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Insight, Knowledge, Science, and Human Values

by David Bohm - 1981

In the field of science, the meaning of insight can be understood by looking at theories which deal with universal laws that have fundamental significance for the totality of matter, independently of conditions of time and space. (Source: ERIC)


The title of this symposium is "Knowledge, Education, and Human Values."1 One of the main reasons why such a symposium is felt to be necessary is that knowledge and values have been largely separated in modern times, and that this separation has introduced a certain deep confusion in what is felt to be the meaning and purpose of education. Such a division between knowledge and values is indeed most pronounced in science, which is now commonly supposed to yield knowledge that is free of all values (except for the value of objective truth itself). This has helped to lead not only to a dangerously irresponsible use of knowledge, especially scientific, but even more to a general loss of meaning in life as a whole. Thus, the universe is now pictured, according to modern science, as a vast space full of dead matter moving mechanically, while man is a tiny creature living on a mere speck of dust in this space, trying desperately to make his life seem worthwhile by projecting his own arbitrary and inevitably petty ends and goals.

Of course, it is important to emphasize here that science itself does not necessarily produce this state of affairs. Rather, what has gone wrong is the development of a general attitude toward knowledge that is one of thoroughgoing fragmentation, and the present approach in science is only a special case of this. Seeing the intrinsically destructive nature of such an attitude, and the many kinds of disaster to which it now seems to be leading, we must then inevitably raise the question: How are we to change all this?


As a first step in our inquiry into the above question, it seems natural to ask: What is knowledge? Of course we are all familiar with abstract knowledge, which is stored up in memory, in books, records, computers, and so forth, and which is waiting passively, so to speak, constantly ready to be used for our convenience. But knowledge goes much further than this, in the sense that it is active as well as passive. Thus, it includes all sorts of skills, which are integral parts of our knowledge and without which the latter would indeed have no application and therefore no significance. This has been called tacit knowledge by Polanyi,2 who gives bicycle riding as an example. What this sort of knowledge is cannot be stated in words, and yet it is a definite content that is somehow stored up in the brain, nerves, muscles.

A further important part of active knowledge is our set of beliefs, which motivate us, often to extremes of passion in which we are ready for their sake to sacrifice everything. Such beliefs are based on presuppositions, which constitute a kind of knowledge of which we are not generally aware. One can give here the simple example of walking on what one presupposes to be a level road. Once made, the presupposition ceases to be conscious, but simply functions through an overall disposition or general "set" of the body, which is suitable for such a road. If, however, one encounters a pothole, this disposition is no longer suitable, so that one cannot properly walk on such a road without dropping the presupposition that it is level. Our whole approach to life is evidently full of presuppositions, which deeply affect not only our actions, but also our thoughts, feelings, urges, desires, motivations, the content of the will, and, indeed, our general way of experiencing almost everything. Thus, for example, through presuppositions of the inferiority of certain kinds of people, we are very likely actively to perceive and experience them as inferior, and so we will feel the urge to treat such people accordingly. (This is evidently the basis of prejudice, i.e., prejudgment.)

At this point, I feel that it will be useful to call attention to the distinction between abstract knowledge and concrete knowledge. In English, these are both covered by the same word, but in the Latin languages, there are two words. Thus in French, the word savoir means "to know abstractly" while connaitre means "to know concretely." In English, the verb "to recognize" is based on the same root as connaitre, and it means literally "to know again, in a concrete sense." Clearly, concrete and abstract knowledge cannot be separated in any permanent way. Rather, there is a constant interplay of both, in which any particular content passes from one to the other and back. It is this interplay that gives effect to knowledge, and in it knowledge has its concrete existence as an actual living process. The two sides are thus fused and interwoven, and only in abstraction is it proper to take them as separate. In its actual concrete existence, knowledge is an undivided whole in flowing movement, an ongoing process, an inseparable part of our overall reality.

In emphasizing this notion of knowledge, I realize that I am going against the generally accepted view, which not only fails to give adequate consideration to skills, beliefs, presuppositions, and so forth, as integral constituents of knowledge, but which also tends even in the abstract sense it attributes to the word to include only correct knowledge, and to regard what is incorrect as no knowledge, a mere figment, or perhaps delusion. But I wish to emphasize that at any moment knowledge is necessarily a mixture of what is correct and what is incorrect. Until a given item of knowledge is actually found to be incorrect, there is no way to distinguish it from correct knowledge. Both will contribute in similar ways to our actions, beliefs, attitudes, modes of experiencing. That is to say, the two are merged and fused in their functioning. So to consider knowledge properly as an undivided and active whole, we have to say that whatever anyone feels that he knows, at a given moment, is knowledge for him, at that moment. Likewise, whatever a society regards as known at a given moment is part of the knowledge of that society, at that moment. For both individual and society, knowledge, whether correct or incorrect, contributes in a basic and inseparable way to what the individual or society is.

All this implies, of course, that knowledge is not fixed in its total content. Parts of it are constantly dropping out as we get to "know better," in the act of learning and knowing. Also, we are constantly obtaining new knowledge. We do this not merely with the aid of the stored reservoir of human knowledge (e.g., by reading books or listening to lectures), but also by direct perception of actual fact, leading to new content. Experience is thus, in general, a fusion of perception and knowledge. To understand the whole, which is in a process of unceasing flux and change, it is essential not to try to divide it up into fixed fragments, for example by regarding perception, experiences, and knowledge as being in separate compartments, and by regarding knowledge as a purely abstract sort of thing that has to be "applied" to a separately existent concrete experience. Rather, we can see that the concrete experience, containing its associated images, motivations, intentions, and desires, arises in the one process, in which particular aspects of knowledge are constantly created, sustained, and dropped. And I suggest that only by starting from this whole process can we understand how knowledge, education, and values are related.


In most experience, the contribution of perception is limited to what fits into the overall general framework or context provided by past knowledge, both concrete and abstract. From time to time, however, challenges arise that require a creative and original response, going beyond the whole field of what can be handled by assimilation within known general frameworks. What is then needed is insight. As the word indicates, this is primarily an inward perception (i.e., through the mind). And as will be brought out in this paper, it is inward, not only in the sense of looking into the very essence of the content that is to be known and understood, but also in the sense of looking into the mind that is engaged in the act of knowing. The two must happen together. Such perception may then make possible the creation of new forms of response that are able to meet the challenge of new conditions.

