Monthly Archives: July 2020
David Bohm was an exceptionally creative physicist who developed a radical reinterpretation (or theory) of quantum physics. His position on theories is that they are explanatory narratives, which in earlier times might have been called myths. Originally, a myth was a story that conveyed a truth that was too difficult or complex to describe in ordinary language. Today myth has taken on the connotation of a fanciful story with no implicit truth, which is not the sense in which myth is being used here. Bohm thinks that one problem prevalent in science today is the confusion of theory with reality. His one-time colleague Albert Einstein agreed and often reminded scientists that theories were only models of or approximations of reality, not descriptions of reality itself. Bohm says that theories can lead to hypotheses that can be tested and determined to have validity and are accepted tentatively. A theory can never be proven, only determined to be more or less useful in generating hypotheses and in helping one understand the phenomena they address.
Traditional science, according to Bohm, sees phenomena in the universe as either ordered or random, which is challenged by Bohm’s theory.
The principal components of David Bohm’s theory:
I. Holomovement: A quantum field (QF), which is nonlocal and a unified and integrated whole. Imbued with consciousness, intelligence and meaning.
A. Super Implicate Order: Super quantum potential (infinite) is the source of the field of quantum potential (Q) that gives rise to the Implicate Order.
B. Generative Order: Q serves as the carrier of information that determines the characteristics of each particle, relates every particle to every other particle and imbues the QF with order.
C. Implicate Order arises from quantum potential (Q) and is the source of creativity and material forms.
a. Formative Order – a blueprint for the material order.
b. Material Order – the unfolding of the blueprint as wave forms that are perceived as the physical universe. The wave forms are enfolded back into the Implicate Order carrying modifications to their information content that adjusts the blueprint.
D. Explicate Order: Three-dimensional reality, which is a derivative of a multidimensional reality. The particles comprising matter in the Explicate Order are energy that can be thought of as condensed or “frozen” light.
For more detail see my essay: Bohm’s Reformulation of Quantum Physics
Bohm says that everything has order but some states of order can only be seen from a higher perspective (implicate order). This is known as hidden order because it is not manifested but enfolded in the implicate order. By way of analogy, Bohm describes a vessel containing glycerine and a small glob of ink. The glycerine in the vessel can be rotated with a crank. When the glycerine is spun the glob of ink spreads out until it is no longer visible (enfolded). When the spin is reversed the glob of ink will reconstitute itself into a visible glob (unfolded). Here is an illustration using the same principle to mix and separate colors.
Bohm uses holographic photography as a metaphor for the nature of reality. He says that there is a striking similarity between a hologram and his principle of wholeness, which he talks about as the quantum field or as the holomovement. When simply inspected with the eye, a hologram looks random and disordered. However, project a laser light through the interference pattern that comprises the hologram, and you get the projection of a 3-D image or order. The order can be unfolded from any piece of the holographic image because the enfolded pattern is distributed throughout the film. Bohm describes the holomovement as being like a dynamic hologram. You can see a rough approximation of the difference by looking at a static holographic image and then watch a virtual performance by holographic projection.
The physical universe or explicate order is a partial unfolding of the whole order enfolded into the implicate order. Living entities can experience the explicate order because they have a nervous system capable of unfolding the projected energy forms or wave forms into apparent material forms or images of material manifestations. (See this book: The Case Against Reality by Donald Hoffman or see a video presentation here by clicking on An Interface Theory of Reality here.
Bohm says that because the universe is a projection of a holomovement, it is ultimately meaningless to view the universe as composed of parts. A part is just an aspect of the holomovement that we have given a name. Thus, separate “things” are just mental abstractions for our convenience. He argues that in the long run, there is a limit to the usefulness of fragmenting the world in this way and could put us on a path toward extinction, if not understood and put in its proper place.
