An Ecology of Mind: A Daughter’s Portrait of Gregory Bateson

I hope this film does justice to Bateson, especially the best of his categorical thinking about different kinds of thinking we do, and all his mighty efforts to make sense out of the mind we assume we understand, and therefore do not. Unfortunately there has been a tendency by others not as brilliant to render his subtlety into overly specific applications that ignore the real points of systems and cybernetics.

Rather like Nietzsche—another of my favorite thinkers—in my experience the optimal way to understand Bateson’s ways of thinking is to read him, not to read about him. Although it may appear easier to allow others to sift through his work for you, and summarization may even work reasonably well to understand main points of other philosophers, with Bateson the evasion of your own labor sifting through his work probably also evades the golden yield of it. In both his case and Nietzsche’s, the most important part is not specifically what he will discuss but how he will do it, and how he will urge you to learn to think in the process. That you will have to think, and how you will, is important. Bateson is also no more easily distilled than Nietzsche, and perhaps similarly prone to both distortion, and projection by readers of what they already want or expect to read there, based on preconceptions and fixations.

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