Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology
Prices for book: Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology
Book ISBN: 9780226039053
Author(s): Gregory Bateson
Document type: Trade Paper
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What is the difference between a nip and a bite?
Really, what is the difference between a nip and a bite? They look the same, when you are watching kittens playing, how can you tell if they are biting in earnestness or just fooling around? Well you can't really tell, because a nip is a bite and isn't a bite all at the same time. However, you can tell, of course you can, because a nip has a sign posted on it saying "this is play", a bite on the other hand has a sign saying "this is for real". Moreover tells us Bateson - one of the greatest minds in social thought - whoever cannot tell the difference between a bite and a nip is in big trouble, because the sign stating "this is play" enables us to tell reality from imagination, thus safeguarding our sanity. "Steps in the ecology of the mind" is a profound statement on the mechanisms that make us tick, on the human condition.
Einat Cohen (Amazon.com)
A true masterpiece!
Bateson's writings are profoundly layered with meaning that a brief glance will overlook. His prolific influence can be found in sundry fields of study, including psychiatry, communication theory, and marriage and family therapy to name a few.
This is the type of book (among few) that can be read over and over again while discovering new facets of understanding every time.
I highly recommend the metalogues.
Buzzwords mixed toghether in a pile of dross
Take all the buzzwords in fashion in psychology and philosophy: classification, genotype, flexibility, somatic, discrete, threshold, characteristics, analytic... mix everything together and you get this book.
In other words there's not an ounce of meaning in those 700 pages, it's all worthless. No case studies, no examples, long phrases full of self importance written by someone who thinks he's an authority in everything from zen to medecine to evolution theory to archeology. Not only does he prove he doesn't understand anything, you'll laugh yourself silly reading any paragraph of the book at random.
If you have to read this for an assignment, you'd better change major and give it to your worst enemy for toilet paper. That's how low I think of this. And to think that a tree was felled for this. Ha !
Guillaume Dargaud (Amazon.com)
Very good intro. to Bateson
Reading "Steps" helped save me from the unremitting horrors of divorce court; I'd probably be on a death row somewheres if not for this & some peripherally associated material. I am very pleased to see that it's in print again.
From those meticulous metalogues to those essays on the Theory of Logical Types, Bateson can mesmerize, if you're prepared for it. Especially enlightening is the lecture on the Treaty of Versailles & cybernetics; for Bateson, the two most important events of his lifetime: if you're going to deceive someone (the Fourteen Points), you'd better get an honest man (Woodrow Wilson) to do it.
"Steps" is to science & reason what Frost's "West Running Brook" is to poetry: an intense meditation, soliloquy & dialogue. It's worth your while.
Far Lefkas (Amazon.com)
Back In Print, Finally.
After my paperback copy of SEM decayed from several readings, I was more than a little disappointed to see that it had gone out of print. I'm glad that its finally back.
Absolutely, Bateson is a "sloppy thinker," just as Picasso was a "sloppy painter" by the standards of Vermeer and Rembrandt. And really a comparison to artists - not formal theorists - is the metric by which Bateson should be judged.
Why is it that Bateson attracts such loyalty? Because his writing illustrates a *process* of thinking, rather than a specific indisputable conclusion. Those who expend the time and effort to read Bateson - and in particular SEM - are rewarded with the certainty that the thinking process is as interesting as any possible conclusion. And it is somewhat more than "clever" that in the SEM dialogues, Bateson uses the very structure and form of his writings to illustrate the content he's explaining.
Indeed it is precisely that uncertainty which vexes "formal" theorists (such as the reviewer below). Bateson - as a systems thinker - was always more interested in process and context than in defining any literal end result. After all, what possible "proof" could be offered that dolphins are second-order thinkers because they can learn about learning?. How on earth could proof be gained that icons and verbalizations are mediated by dreaming?
I would offer this question to Bateson's critics: if his thinking is so irredeemably sloppy, what then is his lasting appeal? Why does he - among all the philosophers and scientists of the 20th century - continue to have such a loyal following? Name a single cybernetician or epistomologist who is commonly cited in contemporary philosphical thinking.
Answer: there are none. So the bigger question is not why Bateson is popular, but why systems thinking (of which Bateson was a practitioner) is so absent from American academia. That fact is an indictment of something, but is certainly is not Gregory Bateson.
Garry Ray (Amazon.com)
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