Viewing the universe as a holomovement doesn’t mean that aspects of the the holomovement can’t have unique properties. Consider whirlpools in a stream. Each whirlpool has unique properties such as structure, size, speed of spin, duration and so on. However, the whirlpool is still nothing more or less than water. (see this book: Why Material Reality is Baloney by Bernardo Kastrup or see a video presentation by clicking on Monistic Idealism here).
Bohm rejects the idea that particles (concentrations of energy) don’t exist until they are observed. He says this idea is another instance of fragmenting aspects of the holomovement into separate phenomena. It is saying that one separate thing (consciousness) interacts with another separate thing (particle). Bohm suggests that any relationship (formative cause) between these aspects (physical and mental) of the holomovement lies enfolded in the implicate order. He also thinks that dividing the universe into living and non-living things, when looked at from the level of the implicate order, is also meaningless.
It appears, however, that these apparent distinctions aren’t entirely meaningless at the explicate level. Differences between things appear to be necessary for experience in physical reality. Niels Bohr, one of the founders of quantum physics and the originator of the concept of complementary pairs, suggested these pairs apply beyond the field of quantum physics. At the implicate level, the pair is in a state of unity but at the explicate level the unity is represented in the form of two aspects. For example, consider the pair hot and cold. If this complementary pair didn’t exist, then the experience of temperatures would not be possible because there would be no range for its expression. The same could be said for many such pairs, including male and female, good and bad, etc. Apparently, diversity is necessary for experience. Absent experience, what would be the point of material reality?
Finally, Bohm says we view ourselves as physical entities moving through what we perceive as space. However, we are actually more like a blur of interference patterns enfolded throughout the universe. In a nutshell, Bohm is trying to move physics from a rigid, mechanical model to a dynamic, organic model.
Karl Pribram was a neuroscientist who studied memory and in particular was interested in where memory is stored. He had become frustrated in his attempts to understand this when he learned of holograms. He took the hologram as a possible model of how the brain stored memory. He proposed that memory was a holographic pattern distributed or enfolded across the brain rather than stored in a specific location. As he studied the holographic model, he became aware of and was influenced by Bohm’s work.
Pribram proposed that what is unfolded is a vast symphony of vibrating wave forms that he calls a frequency domain, which he equates with the interference patterns that unfolded from the implicate order and from which we create our experience of the universe. He sees the brain as a hologram enfolded into a holographic universe. This gives the brain the ability to perceptually represent the wave forms into what we perceive as material objects. He also suggests that our experience of the material world is analogous to the phantom limb phenomenon; i.e, a perceptual illusion experienced as material reality.
Even Pribram’s idea that we are a holographic mind/brain interpreting a holographic universe is just another mental abstraction. Once again we are attempting to take two aspects of the holomovement and create two separate “things” that ultimately cannot be separated.
We are not looking at a hologram. We are an aspect of a hologram. The observer is the observed.
“When you see the world you see God. There is no seeing God apart from the world. Beyond the world to see God is to be God.” Nisargadatta Maharaj
This essay is based in part on sections of the book The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot.
Having read The Evolution of Beauty, a book by Richard Prum, I subsequently had some speculative thoughts arising out of Prum’s thesis, which are discussed below.
If females have employed aesthetic selection (AS) as an evolutionary tactic to remold males with the objective of increasing female sexual autonomy and thereby improving their reproductive outcomes, as Prum argues, it would appear to be necessary for evolution to also favor a refinement of aesthetic perception (AP) as a trait in females. By definition, the Greek root of the word “aesthetic” means “of sense perception.” One meaning of the word when used as an adjective is “concern with appearance.” Thus, it seems that the term can be used to convey the idea of “concern with perceived appearance.” I think this is probably a pretty good guess as to what Darwin meant in his use of the word, and Prum seems to accept Darwin’s position on the matter. Once this trait is well established, strengthened and elaborated, it might generalize to giving concern with perceived appearance to other activities that were not involved in the original evolutionary goal for AS.
