Gregory Bateson (1904-1980)



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Epigrams coined by or referred to by Bateson
•        Number is different from quantity.
•        The map is not the territory (coined by Alfred Korzybski), and the name is not the thing named.
•        There are no monotone "values" in biology.
•        "Logic is a poor model of cause and effect."[10]
•        Language commonly stresses only one side of any interaction. Double description is better than one.
•        Bateson defines information as "a difference which makes a difference." For Bateson, information in fact linked Korzybski's 'map' and 'territory' (see above), and thereby resolved the mind-body problem. [11].[12]
•        The source of the new is the random.
•        What is true is that the idea of power corrupts. Power corrupts most rapidly those who believe in it, and it is they who will want it most. Obviously, our democratic system tends to give power to those who hunger for it and gives every opportunity to those who don’t want power to avoid getting it. Not a very satisfactory arrangement if power corrupts those who believe in it and want it.
Perhaps there is no such thing as unilateral power. After all, the man ‘in power’ depends on receiving information all the time from outside. He responds to that information just as much as he ‘causes’ things to happen...it is an interaction, and not a lineal situation. But the myth of power is, of course, a very powerful myth, and probably most people in this world more or less believe in it. It is a myth, which, if everybody believes in it, becomes to that extent self-validating. But it is still epistemological lunacy and leads inevitably to various sorts of disaster. "[13]
•        "No organism can afford to be conscious of matters with which it could deal at unconscious levels." [14]
Double bind
In 1956 in Palo Alto Gregory Bateson and his colleagues Donald Jackson, Jay Haley and John Weakland [15] articulated a related theory of schizophrenia as stemming from double bind situations. The perceived symptoms of schizophrenia were therefore an expression of this distress, and should be valued as a cathartic and trans-formative experience. The double bind 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 injunctions or emotional messages on different levels of communication (for example, love is expressed by words and hate or detachment by nonverbal behaviour; 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.
Other 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. The term was originally coined by American Philosopher/Logician Charles Sanders Peirce, who used it to refer to the process by which scientific hypotheses are generated.
•        Criteria of Mind (from Mind and Nature A Necessary Unity):[16]
1.        Mind is an aggregate of interacting parts or components.
2.        The interaction between parts of mind is triggered by difference.
3.        Mental process requires collateral energy.
4.        Mental process requires circular (or more complex) chains of determination.
5.        In mental process the effects of difference are to be regarded as transforms (that is, coded versions) of the difference which preceded them.
6.        The description and classification of these processes of transformation discloses a hierarchy of logical types immanent in the phenomena.
•        Creatura and Pleroma. Borrowed from Carl Jung who applied these gnostic terms in his "Seven Sermons To the Dead".[17] 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 non-living world that is undifferentiated by subjectivity; Creatura for the living world, subject to perceptual difference, distinction, and information.
•        Deuterolearning. A term he coined in the 1940s referring to the organization of learning, or learning to learn:[18]
•        Schismogenesis - the emergence of divisions within social groups.





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