Esoteric Quantization, The Esoteric Imagination in David Bohm's Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics
Fernandez, Gustavo Orlando
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis aims to explore the relationship between the science, the philosophy and the esoteric imagination of the American physicist David Bohm (1917-1992). Bohm is recognized as one of the most brilliant physicists of his generation. He is famous for his ‘hidden variables’ interpretation of quantum mechanics. Bohm wrote extensively on philosophical and psychological subjects. In his celebrated book Wholeness and the Implicate Order (1882) he introduced the influential ideas of the Explicate and the Implicate orders that are at the core of his process philosophy. Bohm was also a very close disciple of the Indian teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986), whom he recognized to have had an important influence on his thought. Chapter 1 is a general explanation of what I intend to do, why my research is filling an important gap, introduce the field of Western esotericism as a scholarly subject and suggesting that it offers a fruitful way of approaching the thought of David Bohm. I also explain my research principles and a brief description of the philosophical standpoint from which I am approaching the material. Chapter 2 gives a description of the textual sources I used in my research. This is followed by a comprehensive literature review. Chapter 3 is a biographical essay where I give an account of Bohm’s life, career, works, major ideas and their development, stressing their significance for the development of Bohm’s holistic philosophy and his interactions with the esoteric. This chapter is an introduction to the main ideas of the dissertation. Chapter 4 revisits the genesis of the Causal Interpretation, Bohm’s first attempt to deal with the interpretation of quantum mechanics. I make emphasis on the philosophical developments that gave rise to it. I introduce all the relevant physics and give a detailed explanation of the problem of interpretation and Bohm’s first proposal. Chapter 5 is about the philosophical developments in Bohm’s thought brought by the Causal Interpretation. In particular I examine the influence that G. W. F. Hegel (1770-1831) had on Bohm’s thought and explain why I take the view that this is an esoteric influence. Chapter 6 reviews the developments in Bohm’s thought during the 1960’s. I describe Bohm’s search for radically new concepts in physics and his exchanges with several thinkers ending with his encounter with Jiddu Krishnamurti. Chapters 7 and 8 are devoted to the study of Bohm’s philosophy as he elaborated it after 1960. Chapter 7 concentrates on the idea of the Implicate Order and it also studies the Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, Bohm’s last version of his interpretation effort, which is based on the Implicate Order. In chapter 8 I examine Bohm’s theory of how the mind and the body are connected through a ladder of consciousness formed by a series of Explicate and Implicate Orders, and finishes with an exposition of Bohm’s dialogue technique. In the last chapter I summarize my conclusions. An appendix is included with a brief overview of Bohm’s legacy. All the relevant details about the esoteric currents that Bohm encountered during his life and that are required to understand our argument are introduced as they are needed throughout the main body of the text.
PhD in Western Esotericism