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Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology [Paperback]

by Gregory Bateson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 15, 2000 0226039056 978-0226039053 1
Gregory Bateson was a philosopher, anthropologist, photographer, naturalist, and poet, as well as the husband and collaborator of Margaret Mead. With a new foreword by his daughter Mary Katherine Bateson, this classic anthology of his major work will continue to delight and inform generations of readers.

"This collection amounts to a retrospective exhibition of a working life. . . . Bateson has come to this position during a career that carried him not only into anthropology, for which he was first trained, but into psychiatry, genetics, and communication theory. . . . He . . . examines the nature of the mind, seeing it not as a nebulous something, somehow lodged somewhere in the body of each man, but as a network of interactions relating the individual with his society and his species and with the universe at large."—D. W. Harding, New York Review of Books

"[Bateson's] view of the world, of science, of culture, and of man is vast and challenging. His efforts at synthesis are tantalizingly and cryptically suggestive. . . .This is a book we should all read and ponder."—Roger Keesing, American Anthropologist

Gregory Bateson (1904-1980) was the author of Naven and Mind and Nature.

Frequently Bought Together

Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology + Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity (Advances in Systems Theory, Complexity, and the Human Sciences) + 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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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gregory Bateson (1904-1980) was born and educated in the United Kingdom, and spent most of his professional life in the United States where he was lecturer and fellow of Kresge College at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Among other influential books he authored Naven and Mind and Nature.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 565 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (April 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226039056
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226039053
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 3.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
96 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back in print at last! March 26, 2000
It is unbelievable that this masterpiece has been out of print for so long. I have been looking fruitlessly for a copy for some years, having eventually had to return a loan copy. I am delighted that it is available again.
Organised as a collection of relatively short essays, this has a legitimate claim to be the outstanding book of the 20th century for anyone interested in mind, change, evolution, systems thinking, ecology, epistemology, organisations, therapy and more. Be warned - it can be very dense in places, but the effort is worth it. On the right day it's really stimulating - on a bad day, I'd read something easier!
'Form, Substance and Difference', 'Conscious Purpose versus Nature' and 'The Logical Categories of Learning and Communication' are absolutely central texts for anyone considering how we need to respond to the current world crisis. Other key papers include 'The cybernetics of "Self": A theory of alchoholism' and 'Social Planning and the Concept of Deutero Learning'. If you work in the field of Organisational Development you will probably be familiar with some of the content through the many writers who have built on Bateson's work. Fritjof Capra writes about him a great deal. The original is best though.
The fact that it is back in print is tremendous. How can something this good have been out of print for so long?
David Ballard
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! November 3, 2000
By Zentao
It's unfortunate that Bateson died before postmodern thought really made it over the Atlantic since it appears he was quite concerned about many of the old views held by North American philosophers. The chapters concerning contextualization and language use echo what Foucalt, Lyotard and Derrida have been trying to get across except Bateson really managed to put these ideas into somewhat more accessible form.
Bateson was around for the beginnings of information theory and cybernetics and again, he was probably very disappointed in their state when he died. However, if one now looks at what people like Perlovsky and Chaitin have worked on one may begin to see that science is finding more and more problems with maintaining even the idea of objectivity.
In particular, if one looks at the work of Wilson ("Spikes, Decisions, and Actions") and Prigogine then the theory of objectivity within the physical world comes falling down. The only book close to giving a complete overview like Bateson managed is Jantsch's "Self-Organizing Universe", now out of print.
This is well worth reading and pondering. One can only hope more people begin to realize that we have a great opportunity for advancing ourselves (instead of rushing towards anhilation)if we can just change some of present system of thought.
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40 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This book is an old friend. July 24, 2001
Out of the hundreds of books that I was forced to read through high school and college, maybe five caught my imagination. This was one of them. Before anyone was really interested in thinking about thinking, Bateson sat down and did so. He was attempting to raise a bunch of questions that might help some to in-form their search for understanding in the world, or at least for points to be curious about, which in his mind is where science has to begin if it wants to know anything. It certainly helped to inform my thinking.
Not only did Bateson do a bang-up job of getting me to think in interesting or useful or maybe somewhat cleaner ways, he's actually pretty good at writing. ....
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Steps to an Ecology of Information May 27, 2010
This is a book that has grown on me since my first exposure to it around 1980. I'll find myself thinking of a point and need to go find the book are reread the essay.

One of the things that fascinates me about the book, as I come to understand some of Bateson't thinking, is when these essays were written. He and colleagues were attempting to understand an unformed (and unnamed) topic for which no adequate vocabulary yet existed. I mean, look at the title "Steps to an Ecology of Mind" -- He's trying to understand "ideas" and how they interact. He defines "idea" as "a difference that makes a difference" -- He's grappling with concepts that were ultimately (in 1947) named "information" -- and Bateson's "idea" is Shannon's "bit". He's doing it in a much broader context than computers and formal communications, but he's studying information. One essay that more obviously shows this is "A Reexamination of Bateson's Rule" where he's looking at how much information is needed to specify living forms by examining the types of failures when something goes wrong.

As a computer scientist, information is the basic medium I study / manipulate, and I've spent significant time trying to understand how to create and manage complex software systems. In Bateson's terms, I've spent my career studying one small part of an Ecology of Mind.
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true masterpiece! March 18, 2004
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars tough intellectual love for those of us who least want it
This collection of essays maps the intellectual biography of one of Anglo-America's brighter stars of the second half of the 20th century. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Walter J. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Bateson Book, Therapy
The book is a good read. It was in good condition and it sold to me for a very good price.
Published 7 months ago by GWendolyn marshall
5.0 out of 5 stars book
on daughter's wish list daughter doe not remenber putting on there. but ebjoying essays, will recommend to friends of like minds
Published 12 months ago by lori jusino
5.0 out of 5 stars Did nothing less than teach me how to think
Forget Blink! Predictably Irrational, or Drive, or Built to Last. They're kindergarteners compared to Bateson's Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Read more
Published 13 months ago by francis glebas
5.0 out of 5 stars heard read but very deep.
One of the most important books of the century. Read it quickly the first time and don't worry about a full understanding. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ronald Doctors
5.0 out of 5 stars 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... Read more
Published on October 6, 2007 by Einat Cohen
1.0 out of 5 stars 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... Read more
Published on February 6, 2002 by Guillaume Dargaud
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh No
no, no- Bateson wasn't a sloppy thinker at all. Yet, he wasn't fond of interiors or dead thoughts. His limitations (and i don't pretend to consider that my greatest capacities... Read more
Published on April 28, 2001 by Jeff
3.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, but sloppy
Gregory Bateson had a number of insights that appear to be, in retrospect, quite precient. He was talking about notions like the "mind of nature" even before James... Read more
Published on April 13, 2001 by Michael J. Edelman
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