Gregory Bateson

Gregory BatesonIn existographies, Gregory Bateson (1904-1980) (CR:11) was an English social anthropologist noted for his 1940s systems theory and cybernetics-based “ecology of mind” theory.

In 1979, Bateson published Mind and Nature, wherein, citing: thermodynamics, Pierre Teilhard, John Neumann, teleology, James Watt, Charles Darwin, the great chain of being, among others, he attempts to bridge biology and moral philosophy; the result, however, amounted to page fluff. [5]

Swedish literary critic Erland Lagerroth summarizes Bateson’s contribution to the effect that he divined a large exposition on the form of existence, common to life and non-life, that was similar to the models developed by Ilya Prigogine and discovered by Erich Jantsch.

Bateson attended the Macy Conferences (1946–53), which hosted a core group that included Norbert Wiener, W. Ross Ashby, Heinz von Foerster, Margaret Mead (his wife), John Neumann, and Buckminster Fuller.

Ulanowicz | Ascendency
Bateson’s ideas (possibly his 1972 Steps to an Ecology of Mind) are somehow connected or related to American ecosystem engineer Robert Ulanowicz’ 1979 free energy modeled “ascendency” theory. In his own retrospect words, as explained in a chapter footnote to his 2009 book A Third Window: Natural Life Beyond Darwin and Newton, Ulanowicz states: [2]

Mind and Nature (Bateson)
Bateson's 1979 Mind and Nature, wherein he attempts to meld moral philosophy with biology. [5]
“My method of scaling was not motivated by Bateson’s considerations, about which I was unaware at the time. I had simply drawn upon my background in thermodynamics to define in analogy to Gibbs or Helmholtz free energies (measures of the capacity of a system to do effective work [Schroeder, 2000]). Both of these quantities take the form of a scalar measure of the system’s energy multiplied by a logarithmic term (as with AMI) indicative of its constituents.”


Religion | Atheism
Bateson, the son of geneticist William Bateson, has been described as a fourth or fifth generation atheist, fascinated by the sacred. [3] In his 1972 Steps to an Ecology of Mind, Bateson describes how his father used to read him passage of the Bible at breakfast so that they wouldn’t grow up to be empty-headed atheists. [4]

Quotes | By
The following are quotes by Bateson:

“When I kick a stone, I give energy to the stone, and it moves with that energy; and when I kick a dog, it is true that my kick has a partly Newtonian effect. If it is hard enough, my kick might put the dog into Newtonian orbit, but that is not the essence of the matter. When I kick a dog, it responds with energy got from metabolism. In the ‘control’ of action by information, the energy is already available in the respondent, in the advance of the impact of the events.”
— Gregory Bateson (1979), Mind and Nature (pg. 101)

1. Lagerroth, Erland. (2009). “In the Beginning was the Process”, Aug. 11. Reviews.
2. (a) Schroeder, Daniel V. (2000). An Introduction to Thermal Physics. Addison Wesley Longman.
(b) Ulanowicz, Robert E. (2009). A Third Window: Natural Life beyond Newton and Darwin (note 4.9, pg. 171) . Templeton Press.
3. Roark, Tom. (2010). “Gregory Bateson: Atheist Prophet of the Sacred”, CantLearnLess, Blogspot, Feb 13.
4. Bateson, Gregory. (1972). Steps to an Ecology of Mind (pg. 343). Ballantine Books.
5. (a) Bateson, Gregory. (1979). Mind and Nature: a Necessary Unity (thermodynamics, 5+ pgs). Dutton.
(b) Solomon, Robert C. (1981). Love: Emotion, Myth, & Metaphor (pg. 115). Prometheus Books, 1990.

External links
‚óŹ Gregory Bateson – Wikipedia.

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