cortex. It is important to note the difference between the idea of a holonomic brain and a holographic one. Pribram does not suggest that the brain functions as a single hologram. Rather, the waves within smaller neural networks create localized holograms within the larger workings of the brain. This patch holography is called holonomy or windowed Fourier transformations.
A holographic model can also account for other features of memory that more traditional models cannot. The Hopfield Memory model has an early memory saturation point before which memory retrieval drastically slows and becomes unreliable. On the other hand, holographic memory models have much larger theoretical storage capacities. Holographic models can also demonstrate associative memory, store complex connections between different concepts, and resemble forgetting through lossy storage.
Bohm: “The actual nature of the information and the way it is carried is not yet entirely clear. Is it really correct, for example, to speak of a “field” of information, since information does not fall off with distance, neither is it associated with energy in the usual sense. Possibly the notion of field should be widened or, at the quantum level. we should be talking about pre-space structures, or about algebraic relationships that precede the structure of space and time. “
Bohm’s notion of “active information” is tied to his “Ontological Interpretation” (formerly the Causal or Hidden Variable Interpretation). I propose it be freed from any particular theory and raised to the level of a General Principle. Bohm never considered his Ontological Interpretation to be the last word on quantum theory, rather that it would suggest insights and avenues for further research. I believe that one of the most valuable is this notion of information.
“Yes, if you say that all matter actually works from information, not merely matter in the nervous system or DNA matter working in the cell, but even the electron is forming from empty space being informed as it were by some unknown source of information which may be all over the space.
And then we can not have, there is no sharp division between thought, emotion and matter. You see that they flow into each other. Even in ordinary experience you have thought and emotion flow into a movement of matter in the body. Or the movement of matter in the body gives rise to emotion and thought right.
Now the only point is that present science has no idea how thought could directly affect an object which is not in contact with the body you see, or directly through some system. But if you say that the entire ground of existence is enfolded in space, that all matter is coming out of that space, including ourselves, our brains, our thoughts … then the information might gradually vades the space so that matter starts to, you could say that matter is always forming according to whatever information it has and therefore the thought process could alter that information content.
So I would d say that it does look possible though I think very careful experiments have to be done before we say that it actually does take place.”
“Because a hologram is recording detail down to the wavelength of light itself, it is also a dense information storage.” Bohm notes that the hologram clearly reveals how a “total content,in principle extending over the whole of space and time,is enfolded in the movement of waves (electromagnetic and other kinds) in any given region.” The hologram illustrates how “information about the entire holographed scene is enfolded into every part of the film.” It resembles the Implicate Order in the sense that every point on the film is “completely determined by the overall configuration of the interference patterns.” Even a tiny chunk of the holographic film will reveal the unfolded form of an entire three-dimensional object.
MATTER, ANIMATE AND INANIMATE
Right off Bohm refers to the particle, the most essential building-block of matter. He considers the particle, fundamentally, to be only an “abstraction that is manifest to our senses.” Basically, for Bohm, the whole cosmos is matter; in his own words: “What is, is always a totality of ensembles, all present together, in an orderly series of stages of enfoldment and unfoldment, which intermingle and interpenetrate each other in principle throughout the whole of space.”
Bohm’s explicate order, however, is secondary–derivative. It flows out of the law of the Implicate Order, a law that stresses the relationships between the enfolded structures that interweave each other throughout cosmic space rather than between the “abstracted and separate forms that manifest to the senses.”
Bohm’s explanation of “manifest” is basically that in certain sub-orders, within the “whole set” of Implicate Order, there is a “totality of forms that have an approximate kind of recurrence, stability and separability.” These forms are capable of appearing tangible, solid, and thus make up our manifest world.
Bohm also declares that the “implicate order has to be extended into a multidimensional reality.” He proceeds: “In principle this reality is one unbroken whole, including the entire universe with all its fields and particles. Thus we have to say that the holomovement enfolds and unfolds in a multidimensional order, the dimensionality of which is effectively infinite. Thus the principle of relative autonomy of sub-totalities–is now seen to extend to the multi-dimensional order of reality.”
Bohm illustrates this higher-dimensional reality by showing the relationship of two televised images of a fish tank, where the fish are seen through two walls at right angles to one another. What is seen is that there is a certain “relationship between the images appearing on the two screens.” We know, Bohm notes, that the two fish tank images are interacting actualities, but they are not two independently existent realities. “Rather, they refer to a single actuality, which is the common ground of both.” For Bohm this single actuality is of higher dimensionality, because the television images are two-dimensional projections of a three-dimensional reality, which “holds these two-dimensional projections within it.” These projections are only abstractions, but the “three-dimensional reality is neither of these,rather it is something else, something of a nature beyond both.”
