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Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity (Advances in Systems Theory, Complexity, and the Human Sciences) Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-1572734340 ISBN-10: 1572734345

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Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity (Advances in Systems Theory, Complexity, and the Human Sciences) + Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology + Angels Fear: Towards An Epistemology Of The Sacred (Advances in Systems Theory, Complexity, and the Human Scienc) (Advances in Systems Theory, Complexity & the Human Sciences)
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Product Details

  • Series: Advances in Systems Theory, Complexity, and the Human Sciences
  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Hampton Press (August 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572734345
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572734340
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I find myself returning to this book again and again over the years.
Mark B. Friedman
At a time when our world suffers, "Mind and Nature" provides the reader with new perspectives on a balanced co-existence with our Planet and all Her species!
Maureen Startin
This book is an excellent introduction to Bateson's work and thought, and should be required reading for many college courses in different departments.
mitsu@openmind.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

126 of 130 people found the following review helpful By mitsu@openmind.com on September 10, 1997
Format: Paperback
This classic work by Gregory Bateson deserves to be read by anyone seriously interested in cognitive science, artificial intelligence, evolutionary biology, epistemology, philosophy (in particular, logic), or any related field. Bateson illustrates in brilliant fashion a number of key concepts which "every schoolboy should know", but which, unfortunately, have escaped the notice of a wide variety of philosophers and scientists---if not every schoolboy, certainly every professional scientist and philosopher should be familiar with this work, whether they agree with it or not.

The basic ideas behind his work are subtle, yet Bateson does an excellent job of describing them clearly. In the process he manages to present and lucidly explain a wonderful solution to the mind-body problem which requires no supernatural forces, yet accounts very clearly for our intuitive perception that mind is in some sense non-physical. His information-theoretic approach is profound yet simple. His ideas touch upon many very deep issues, ranging from the definition of mental process itself to the logical distinctions between different levels of logical type, and also clearly illustrates and explains the origin of some of the major problems in formal logic, including why self-referential paradoxes arise in formal logical systems, and what this says about the limitations of these systems (and how one can get around these problems!). The work touches on many different aspects of many seemingly unrelated fields, and ties them together with a set of powerful and yet graspable abstractions which allow you to re-frame with clarity some of the greatest philosophical problems mankind has faced.
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78 of 83 people found the following review helpful By "markhermanschultz" on December 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
Gregory Bateson is difficult to "get" but incredibly rewarding once you do understand him. The number of concepts he deals with in this masterwork is amazing; the number that are still relevant more than twenty years after publication is stunning. Mind and Nature will some day be seen as one of the most important books of the Twentieth Century.
Bateson does not just tell us what he knows -- he shows us, using marvelous examples from nature that you will never forget. He gives beautifully clear -- on the sixth or seventh reading for some people -- descriptions of learning-by-the-individual and evolution-by-the-group as ***essentially similar fusions of analogic and digital (or energy and pattern) integrations.***
Learning-by-the-individual is "somatic" and benefits the survival of the individual, but ***that*** survival in turn becomes the evolutionary driving force for the group because the genes of the individual are passed on in the germ (genetic) line of the species. Mind and Nature are an essential unity. But what's more, the processes by which both mind and nature work are the SAME: Whether individual learning or group evolution, some pattern-preferencing mechanism "selects," from a set of cast-up possibilities, some qualities of some kind. The selecting mechanisms can ONLY select from those cast-up possibilities. When those qualities have survival value, they get passed on.
Far more than just a re-statement of Darwin, the essential unity of Mind and Nature described by Bateson has vast implications for our understanding of ourselves and our place in the universe. We are as one with Nature, as one with the way of the Universe.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Gord Wilson VINE VOICE on March 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
Sit in on a lecture by an engaging and knowledgable prof and you can expect to pick up a few tidbits. You certainly don't expect to come away knowing everything the prof knows. The subtitle of this book is about what Bateson knows, but you don't need to know any of that (or be particularly interested in it) to read this unusual book. My subtitle would be: You're Smarter Than You Think You Are."

I read this book in a Bantam mass market edition after sampling a piece of it in some science magazine (maybe Discover). Gregory Bateson was a renaissance man (which is one of the delights in reading him), the former husband of anthropologist Margaret Mead, and best known for the double bind theory of schitzophrenia, included as an essay in The Ecology of Mind. That theory may not sound well-known at all, but it's the basis of family counseling and why we talk about dysfunctional families (instead of just individuals). And we've all been in situations that are double binds, or as these no-win situations are known in everyday jargon: "damned if you do, damned if you don't".

Bateson wrote this book as metafiction, which is to say he talks about the book in the book, and he includes a handful or metalogues with his daughter, Catherine Bateson, herself now a writer for such magazines as Smithsonian, although he made them up. These metalogues reflect on ideas in the book and widen the feedback loop, as it were, to include the reader. They are relaxed and leisurely and not meant to be persuasive.

My experience reading this book was that it changed the way I saw everything.
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