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Gregory Bateson

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Born on 9 May 1904 in Grantchester, England, and Died on 4 July 1980

Gregory Bateson was a British anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, and cyberneticist whose work intersected that of many other fields. He got a BA in biology at the St. John's College of the Cambridge University in 1925 and continued at Cambridge from 1927 to 1929. Bateson lectured in linguistics at the University of Sydney 1928. Form 1931 to 1937 he was a fellow at Cambridge and then went to the United States.

One of the threads that connects Bateson's work is an interest in systems theory and cybernetics, a science he helped to create.

"Cybernetics, holistic medicine and ecology offer demonstratively superior ways of understanding the world than logic." ... "Our survival depends on two processes, the development of individuals and the development of the environment." ... "We fight battles over phony issues again and again - There is really something deeply wrong." ... "Greed, excessive growth, war, tyranny and pollution daily demonstrate that our premises are false."

All our learning is a combination of self knowledge and knowledge about the things that exist in the world, that can only enter our minds as communication objects, and by recall of their names and characteristics. We can have many faulty ideas about ourselves and about the world and still interact in ways that seem to be successful. "The genesis of new notions is almost totally dependent upon reshuffling and recombining ideas that we already have."


Dr Peter M Senge

In the last 12 months there's been a wave of change buiilding.  It's a wake up call.  We've been living in unhealthy ways, and the environment keeps sending us stronger and stronger signals.  Climate charge is a now a signal that we cannot ignore.  The message is about how we live in the world.  It will alter all of our primary institutions, business, education, medicine, and public leadership.  The wave is hitting the shores of all of those institutions, business being the first to respond.
Peter Senge discussing discovering the patterns that connect, a Gregory Bateson theme.

Epigrams coined by or referred to by Bateson

Bateson said, "The new is always difficult to achieve." We should try to understand the situation the best we can. That creates the "readiness" to see how new and random things keep occurring. The new occurs because something random is combined with what was. If the change is to persist there must be some machinery to select the new. The possibility for change happens when one can "see the pattern that connects".

In our minds we can create a vision of cause and effect, a linear sequence of events. In our minds we imagine the ability to reverse that chain of events, but this is a thinking fallacy. Causality does not move backward. You can never undo the things you've chosen to do.

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