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Wholeness and the Implicate Order
by David Bohm


David Bohm's groundbreaking work, Wholeness and the Implicate Order (1980), challenges the traditional fragmented worldview of classical science, proposing instead a vision of reality as an interconnected and dynamic whole. The book explores the limitations of prevailing scientific paradigms and offers a new framework for understanding the cosmos and our place within it.

Here are the core ideas of the book:

1. Limits of Fragmentation: Bohm criticizes the prevailing tendency in science and thought to analyze the world in terms of separate, independent parts. He argues this fragmentation, while useful in some contexts, ultimately fails to grasp the dynamic interconnectedness of reality.

2. Introducing the Implicate Order: Bohm proposes the concept of the "implicate order" – a deeper, underlying reality where everything is interconnected and enfolded within everything else. He contrasts this with the "explicate order," the manifest world of separate objects and events that we experience. The explicate order is seen as a constantly unfolding and enfolding from the implicate order.

3. The Hologram as Analogy: Bohm uses the hologram as a powerful analogy to explain the implicate order. In a hologram, each part of the photographic plate contains information about the whole image. Similarly, he suggests that every part of the universe contains information about the whole.

4. Quantum Theory and the Implicate Order: Bohm sees strong connections between his ideas and quantum theory. He argues that phenomena like quantum entanglement and wave-particle duality point towards the interconnectedness inherent in the implicate order.

5. Thought as a System: Bohm extends his critique of fragmentation to the realm of thought itself. He argues that our fragmented thinking contributes to the problems we face in the world, and calls for a more holistic and interconnected mode of thought.

6. Implications and Applications: The book explores the implications of the implicate order for various fields, including:
- Physics: Offers an alternative interpretation of quantum mechanics.
- Biology: Suggests a new understanding of the interconnectedness of living organisms.
- Consciousness: Proposes that consciousness is not confined to the brain but is a fundamental aspect of the implicate order.
- Society: Calls for a shift from fragmentation and competition to cooperation and dialogue.

Key Takeaways and Criticisms:

  • Wholeness: The book emphasizes the interconnectedness and wholeness of reality, challenging the dominant paradigm of fragmentation.
  • Process over Substance: Reality is seen as a dynamic process of unfolding and enfolding, with the implicate order as the fundamental ground of existence.
  • Holistic Thought: The book encourages a shift towards more holistic and interconnected ways of thinking.

Criticisms: Some critics find Bohm's ideas too abstract and difficult to test empirically. Others question the validity of using the hologram as a model for reality.

Enduring Legacy:

Despite these criticisms, Wholeness and the Implicate Order remains a highly influential work. It has inspired scientists, philosophers, artists, and spiritual seekers alike to explore new ways of understanding the universe and our place within it. It continues to be a significant contribution to the dialogue between science, philosophy, and spirituality.