David Bohm on self-fragmenting prophecy

David Bohm and Jiddu Krishnamurti in conversation at Brockwood Park, England, 1983

David Bohm and Jiddu Krishnamurti in conversation at Brockwood Park, England, 1983
Image credit: Degrees of Emotion

Indeed, to some extent, it has always been both necessary and proper for man, in his thinking, to divide things up, and to separate them, so as to reduce his problems to manageable proportions; for evidently, if in our practical technical work we tried to deal with the whole of reality all at once, we would be swamped. So, in certain ways, the creation of special subjects of study and the division of labour was an important step forward. Even earlier, man’s first realization that he was not identical with nature was also a crucial step, because it made possible a kind of autonomy in his thinking, which allowed him to go beyond the immediately given limits of nature, first in his imagination and ultimately in his practical work.

Nevertheless, this sort of ability of man to separate himself from his environment and to divide and apportion things ultimately led to a wide range of negative and destructive results, because man lost awareness of what he was doing and thus extended the process of division beyond the limits within which it works properly. In essence, the process of division is a way of thinking about things that is convenient and useful mainly in the domain of practical, technical and functional activities (e.g., to divide up an area of land into different fields where various crops are to be grown). However, when this mode of thought is applied more broadly to man’s notion of himself and the whole world in which he lives (i.e. to his self-world view), then man ceases to regard the resultant divisions as merely useful or convenient and begins to see and experience himself and his world as actually constituted of separately existing fragments. Being guided by a fragmentary self-world view, man then acts in such a way as to try to break himself and the world up, so that all seems to correspond to his way of thinking. Man thus obtains an apparent proof of the correctness of his fragmentary self-world view though, of course, he overlooks the fact that it is he himself, acting according to his mode of thought, who has brought about the fragmentation that now seems to have an autonomous existence, independent of his will and of his desire.
David Bohm in Wholeness and the Implicate Order (Boston; London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981), p. 2.

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"Indeed, to some extent, it has always been"

Interview at the Nils Bohr Institute, Copenhagen, 1989

David Bohm Posted on behalf of David Bohm on Friday, January 15th, 2010 under Quotations.

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