Now it has been fairly commonly agreed that we are at present faced with the challenge of a breakdown in human values that threatens the stability of society throughout the whole world. I suggest that existing knowledge cannot meet this challenge, and that only insight can give rise to the sort of overall new approach that might meet it. This means that in discussing the questions raised by the symposium, it will be important to keep insight in mind, as a key factor.


Although science has been, at least in part, responsible for the present crisis in values, I would like to propose that by studying certain features of the actual development of science we can be helped to understand the meaning of insight, and that this understanding (or insight into insight) may bring about the possibility of yet further insight into knowledge, education, and values.

Now, in the field of science, one of the best ways of seeing what insight means is to look at those scientific theories that aim to provide universal laws that would be of fundamental significance for the totality of matter, independently of conditions of time and space. As far as we know, the notion that theories of this kind could be proposed and discussed freely began with the ancient Greeks. (Before that such theories had generally been incorporated into systems of religious beliefs, so that there were strong psychological and social pressures that interfered with this freedom.) Greek philosophers proposed and discussed with great passion a wide range of fundamental theories including, for example, the notion that all is fire, all is water, all is air in various degrees of condensation, and so forth.

In these discussions, there emerged a certain basic notion of universal order, which was later carried forward into Medieval Europe. This was that between earth and the heavens, there is an order of increasing perfection. The extreme imperfection of earthly matter was expressed in complicated ugly movements that are generally found on the surface of the earth, while the perfection of celestial matter was expressed in the most perfect and beautiful of orbits, which was considered to be a circle.

Actual observations soon showed, however, that the planets are not in fact moving in circles. But these observations did not lead the Greeks to question the notion of a universal order of increasing perfection from earth to heaven. Rather the observed facts were accommodated by saying that the orbits are composed of epicycles (i.e., circles superimposed on circles). This description turned out to be quite useful, both for navigational and for astrological calculations. Nevertheless, in a deeper sense, it is clear that it served mainly as a means of evading a challenge to existing notions of order, since almost everything that might be found in astronomical observations could be made to fit by introducing a sufficiently complicated set of epicycles.

One reason these observations did not lead Greek philosophers to seriously question the order of increasing perfection was that they generally took reason as the highest value, while they regarded the senses as tending to be unreliable and deceptive. But what is even more important here is that, as indicated earlier in this paper, knowledge is an active process, which is present not only in abstract thought, but which enters pervasively into desire, will, action, and indeed into the whole of life. Notions of universal order are particularly powerful in such activity, since on the one side they generate strong feelings of attraction, while on the other side any doubts about their validity tend to be sensed as threats to the order of the whole of existence. The resulting reluctance to question such notions of order readily leads to the uncritical acceptance of various adaptations (such as the use of epicycles) that fit what is known without "upsetting the applecart."

Toward the end of the Middle Ages, there arose a revolutionary new approach, first indicated by Roger Bacon, who suggested that observation and experience (later extended to experiment) have to be given a value at least as high as that of the faculty of reason. This was, of course, the germ of the modern scientific approach, in which what is actually observed or perceived may be taken as a fundamental challenge to ideas that have thus far appeared to be reasonable. By thus correcting the Greek bias toward reason and away from the senses, Roger Bacon's suggestion opened the way to give due weight to the, observed fact, and so to limit the extremely great power of knowledge, especially that which had belief in certain forms of universal order as its content.

As this new approach began to take hold, observation and experience accumulated implying that celestial matter is not fundamentally different from earthly matter. Thus, experience indicated that one could fit the facts in a simpler way by supposing that the sun, and not the earth, was the center of the planetary system. Kepler showed that the actual orbits were ellipses, for which the notion of the perfection of the circle had no significance. Later observations with telescopes showed dial the moon had highly irregular mountains, as "imperfect" as any to be found on the earth. These facts, along with a great deal of further evidence that we shall not discuss here, implied that all matter is basically the same in nature independent of its position relative to the earth.

By the time of Newton, such knowledge coming from observation and experience was available to the scientific community and was present as a sort of background that was perhaps hardly noticed. People were, however, generally not fully aware of how this knowledge constituted a fundamental challenge to the prevailing ideas about the nature of matter. It was Newton who sensed this question and first faced this challenge fully. How it happened is that he saw the apple falling, and by implication asked himself, "Why doesn't the moon fall?" His answer was that the moon is falling, and indeed, because all matter is basically of the same nature, every such free body is falling toward every other, thus implying a universal force of gravitational attraction, similar to that experienced on the surface of the earth. Then he had to ask himself a second question. "Why doesn't die moon ever reach the ground?" He explained this by the fact that it was in motion in an orbit, which tended to keep it moving away as it fell.

Of course, he then had to supplement the above with a hypothesis as to how the force of gravity was related to the distance from the earth. He had the good fortune to hit quickly on a correct hypothesis (the inverse square law). But if this choice had not been a good one, he could have tried another and another, until he found one that worked. That is to say, die basic idea of universal gravitation was not dependent on such hypotheses. Newton's discovery was, for him at that time, not a hypothesis, but a flash of perception, an insight. What he perceived was that if all matter is basically the same, and if there is gravitation on the earth, there must be universal gravitation.

This may seem fairly obvious now, but in the context of the times, Newton's ability to have perception of this kind was an indication of a certain quality of genius that is not at all common. This quality involved in an essential way an intense interest in questioning what is commonly accepted, which amounts to true passion. When this sort of passion is absent, the mind is in a state of low energy, in which it cannot go beyond certain habitual frameworks of thought, in which it feels comfortable, safe, secure, respectable. It therefore cannot properly face the challenge of questioning basic notions, of which it is at best only dimly conscious.

Thus, in Newton's time, it was commonly known by scientists that there was a great deal of evidence that celestial matter is basically similar to earthly matter. However, this thought was put in one compartment, which was not allowed to disturb another compartment. In this other compartment was the idea that there is really no problem at all. The moon does not fall because, of course, its celestial nature makes it stay in the sky where it belongs.

Now the key question is, "How could people maintain such compartments, which allowed two ideas that contradicted each other to exist comfortably side by side?" The reason is the same as the one already indicated in connection with the question of how die Greeks were able to go on comfortably, in spite of observations suggesting the contrary, with their assumptions of a universal order of increasing perfection from earth to heavens. As stated earlier, knowledge is not just an accumulation of information waiting passively in the library or elsewhere to be consulted at will. Rather, it is an active and indeed often dominant process, creating for example the desire to believe in certain familiar notions of universal order and containing presuppositions that largely control the general operation of the mind, without our being conscious of their existence. It takes a high level of mental energy to be aware of this activity of what may be called the knowledge process.