If there is apparent evolution in the universe, it is because the different scales or dimensions of reality are already implicit in its structure. Bohm uses the analogy of the seed being “informed” to produce a living plant. The same can be said of all living matter. “Life is enfolded in the totality and–even when it is not manifest, it is somehow implicit.” The holomovement is the ground for both life and matter. There is no dichotomy.
What lies ahead? For Bohm it is the development of consciousness!
Bohm conceives of consciousness as more than information and the brain; rather it is information that enters into consciousness. For Bohm consciousness “involves awareness, attention, perception, acts of understanding, and perhaps yet more.” Further, Bohm parallels the activity of consciousness with that of the Implicate Order in general.
Consciousness, Bohm notes, can be “described in terms of a series of moments.” Basically, “one moment gives rise to the next, in which context that was previously implicate is now explicate while the previous explicate content has become implicate.” Consciousness is an interchange; it is a feedback process that results in a growing accumulation of understanding.
Bohm considers the human individual to be an “intrinsic feature of the universe, which would be incomplete,in some fundamental sense” if the person did not exist. He believes that individuals participate in the whole and consequently give it meaning. Because of human participation, the “Implicate Order is getting to know itself better.”
Bohm also senses a new development. The individual is in total contact with the Implicate Order, the individual is part of the whole of mankind, and he is the “focus for something beyond mankind.” Using the analogy of the transformation of the atom ultimately into a power and chain reaction, Bohm believes that the individual who uses inner energy and intelligence can transform mankind. The collectivity of individuals have reached the “principle of the consciousness of mankind,” but they have not quite the “energy to reach the whole, to put it all on fire.”
Continuing with this theme on the transformation of consciousness, Bohm goes on to suggest that an intense heightening of individuals who have shaken off the “pollution of the ages” (wrong worldviews that propagate ignorance), who come into close and trusting relationship with one another, can begin to generate the immense power needed to ignite the whole consciousness of the world. In the depths of the Implicate Order, there is a “consciousness, deep down–of the whole of mankind.”
It is this collective consciousness of mankind that is truly significant for Bohm. It is this collective consciousness that is truly one and indivisible, and it is the responsibility of each human person to contribute towards the building of this consciousness of mankind. “There’s nothing else to do,there is no other way out. That is absolutely what has to be done and nothing else can work.”
Bohm also believes that the individual will eventually be fulfilled upon the completion of cosmic noogenesis. Referring to all the elements of the cosmos, including human beings, as projections of an ultimate totality, Bohm notes that as a “human being takes part in the process of this totality, he is fundamentally changed in the very activity in which his aim is to change that reality, which is the content of his consciousness.”
Youtube-link showing A model of David Bohm’s implicate order as a Schrodinger wave hologram comprised of free particle wave-functions:
David Peat is a theoretical physicist and a friend and colleague of David Bohm.Together they wrote Science, Order and Creativity and were working on The Order Between and Beyond until Bohm’s death in 1992. He has since written Bohm’s biography Infinite Potential. Peat is working on the upcoming documentary about David Bohm:
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LATEST DIALOGUES Teilhard and Other Modern Thinkers on Evolution, Mind, and Matter (part I)
by Peter B. Todd, November 19, 2014
in Cognitive Sciences, Dialogues
In his The Phenomenon of Man, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin develops concepts of consciousness, the noosphere, and psychosocial evolution. This article explores Teilhard’s evolutionary concepts as resonant with thinking in psychology and physics. It explores contributions from archetypal depth psychology, quantum physics, and neuroscience to elucidate relationships between mind and matter. Teilhard’s work can be seen as advancing this psychological lineage or psychogenesis. That is, the evolutionary emergence of matter in increasing complexity from sub-atomic particles to the human brain and reflective consciousness leads to a noosphere evolving towards an Omega point. Teilhard’s central ideas provide intimations of a numinous principle implicit in cosmology and the discovery that in and through humanity evolution becomes not only conscious of itself but also directed and purposive.
In his introduction to The Phenomenon of Man, evolutionary biologist Sir Julian Huxley provides a synopsis and glowing endorsement of Teilhard’s evolutionary ideas published in The Phenomenon of Man. Huxley writes,
Teilhard de Chardin was at the same time a Jesuit father and a distinguished palaeontologist… [H]e has effected a threefold synthesis—of the material and the physical world with the world of mind and spirit; of the past with the future; and of variety with unity, the many with the one.1
As an eminent evolutionary biologist, Huxley (1887-1975) has much more to say in his exegesis, defense, and endorsement of Teilhard’s innovative evolutionary thought. With regard to the existence of rudimentary mind-like qualities prior to the emergence of reflective consciousness, Huxley writes the following about Teilhard’s contributions.
