The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

The Implicate Order

In the 1950s the US physicist David Bohm extended his ideas about the "implicate order" to the conscious mind.

Quantum and Relativity theories may be very different, but they agree in denying the existence of single static particles, they agree in describing the world as an undivided whole in constant flux (albeit in completely different ways) in which all parts of the universe are constantly interacting; and those parts include the observer, the "i".  The universe is characterized by a "flow" that integrates everything: individual forms are the equivalent of the still frames of an object in motion.

It turns out that we perceive the "flow" of reality through those static images, but those still images are only a simplification of motion.  By analogy, what goes on in our mind is a stream of consciousness, from which we can abstract concepts, ideas, etc (forms of thought) that are mere instances of that flow of thought.  Thought is a kind of movement, and concepts are kinds of objects.  Bohm believed that there is just one flow, in which both matter and mind flow, and that this flow can be known only implicitly through the forms (the still frames) that we can grasp out of this flow.

Bohm rejected the distinction between what we are thinking and what is going on, as well as the notion that one part of reality (my conscious mind) can know another part of reality: it is wrong to separate the thinker from the thought. The thinker is not separate from the reality that he thinks about, the thinker and that reality are parts of the same flow.

 The belief that thinker and the object of his thinking (between thought and non-thought) are separate permeates our conscious life.  This conviction is even built into the structure of language itself: modern language is based on the pattern "subject- verb- object", that clearly separates the subject and the object. But in reality the key actor is the verb, not the subject, and the verb unites the subject and the object in one, undivided action.

At the level of the “implicate order”, which is a sort of "higher dimension", there is no difference between matter and mind. That difference arises within the “explicate order” (the conventional space-time of Physics).  As we travel inwards, we travel towards that higher dimension, the implicate order, in which mind and matter are the same. As we travel outwards, we travel towards the explicate order in which subject and object are separate.

There is an inherent affinity between consciousness and implicate order.  For example, when we listen to music we directly perceive the implicate order, not just the explicate order of those sounds.

Bohm’s quantum field contains "active in-formation" that determines what happens to the particle (“in-formation” as in “give form”). Bohm interpreted the "active in-formation" of the quantum field that, in his view, accompanies each particle, as the “mental” (proto-conscious) property of the particle. Every particle has a rudimentary “mind-like” quality. Matter has “mental” properties, as well as physical properties. In-formation turns out to be the bridge between the two worlds. The two sides cannot be separated because they are entangled in the same quantum field. At the lower level of reality, mental (conscious) and physical processes are essentially the same.


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