What is being proposed here is that the essence of insight is such mental energy, which in effect perceives and dissolves the subtle and yet powerful forces in knowledge—emotional, social, and still others that are beyond description—that hold us in rigid compartmentalization of functions and ideas, and make us extremely reluctant to give up our beliefs in certain universal notions of order.

If we use the term insight to refer to the action of a general mental energy as indicated above, then we may say that after the mind is thus freed of certain blocks that are inherent in its accumulated knowledge, it is able to operate in new ways. We will then say that particular insights are what flow out of such new modes of operation. But it is important to emphasize here that what is essential is the general action of insight in dissolving blocks and barriers, which allows the ordinary faculties of the mind to give rise to suitable new particular responses (e.g., in science, the faculty of reason is mainly what is able to produce fresh and original concepts and theories in this way).

The theoretical ideas deriving from Newton's many insights (of which the notion of gravitation was only one) continued to dominate physics until the early twentieth century. Einstein brought about the first set of fundamental challenges to these ideas. Even when he was only fifteen years old, he was already asking himself the question "What would happen if an observer were to move at the speed of light and look into a mirror in front of him?" It is clear that the light would never leave his face, so that he would see nothing.

The paradox implicit in this question shows that Einstein had already had an insight into certain deep questions in physics. One can bring out what this was by noting that in terms of the Newtonian conceptions prevailing at that time, it is always possible for any speed to be reached and overtaken. For example, the speed of sound can be reached and overtaken by an airplane. But Einstein's question shows that he felt that there was an essential difference between the speed of light and other speeds (which later analysis shows was grounded in his appreciation of the fact that through its electromagnetic nature light is related to the deep structure of matter in a way in which other waves, such as sound, are not). He thus sensed that there was something wrong with the notion that the speed of light can be reached and overtaken. The energy of insight is revealed in his ability to question presuppositions of common scientific knowledge that had hitherto been so much a part of the unconscious general background that they were, in effect, taken to be truths, rather than presuppositions.

As Newton answered his question "Why doesn't the moon fall?" in a surprising way by saying that it is falling, so Einstein answered his question "What would happen to an observer at the speed of light?" in an equally surprising way by saying that no material object can ever reach or exceed the speed of light. For Newton it was possible quickly to come on a detailed hypothesis that gave his insight a definite mathematical form, but for Einstein, this required ten years of hard work. Nevertheless, it is clear that the germ of what he did was in the original insight that he had at the age of fifteen.

Those who knew Einstein will agree that his work was permeated with great passion. It was perception growing out of such passion that made possible the dissolution of mental barriers, contained in the previously existent state of knowledge. In the case of special relativity, one of the principle barriers was the notion that because it had worked so well for several centuries, the entire structure of Newton's thought on the subject constituted an absolute truth. This implied that one had to accept en bloc all of Newton's basic presuppositions, including, of course, the one that any velocity can be reached and overtaken.

Few scientists had the energy of mind needed to question ideas with such great prestige, and yet Einstein did not mean to disparage Newton in doing so. Rather, he said that if he saw further than Newton, it was because he stood on Newton's shoulders. Newton himself revealed a similar humility when he said that he felt like one walking on the shores of a vast ocean of truth, who had picked up a few pebbles that seemed particularly interesting. However, those who followed him generally treated these "pebbles" as absolute truths. The essential point here is that with a long period of successful application, the common scientific knowledge of a particular period tends to acquire a certain pride or hubris, which is an inseparable consequence of the development of the presupposition that it is an absolute truth. Like all other presuppositions, this one operates largely unconsciously. What this presupposition does is to dispose people who hold it to behave with what is in essence a kind of arrogance. But, of course, to those who are caught up in this process, what they are doing seems to be not arrogance, but merely the assertion of the absolute truth of their ideas with that firmness which is properly due to such absolute truth. The immense energy in insight is what is able to dissolve such hubris (which constitutes one of the greatest possible mental barriers) and to bring about that true humility which is needed for genuine rationality.

From all that has been said about the role of insight in science, it should now be clear that although Roger Bacon's suggestion of experience and experiment as a means of criticizing ideas that appear to be reasonable was an important contribution to making modern science possible, it was not enough to prevent the blocks inherent in the active functioning of common knowledge from imprisoning us in fixed beliefs and false presuppositions. These are generally unyielding, even in the face of a great deal of experimental evidence that should reasonably lead them to be questioned. What is needed further is the energy of insight, which dissolves such blocks. This has to be emphasized very strongly, as there is now little realization of the ultimate inability of the scientific approach to avoid the tendency to self-deception inherent in the active functioning of knowledge, if this is not penetrated by insight.


To sum up what has been said thus far, insight is an act of perception, permeated with intense energy and passion, that brings about great clarity. This makes possible the dissolution of strong but subtle emotional, linguistic, intellectual, social, and other pressures that tend to hold the mind in rigid grooves and fixed compartments, and so to cause it to avoid fundamental challenges. From this germ can unfold a further perception not contained in the entire previously existent field of the known, within the structure of which such grooves and compartments had been an inseparable constitutent for all those who had been working in the field. This perception includes new forms of imagination and new orders of reason.

As the word indicates, imagination consists of mental images. Any image is some kind of imitation of how something looks, feels, sounds, acts, but in the process of imagination these images are produced primarily in the activity of the brain and nervous system rather than in some external medium, such as paint and canvas, photographs, imitative sounds and gestures, and so forth. Such an image brings about a conscious experience, containing sensations, forms, and movements similar to those arising in sense perception but different in that their origin is internal rather than external.

Of course, the major part of our mental images is based on memory, and so these are in effect an expression of knowledge. Generally speaking, the forms in such images arise either in a "replay" of what is already known, or else in a process of combining a set of known images, with at most a mechanical kind of novelty (equivalent to that of the forms arising in a kaleidoscope). The continual and generally associative movement of this sort of imagery is what is meant by fancy (or fantasy). As happens with other forms of knowledge, such imaginative fancy is not a mere passive display of information but an active response, in the sense that it contains urges, motivations, desires, fears, and so forth that may affect the whole of a person's perceptions and general behavior. If this response is not so intense as to "carry us away," imaginative fancy may be useful (e.g., we can arrange, plan, and design things in the mind first, before we carry them out in actuality). But when such fancy arises in thought having to do with what is felt to be universal, absolutely necessary, and supremely important, the resulting active responses can be so intense that they provide sustained mental blocks and barriers in all areas of life. (E.g., fantasies of great danger in young children can give rise to "imaginary" fears that remain with them as long as they live.) These blocks and barriers are indeed basically similar to those that have been described in connection with scientific thought, the main difference being that the blocks in imaginative fancy tend to have a strong component of "private" thoughts peculiar to the particular individual involved, while scientific blocks tend to be based mainly on public thought, that is, common knowledge.