… evolutionary fact and logic demand that minds should have evolved gradually as well as bodies and that accordingly mindlike … properties must be present throughout the universe. Thus, in any case, we must infer the presence of potential mind… by backward extrapolation from the human phase to the biological, and from the biological to the inorganic. … The brain alone is not responsible for mind, even though it is a necessary organ for its manifestation.2
Years later philosopher Karl Popper (1902-1994) and neuroscientist John Eccles (1903-1997) devised a similar notion that the three worlds of mind, brain, and culture are indispensably necessary. For Popper and Eccles, mind programs the brain to evolve culture which in turn stimulates mental development in a feedback loop.3 While Huxley agreed with Teilhard’s view of humanistic evolution, as a secular biologist he could not agree with supernatural elements in Teilhard’s theology. Huxley nevertheless concluded his affirmation of Teilhard’s contribution writing that,
With his conception of mankind as at the same time an unfinished product of past evolution and an agency of distinctive evolution to come … [Teilhard] wanted to deal with the entire human phenomenon, as a transcendence of biological by psychosocial evolution.4
Furthermore, Huxley summarized Teilhard’s paradigm shift in evolutionary understanding with the comments,
Through his combination of wide scientific knowledge with deep religious feeling and a rigorous set of values, [Teilhard] hasforced theologians to view their beliefs in the new perspective of evolution, and scientists to see the spiritual implications of their knowledge. … In the light of that new comprehension, it is no longer possible to maintain that science and religion must operate in thought-tight compartments. … The religiously minded can no longer turn their backs upon the natural world… nor can the materialistically-minded deny importance to spiritual experience and religious feeling.5
Before exploring extensions of Teilhard’s thought in such fields as quantum physics, neuroscience, and depth psychology, I review Teilhard’s thinking about the universe and the emergence of human consciousness, or noogenesis.
Teilhard’s Concepts of Noogenesis and Carl Jung on Individuation
In his magnum opus The Phenomenon of Man, Teilhard asks, “How could we imagine a cosmogenesis reaching right up to mind without being confronted with a noogenesis? … Man discovers that he is nothing else than evolution become conscious of itself, to borrow Julian Huxley’s striking expression.”6 In less technical terms, cosmogenesis denotes the evolution of the cosmos while noogenesis is a more specific term referring to the unfolding of a global membrane of consciousness connecting all human beings. Teilhard posits that because humankind possesses reflective consciousness, we are responsible for the future direction of the evolving culture, science, and religion of an embodied spirituality.
For Teilhard the Omega point is the time-space in which the psycho-spiritual and cultural evolution are consummated. Teilhard’s views concerning the ultimate destination of noogenesis regards the reducibility of psyche or mind to purely material processes in the brain and the entropy of a final death and disintegration of the noosphere as potentially fatal to the achievement of the final unity of matter and consciousness that he called the Omega point. For Teilhard, purpose and direction in evolution are necessary to its consummation in the Omega point. His views are expressed in the following passage:
The radical defect in all forms of belief in progress, as they are expressed in positivist credos, is that they do not definitely eliminate death. What is the use of detecting a focus of any sort in the van of evolution if that focus can and must one day disintegrate? To satisfy the ultimate requirements of our action, Omega must be independent of the collapse of forces with which evolution is woven.7
Teilhard expresses the same view in The Future of Man. He rejects the Marxist notion of a culmination of anthropogenesis in an eventual state of collective reflection and participation in which the individual becomes one with the whole social system. He wrote, “A world culminating in the Impersonal can bring us neither the warmth of attraction nor the hope of irreversibility (immortality) without which individual egotism will always have the last word.”8
Rather than being subsumed into it, individual identity is enhanced through active participation in an archetypal cosmic order or evolutionary process. In Teilhard’s thought, this is participation in the emergence of the noosphere from cosmogenesis. Teilhard summarizes his reflections in The Phenomenon of Man with statements such as, “I adopt the supposition that our noosphere is destined to close in upon itself in isolation, and that it is in a psychical rather than a spatial direction that it will find an outlet, without need to leave or overflow the earth.”9 His vision of the future of humankind is expressed in a succinct passage:
… mankind, taken as a whole, will be obliged . . . to reflect upon itself at a single point; that is to say, in this case, to abandon its organo-planetary foothold so as to shift its centre to the transcendent centre of its increasing concentration… The end of the world: the overthrow of equilibrium, detaching the mind,fulfilled at last, from its material matrix, so that it will henceforward rest with all its weight on God-Omega.10
