Wholeness and the Implicate Order

“The prevailing trend in modern physics is thus much against any sort of view giving primacy to formative activity in undivided wholeness of flowing movement. Indeed, those aspects of relativity theory and quantum theory which do suggest the need for such a view tend to be de-emphasized and in fact hardly noticed by most physicists, because they are regarded largely as features of the mathematical calculus and not as indications of the real nature of things. When it comes to the informal language and mode of thought in physics, which infuses the imagination and provokes the sense of what is real and substantial, most physicists still speak and think, with an utter conviction of truth, in terms of the traditional atomistic notion that the universe is constituted of elementary particles which are ‘basic building blocks’ out of which everything is made. In other sciences, such as biology, the strength of this conviction is even greater, because among workers in these fields there is little awareness of the revolutionary character of development in modern physics. For example, modern molecular biologists generally believe that the whole of life and mind can ultimately be understood in more or less mechanical terms, through some kind of extension of the work that has been done on the structure and function of DNA molecules. A similar trend has already begun to dominate in psychology. Thus we arrive at the very odd result that in the study of life and mind, which are just the fields in which formative cause acting in undivided and unbroken flowing movement is most evident to experience and observation, there is now the strongest belief in the fragmentary atomistic approach to reality.

Since, in the first instance, fragmentation is an attempt to extend the analysis of the world into separate parts beyond the domain in which to do this is appropriate, it is in effect an attempt to divide what is really indivisible. In the next step such an attempt will lead us also to try to unite what is not really unitable. (…)

True unity in the individual and between man and nature, as well as between man and man, can arise only in a form of action that does not attempt to fragment the whole of reality. (…)

As pointed out, we try to divide what is one and indivisible, and this implies that in the next step we will try to identify what is different. So fragmentation is in essence a confusion around the question of difference and sameness (or one-ness), but the clear perception of these categories is necessary in every phase of life. To be confused about what is different and what is not, is to be confused about everything.”

David Bohm