It is in thought used in the arts that imagination tends to play a primary role (though, of course, reason is still important for such thought). Without insight, imaginative thought is confined within the barriers inherent in fancy, and in art the result will, of course, generally be mediocre. As in scientific work, what is needed to be free of these barriers is the intense energy of insight. Imagination that moves freely without barriers may then give rise to particular imaginative insights. Thus in poetry, for example, a fresh metaphor, which clearly can in general emerge only from a state of great mental energy, may lead creatively to new forms of imagination that are not merely imaginative fancy.3 But as we have seen earlier in connection with science, what is of key importance here is not the particular new forms that may emerge in this act. Rather, it is the general energy and passion of insight, whose nature is basically undirected, the same for the arts as for the sciences, and indeed for every area of life.

In science, thought is, of course, primarily concerned with reason (though imagination still plays an important part, as shown for example by Einstein's image of himself moving at the speed of light and unable to see himself in a mirror). The particular fresh and original perception that may arise in this area when mental barriers dissolve away can then be called rational insights (to parallel the mainly imaginative insights in the thoughts of the artist).

Let us now go on to consider what is essential to the unfoldment of insight through reason. It is useful first to go into the roots of words, which may show deeper and more universal meaning that is still implicit, though it has been covered up in the routine usage developed out of tradition and habit. The word "reason" is based on the Latin ratio, which in turn comes from ratus, the past participle of reri, meaning "to think." This has further been traced back, though somewhat speculatively, to the Latin, Greek, and Indo-European meaning "to fit in a harmonious way." With all these meanings in mind, let us consider the word "ratio." Of course, we may have a simple numerical ratio as proportion. It is well known that in ancient times it was quite common to relate harmony, order, and beauty to such ratios (e.g., in music and art). But ratio actually has a much more general qualitative meaning, which can be put as: As A is related to B, so C is related to D.

It takes only a little reflection to see that such qualitative ratio permeates the whole of our thinking. Thus, the similarity of forms of two different people involves a vast number of such ratios, a typical example of which is: As the right eye is related to the left eye in any one person, so the corresponding eyes are related in any other person. Or else, in a house, one may begin with a row of bricks, which are related to form a wall. If we let R represent the relationship of the bricks in one wall, we can denote the relationships of bricks in a second wall perpendicular to the first by R2. But now we can consider a series of similar houses. As the ratios R1 and R2 are related in a given house, so they are related in any house in the series. Evidently this constitutes a relationship of relationships, or a ratio of ratios.

Such a notion of a ratio of ratios is capable of indefinite development, to give rise to a vast and ever-growing totality of relationships, aspects of which may be found in mathematics, in science, and in every area of life. This totality is not restricted to thought and language, but evidently can be directly perceived by the senses (for example, in rows of objects, such as houses and trees). So ratio is a content that may pass freely from reason to the senses and back again. Indeed, ratio is perceived also in the emotions. Thus, we may say that a certain emotional response is, or is not, in proportion to the actual occasion that provoked it. It is therefore clear that ratio in its totality (i.e., reason) may be universal, not merely in the area of thought and language, but more generally, in that it permeates every phase of experience. In fact, it is just through this universality of reason that thought and its object may be related and this may be expressed in the ratio: As any set of elements is related in a correct idea, so the corresponding set is related in the object.

As an example of how universal ratio has developed in the field of science, let us consider once again Newton's discovery of gravitation. The ancient Greek notion of the cosmos implied that the fundamental ratio was that between different degrees of perfection. Newton, however, perceived that the fundamental ratio was in the sequence of positions covered by a material body in successive moments of its motion, and in the strengths of the forces suffered by this body as it underwent these movements. This was stated as a law of motion. Such a law is an expression of ratio, which is considered to be both universal and necessary in the sense that anything other than this form of ratio was not thought to be possible.

However, the further development of physics has constantly shown that each form of necessity is limited and not absolute. Thus, as indicated earlier, Einstein (and later still others) showed that some of Newton's ideas were only approximations, and that new laws were needed, containing those of Newton as simplifications, as special and limiting cases. For example, whereas Newton considered space and time to be absolutely separate and independent of each other, Einstein introduced the notion of a fundamental ratio or relationship between space and time.

What is indicated by this kind of development (which has in fact occurred in all sciences) is that there is no fixed and final form to the totality of ratio, but that it is capable of indefinite unfoldment. It is important to emphasize, however, that the germ of such unfoldment is insight. As has already been brought out, this is an energy that penetrates very deeply, removing barriers that are inherent in the activity of existent knowledge and freeing the mind to operate in new ways in various areas. It may further be said that reason is, in essence, a perception of new orders of relationship or ratio in the particular medium of abstract thought. But, as we have pointed out, though its conditions are determined by the medium of such thought its implications go through all other areas of experience including the imagination, emotion, and sensory experience.

Reason is thus seen to be an undivided flowing movement, in which no definable feature can safely be assumed to be fixed forever. We can, however, abstract a certain limited content from this flow of reason, and for the sake of convenience we may regard it as an unchanging framework. When we do this we have reduced reason to formal logic. Formal logic is always based on the complete fixing of a set of assumptions, hypotheses, axioms, and so forth, that provide what is generally regarded as "solid ground" for what may be termed the universe of discourse. The logical form of the movement from premises to conclusion (equivalent to the operation of a machine) may then be compared to a sort of game, played within this "make believe" abstraction of a universe. Formal logic is thus actually the intellectual counterpart of the rearrangement of known images that takes place in imaginative fancy.

Formal logic may (like imaginative fancy) often be both useful and necessary. However, if we go on to assume that its fixed framework is always valid and therefore an absolute truth, then this will become a presupposition of all that we do from that moment on. Such a presupposition acts to determine the general disposition of the mind, producing urges, motivations, and desires that have an unchangeable quality corresponding to the supposed absoluteness of the truth of our assumptions. And as described earlier, out of this grow the kind of blocks and barriers to new perceptions that we have been discussing; clearly, these are essentially the same for reason as for imagination, and in both cases their dissolution depends on penetration of the mind as a whole by insight.


At this point, I would like very strongly to emphasize that insight is not restricted to great scientific discoveries or to artistic creations, but rather that it is of crucial significance in everything we do, especially in the ordinary affairs of life.

