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.


  1. Dear My criticism, My criticism, My criticism ... While I agree with some of your critiques, I also find that many of them are based on incorrect perceptions, leading to erroneous deductions.

    Here's what another said regarding 'judgement'.
    The Spirit of Judgment
    I. "Judge not falsely, lest you be falsely judged.
    2. "For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged, and with whatever measure you measure, you will be measured.
    3. "Judge according to the logic of the laws of nature, which are from Creation, because only they possess its truth and correctness.
    4. "Why do you see the splinter in your brother's eye and are not aware of the beam in your own eye?
    5. "Or, how dare you say to your brother: 'Wait, I will take the splinter out of your eye!' And behold, there is a beam in your own eye.
    6. "You hypocrite, first take the beam out of your own eye, then see how you can take the splinter out of your brother's eye.
    7. "Learn first the laws of nature and of Creation, their logic, before you judge and condemn and wish to see the faults of your neighbor.
    8. "Through the laws of nature and of Creation learn first how to recognize your own faults,
    so that you can then correct the faults of your neighbors.
    9. "You shall not give sacred things to the dogs, nor throw your pearls before the swine,
    lest they trample them with their feet and turn on you and tear you apart.
    10. "Truly, I say to you: Do not throw your spiritual treasure into the dirt and do not waste it on the unworthy, because they will not thank you and will tear you apart, for their understanding is small and their spirit is weak.

    Someone else you may be interested in, Billy Meier. Here's one of his works.

  2. Thank you for your comment. As per your quotes on Judgment, I agree that one needs to be careful not to be a hypocrite or in contradiction. And this is something that I try to be watchful all the time. However, as for my attitude towards judgment, I believe it can be done with respect and with a mindful spirit. It doesn't have to be judgment rooted in pettiness, ego and simply trying to get one up on someone. Judgment can be done with a more noble intent - an intent to show the imperfections in a great man's thinking in order to set the bar higher in the present.

  3. well said and essentially you agree in principle with what Meier wrote about "the practice of criticism".

    "The practicing of criticism, i.e. the criticizing of the Earth people against their neighbors, corresponds to a very bad habit, which is founded in the desire to be better and the desire to know better than one’s neighbors. The criticizers are, thus, of the false belief that they are better or could be somewhat better or would know better, etc. than those whom they criticize. Thus, no so-called “healthy assessment” is practiced, which exists in the so-called “art of assessment,” through which a neutral assessment of a person or thing takes place; rather, a criticism occurs, which truly consists of pointing out alleged or genuine errors in a derogatory manner, in order affect one’s neighbors with it psychologically or in any way. This is also true for the so-called professional critics, who have the audacity to criticize people and their labors and works, etc. as well as things and stuff of any kind in their wrong and megalomaniacal conceit and think that they would understand something of the matter concerned. Critique or criticism truly exhibits in no way the form of an assessment or art of assessment and doesn't rest in an examination and in an insight but rather is grounded in a chronic, habitual, derogatory laceration and abasement of that which is criticized. This, however, has nothing to do with the assertion and misrepresentation of the earthly philosophers that it would concern an assessment, an examination, and an insight, as well as an evaluation. These values do not find their authorization in critique or criticism but solely in the neutral art of assessment and in the neutral assessment evaluation. But critique or criticism doesn’t know these values because solely a judgment follows from it, through which a person claims to classify something as given or not given, as good or bad, as negative or positive, or as genuine or false and, accordingly, to make a decision autocratically. At the same time, an assessment is completely omitted because neither the negatives nor the positives are effectively seen in their true form. In contrast to this are the assessment and evaluation, through which not only the negatives but also the positives become seen, recognized, assessed, and evaluated. Through this, someone or someone’s action, labor, work, thing, or matter, etc. doesn’t just simply become criticized and, thus, torn up into the air, so that the whole thing truly only corresponds to a lousy, biased, hateful, autocratic, and arrogant intolerance. This also refers to the opinion and life attitude as well as to the world view of the people and also how they dress, what hobbies and pleasures, etc. they have, and what kinds of lifestyles they maintain, because all these things, which are really of the purest private nature, are also complained of by the trouble-making critics and are mercilessly and self-righteously torn apart in a yelping manner because they regard themselves as better and more clever than they concede this to their neighbors – even though they themselves are usually bean straw dumb and stupid and have a crude attitude toward life and toward their fellow human beings.

    With the Earth people, unfortunately, is it usually the case that they let criticism prevail rather than reason. It should rightly be so, that the opinion of a person is accepted and respected because he can always correct it himself if it should be wrong and he becomes aware of this fact. However, critics don’t note this freedom of human beings but rather force them into a pattern that is foreign to them through their criticism."

    "Mente no es solamente el resultado de la interacción del organismo con el ambiente, desde el útero hasta la muerte, sino también el reflejo de la organización básica del universo: la holokinesis, que desde el orden implícito del cosmos, se explicita como materia, mente y energía cósmicos".

    Dr. Rubén Feldman González.
    Iniciador de la Psicología Holokinética.
    Candidato al Premio Nobel de la Paz

  5. You say "...[JK & Bohm] 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..."

    I call your attention to the confusion of your own sentence. Not to be trollish but to suggest that while your criticism of JK & B's terminology as dangerously unspecific is reasonable, your own explanation needs unpacking or further explanation.

    I guess there may be a point at which the topic of thoughts (and 'felts', as Bohm put it) may be too subtle for words.
    However I understand from reading JK and Bohm that the important distinction to note is that 'thought' as a psychological matrix of the self is the problem.
    Not all thought.
    Indeed JK often said the problem is that thought is misused in the area of the psyche but has its right use in learning new things like languages, playing guitar etc.

    It is not the right tool for dealing with fear, and other subtle emotions because it creates a sense of 'time' as in a 'future self', a vision of oneself that is not what is true and now. This future self becomes more important than the truth and takes on hallucinatory power to create a false sense of self that is brittle and self protecting, reducing the ability to see what is actually true about oneself.

    JK says because the problem is created by thought one cannot use thought to remove the problem.

    Which leaves us all without traditional methods of coping with psychological problems like anger and stress for example.

    This seems to me to be a major and quintessential part of the JK/Bohm reading experience.

    I think you understand this argument, I am sorry if I am flogging a dead horse but I just thought it worth while to state what I think is the core of JK's argument.


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  8. hello, it´s good that we all have our opinions! unfortunately nowadays there are more and more people in the world sounding and expressing them selves as Mr Jacob Lampros. This may be the main problem which blocks the becomming of a "healthier" society, which would obviousely unfold in a more quiet, less stressfull and calm living.
    many thks and excuse my bad english

  9. Thank you all for your comments, ironically. Many of you are critical of my desire to write critical writing. Please understand that a criticism does not need to be interpreted as a negative. There is a quote that says we are the toughest on the ones we love. I have a lot of respect for David Bohm, his audiobiography was one of the best books I've ever read. However, to criticize the ones you love has a certain value, it helps you grow, to help you go beyond their own shortcomings, and not fall victim to the same behavior or modes of thinking. In my view, criticism is the highest form of caution and carefulness in the journey of self-discovery.

  10. Krishnamurti and Bohm were looking for something in line with an afterlife? How did you come to that conclusion? I don't think you really understand their dialogue, that's not at all how I interpret their dialogue.