Language and Communication

By David Peat December 21, 2013

Bohm was deeply concerned with language and in this he was encouraged by conversations with one of his post doctoral students, Donald Schumacher. And so the two of them engaged in may discussions about the roles of language and in particular in the case of the communication between Einstein and Neils Bohr.

At time of their discussions over the meaning of quantum theory Bohr and Einstein had become very close and would meet each year when Bohr would address Einstein’s objections to the theory. Then years later, when Bohm was at Princeton, Bohr and some of his colleagues were invited. At the reception Bohm noticed that Bohr and his students congregated at one end of the room, while Einstein and his colleagues were at the other. The two groups did not interact.

In his discussions with Schumacher Bohm came to the conclusion that their distance from each other arose out of a failure of communication. More specifically each was using words in subtly different ways which made clear communication difficult. It was as a result of these subtle differences that communication broke down and the two men began to sense a distance between them.