I shall begin to discuss this point by describing an experience that I had when I was eleven or twelve years old. As I recall, at that time I had developed a habit of always wanting to be able to map out my actions beforehand, to know exactly what I could expect so that I would feel quite secure before I actually did anything. I remember once when I was with some other boys and we had to cross a stream by leaping from rock to rock. I could not map this out, but started to follow the others with great trepidation. Suddenly in the middle of the stream I had a flash of insight that what I am is to be in a state of movement from one rock to the next, and that as long as I do not try to map out what I will do, I can cross safely, but that if I try to proceed from such a map, I will fall. Just in that very moment of being on the rock, there was a sudden change in the whole attitude of my body, along with all my thinking and feeling on the subject, which not only immediately removed difficulties with crossing the streams on rocks, but also affected my whole life thereafter, in many other ways. For example, since then, a great deal of my work has been directed toward the understanding of movement, with the aid of this particular insight, that is, that undivided flowing movement is what is primary, while its "map1' in thought is merely an abstraction of distinct "markers" that indicate certain salient features of the movement (as musical ratio is similarly a set of markers indicating certain salient features of the movement of the music).

It is clear that insight affects all the different functions of the mind—physical, emotional, intellectual, and so forth—in one undivided act that does not involve time in any essential way. Thus, not only does it take place in a flash with no sensible duration but also its essence cannot be captured in thought. There is thus no meaning to choosing to have insight, and then trying to discover some means to produce the desired result as an end. Rather, the action of insight is total and immediate.

As has already been brought out, insight operates in two ways, negatively and positively. The negative operation is the removal of blocks or barriers and the positive operation is the new perception that this negative action makes possible. For example the block I had was evidently that I always had to have everything mapped out before I did anything. The crucial element in such a block is the "alwaysness" of this sort of requirement. Evidently, it is sometimes appropriate to proceed from such a map, and thus it would make no sense to say that one should never map out anything beforehand (indeed, never means "always not," so that it is just another form of alwaysness). What the flash of insight did was to remove the sense of alwaysness and thus to free the mind to map out or not to map out, as each occasion demanded.

This is very subtle, because the block is not just in words such as "always" and "never." Rather, it is in the entire associated content, especially in the sense of absolute necessity implicit in the whole meaning of such words. This sense of absolute necessity will penetrate every movement and thought, and everything that one does.4

The key point here is then that intention, will, and desire depend on what one knows (whether this be correct or incorrect). If one knows that something is absolutely necessary, he will have a correspondingly powerful intention to carry it out, however wrong that knowledge may be. Intention gives rise to will, which is, according to the dictionary, simply the determination and direction of activity, both physical and mental. The particular content of will is evidently strongly dependent on the totality of stored-up information, the general disposition of the mind that is implicit in one's stored-up presuppositions, and so on. All these act to incite the will and arouse desire toward certain ends or goals. And if the necessity in this content is presupposed to be absolute, then the resulting will is unyielding and desire irresistible.

Thus, a self-closing circular action is set up, which constitutes a trap. For such knowledge will include not only the notion of the absolute necessity of the content, which determines the direction of will and desire, but also the absolute necessity of maintaining this content, no matter what further information may become available later.

This kind of trap is very difficult indeed to get out of. For the presupposition of absolute necessity operates before one can think reflectively. By the time one can think in this way that he must get out of the trap, he has been carried very far into it by the operation of the stored-up presuppositions. It is generally already too late, because by then one has begun to relieve his sense of uneasiness about what he is doing by means of various forms of self-deception. For example, one may invent false reasons (or rationalizations) that seem to justify not eliminating contradictions in his overall behavior, and he does this because the sense of necessity is so absolute that it will yield to nothing, while everything else, including truth and observation of fact, must give way to it.

Thus, consider a person who believes absolutely in a certain religion, and who will constantly find reasons to support this belief even when the absurdity of these reasons is evident to those who are not caught in his particular belief. Similarly, beliefs in the absolute truth of certain political ideas, such as communism, will lead a person to justify whatever happens with reasons that also turn out to be false when looked at carefully. We find this sort of behavior in every phase of life, individual as well as collective. Such self-deception seems to be an inescapable function of knowledge that has absolute necessity as its content (e.g., recall the self-deceptive arrogance that tended to flow out of the notion of the absolute truth of certain ideas in physics).

A number of years ago Jacob Bronowski made a very interesting television program on the ascent of man through knowledge. However, I think that, to present a balanced view, he should also have made a complementary program on the descent of man through knowledge. Indeed, our troubles originate, for the most part, in knowledge that is, as we recall, a total activity containing what is implicit as well as what is explicit, what is concrete as well as what is abstract. It includes knowledge of one's fears, one's hopes, what sort of person one is, and so on. And this sort of knowledge is generally entrapped in notions of absolute necessity and alwaysness that we do not seem to be able to break out of.

In this connection, I remember reading a science fiction story a long time ago in which a scientist invented a ray that caused everybody to lose his memory. What happened was that Hitler was talking, and in the middle of this he suddenly ceased to know that he was Hitler, while the people who were listening to him no longer knew that they were Nazis. Similarly, a banker suddenly ceased to know about his insoluble financial problems. All over the world, there followed an initial period of serious disorientation. But people, now being freed of the absolute necessity of a wide range of absurdities in the general framework of past knowledge, were able to face the real problem, which was how to live harmoniously together. And so they could start out afresh to create a new world.

It is clear, however, that no "ray" of the kind described above is needed to free the mind of its many kinds of absolute commitments that give rise to contradiction, conflict, and general disorder in its functioning. What is actually needed is just insight, which, without interfering with necessary and useful memories, is able to dissolve the mind's attachments to absurdities that hold it a prisoner to its past. When this takes place, a human being is able to act in new ways, not only in abstract thought and in imagination, but also in sense perceptions, in emotional responses, in the movement of the body, in relationships between people, and in all other areas of life.


The word "necessary" comes from the Latin ne cesse, meaning "not yielding." This is to say, if something is necessary it does not give way. It is clear then that a presupposition of absolute necessity implies something must never yield. The difficulty with such presuppositions is that they interfere with the proper operation of the entire notion of necessity in an extremely thoroughgoing way.

