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Encyclopedia > Gregory Bateson

Gregory Bateson (9 May 19044 July 1980) was a British anthropologist, social scientist, linguist and cyberneticist whose work intersected that of many other fields. Some of his most noted writings are to be found in his books, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, 1972, Mind and Nature, 1980, and Angels Fear 1988, (published post-humously and co-authored by his daughter Mary Catherine Bateson). May 9 is the 129th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (130th in leap years). ... 1904 (MCMIV) is a leap year starting on a Friday (link will take you to calendar). ... July 4 is the 185th day of the year (186th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 180 days remaining. ... 1980 (MCMLXXX) was a leap year starting on Tuesday. ... Anthropology (from the Greek word άνθρωπος, humane) consists of the study of humankind (see genus Homo). ... The social sciences are a group of academic disciplines that study the human aspects of ice cream cones and fairy dances. ... Linguistics is the scientific study of human language, and someone who engages in this study is called a linguist or linguistician. ... This article is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Steps to an Ecology of Mind is a collection of Gregory Batesons short works over his long and varied career. ... Mary Catherine Bateson (born 1939) is a United States writer and cultural anthropologist. ...

Bateson was the son of the distinguished geneticist William Bateson. William Bateson (August 8, 1861—February 8, 1926) was a British geneticist. ...

Bateson is most famous for developing the "Double Bind" theory of schizophrenia together with one of the world's leading theoreticians in Communication theory Paul Watzlawick, his colleague at the Mental Research Institute of Palo Alto, and for being Margaret Mead's husband. In academic circles he is something of a cult figure whose appeal includes his obscurity, eccentricity and diversity of accomplishment. Still, the rise of interest in holism, systems, and cybernetics have naturally led educators and students to Bateson's published work. Double Bind is a communicative situation where a person receives different or contradictory messages. ... Communication is a slippery concept, and while we may casually use the word with some frequency, it is difficult to arrive at a precise definition that is agreeable to most of those who consider themselves communication scholars. ... Paul Watzlawick Paul Watzlawick PhD (* July 25, 1921 in Villach, Austria) is one of the worlds leading theoreticians in Communication Theory and Radical Constructivism and very important inspiration in the field of family therapy and general psychotherapy. ... Margaret Mead Margaret Mead (December 16, 1901 – November 15, 1978) was an American cultural anthropologist. ...

By his own admission Bateson is widely misunderstood, and the unconventionality of his style might be largely at fault. Bateson did not have much respect for contemporary academic scientific standards of writing, his works have often the form of an essay rather than a scientific paper, he used a lot of metaphors and his choice of sources tended to be unusual (for example citing old poets and ignoring recent scientific sources). At the same time, he wrote on a very abstract level. However, many scholars consider his works to contain a great deal of original thought and reward careful reading. He has been a very important inspiration in the field of family therapy, and Neuro Linguistic Programming, having served as a mentor to both Richard Bandler and John Grinder and introducing them to medical hypnotist Milton Erickson. Couple and Family therapy (sometimes called family systems therapy) aims at helping people solve family problems. ... Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a field of human endeavor concerned with empirically studying and modeling human performance and excellence, with the goal of creating transferable skill sets. ... Richard Bandler (full-name: Richard Wayne Bandler) (born February 24, 1950) is an American author and the co-inventor (with John Grinder) of Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and Design Human Engineering (DHE). ... John Grinder, Ph. ... Milton Hyland Erickson, MD (1901 - 1980) was a psychiatrist specializing in medical hypnosis. ...

One of the threads that connects Bateson's work is an interest in systems theory and cybernetics. Bateson's take on these fields centers upon their relationship to epistemology, and this central interest provides the undercurrents of his thought. His association with the editor and author Stewart Brand was part of a process by which Bateson’s influence widened — for from the 1970s until Bateson’s last years, a broader audience of university students and educated people working in many fields came not only to know his name but also into contact (to varying degrees) with his thought. Systems theory is an interdisciplinary field which studies relationships of systems as a whole. ... This article is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Epistemology, from the Greek words episteme (knowledge) and logos (word/speech) is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature, origin and scope of knowledge. ... Stewart Brand speaking September 5, 2004 Stewart Brand (born December 14, 1938 in Rockford, Illinois) is an author, editor, and creator of The Whole Earth Catalog and CoEvolution Quarterly. ...

