David Bohm-Dialogue (Part 2 of 2)


Newsgroups: soc.culture.iranian
From: Sam Ghandchi

Subject: David Bohm on Dialogue (Part II)
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 08:51:21 GMT

David Bohm on Dialogue (Part II)

Actually differentiating scientific attitude versus the religious
attitude hardly answers the differences in the attitudes one sees in
various scientific or religious schools of thought, whether in
natural sciences or humanities and social sciences.

For example, the notion of Absolute Truth about the totality, which
implies an absolute necessity and therefore disposes the mind
never to yield, no matter what evidence may be found to the
contrary, is very critical to dialogue, and such notion is not the
property of religions. There have been religious schools of thought
that have been even more open to dialogue and inquiry (e.g.
Krishnamurti or Iranian Sufis) than many scientific schools of
thought, whether in natural science or humanities. In fact, the
Schism is many scientific schools of thought has been as extensive
as many religious schools of thought.

In fact, modern test and verification in sciences are not something
immediate as was the case in the 18th and 19th century. A highly
specialized group is able to perform and interpret the mathematical
results, that in a way the role of scientists is approaching that of the
Mediaeval Catholic priests, who were interpreting a religion,
which had grown so much, that it was hardly anything immediate.

Moreover, there is so much commonality of religious and scientific
attitudes of our time, with artistic attitude, that one sees the role of
imagination in both cases to be a lot more significant than ever
thought. In fact, all we currently know about scientific
understanding of the world is the consensual imagination of
scientists, who interpret the mathematical formulas that describe
the universe for the "layman".

Let me actually continue with excerpts from David Bohmís book,
which explicates this issue.

The following are directly from the same book, "Science, Order,
and Creativity" by David Bohm and F. David Peat (PP251-261):

In the very distant past, human beings obtained their sense of
harmony within the cosmic dimension through direct contact with
nature. When people were constantly immersed in their natural
environment, their attention naturally turned in this direction and
consciousness frequently moved into a dimension beyond time and
the limited concerns of particular social groups. Even now, when
people spend some time close to nature they may experience
something of this "healing" quality in body and mind. In earlier
times humans were in almost constant contact with nature so that
"misinformation" arising, for example, from social contacts would
have little or no ultimate significance, as it was constantly "washed

However, as civilization developed, this immediate contact with
nature grew more tenuous. To some extent it was replaced by
philosophy and science, which also gave human beings a certain
sense of relationship to the totality. But as science developed into
ever more abstract and institutionalized structures, the sense of
contact became more and more indirect and restricted to limited
groups of specialists who understood the highly mathematical
theories. While specialists had the skill to use the complex
instruments of theory and experiment to mediate between nature
and human beings, for the vast majority of people such contact was
superficial and indirect. In general it is now restricted to the
writings of those who try to translate the mathematical abstractions
of physics into a nontechnical language...

The principal difficulty with the religious approach, and indeed
with any attempt to make a formal definition of the totality and of
an individualís relationship with it, is that it tends very strongly to
produce rigidly fixed ideas. These are very heavily emotionally
charged so that they prevent the free play of the mind, and thus
bring about destructive false play and the blocking of creativity. In
science a similar position arises with the notion of absolute truth.
In both cases, the attempt to claim an absolute truth about the
totality implies an absolute necessity and therefore disposes the
mind NEVER to yield, no matter what evidence may be found to
the contrary. In the face of such an attitude, a genuine dialogue is
clearly impossible. The human being is therefore caught up in an
unusually rigid infrastructure involving a whole set of
assumptions, presuppositions, and practices....

Art which includes music, drama, literature, poetry, dancing, and
the visual arts, is strongly, concerned with beauty, harmony, and
vitality. However, more fundamentally, one of its essential
meanings seems to be that the "fitting" or "nonfitting" is seen,
from moment to moment, in an act of fresh creative perception,
rather than through mechanically applied rules as to what is fitting
and proper." In this sense, everything may be thought of as being
a kind of art. Thus, in science, the question as to the meaning of a
given set of facts and equations has finally to be answered through
such a perception, which is basically artistic in nature....