Thus, many things are necessary, but some of these conflict with each other, and for this reason there have to be priorities as to which necessities are to prevail under various conditions. If there are no priorities, then (as in a traffic intersection) there will be destructive "collisions" of necessities. But if a given necessity is absolute, it has total priority and, as has already been pointed out, it cannot yield to anything at all. It is clear, however, that any form of knowledge has to be able to yield to fresh perceptions or else rational thought and action become impossible. But as the knowledge of absolute necessity cannot yield to any kind of perception, it will simply distort, rationalize, and push aside undesired facts so that ultimately nothing is perceived that could disturb the general framework of absolute necessity in knowledge. Not only does this mean that consciousness is caught in self-deception but also that no orderly system of priorities is then possible.

This brings us to the question of values. The word "values" comes from the Latin valere meaning "to be strong and vigorous" (the words "valiant" and "valor" have the same root). Value is thus a kind of virtue, that is, a certain power to do something that makes what has value desirable or useful, or dear to us. Clearly, we have to establish priorities according to our sense of value, and that which is felt as having higher value will take priority over that which has lower value. So our values are equivalent to a set of priorities. We need such priorities to give order to our lives, not only in intellectual contexts, but also physically, emotionally, socially, and in every phase of our existence.

Knowledge evidently makes an essential contribution to the determination of our sense of values, for it helps us to ascertain what is the actual power or virtue of each thing, so that we need not, for example, be restricted to evaluating everything by our arbitrary and generally irrelevant subjective whims and desires. Vice versa, the sort of knowledge that we will want to pursue and, indeed, even the pursuit of any kind of knowledge at all will depend on our realization of the possible value (i.e., virtue) in such knowledge. So the separation of knowledge from values has no meaning except as a momentary abstraction made for convenience of discussion. The two are inseparably interwoven in a single undivided process, in which it is impossible to have one without the other. When someone tries to achieve what he regards as knowledge that is free of values, this generally means that he has uncritically accepted either the tacit values that may happen to be current in the community in which he lives and works or those values that are implicit in his subjective fancies.

Just because knowledge and values condition each other in the way described above, that knowledge whose content is absolute necessity will make it impossible, as has already been pointed out, to determine in a natural and orderly way which values have priority in any given context. So no sense can be made of the whole question of values without clearing up what is to be done with the presuppositions of absolute necessity that generally go through the whole of our lives.

As an example, we may consider the notion of national sovereignty, which means that each nation has ultimately to put its own interests first, as the highest priority, and that everything else takes a lower place, including not only morality and ethics but even the life of the individual, and if necessary the very existence of mankind. This leads to unending chaos and conflict, especially in the modern world in which all clearly depend on each other. To maintain this thought of absolute sovereignty against the plain fact of mutual interdependence, there has to be distortion and self-deception (for example, that brought about through censorship and propaganda). On the other side, individuals do essentially the same sort of thing. Each one puts his own self-interest as the highest priority, or else that of the group with which he is identified, his family, his tribe, his race, his religion. And he tends to defend such self-interest with the same sort of dishonesty and self-deception that is generally used to defend national sovereignty.

It is evident that this way of determining priorities is full of contradiction. Of course this contradictory state of affairs has been developing over thousands of years, if not more. Man has, probably mostly by imperceptible stages, slipped into his present condition, in which his life is pervaded by what is in essence a vast structure of meaningless nonsense that ultimately dominates almost the whole of the activity of human knowledge. It is therefore clear that no one in particular can be blamed for what has happened. Indeed, if one looks into himself, he will find that he too is caught in much the same sort of absurdities that others are caught in.

The real meaning of all this is that knowledge does not know what it is doing in all of its activity. In a way, knowledge can be said to be in the dark about itself, and that this darkness is largely self-created. That is, the knowledge of what is "always so" and "absolutely necessary" creates pressures for the mind to distort by covering things up and this gives rise to what we have called darkness. In this darkness, the mind falls again and again into the trap of alwaysness and absolute necessity, and tries through self-deception to obtain relief from the discomfort and disturbances flowing out of the mind's own self-contradictory mode of operation.

All this helps to create and sustain the general attitude of fragmentation to which I referred at the beginning. This attitude ignores the fact that actually all things flow into each other. It may be consistent to abstract them as separate and unchanging, for a certain period of time, but this cannot hold indefinitely. Consider a tree, for example. At first sight it appears to stand fixed and independent. But in fact it grows from a seed, in a process in which almost all the materials and the energy needed to make it grow come from the surrounding earth, air, water, and sunlight. They all work together to make a tree and sustain its existence, and in time they dissolve it back into something similar to its original constituents. So, if one is considering any appreciable length of time, it has no meaning to think of a tree as fixed. And insofar as one thinks of it as fixed, he has to regard it also as separate. It is only when one thinks of the process in which it is constantly created, sustained, and dissolved that one sees that it cannot correctly be regarded as separate.

Evidently, the same sort of thing holds for people, both physically and mentally, as well as for nations. A closer study shows that inanimate matter has to be understood in a similar way.5 This sort of universality of flow and mutual interdependence is indeed so evident, after a little observation and reflection, that one might readily wonder why mankind has generally had very little awareness of it, at least throughout the period of recorded history. Of course, it is clear that in the development of practical technical work, as well as in the ordering of social relationships, it was necessary for mankind to deal with an ever-growing mass of particulars, which for the sake of convenience had to be treated as more or less separate and fixed. As civilization grew more complex and ramified it seems clear also that these particulars would demand more and more time and energy. Thus, sooner or later, mankind would approach its present general state, in which the total set of such details seems almost entirely to fill the immediate experience of reality in consciousness, leaving little room for awareness of an overall process in which all these particulars are constantly being created, sustained, and dissolved.

At this stage, the concentration on particulars has evidently been carried too far, and begins to lead to the state of contradiction and confusion in the general activity of human knowledge that has been described earlier. One of the key factors in all this contradiction and confusion is that each human being comes to experience himself and his fellow human beings as essentially fixed and separate from one another, not only physically, but also psychologically.6 It then seems that to be a fixed and separate entity of this kind constitutes the very ground of the existence of each person. And so, every aspect of knowledge is assimilated in terms of a basically fragmentary structure, implying a commitment to the separate individual or group as the supreme value for the whole of life. The active response of this general self-centeredness in the content of knowledge then creates blocks and barriers that, in effect, cause evidence of the incorrectness of such knowledge to be distorted, covered up, devalued, ignored, to the point where it rarely enters the consciousness of the vast majority of mankind.

