Steps to an Ecology of Mind presents a selection of Gregory Bateson’s key work from across his career.
Tracking his thinking as it emerged over time, the book provides an ideal way for our own thinking to evolve alongside his.
This website will review that book, chapter by chapter, summarising and adding interpretation of the implications for business. As each chapter is completed links will be added below.
If you already know Bateson’s work or are interested in how his thinking applies to a particular issue, you can also use the categories (shown in brackets) to focus quickly on specific areas. But remember: Bateson’s thinking is not intended to provide a detailed instruction manual for how to solve all problems for all people. It is a large scale map that shows the key features of the whole territory, not just the detail of your back yard.
At a time when increasing specialisation has left many of us unable to see beyond our own back yards it provides a wider context: a coherent picture of the larger whole that we are all part of, enabling us to understand why our back yard keeps flooding every spring or drying out each summer. It provides a description of the key factors that drive how nature really works, and how people think.
It is this big picture of the key drivers and the connections between them that we most need right now.
Part I: Metalogues
1. Why Do Things Get in a Muddle? (Management, Leadership)
2. Why Do Frenchmen?
3. About Games and Being Serious
4. How Much Do You Know?
5. Why Do Things Have Outlines?
6. Why a Swan?
7. What Is an Instinct?
Part II: Form and Pattern in Anthropology
Culture Contact and Schismogenesis
Experiments in Thinking about Observed Ethnological Material
Morale and National Character
Bali: The Value System of a Steady State
Style, Grace, and Information in Primitive Art
Comment on Part II
Part III: Form and Pathology in Relationship
Social Planning and the Concept of Deutero-Learning
A Theory of Play and Fantasy
Epidemiology of a Schizophrenia
Toward a Theory of Schizophrenia
The Group Dynamics of Schizophrenia
Minimal Requirements for a Theory of Schizophrenia
Double Bind, 1969
The Logical Categories of Learning and Communication
The Cybernetics of “Self”: A Theory of Alcoholism
Comment on Part III
Part IV: Biology and Evolution
On Empty-Headedness among Biologists and State Boards of Education
The Role of Somatic Change
Problems in Cetacean and Other Mammalian Communication
A Re-examination of “Bateson’s Rule”
Comments on Part IV
Part V: Epistemology and Ecology
Redundancy and Coding
Conscious Purpose versus Nature
Effects of Conscious Purpose on Human Adaptation
Form, Substance and Difference
Comment on Part V
Part VI: Crisis in the Ecology of Mind
From Versailles to Cybernetics
Pathologies of Epistemology
The Roots of Ecological Crisis
Ecology and Flexibility in Urban Civilisation
In the interests of speed, I intend to draft each chapter quickly, then revisit and polish in the light of insights gained from the whole. As we shall see by the end, there can never be a ‘perfect’ polished answer: our understanding will always continue to evolve over time, as we apply these new insights and then get feedback from nature that shows it doesn’t work the way we thought. (If you have not already read them, the examples show the benefits of this.)