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To Relevate (verb)

a glossary term of David Bohm


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David Bohm

Wholeness & the Implicate Order

In this charming book of 1980, the scientist David Bohm (1917-1992) asserts that the mind may operate under quantum, rather than Cartesian and Newtonian laws. He claims that information is 'enfolded' (into what he calls the 'implicate order') within a holistic continuum. Because events are conjoined by hidden variables, rather than by space and time, this affects the way the mind and the brain are connected. Our thoughts are events that implicate us in a larger system, not the other way around (as are society tends to assume). It is the context that establishes the particular 'reality' that pertains.


The verb 'to relevate'

In describing the above processes, Bohm applies the old verb ‘to relevate’. When something is 'relevant’ it becomes visible within that frame of thought. He says it means "To lift a certain content into attention again, for a particular context, as indicated by thought and language" (Bohm, 1995, p. 35). This derives from the old Latin word 'levate' which means to 'rise, or to lift up'...although the Sanskrit root of the word describes 'lightness' in the 'illuminatory' sense of the word, as well as the 'weighty' sense. In Bohm's terms, it then becomes 'explicate' (i.e. visible, available, or meaningful) for us at a particular time and place. He revived the old term 'relevation’ to demonstrate that 'relevance' is not simply a passive state, but an active and co-creative process that is ubiquitous within the universe. In his model of co-existence, therefore, two entities 'relevate' each other. It emphasises a non-Newtonian order in which the linear idea of cause and effect seems stretched or curved.


  • Bohm, D. (1995), Wholeness and the Implicate Order, London, Boston and Henley: Routledge and Kegan Paul (first published in 1980).

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