What is needed to dissolve these blocks and barriers is insight. But here we must have in mind not just insights into particular areas. Thus Newton had an insight into gravitation. Such an insight brings light into the limited field of physics. This light has its value, but the key point is that, as Krishnamurti brought out with great clarity and force, something of much greater value is needed, which is insight into the whole activity of knowledge.7 For, as we have seen, this activity is pervaded with a content of absolute necessity, which generates a kind of darkness that goes through every area of life (rather as if it were spreading dense black clouds through the mind). An extremely intense insight is needed to penetrate this darkness so that the mind can see what it is actually doing when it inquires into the thought of absolute necessity, and thus be enabled to cease its absurd activity of generating darkness (which it cannot do while it is enveloped in the darkness that it has created). Such insight would evidently be much more significant than insight into particular areas such as physics, biology, or something else of that nature.

Or, to put it differently, one can say that people are generally seeking enlightenment through knowledge, without realizing that the latter has the possibility of creating "endarkenment." This can be dispelled only through insight, which is able to end the commitment to absolute necessity in all knowledge, including that knowledge which is involved in forming values. These will then be open to fresh perception, which can from moment to moment reveal what is the proper order of priorities that would be right for each occasion. And so the general question of values can be dealt with in a consistent way.


I shall first say a few words here about education, though this subject is not the main point of my paper.

Evidently education will have to take account of this whole question of insight. This is not the place to discuss in detail how this might be done. However, I can say that in my view the key point in this connection is that any human being has to be able constantly to question, with great energy and passion (as for example Newton did), whatever is not clear and whatever one suspects may not make sense. And it is not enough to ask such questions. One has further to question the questions. For in the beginning these usually contain the very presuppositions that are behind the unclarity and contradiction that led one to question in the first place. One has to do this not once or twice or three times, but, rather, it is necessary to sustain such questioning indefinitely, in spite of whatever difficulties and obstacles that one may encounter. This approach or attitude is what has to be communicated in education, that is, to be able to question ceaselessly, without any aggressive wish to demolish things but just simply because one sees that these things have to be questioned.

Such questioning is however, not an end in itself, nor is its main purpose to jive rise to answers. Rather, what is essential here is the whole flowing movement of life, which can be harmonious only when there is ceaseless questioning, through which one can be freed of the common tendency to hold indefinitely to contradictory and confused knowledge that responds actively, to give rise to general disorder in the functioning of the mind.

This kind of approach is required not merely in the area of the particular "content of knowledge; it has also to extend to one's own whole way of thinking, feeling, behaving. For example, something may happen at the personal level that makes one irritated or angry, and this will generally lead to distortion and self-deception (e.g., either one rationalizes to justify his anger or refuses to acknowledge that he is angry, saying, "I am not angry"). One has to question his own inconsistencies without letup, and thus to be aware of the thought of absolute necessity (for example of keeping one's own self-image intact) that is generally the source of such absurdities. Or, in the context of what is public, a scientist has to be aware, for example, that his knowledge is not generally free of all values other than that of objective truth. Thus, he may be conditioned by the sense of supreme value that he is likely to have in connection with his personal security and status, and with his commitment to the general way of thinking shared by his scientific community. Clearly, pressures of this kind, which are inherent in belonging to an institution, are not compatible with the notion that objective truth is generally the supreme value for a scientist. For example, I can remember reading a newspaper report of a scientist working with a certain atomic energy establishment, who said that although there were actually serious dangers in what was being done, his colleagues were evaluating the tests in such a way as to come to the conclusion that the danger was not serious. Evidently then, as happens with people in general, a scientist can easily slip into allowing his values to be founded on self-deception, and in doing this he can further deceive himself by supposing that, at least in his scientific work, his only value is objective truth. It is thus clear that the presuppositions of absolute necessity that determine false values in any one field are likely to operate through the mind and spread into all other fields. As Krishnamurti has emphasized, to meet this challenge properly requires the ability to question oneself in every area of one's activity.8

With regard to one's own values, the main thing to question is whether or not these arise out of presuppositions of absolute necessity. Knowledge is, as has been emphasized throughout, dependent on values and values on knowledge, but the essential point is that knowledge and values have to be free of absolute necessity. Like any particular features of the content of knowledge, values can then have a relative constancy implying that they may be fixed until further notice, but not for always.

But actually to do this is an immense challenge, not only to our habit of wanting the important things in life to be secure for always, but also because certain very deep and subtle questions are involved here, which are not at all easy to put clearly.

Consider, for example, what this approach means for beliefs. How are we to have the energy and passion needed to question ceaselessly whatever may not make sense without some sort of belief in the ultimate value of doing this?

To see further what is implied in this question, it is useful to note that the word belief is based on the old English "lief," which means "love." So, in this sense, what is believed is what is beloved, cherished because of its extremely high value (for example as one may say that we believe in a certain person).

If this were all that was involved in the notion of belief, then it would present no insuperable difficulties. Thus, one could say that a certain kind of work can be seen to have very high value, and that one naturally cherishes this work. One is therefore ready to hold fast to it even if serious problems arise, and to go to great lengths to solve such problems, even when the prospects seem very discouraging. So there can be great passion and energy behind such work (which may, for example, be that of ceaselessly questioning presuppositions of absolute necessity).

The difficulty arises, however, from the further meaning of the word belief, which is in effect to hold fast to that which one desires to be true. That this meaning is very common indeed can be seen by considering how people often believe in certain things because these give comfort, a sense of security, and relief from unpleasant and disruptive mental reactions, such as anxiety. This sort of belief amounts to a presupposition of the absolute necessity of the content that is believed. (Otherwise, it would not provide comfort and relief.) It is evident, however, that such a presupposition is in no way necessary to true energy and passion, but that on the contrary it contains just the sort of blocks and barriers that prevent creative and original responses that would be of great value.

It is thus clear that if to believe means to hold to an idea because one desires t to be true, then this must inevitably lead to self-deception, aimed at gratification and at relief from mental suffering. On the other hand, whatever irises out of genuine love will not distract perception in this way. Rather, being permeated with real care for what is cherished, it presents the latter in a rue light with all its faults, as well as its good points. It is therefore clear that it s quite possible to be constantly ready seriously to question what one values very highly whenever this shows inconsistencies or other features that may not make sense. Indeed, to fail to do this is both absurd and dangerous.