These ideas are similar to Carl Jung’s notion of a continuing incarnation of God especially in human psychic development through individual and collective human encounters with numinous, unconscious archetypes outlined in his Collected Works. Carl Jung (1875-1961), a Swiss psychiatrist who broke from his Austrian teacher, Sigmund Freud, founded the fields of Analytical and Archetypal Psychology. He developed the notion of individuation through encounter with the unconscious and with numinous archetypes of the Self and the God-Image. His notion of the collective unconscious and the archetypes as cosmic ordering and regulating principles reject materialist and collectivist Marxism, and depart from the overly rational position of Freud. Rather, Jung’s thought is sympathetic to Teilhard’s concepts of noosphere, noogenesis, and Omega. As well, Jung and Teilhard converge on the nature of complementarity between mind and matter. According to Jung, individuation is the development of the psychological individual as distinct from the general collective psychology. Individuation, therefore, is a process of differentiation, having as its goal the development of the individual personality. Individuation is a natural necessity inasmuch as its prevention by leveling down to collective standards is injurious to the vital activity of the individual.11
In Jungian depth psychology, symbols represent unconscious archetypes which are timeless, cosmic ordering, and regulating principles. Jung’s archetype of the Self or Imago Dei (God image) is distinctly numinous in character and associated with religious or mystical feelings. This archetype can be understood as corresponding to Teilhard’s God-Omega point in cosmology and evolution. In Jungian archetypal psychology, the unconscious not only transcends space-time,12 it is also co-extensive with the cosmos itself as was Teilhard’s notion of extended mind and reflective consciousness through which the existence of the universe is revealed to itself. These reflections on the relationships between Teilhard’s religious cosmology and Jung’s psychology also bring into focus ideas in physics that explore relationships between mind and matter.
The Implicate Order of Bohm, Jung’s Collective Unconscious, and Teilhard on Psychic Evolution
David Bohm (1917-1992) was a physicist, student of J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967), and a colleague of Albert Einstein (1879-1955). In his later published work, Bohm evolved a concept of mind co-extensive with the universe that closely resembled formulations by other physicists, psychologists, and such religious thinkers as Teilhard de Chardin. Among Bohm’s contributions to the exploration of reality was an understanding of consciousness as a coherent whole. In his book Wholeness and the Implicate Order (1980), Bohm writes “The vast unconscious background of explicit consciousness and ultimately, unknowable depths of inwardness are analogous to the sea of energy which fills the sensibly perceived empty space.”13 In his final work, The Undivided Universe (1993), Bohm expressed the insight that “active information served as the bridge between the mental and the physical.”14
Bohm’s concept of active information as a bridge between mind and matter is remarkably similar and perhaps synchronous with emerging notions of unconscious archetypes as cosmic ordering and regulating principles. These insights provide the basis of an argument for a complementarity of mind and matter. Bohm clearly adopted a dual-aspect monist notion of the mental and the physical being complementary though irreducible to one another, while rejecting reductionism of either an idealist or materialist nature. Like other scientists of his day, he explored a position different from, but resonant with, panpsychism and panexperientialism as well as Teilhard’s concepts of noogenesis and psychogenesis. Bohm’s dual aspect concept of extended mind represents a rejection of a purely monist materialist explanation of the nature of reality.
More controversially perhaps, Bohm like Teilhard proposed human participation in “a greater collective Mind in principle capable of going indefinitely beyond even the human species as a whole.”15 Such collective mind is analogous to Jung’s view of the unconscious psyche and the archetypes.
Bohm summarized his position concerning the role of the observer in this way:
There is no need to regard the observer as basically separate from what he sees nor to reduce him to an epiphenomenon of the objective process. More broadly one could say that, through the human being, the universe has created a mirror to observe itself.16
Such reflections on mind not only represent a position different from metaphysical materialism; they also refute the argument that God is a delusion. In a perspective illuminated by the insights of Jung and Bohm, Teilhard predicted that humanity not only participates in a numinous dimension but also participates in cocreative divinization by directing the future evolution of the biosphere and the noosphere. Teilhard held that the ultimate nature of evolution is psychic. He refers to the “primordial psychism of the first cells”17 and to its completion as “a divine focus of mind.”18 Such an evolution no longer rests on the natural selection of purely random mutations; rather, it has been transformed into a psychosocial or cultural evolution directed by the individual and collective reflective consciousness of humanity. These insights also relate to the work of Wolfgang Pauli on the role of the human observer.
>> Teilhard and Other Modern Thinkers on Evolution, Mind, and Matter (part II)
1 Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man, trans. Bernard Wall (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1959), 11.
2 Ibid., 16-17.
3 Popper, K. R. and J. Eccles, The Self and Its Brain: An Argument for Interactionism (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1983).
