Consciousness and the Flow of Meaning: An Inquiry Into Bohm's Dialogue

Dissertation, The Union Institute (2001)
This study examines the theory and practice of dialogue proposed by the theoretical physicist David Bohm and is based on three recorded dialogue sessions. Bohm considers the source of many problems in society to be the way we think, and proposes to inquire into the process of thinking in a group---through a form of dialogue. As we engage ourselves in the process, dialogue offers an opportunity to become aware of our own assumptions and the assumptions that are operating in the group, which we have taken for granted or as something equal to a fact or truth. ;In this study, the data are collected and organized through phenomenological procedures and a quantitative method, and finally synthesized through heuristic inquiry. The study examines whether there are certain patterns that can be observed in the sessions, how these patterns are formed, and what kind of effects they have on the overall quality of interactions. ;The findings show that there are certain patterns that occur repeatedly during the sessions. Some patterns correspond with inhibited flow of communication in the group, in which case the exploration stays on a superficial level, whereas other patterns correspond with a more open flow, in which case a deeper meaning can be explored and an insight can be shared. The findings also suggest that there are common factors that co-occur with the formation of these patterns. The researcher came to the conclusion that unless these factors are understood in the context that Bohm suggests and are actually experienced in oneself, the practice of dialogue may only serve to reinforce one's own existing thinking patterns rather than, as is the intention of dialogue, questioning them. ;Because of the limited number of sessions studied, the findings herein need to be confirmed and amplified by a larger number of recorded dialogue sessions. It should then become clearer which patterns have a general prevalence
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