In 1956, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. 1956 (MCMLVI) was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Naturalization is the process whereby a person becomes a national of a nation, or a citizen of a country, other than the one of his birth. ...


Epigrams coined by or referred to by Bateson

  • Number is different from quantity.
  • The map is not the territory, and the name is not the thing named. Coined by Alfred Korzybski.
  • There are no monotone "values" in biology.
  • Logic is a poor model of cause and effect.
  • Language commonly stresses only one side of any interaction.
  • Bateson defines information as "a difference that makes a difference"

This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Alfred Korzybski Alfred Korzybski was born on July 3, 1879 in Warsaw, Poland, and died on March 1, 1950) in Lakeville, Connecticut, USA. He came from an aristocratic family which had worked as mathematicians, scientists, and engineers for generations, and he chose to train as an engineer. ...

Terms used by Bateson

  • Abduction. Used by Bateson to refer to a third scientific methodology (along with induction and deduction) which was central to his own holistic and qualitative approach. Refers to a method of comparing patterns of relationship, and their symmetry or asymmetry (as in, for example, comparative anatomy), especially in complex organic (or mental) systems.
  • Creatura & Pleroma. Coined by Carl Gustav Jung in "The Seven Sermons To the Dead". Like the Hindu term maya, the basic idea captured in this distinction is that meaning and organization are projected onto the world. Pleroma refers to the world undifferentiated by subjectivity; Creatura for the perceived world, subject to difference, distinction, and information.
  • The Double Bind. This refers to a communication paradox described first in families with a schizophrenic member. Full double bind requires several conditions to be met: a) The victim of double bind receives contradictory injuctions or emotional messages on different levels of communication (for example, love is expressed by words and hate or detachment by nonverbal behavior; or a child is encouraged to speak freely, but criticised or silenced whenever he or she actually does so). b) No metacommunication is possible; for example, asking which of the two messages is valid or describing the communication as making no sense c) The victim cannot leave the communication field d) Failing to fulfill the contradictory injunctions is punished, e.g. by withdrawal of love. The double bind was originally presented (probably mainly under the influence of Bateson's psychiatric co-workers) as an explanation of part of the etiology of schizophrenia; today it is more important as an example of Bateson's approach to the complexities of communication.

Abduction, or abductive reasoning, is the process of reasoning to the best explanations. ... The term induction has more than one meaning in the English language. ... There are several meanings for the word deduction: Natural deduction Deductive reasoning Deductions in terms of taxation, such as Itemized deductions Standard deduction See also: Logic Venn diagram Inductive reasoning Both statistics and the scientific method rely on both induction and deduction. ... Comparative anatomy is the study of similarities and differences in organisms. ... Pleroma (Greek πληρωμα) generally refers to the totality of Gods powers. ... Carl Gustav Jung Carl Gustav Jung (July 26, 1875 – June 6, 1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist and founder of the neopsychoanalytic school of psychology. ... This article is about the Hindu religion; for other meanings of the word, see Hindu (disambiguation). ... ... Double Bind is a communicative situation where a person receives different or contradictory messages. ... Etiology (alternately aetiology, aitiology) is the study of causation. ...

See also

Trance and Dance in Bali is a short documentary film shot by Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson during their visits to Bali in the 1930s. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... The Two Cultures is the title of an influential 1959 lecture by British scientist and novelist C.P. Snow. ...

External links

  • Some more detailed biographical information
  • A lot of batesonian materials in English and Russian, including photographs and native pictures.


  • Morris Berman, The Reenchantment of the World, New York: Bantam, 1984. An early discussion of the implications of Bateson's thought.
  • Roy C. Dudgeon, The Pattern Which Connects: Ecology, Anthropology and Postmodernity, Toronto: York University (M. A. Thesis), 1996. A discussion of the relevance of Bateson's thought to anthropological and ecological understanding.
  • Peter Harries-Jones, A Recursive Vision: Ecological Understanding and Gregory Bateson, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995. A useful discussion of his life and thought.

  Results from FactBites:
Gregory Bateson (432 words)
Gregory Bateson was born on May 9, 1904 in Grantchester England.
His father, William Bateson, was a pioneer in the field of genetics; Bateson attended a charterhouse school in 1917 and then transferred to St. Johns College-Cambridge University where he studied Natural History.
Gregory Bateson died on July 4, 1980 in San Francisco at the age 76.
  More results at FactBites »



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