4 Teilhard de Chardin, Phenomenon of Man, 24. 5 Ibid., 26.
6 Ibid., 221.
7 Ibid., 270.
8 Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Future of Man (London: William Collins and 17
Sons, 1964), 287.
9 Teilhard de Chardin, Phenomenon of Man, 287.
10 Ibid., 287-88.
11 C. G. Jung, Psychological Types, vol. 6 of The Collected Works of C. G. Jung (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971), 448.
12 See for instance C. G. Jung, Psychology and Religion, vol. 11 of The Collected Works of C. G. Jung (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971).
13 David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order (London: Routledge, 1980), 267.
14 David Bohm, The Undivided Universe (London: Routledge, 2002), 386.
16 Ibid., 389.
17 Teilhard de Chardin, Phenomenon of Man, 166.
18 Ibid., 271.
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LATEST DIALOGUES Teilhard and Other Modern Thinkers on Evolution, Mind, and Matter (part II)
by Peter B. Todd, November 18, 2014
in Cognitive Sciences, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Psychology
The Personal Equation of the Human Observer in the Work of Wolfgang Pauli
Physicist Wolfgang Pauli (1900-1958) won the Nobel Prize in 1945 for his formulation of the exclusion principle that helped to explain the complex ordering of the elements on the periodic table.
Interestingly, Pauli also collaborated with Carl Jung between 1932 and 1958 in conceptualizing the unconscious as the psychological analogy of the field concept in quantum physics. During this collaboration, Pauli noted that, since the sixteenth century science with its notions of a totally objective detached human observer, strict mechanistic determinism, and absolute causality, had so totally exorcised “spirit” and metaphysics from its investigations into the empirical laws of nature that it had succumbed to a one-sided development. In other words, science had become unbalanced, lacking the wholeness which would be restored if the consciousness or personal equation of the observer were to be integrated into the understanding of nature. The term “personal equation” was coined in the collaboration between Jung and Pauli. According to Pauli and as noted by the late high energy physicist Kalervo Laurikainen
. . . the most important lesson that quantum mechanics has given us is that we must always include the observer in our picture of the world. This was the original spirit in the Copenhagen philosophy and, exactly in this point Pauli represents this philosophy in the most consistent way.19
The myth of the detached observer is a relic of classical, Newtonian mechanics prior to the quantum revolution. Paradoxically, no science would exist in the absence of the consciousness of the human observer nor would mathematics, which is itself a psychological process “describing relationships organizing matter,” as noted by Karl Pribram!20
Pribram, a neuroscientist best known for his work on the holographic brain, also rejects the notion that consciousness is an epiphenomenal by-product of brain processes remarking that “conscious attention shapes subsequent behavior.”21
Classical physics and a Newtonian mechanistic (or “clockwork”) universe had no room for the human observer or for the mind that nevertheless devised experiments and deduced elegant mathematical laws from them in pursuit of scientific understanding of the origins and future destiny of the universe. In fact, neither classical physics nor Darwin’s theory of evolution could explain the anomaly of mind or consciousness with the consequence that mental (psychic) qualities were either squeezed out of existence or marginalized as mere epiphenomenal by-products of brain processes.
Pauli regarded this anomaly as troublesome particularly because scientific theories were “products of the psyche” with a great deal of unconscious preparation. Pauli noted in his correspondence that in quantum experiments the consciousness of the observer could no longer be ignored and, probably due to his collaboration with Carl Jung, he concluded that repression of the psyche after the seventeenth century had been one-sided and dangerous, creating “a materialistic culture in which the influence of religion has continuously diminished and of which a very strict separation between science and religion is characteristic.”22
Pauli, together with Jung wanted spirit to be acknowledged as a basic element of the world along with matter so that the universe would be perceived as an organism rather than as a clock, a vision of cosmogenesis similar to that of Teilhard’s noogenesis that implies evolving “towards a divine focus of mind.”23
Pauli and Jung were both mystically inclined with a sense of psychic and physical codes implicit in cosmology and evolution. They had concluded that a relationship of complementarity exists between mind and matter that is analogous to the wave particle duality. This was the epistemological model of a dual-aspect monism having metaphysical implications. One observer described the nature of these connotations saying: “Metaphysics taken seriously in the sense of Pauli and Jung refers to a kind of reality more substantial, more material as it were than everything that physics and psychology would characterize as real.”24
This form of extra-physical reality was designated by a mode of cognition expressed through abstract symbols. In a letter to physicist Marcus Fierz, Pauli states:
What I have in mind concerning such a new idea of reality is— in provisional terms—the idea of the reality of the symbol. On the one hand a symbol is a product of human effort, on the other hand it indicates an objective order in the cosmos of which humans are only part.25
Thus, Pauli regarded the Jungian unconscious archetypes as verifiable in the external phenomenal world and in the internal world of the psyche. He represented the unconscious as establishing relationships that were not trivial or superficial. For example, he wrote in a letter:
Regarding the psychological analogy of the physical field concept, it seems to me to lie in the notion of the unconscious. The latter emerged more or less synchronously with the former… For the unconscious also posits a reality like the physical field. This is (in an everyday sense) an invisible reality mediating a connection between spatially (and maybe also temporally) distant visible phenomena. This seems to me to express a deeper similarity rather than only a superficial analogy.26
Furthermore, in a letter to Jung, Pauli wrote, “like all ideas, the unconscious is simultaneously in man and in nature; the ideas have no location, even not in heaven. Consciousness, on the other hand, was supposed to be only a late-born offspring of the unconscious soul.”27 Thus like Pauli’s unconscious, the Jungian unconscious with its numinous archetypes of the Self and God image is not spatiotemporally bound but transcends space-time. As already suggested, these physicists were exploring an epistemologically dual-aspect monism to conceptualize mind in a way which would be analogous to the wave-particle duality in quantum physics.
