Bohm’s 1980 dialogues with Krishnamurti published in 1985 as The Ending of Time begin as follows:
Krishnamurti: How shall we start? I would like to ask if humanity has taken a wrong turn.
Bohm: A wrong turn? Well it must have done so, a long time ago, I think.
K: That is what I feel. A long time ago… It appears that way —why? You see, as I look at it, mankind has always tried to become something.
B: Well possibly. I was struck by something I once read about man going wrong about five or six thousand years ago, when he began to be able to plunder and take slaves. After that, his main purpose of existence was just to exploit and plunder.
K: Yes, but there is the sense of inward becoming.
B: Well, we should make it clear how this is connected. What kind of becoming was involved in doing that? Instead of being constructive, and discovering new techniques and tools and so on, man at a certain time found it easier to plunder his neighbours. Now what did they want to become?
K: Conflict has been the root of all this.
B: What was the conflict? If we could put ourselves in the place of those people of long ago, how would you see that conflict?
K: What is the root of conflict? Not only outwardly, but also this tremendous inward conflict of humanity? What is the root of it?
McLuhan contemplated something like such a wrong turn in terms of the neolithic revolution and the institutionalization of visual space. For Innis and Havelock, too, the ascendancy of the eye relative to the ear introduced a dynamic of change in human history which has never yet been deeply understood. Verstand in Hegel and Metaphysik in Heidegger introduce comparable concerns.
In all of these investigations, a key requirement is to understand what Krishnamurti calls “the root of conflict”. If there was some great change in human history, that change must have been rooted in some existing capacity for change, some dynamic as Aristotle put the point, that was already present in humans and that then came to particular emphasized expression.
Not only outwardly, but also this tremendous inward conflict of humanity…
Indeed, time itself must have such possibility within it. Or is time nothing other than such dynamic possibility for change?
K: …as I look at it, mankind has always tried to become something. (…)
B: What kind of becoming was involved?
The fundamental demand is to understand humans beings and their history in terms of potentials. What was — or is — already the case such that human history has unfolded as it has unfolded? As McLuhan wrote to Innis in 1951:
I think there are lines appearing in Empire and Communications, for example, which suggest the possibility of organizing an entire school of studies. Many of the ancient language theories of the Logos type which you cite for their bearings on government and society have recurred and amalgamated themselves today under the auspices of anthropology and social psychology. Working concepts of “collective consciousness” in advertising agencies have in turn given salience and practical effectiveness to these “magical” notions of language. But it was most of all the esthetic discoveries of the symbolists since Rimbaud and Mallarmé (developed in English by Joyce, Eliot, Pound, Lewis and Yeats) which have served to recreate in contemporary consciousness an awareness of the potencies of language such as the Western world has not experienced in 1800 years.