**The Implicate Order and Quantum Theory**

The question of the relationship of mind and matter has already been explored to some extent in some of my earlier work in physics (Bohm, 1980). In this work, which was originally aimed at understanding relativity and quantum theory on a basis common to both, I developed the notion of the enfolded or implicate order.

The essential feature of this idea was that the whole universe is in some way enfolded in everything and that each thing is enfolded in the whole. From this it follows that in some way, and to some degree everything enfolds or implicates everything, but in such a manner that under typical conditions of ordinary experience, there is a great deal of relative independence of things.

The basic proposal is then that this enfoldment relationship is not merely passive or superficial. Rather, it is active and essential to what each thing is. It follows that each thing, is internally related to the whole, and therefore, to everything else. The external relationships are then displayed in the unfolded or explicate order in which each thing is seen, as has already indeed been indicated, as relatively separate and extended, and related only externally to other things. The explicate order, which dominates ordinary experience as well as classical (Newtonian) physics, thus appears to stand by itself. But actually, it cannot be understood properly apart from its ground in the primary reality of the implicate order.

Because the implicate order is not static but basically dynamic in nature, in a constant process of change and development, I called its most general form the holo-movement. All things found in the unfolded, explicate order emerge from the holo-movement in which they are enfolded as potentialities and ultimately they fall back into it. They endure only for some time, and while they last, their existence is sustained in a constant process of unfoldment and re-enfoldment, which gives rise to their relatively stable and independent forms in the explicate order.

The above description then gives, as I have shown in more detail elsewhere (Bohm, 1980) a valid intuitively graspable account of the meaning of the properties of matter, as implied by the quantum theory. It takes only a little reflection to see that a similar sort of description will apply even more directly and obviously to mind, with its constant flow of evanescent thoughts, feelings, desires, and impulses, which flow into and out of each other, and which, in a certain sense, enfold each other (as, for example, we may say that one thought is implicit in another, noting that this word literally means ‘enfolded’). Or to put it differently, the general implicate process of ordering is common both to mind and to matter. This means that ultimately mind and matter are at least closely analogous and not nearly as different as they appear on superficial examination. Therefore, it seems reasonable to go further and suggest that the implicate order may serve as a means of expressing consistently the actual relationship between mind and matter, without introducing something like the Cartesian duality between them.

At this stage, however, the implicate order is still largely a general framework of thought within which we may reasonably hope to develop a more detailed content that would make possible progress toward removing the gulf between mind and matter. Thus, even on the physical side, it lacks a well-defined set of general principles that would determine how the potentialities enfolded in the implicate order are actualized as relatively stable and independent forms in the explicate order. The absence of a similar set of principles is, of course, also evident on the mental side. But yet more important, what is missing is a clear understanding of just how mental and material sides are to be related.

Evidently what is needed is an extension of the implicate order, which develops the theory in the direction indicated above. In this paper, we shall go into another approach that in my opinion goes a long way toward fulfilling this requirement. This is based on what has been called the causal interpretation of the quantum theory (Bohm, 1952; Bohm & Hiley, 1975, 1987; Hiley & Peat, 1987). To show why this is being brought in, I shall first give a brief review or some of the main features of the quantum theory that called for a new interpretation along the proposed lines (see also Bohm, 1984; Zukav, 1979).

First, the quantum theory implies that all material systems have what is called a wave particle duality in their properties. Thus, electrons that in Newtonian physics act like particles can, under suitable conditions, also act like waves (e.g. electrons can show statistical interference properties when a large number of them is passed through a system of slits). This dual nature of material systems is totally at variance with Newtonian physics, in which each system has its own nature independently of context.

Secondly, all action is in the form of definite and measurable units of energy, momentum and other properties called quanta which cannot be further divided. (For example, an atom is said to ‘jump’ from one state to another without passing through intermediate states and in doing this to emit an indivisible quantum of light energy.) When particle interact, it is as if they were all connected by indivisible links into a single whole.

However, in the large scale limit, the number of links is so great that processes can be treated to a good degree of approximation as divisible (as one can treat the collective movement of a large mass of grains of sand as an approximately divisible flow). And this explains the indefinite divisibility of processes that we experience on the large scale level as a limiting case.

Thirdly, there is a strange new property of non-locality. That is to say, under certain conditions, particles that are at macroscopic orders of distance from each other appear to be able, in some sense, to affect each other, even though there is no known means by which they could be connected. Indeed if we were to assume any kind of force whatsoever (perhaps as yet unknown) to explain this connection, then the well-known Bell’s theorem gives a precise and general criterion for deciding whether the connection is local, i.e. one brought about by forces that act when the systems are not in contact (Bell, 1966). It can be shown that the quantum theory implies that Bell’s criterion is violated, and this implication is confirmed by the actual experiments. Therefore, it follows that if there are such forces, they must act on-locally. Such non-local interactions are basically foreign to the general conceptual scheme of classical (Newtonian) physics, as it has been known over the past few centuries (which states that interactions are either in contact or carried by locally acting fields that propagate continuously through space).

All of this can be summed up in terms of a new notion of quantum wholeness, which implies that the world cannot be analyzed into independently and separately existent parts. This sort of analysis will have at most an approximate and limited kind of applicability; i.e. in a domain in which Newtonian physics is approximately valid. But fundamentally, quantum wholeness is what is primary.

In particular, such wholeness means that in an observation carried out to a quantum theoretical level of accuracy, the observing apparatus and the observed system cannot be regarding as separate. Rather, each participates in the other to such an extent that it is not possible to attribute the observed result of their interaction unambiguously to the observed system alone.

Therefore, as shown by Heisenberg, there is a limit to the precision of the information that can be obtained about the latter. This contrasts with Newtonian physics, in which it is always possible in principle to refine observations to an unlimited degree of precision.

Niels Bohr (1934, 1958) has made a very subtle analysis of this whole question. For reasons similar to those outlined above, he treats the entire process of observation as a single phenomenon, which is a whole that is not further analyzable. For Bohr, this implies that the mathematics of the quantum theory is not capable of providing an unambiguous (i.e. precisely definable) description of an individual quantum process, but rather, that it is only an algorithm yielding statistical predictions concerning the possible results of an ensemble of experiments. Bohr further supposes that no new concepts are possible that could unambiguously describe the reality of the individual quantum process. Therefore, there is no way intuitively or otherwise to understand what is happening in such processes. Only in the Newtonian limit can we obtain an approximate picture of what is happening, and this will have to be in terms of the concepts of Newtonian physics.

Bohr’s approach has the merit of giving a consistent account of the meaning of the quantum theory. Moreover, it focuses on something that is new in physics, i.e. the wholeness of the observing instrument and what is observed. The question is clearly also of key importance in discussing the relationship of mind and matter. But Bohr’s insistence that this wholeness cannot be understood through any concepts whatsoever, however new they may be, implies that further progress in this field depends mainly on the development of new sets of mathematical equations without any real intuitive or physical insight as to what they mean apart from the experimental results that they may predict. On the other hand, I have always felt that mathematics and intuitive insight go hand in hand. To restrict oneself to only one of these is like tying one hand behind one’s back and working only with the other. Of course, to do this is a significant restriction in physics, but evidently it is even more significant restriction in studying in mind, where intuitive insight must itself be a primary factor.

In view of the above, it seems very important to question Bohr’s assumption that no conception of the individual quantum process is possible. Indeed, it was just in doing this that I was led to develop the causal interpretation of the quantum theory, that I have already mentioned earlier, which is able, as will be shown in this article, to provide a basis or a non- dualistic theory of the relationship of mind and matter.

**Prof. David Bohm**