Pauli had evolved a profound interest in the structure of Jungian theory that he hoped to enrich with insights from quantum physics, especially a concept of the unconscious as co-extensive with the cosmos. For him, psyche and physics like science and religion exist in a relationship of complementarity rather than being irreconcilable opposites or mutually antagonistic.
One archetype that was particularly meaningful to Pauli was the coniunctio oppositorum, the union of opposites or wholeness reflectedin non-local effects, interconnectedness, and holism associated with both the quantum situation and the unconscious psyche.28
Pauli’s cosmic ordering principles or archetypes were not spatiotemporally bound or confined. They were as universal and timeless or eternal as those which, like the archetypes of God and the Self, belonged to Jung’s collective unconscious, particularly when identified with the external universe or the so-called cosmos within.
Such notions seem to be in a direct line of descent from Teilhard’s concepts of complexity-consciousness, noosphere, and Omega point as the culmination of humanization and cultural evolution. Teilhard wrote,
In Omega we have in the first place the principle we needed to explain the persistent march of things towards greater consciousness. . . . By its radial nucleus it finds its shape and its natural consistency in gravitating against the tide of improbability towards a divine focus of mind which draws it onward.29
Regarding the birth of thought, Teilhard wrote, “We saw geogenesis promoted to biogenesis which turned out in the end to be nothing else than psychogenesis. . . . Psychogenesis has led to man.”30
In addition to his contribution to understanding the psychophysical problem, Pauli was particularly interested in biological evolution while being skeptical that the evolution of life and emergent consciousness could be explained only through the natural selection of random mutations. Pauli wrote the following to Niels Bohr:
In discussions with biologists I met with difficulties when they apply the concept of natural selection in a rather wide field without being able to estimate the probability of the occurrence in an empirically given time, of just those events which have been important for biological evolution. Treating the empirical time scale of the evolution theoretically as infinity, they have an easy game to avoid the concept of purposiveness while they pretend to stay in this way completely scientific and rational.31
Empirical research entails estimating the probability of events within finite and theoretically explicit timeframes to permit the formulation of predictions. In neo-Darwinian theory, an implicitly infinite timeframe facilitates a virtually miraculous function for the chance or random variations that become available for natural selection while avoiding any Lamarckian, adaptive, or purposive mechanisms in the evolution of species.
Aside from the transcendence of biological by psychosocial evolution, the phenomena of mind and emergent consciousness, non-random or directed mutations,32 and the existence of finality (purpose) in evolution would imply the failure of strict neoDarwinism as an explanatory framework. Such phenomena would be consistent with the existence of an unconscious “God” principle implicit in the evolutionary process, while constituting a challenge to dogmatic neo-Darwinism with its reliance on the natural selection of random variations operating during prodigious time epochs. In the Jung/Pauli collaboration the unconscious psyche or U-field is the psychological analogy of the field concept in physics while not being spatiotemporally bound. Teilhard’s work on the emergence of the noosphere from cosmogenesis, I believe, does represent a challenge to strict neo-Darwinism as Julian Huxley’s exegesis of The Phenomenon of Man implies. How an unconscious God principle or archetype becomes conscious through incarnation in humanity is a question addressed in the contributions of Pauli and Bohm as well as Jung’s treatment of religion in his Collected Works.33 Pauli’s archetypes are analogous to Bohm’s active information in providing a bridge between mind and matter that permits a relationship of complementarity between physis and psyche, science and religion.
