Gregory Bateson

Updated: Apr 7

Gregory Bateson was an English anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, visual anthropologist, semiotician, and cyberneticist whose work formed an inspiration to many fields. Gregory Bateson came from a family of distinguished academics. Little of his contributions came from his work with the Baining and Sulka people of New Britain. His contribution to Naven(1939, 2nd ed. 1965) was a result of his work among the latmul. His reputation in anthropology still rests to a considerable degree on this first book.

Gregory Bateson ranged from topics like biological evolution, adaptation, ecology, art, arms races, social organization, communication, cultural transmission, learning, play, fantasy, films, character and personality, and, more generally, the nature and pathologies of thinking and epistemology, of culture, and of a great class of integrative processes which he eventually called “mind.” But he dealt with these phenomena in terms of a coherent and increasingly integrated set of highly abstract concepts influenced mostly by theories of communication and by cybernetics.

Early in his career, Gregory Bateson wrote about the ways in which communication and behavior are circular and affect one another. He proposed that there not always is a clear cause or effect of a behavior.

Gregory Bateson is well known for identifying and naming the paradox of the double bind, a dilemma that Gregory Bateson and his colleagues discovered while researching schizophrenia. A double bind is a phenomenon that occurs when an individual experiences conflicting emotional, verbal, or physical messages. Gregory Bateson and his colleague realized that these highly emotionally impaired individuals often suffered from an inability to process the internal and external communication they were receiving.

The deliberate use of double bind scenarios can be used as a form of thought control. With no clear verbal communication, implications can be made through intonation, eye contact, physical gestures, and by other methods. Victims of double bind intimidation often feel trapped in a situation that requires they complete a specific task that may result in a positive outcome in one regard, and a negative outcome in another.

Gregory Bateson was intensely fascinated by the interplay of various symptoms, and he claimed that the world was a group of systems interacting with one another. The system of the individual, the culture, and the ecosystem each respond to one another, creating a feedback loop.

Gregory Bateson argued for a type of scientific inquiry called abduction, which is the process of comparing patterns of relationships. Philosopher Charles Sanders Pierce originally used the term to indicate the way in which scientific hypotheses are created.

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Anil Thomas NLP & Gestalt
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