If one questions in this way, then there may be the energy of insight, which s, as we have seen, crucial for dissolving blocks and barriers, ending self-deception, and opening up the mind to new perceptions that may be relevant on each occasion. For this insight actually to operate, what is primarily needed is that one clearly perceive the great value of insight. At present, it must be said that insight is not actually given great value, neither in society in general nor in education in particular. Rather, there is a very strong bias in favor of accumulating knowledge far beyond the point where to do this would make sense, while the spirit of ceaseless questioning that is necessary or insight is generally ignored, if not positively discouraged. To be sure there s currently a great deal of discussion of the need to foster creativity (e.g., in Carious kinds of courses), but when what is actually done in this regard is examined carefully, this usually turns out to be mainly an attempt to develop imaginative fancy. In such an attempt, there is little or no understanding of he need for insight, without which neither imagination nor reason nor any other faculty can be truly creative. And more generally, even when insight is given some value one finds that this is usually because it is thought to be useful for making new knowledge possible, rather than because it is felt in itself to be directly and immediately important for the overall quality of human life.

However, if we see that insight has in itself a very high value in the sense indicated above, then we will have a different attitude toward everything, including, of course, knowledge, education, and values. Indeed, these latter will now be seen to constitute a field in which there is no end to the possibility of fresh and original perception made possible through insight. And such insight need not be restricted to a special elite group. Rather, it is open to any human being who actually sees that in the long run insight is necessary for a life that is worth living.


As the symposium developed for several days after this talk was given, it became clear that many of the participants felt that Plato was, as it were, implicitly present, at the heart of most of what was done in the conference. I therefore thought it might be appropriate to add a few words as to the relationship between the ideas expressed in my talk and some of those of Plato.

I feel that the key point that is relevant here can be approached by asking whether what I have said about insight allows for any value that is absolute9 (rather than just something that is to be held "until further notice"). For example, throughout the past, many (and especially Plato himself) have regarded it as meaningful to consider the good as an eternal and supreme value. What is meant by this is not any particular good, nor even the general good of mankind, but rather the very essence of goodness. This not only acts to sustain what is good, to propagate it and to make it flower, but it is in itself of the quality of perfect love, harmony, beauty, and wholeness (which was generally what was meant also by the divine).

I feel that it would have no meaning to deny totally the possibility of this sort of supreme goodness. However, it is important to point out that there are serious questions that have to be raised with regard to this notion.

First, if the idea of the absolute good has any definable content at all, it is implied that this content must be felt to be absolutely necessary and that this feeling of absolute necessity must give rise to the same sort of arrogance and self-deception to which any other notions ascribing a definable content to the absolute will lead. Thus, as is well known, both in religion and politics, it is just those who were convinced of the absolute goodness of what they were doing who often ultimately produced the greatest evil. So it seems that, at the very least, the notion of absolute goodness can be consistent only if it has absolutely no definable content (so that it evidently could not be held in any form of knowledge). What could be meant by such a notion?

In answer to this, one might suggest that what is required is not an intellectual understanding of the subject but rather an act of turning toward the ultimate good. But this suggestion raises a yet more serious question. For as has been brought out in this talk, mankind has generally been conditioned over the ages to the absolute necessity of giving supreme value to the self, or to that with which the self is identified. Is a human being actually free just to will to turn away from such self-centeredness, toward the highest good? This does not seem to be so. Indeed, as has been brought out, the will cannot possibly be Free when the mind is pervaded, as it generally tends to be, with presuppositions of absolute necessity, with their attendant blocks and barriers that keep the content of the will fairly strictly within the limits of the ego and its interests. Indeed, considering j us t the narrower and easier context of science, it is evidently not possible even for a highly competent scientist, by means of choice or will, to make himself as free of ego-based blocks and barriers in his thoughts in his own subject as were, for example, Newton and Einstein. How much less likely will this be in the much more difficult context of freeing oneself from the blocks and barriers of egotism in general?

As indicated throughout this talk, the intense energy of insight is what can dissolve all kinds of blocks and barriers, including even those that are responsible for self-centeredness. When the mind is free of these, then it can meaningfully consider the question of whether there is absolute and supreme goodness. To jump into this question without the necessary insight will tend o continue and even to add to the present general confusion around this question.

I would add here that while a considerable part of the content of my talk may be similar to what can be found in Plato, there is a difference of emphasis, which I regard as very important. I feel that in Plato not enough importance is given to the question of what is actually required to make it possible for mankind to turn away from self-centeredness toward goodness. One can perhaps make this point more sharply by considering Plato's allegory of the men in a cave, seeing only shadows thrown on a wall, and never being aware of the light outside. What I wish to suggest is that the analogy could be made yet more accurate in a significant way by supposing that, in order to try to light up the cave, men were constantly maintaining fires (i.e., knowledge), which poured out dense clouds of smoke, through which the light from outside could not penetrate in a clear way. Thus, they would have not merely to turn to the light, but also they would have to have insight into how the smoke from the "torches of knowledge" was blocking this light. Without this insight, the attempt to perceive the light would have no meaning.

1 This paper is an extension and modification of an article appearing in Douglas Sloan, ed., Education and Values (New York and London: Teachers College Press, 1980). See also Teachers allege Record, February 1979.

2 Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958).

3 Coleridge appears to be the first to have introduced a distinction between imaginative fancy and creative imagination (which is, in essence, what we have been saying flows out of insight). See Owen Barfield, What Coleridge Thought (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1971). See also, David Bohm, in Evolution of Consciousness, ed. Shirley Sugarman (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1976).

4 The far-reaching effects of words such as "all," "always," etc. has been systematically explored by A. Korzybsk, Science and Sanity (Lakeville, Conn.: Non-Aristotelean Library Publishing Co., 1950).

5 See David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980).

6 See ibid., Chap. 1, for more detailed discussion on this point.

7 See, for example, J. Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known (London: Gollancz, 1969).

8 Ibid.

9 This question was raised, after the symposium, in a circular letter sent by Catherine Roberts to all the participants.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 82 Number 3, 1981, p. 380-402
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 982, Date Accessed: 10/17/2021 8:26:54 AM

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About the Author
  • David Bohm
    Birkbeck College, University of London
    David Bohm has taught at Princeton University, Universidade de Sao Paulo (Brazil), and Technion, Haifa, Israel. Since 1961 he has been professor of theoretical physics at Birkbeck College, University of London. His main interests have been in plasma theory, in the fundamentals of relativity and quantum theory, and, especially, in their significance for philosophy, and more broadly, for general notions current in life as a whole. He is also deeply interested in psychology, education, and related fields. He is author of Causality and Chance in Modern Physics, Special Theory of Relativity: Its Origins, Meanings, and Implications, Fragmentation and Wholeness: An Inquiry into the Function of Language and Thought, numerous articles on theoretical physics, and a new book, just published by Routledge & Kegan Paul, Wholeness and the Implicate Order.
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