The Emergence of Numinous Self Relection
Some of the statements of Pauli, Jung, and Bohm suggest a tendency to identify Mind in its unconscious aspects with an archetypal source of numinous experience and with a God immanent in matter itself. Teilhard expresses an analogous idea when he writes,
Psychogenesis has led to man. Now it effaces itself, relieved or absorbed by another and a higher function—the engendering and subsequent development of all the stages of the mind in one word noogenesis . . . outside and above the biosphere is the noosphere. . . . With hominisation, in spite of the insignificance of the anatomical leap. . . . [t]he earth “gets a new skin.” Better still, it finds its soul.34
Jung quite specifically writes of the evolution of God according to the archetype of the coniunctio oppositorum or wholeness.35
He seems to be treating God (and Christianity) as a patient in analysis for whom consciousness needs to be brought into His unconscious darkness in a self-transformative process, one of individuating and becoming whole. As noted in the work of Bohm and Pauli, rudimentary mind-like qualities are present even at the quantum level, prior to the emergence of reflective consciousness. Consciousness is the mirror that the universe has evolved to reflect upon itself and in which its very existence is revealed.
However, it is precisely this expanded and higher consciousness which Jung believes God acquires through incarnation in humankind. In this sense too, Jung believes that God needs humankind to become both whole and complete. The implication is that God and humanity are in an entangled state and that the individuation of each is inextricably bound with the other. In other words, the evolution of God and the evolution of humanity cannot be separated. Christ is a symbol of the Self and of the coniunctio, since Christ in Jung’s thought reconciles opposites. Jung writes,
One should make it clear to oneself what it means when God becomes man. It means nothing less than a world-shaking transformation of God. It means more or less what creation meant in the beginning, namely an objectivation of God. At the time of creation he revealed himself in nature; now he wants to be more specific and become man.36
Jung refers to the human as well as the divine nature of Christ, alluding to the
. . . despairing cry from the cross, “My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me?” Here, his human nature acquires divinity; at that moment God experiences what it means to be a mortal man and drinks to the dregs what he has made his faithful servant Job suffer. Here is given the answer to Job and clearly this moment is as divine as it is human, as eschatological as it is psychological.37
Such transformations in the God archetype are very close to the noogenesis and Christogenesis of Teilhard de Chardin as seems clear in Jung’s further amplification of the significance of God becoming human as the word made flesh and the Light referred to in the first chapter of St. John’s Gospel. Finally Jung envisions an evolution of the imago Dei through historic time:
The future indwelling of the Holy Ghost in man amounts to a continuing incarnation of God. Christ as the begotten son of God and pre-existing mediator is a first born and a divine paradigm which will be followed by further incarnations of the Holy Ghost in the empirical man.38
Through ongoing incarnation in humanity, God becomes conscious and is completed by humankind in directed evolution. It is as an archetypal and cosmic reality rather than a purely theological concept that the idea of an evolving God seems to be most compatible with those notions of rudimentary mind mentioned above in the contributions from quantum physics such as those of Pauli and Bohm as well as the noogenesis of Teilhard de Chardin culminating in his divine focus of Mind and the God-Omega point.
Concerning a transcendent order in cosmogenesis and the culmination of a continuing process of incarnation Teilhard wrote, “The mystical Christ has not yet reached the peak of his growth . . . and it is in the continuation of this engendering that there lies the ultimate driving force behind all created activity. . . . Christ is the fulfilment of even the natural evolution of beings.”39 Teilhard saw the differentiation of his thought from that of such collective human movements as Marxism or secular humanism, stripped of a numinous dimension more succinctly or poetically. God incarnate in the cosmic Christ is the fulfillment of the natural evolution of beings to which Teilhard refers in the passage quoted above. This is similar to Jung’s notion of Christ as embodying the archetypes of the Self and the coniunctio.
Eminent physicists and biologists as well as depth psychologists have commented upon the role of reflectively conscious human beings in directing the future of cultural and cosmic evolution. Rather than being mere spectators human beings are actors, participants, and co-creators in the evolutionary process that resulted in the species following a number of pre-hominid ancestors. According to the traditional neo-Darwinian paradigm, the doctrine of natural selection by chance (random) variations still prevails in spite of the incommensurable evidence and anomalies to which I have referred in this article. However with the acknowledgement of such phenomena as global warming with an undeniable anthropogenic contribution as well as the prevalence of pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, humankind may need to embrace Teilhard’s noosphere culminating in God-Omega and to respond collectively as a species to such challenges to survival. Metaphysical materialism and consumerism may represent a menaceto an earth which has lost its soul and its sense of the numinous dimension of evolution.