I think the term “beauty” as a concept held by non-human animals is unlikely and could be dropped as being too anthropomorphic. Instead, I’d suggest to just simply go with “concern for appearance.” In the case of AS, this concern is for how physically dominant, aggressive and asocial a potential mate appears. As aesthetic selection progresses, one would expect a shift in male appearance and behavior toward the female end of the spectrum, which appears to have occurred in the human lineage. The success of AS for females, as an evolutionary strategy, I think would strengthen the focus on perceived appearance and in turn produce greater perceptual skill. resulting in finer discrimination of physical and social attributes.
I posit that AP grounded in a strong concern for physical appearance generalized from mate choice to include self. This does not rule out the potential effects of social values and culture on the expression of concern with appearance. Strong patriarchal cultures such as most of those in the middle east allow little or no expression along these lines. More open cultures, such as those considered to be western, allow for much more freedom of expression. Even in those cultures, social values and practical considerations could influence women to voluntarily moderate their self-directed concern for appearance. When expression of AP is moderated, I wonder if the concern with appearance might be found to more strongly influence the attention given to living context; i.e., the home or office. I think that as the physical and social differences between men and women narrow, including social roles such as occupations, it could easily lead to other means of distinguishing between the sexes. If women have already evolved a strong concern for appearance, I think one response might be to employ female beauty culture to accentuate differences.
I suggest that the generalization of AP played an important part in the social evolution of a feminine beauty culture. This culture can serve as a means of drawing an observable contrast between men and women. Further, and less tied to specific times and circumstances, I suggest the possibility that the generalized AP trait has led to women using their person as a “canvas” for the expression of beauty motivated by the AP trait. The beauty motif in feminine culture seems to be related to a range of expressions involving things like fashion in clothing, colorful and tactile sensitive fabrics, make-up, adornment, styling of hair and gracefully patterned movement and mannerisms. Expression of the AP trait also may extend to presentations involving the context in which a woman lives. There is likely a social imitation factor in the adoption of components in feminine culture that are influenced by AP. I think that many females in whom the trait is relatively weak may imitate trend setters in whom the trait is stronger. This might make the biologically based trait appear more dominant than it is in actuality.
One caveat is that these speculations are for females in general and may not apply to specific individuals in which it might be weaker. Even if one were to look at individual women, what one would expect is a distribution that follows the pattern of many other traits. The trait will be quite strong in a small portion of the population, moderate in strength in the majority of the population. and weak in a small portion of the population. The strength and expression of the trait may also vary with changes in social preferences and economics, among other factors. It is likely that the trait may have migrated to males to some extent. though one would expect it to be largely absent in many, generally weaker in those males who have acquired it, distributed in those males who have the trait in a manner similar to the distribution of other traits. and to be subject to significant social forces of suppression.
Most explanations that I’ve read or heard about beauty culture is that it is tied to the notion of sexual signaling. In short, women “dress” for men to attract their attention. Note that the sources of most such explanations have been men. I don’t doubt that women do, at times, employ their manner of “dress” to appeal to men. However, I think this an insufficient motivation to explain the extent of beauty culture. On the other hand, I have often heard women object to this interpretation of their behavior, saying that they don’t dress for men. I’ve heard women say that they “dress” for other women. I’ve also heard them say that the behavior is motivated by a sense of personal satisfaction derived from expressing oneself beautifully. In light of the AP trait, explanations like these seem to me to make sense. Who else to better appreciate the explication of a trait than others who posses the same trait or who else would be intrinsically rewarded by expressing a trait than someone possessing the trait?
I was born and reared as a male in a male-dominant culture, so perhaps my speculations are off the mark. They do, at least, seem reasonable to me from my perspective. Women may have a very different take on the beauty culture. I know of some who see it as arising out of male oppression. That is, a set of behaviors imposed on them by men for their own purposes. I think there may be some truth to this in the case of sexually explicit styles of dress. However, beauty culture goes well beyond sexually explicit dress, and I don’t think it can be adequately explained solely by a dominant patriarchal culture. Prum’s aesthetic selection based in aesthetic perception seems to have explanatory merit.