Implicate: A way to think about Everything

A wonderful walk this morning. I have been very involved in work about ways of thinking and the perversity of linear types of thought that sound good but lead to stuff we know feel is just not right. So, watching the waves, sun-struck, translucent, sky, sea, sand and warmth, I thought through remembered theories and philosophies. Enjoy the photos, or read on below to the thoughts, or both. I would have you share my enjoyment.

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As the sun struck through the waves, and the water pitched itself to the shore, I was thinking about physics classes and interference patterns, physics and the wave theory of light and color, physics and understanding of reality. I was also thinking about the frequent misunderstanding of reality, even though bits and pieces of observation are facts, rather often minds make mess in thinking as well as sometimes finding a truthful way forward.

See how interference makes its patterns – as the wave sucking out meets that coming in, as a rock interrupts the swirl of the water, the way the pattern is left etched in the sand.

Hence to philosophy.

First a query to you – do you know how a hologram is formed? Light is traveling to the place where the hologram will be made, by two different routes, say using a half silvered mirror, so half the light goes direct, and the other half is reflected by the mirror on to an object, and from there this light, now altered by the object, travels to meet the wave that took the straight route. And there at the place where they “interfere” the peak of one wave reduces or enhances the peaks and troughs of the other, so that a pattern is laid on the space. This is the hologram of that object. It looks likes loads of lines – but enfolded into them is the information from the light waves, how high they were, how frequent each peak and trough, the object one wave met marked it by refraction and reflection so that other frequencies (frequency corresponds to colour) and intensities formed a new rhythm. In the hologram, each part of the interference pattern that is the meeting of the waves, carries all of the information about the object. Each point of the pattern can allow seeing as the object can be reproduced, it depends on the angle at which you look, to discover that what was enfolded can open out again, though always a little less clear.

You know in physics, in wave theory, just as in life, you don’t get everything. Oh yes – remember physics is about working out what real is, so it should match life, shouldn’t it?

So I looked at the waves, entranced by the colours, and remembered about “enfolding” and the implicate order.

A way of knowing [an epistemology] of implication is distinct from the kind of thought that treats things as inherently divided, disconnected, and ‘broken up’ into yet smaller constituent parts, so that each part is considered to be essentially independent and self-existent. This kind of thought belongs in the epistemology of explication, where “knowing ” is by means of one part directly linked or related to another part (or not) inside, outside, cause effect etc. Explication starts from a part, and goes on from there, building what it can. It goes without saying, almost, that we never do get to the whole this way, it is always out of reach. [Mistakes in thinking happen when the thinker forgets they are only getting partial knowledge.]

We are in many ways aware that “whole” is dynamic, ever changing. In “implicate order” meaning is implicated within the whole, enfolded in its structures, multi-dimensional. Knowledge of the whole is available from any part (though may be indistinct) if you get the perspective from which to look that allows what is hidden to be seen. Knowledge from implicate order is like the hologram, not like the camera that gives a direct picture, where a piece cut from the photo is lost. You are just aware, in a way you probably can’t describe.

[To help understand “enfolding” an everyday example is the way transmission of signals from source to TV takes place. A similar “enfolding principle” via interference changes the details of the picture in the recording studio into a code of 0/1 signals that can be broadcast, and then re-constituted / unpacked to be seen at the other end.]

Explication can be contained, enfolded, within implication, but not the other way round.


Walking, watching, I remembered, and thoughts wandered and wondered. What if we carry “whole” within us, in every part of us, but can’t see what patterns are enfolded, so that when we are born, we have to begin the job of explication, sorting out one part from another, my finger, my toe, your eyes, your being, becomes different from me. I become a self through explication. My language hastens the process of understanding by parts, not whole, with its subject, verb, and object. I learn to be subject that does, to be object of others’ doing. I learn relationships, well or badly, learn connecting, as if I never knew enfoldment, as if there were no other way of being than the many varieties of explication in our mind.

And then, transcendence.

Beauty, peace, something ineffable and wonderful in the world and finding being in it. For a moment we experience the meaning of being in implicate order, of being enfolded in whole and aware of all (however indistinctly my language expresses it). The experience is given many names, it seems to me we share it whatever it gets called.

I also love the internet that allows me to share this, as I can hardly think of anyone among many dear friends who would put up with the conversation. Writing and reading are different! If you are interested I have another blog with half-baked explorations about thought/ philosophy/ psychodynamics /culture and stuff.

Thanks to Michael Faraday, his exploration of what he called “crispations” [1830] and without whom we would maybe not yet have the wave theory of light and so much that followed from it. Thanks also to James Clerk Maxwell, who recognized what Faraday had done [1860s possibly, I forget], gave Faraday his due for thinking from whole rather than from parts, and turned the wave theory into electromagnetic understanding, an explication. Also thanks to David Bohm: Wholeness and the Implicate Order [1980] even though it is almost unreadable, that is not Bohm’s fault, but my inadequate knowledge of physics and its theories.







2 thoughts on “Implicate: A way to think about Everything

  1. Fascinating to read, Elspeth. Really interesting although I don’t understand a lot of it, it did make sense (if that makes sense!!!) I play with reality all of the time in my mind and in my writing, but at times I wish I could understand some of the reality around me a little better. Lovely photos as well.


  2. Just looked at the photos which are lovely. I’m saving the text for later when I gather up my brain cell and give it a wash and blow dry.

    My email has changed: it’s now

    The old one still works but is due to die at the end of May. It should have been March but it got a reprieve.



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