Furthermore, humankind confronts the transcendence implicit in the cosmic history of the universe and apparently manifest in an eternal Mind as well. And yet, paradoxically, in the experience of an apparently eternal now, the majestic, awesome, and glorious task in which humanity is participating is nothing less than that of completing the incarnation of God in historic time. Teilhard proposes a vision of the future of humanity actively and industriously creating a noosphere or envelope of consciousness and meaning around the closed curvature of Earth. His evolutionary theology brought God down from the figurative heavens and into such close intimacy and identification with spirit/matter and with humanity that God’s omnipotent and omniscient qualities and the transcendence of creation depicted in Genesis and enshrined in dogma are called into question.
Teilhard, I suspect, saw with remarkable clarity what the theologians of his time missed, even though it hovered above them in the Sistine Chapel: the mature and empowered stature of the primordial Adam in relation to the generative archetypal father-God. However removed from the traditional, interventionist stance in dogmatic theology, the incarnation of God in cosmic evolution implies that God becomes fully conscious and whole through and is completed by humankind in a unio mystica of perhaps unsuspected significance. As Teilhard reiterates at the conclusion of The Future of Man, “Erit in omnibus omnia Deus,”40 which means that God may become all in and through all. Alternatively, humankind could evolve in such a way as to fulfill the divine potential of completing the incarnation of God. This is nothing less than a holistic vision, itself mystical, of the interconnectedness and sacredness of all beings in an ecosystem that embraces all forms of life.
It is to the achievement of such unanimity and holism that religion, despite the ridicule of skeptics, has so much to offer, these being the fruits of ecumenism in Christianity and interreligious dialogue, restoring to a secular world, which has placed its faith in materialism, a collective consciousness of the sacredness of all people and of Earth itself.
Bohm’s notion of a Mind extending indefinitely beyond humanity as a whole, his implicate order, and the Jungian unconscious with its archetypal symbols imply the existence of dimensions of the mind and of the Self which are not spatiotemporally bound. Pauli defined his U-field as the psychological analogue of the field concept in quantum physics and believed that the reality of archetypal symbols was metaphysical and stood for a reality more substantial than concepts in either physics or psychology. The God archetype (imago Dei), for instance, could not be reduced to the status of a mere psychological concept. Pauli and Jung referred to the common ontological foundation from which both mind and matter emerge in a dual-aspect monist concept of reality as the unus mundus. This primordial reality of the collective unconscious and the archetypes transcending space and time is analogous to Bohm’s implicate order. The supernaturalness of humanity which Jungian analyst Michael Fordham posited41 lies in the emergent reflective consciousness through which the numinous dimension implicit in Teilhard’s evolutionary process is revealed and consummates itself at point Omega. This transformation in consciousness is, I believe, the divinization or re-sacralization of the world of which Jung, Pauli, Bohm, and Teilhard de Chardin were intuitive prophets.42
<< Teilhard and Other Modern Thinkers on Evolution, Mind, and Matter (part I)
19 Kalervo V. Laurikainen, Beyond the Atom: The Philosophical Thought of Wolfgang Pauli (Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1988), 163.
20 Karl R. Pribram, “Consciousness Reassessed,” Mind and Matter 2, 1 (2004), 14.
21 Ibid. 27.
22 Laurikainen, Beyond the Atom, xv.
23 Teilhard de Chardin, Phenomenon of Man, 271.
24 H. Atmanspacher, “Editorial,” Mind and Matter 9, 1 (2011): 4.
25 Quoted in Ibid.
26 Quoted in K. von Meyenn, “Dreams and fantasies of a quantum physicist,” Mind & Matter 9, 1 (2011): 11.
28 Peter B. Todd, The Individuation of God: Integrating Science and Religion (Wilmette, IL: Chiron Publications, 2012).
29 Teilhard de Chardin, Phenomenon of Man, 271.
30 Ibid., 181.
31 Quoted in H. Atmanspacher and H. Primas, “Pauli’s Ideas on Mind and Matter in the Context of Contemporary Science,” Journal of Consciousness Studies 13, 3 (2006): 27-28.
32 Johnjoe McFadden and Jim Al-Khalili, “A Quantum Mechanical Model of Adaptive Mutation,” Biosystems 50, 3 (1999): 203-211.
33 K. von Meyenn, “Dreams and fantasies of a quantum physicist,” Mind & Matter 9, 1 (2011):11.
34 Teilhard de Chardin, Phenomenon of Man, 181-83.
35 C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (London: Fontana Books, 1995); C. G. Jung, Answer to Job, vol. 11 of The Collected Works of C. G. Jung (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1952).
36 Jung, Answer to Job, 401.
37 Ibid., 408.
38 Ibid., 432.
39 Teilhard de Chardin, Future of Man, 305.
40 Ibid., 308.
41 Michael Fordham, Explorations into the Self (London: Karnac Books, 1985), 193.
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