November 14, 2005

Böehme, Boyle, Bohr, Bohm

Jakob Böehme (1575-1624) was a Renaissance shoemaker whose radical and mystical theology is consistent with modern knowledge of the relationship of the physical world to nonlocal reality, and of the dynamics of the psyche. One need only mention Schelling's famous book on human freedom which is thoroughly dependent on Boehme's vision of the genesis of God, world, and man. From here, Boehme's indirect influence reaches Hegel and Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Hartmann, Bergson and Heidegger. Boehme's ideas of process in creation and Deity presaged Whitehead's process theology. He was also frequently cited by Carl G. Jung in illustrating the transformative dynamics of the psyche's "alchemical" individuation process. Boehme himself apparently was aware that he was using alchemical symbolism in a psychological way. Albert Schweitzer seems especially to be true to the Boehme spirit of an independent Protestant mysticism consistent with modern knowledge.
Robert Boyle (1627-1691) was an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, noted for his work in physics and chemistry. Although his research and personal philosophy clearly has its roots in the alchemical tradition, he is largely regarded today as the first modern chemist. Besides being a busy natural philosopher, Boyle devoted much time to theology, showing a very decided leaning to the practical side and an indifference to controversial polemics. He spent large sums in promoting the spread of Christianity in the East, contributing liberally to missionary societies, and to the expenses of translating the Bible or portions of it into various languages. By his will he founded the Boyle lectures, for proving the Christian religion against "notorious infidels, viz, atheists, theists, pagans, Jews and Mahommedans," with the proviso that controversies between Christians were not to be mentioned.
Niels Bohr, 1885–1962, Danish physicist, one of the foremost scientists of modern physics. In 1922, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics "for his services in the investigation of the structure of atoms and of the radiation emanating from them". Bohr also conceived the principle of complementarity: that items could be separately analyzed as having several contradictory properties. For example, physicists currently conclude that light is both a wave and a stream of particles - two apparently mutually exclusive properties - based on this principle. Bohr also found philosophical applications for this daringly original principle.
David Bohm, 1917-1992, was one of the world's greatest quantum mechanical physicists and philosophers, deeply influenced by both J. Krishnamurti and Albert Einstein. Bohm's scientific and philosophical views were inseparable. In 1959, he read a book by the Indian philosopher J. Krishnamurti. He was impressed by the way his own ideas on quantum mechanics meshed with the philosophical ideas of Krishnamurti. Bohm's approach to philosophy and physics receive expression in his 1980 book Wholeness and the Implicate Order, and in the book Science, Order and Creativity. Bohm also made significant theoretical contributions to neuropsychology and the development of the holonomic model [1] of the functioning of the brain, in collaboration with Karl Pribram.

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