The Art & Science of Searching for Meaning

Silhouette of person pointing a flashlight up into a purple-tone night sky


Late in his career, acclaimed physicist David Bohm (1917–1992), was a scholar in residence at the Fetzer Institute. A student of Robert Oppenheimer and a colleague of Albert Einstein, Bohm proposed that all parts of the universe are fundamentally interconnected, forming what he called “an unbroken flowing whole.” This paper, delivered as a public lecture on October 23, 1990, addresses what Bohm considers the essential relationship between science and spirituality, wholeness, culture, and the role of dialogue. We reissue this version of Bohm’s talk in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth (December 20, 1917).

One important point that we connect with spirit is meaning. [….] I would add further that meaning is at the root of our whole being. How we act is determined by what everything means to us. A very elementary case is a person walking in a dark place who sees a shadow, which suggests an assailant may be present. This interpretation of the shadow may arouse the whole body . . . the adrenalin, the heart, everything. The meaning of the shadow made these changes occur. Meanings of much greater subtlety may move us much more. If we are going to face difficult questions and problems, we have to see their meaning and have the energy to do it. But as we have seen, the ultimate source of meaning is subtle and cannot be made manifest. Deeper meanings lead us toward the question of spirituality.

Science and Spirituality: The Need for a Change in Culture | Fetzer Institute: David Bohm




spirituality; meaning; art, science, and culture



Emergent Cognition Project

Emergent Systems