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Seeking Wholeness: An ecofeminist investigation into the work of David Bohm.

Hobson, Julia (1999) Seeking Wholeness: An ecofeminist investigation into the work of David Bohm. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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In this dissertation I inquire into the work of David Bohm from an ecofeminist perspective. David Bohm articulates a vision of reality as an indivisible, flowing whole. The exploration of this vision is organised around his notion that t to understand is 'to get a feeling for the whole thing'. I propose that Bohm's effort 'to get a feeling for the whole thing' can be extended into a form of wholistic understanding that develops through deep and intense listening supported by a sense of trust as 'ontological security'.

Bohm's vision of 'the whole thing' as an indivisible universe is underpinned by his ontological interpretation of quantum theory, developed with his long-term colleague Basil Hiley. Bohm's metaphysics of 'things' unfolding into an 'explicate order' and enfolding into an 'implicate order' offers an alternative to the dominant discourses of mechanism, atomism, and dualism within the Western worldview. Bohmian epistemology lays emphasis on extending 'perception-communication' by integrating attitudes of rationality, artistic imagination and compassion. He assumes that knowledge is constructed through a communicative creative process. Therefore, he proposes a particular method for developing a high degree of self-reflexivity through people dialoguing together in large groups.

From an ecofeminist perspective I have some reservations that Bohm's metaphysical wholism tends to move too quickly over the distinctions and differences among parts. His epistemology also skims over the possible social and political conditions necessary to facilitate the integration of rationality, artistic imagination and compassion. Knowledge as a social and political construction needs to address the issue of validity and this is a lack in Bohrm's work that is addressed using an intersubjective criterion of 'dynamic objectivity' and trustworthiness. To some extent, Bohm's method of Dialogue stays within traditional notions of rationality and assumes a disembodied self. A notion of selves as embodied and intrinsically related as beings, who include in their Dialogue practical acts - such as greeting and eating together - to celebrate interdependency is explicated.

I propose that a re-worked Bohmian Dialogue that begins with relational selves is enriched by the inclusion of a model of self-trust as 'ontological security'. A sense of ontological security extends the capacity to 'get a feeling for the whole thing' by supporting deep and intense listening. Four modes of listening - as internal, inclusive, critical and listening for Silence - are developed to amplify Bohm's notion of understanding as 'to get a feeling for the whole thing.' Finally, it is proposed that listening deeply and intensely as a relational self who is part of and partakes in a cosmology that is an indivisible, flowing whole facilitates an understanding that is more wholistic.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Division of Arts
Notes: Note to author: if you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library’s Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Booth, Michael and Hallen, Patsy
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