Quotes by Gregory Bateson

55 quotes found  
9862The creature that wins against its environment destroys itself.
9874Evolution has long been badly taught. In particular, students - and even professional biologists - acquire theories of evolution without any deep understanding of what problem these theories attempt to solve. They learn but little of the evolution of evolutionary theory.
9852Synaptic summation is the technical term used in neurophysiology for those instances in which some neuron C is fired only by a combination of neurons A and B.
9872No organism can afford to be conscious of matters with which it could deal at unconscious levels. Broadly, we can afford to sink those sorts of knowledge which continue to be true regardless of changes in the environment, but we must maintain in an accessible place all those controls of behavior which must be modified for every instance. The economics of the system, in fact, pushes organisms toward sinking into the unconscious those generalities of relationship which remain permanently true and toward keeping within the conscious the pragmatic of particular instances.
9861There are times when I catch myself believing that there is such a thing as something; which is separate from something else.
9876Logic cannot model causal systems, and paradox is generated when time is ignored [as in logic].
9849Rather, for all objects and experiences, there is a quantity that has optimum value. Above that quantity, the variable becomes toxic. To fall below that value is to be deprived.
9854Members of weakly religious families get, of course, no religious training from any source outside the family.
9830The meaning of your communication is the response you get.
9829The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.
9880If it were possible adequately to present the whole of a culture , stressing every aspect exactly as appears in the culture itself, no single detail would appear bizarre or strange or arbitrary to the reader, but rather the details would all appear natural and reasonable as they do to the natives who have lived all their lives within the culture.
9850Every move we make in fear of the next war in fact hastens it.
9839When we think of coconuts or pigs, there are no coconuts or pigs in the brain.
9831Yes, metaphor. That's how the whole fabric of mental interconnections holds together. Metaphor is right at the bottom of being alive.
9835The rules of the universe that we think we know are buried deep in our processes of perception.
9871Creative thought must always contain a random component.
9840Language continually asserts by the syntax of subject and predicate that 'things' somehow 'have' qualities and attributes. A more precise way of talking would insist that the 'things' are produced, are seen as separate from other 'things,' and are made 'real' by their internal relations and by their behaviour in relationship with other things and with the speaker. It is necessary to be quite clear about the universal truth that whatever 'things' may be in their pleromatic and thingish world, they can only enter the world of communication and meaning by their names, their qualities and their attributes (i.e., by reports of their internal and external relations and interactions).
9833Information is a difference that makes a difference.
9867The map is not the territory (coined by Alfred Korzybski), and the name is not the thing named.
9863Wisdom is the intelligence of the system as a whole.
9843Interesting phenomena occur when two or more rhythmic patterns are combined, and these phenomena illustrate very aptly the enrichment of information that occurs when one description is combined with another.
9847Science, like art, religion, commerce, warfare, and even sleep, is based on presuppositions.
9860We are discovering today that several of the premises which are deeply ingrained in our way of life are simply untrue and become pathogenic when implemented with modern technology.
9879A man walking is never in balance, but always correcting for imbalance.
9873Life and 'Mind' are systemic processes.
9848Logic is a poor model of cause and effect.
9858The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do.
10013A human being in relation with another has very limited control over what happens in that relationship. He is a part of a two-person unit, and the control which any part can have over any whole is strictly limited.
9837There is a quasi-scientific fable that if you can get a frog to sit quietly in a saucepan of cold water, and if you then
raise the temperature of the water very slowly and smoothly so that there is no moment marked to be the moment at which the frog should jump, he will never jump. He will get boiled. Is the human species changing its own environment with slowly increasing pollution and rotting its mind with slowly deteriorating religion and education in such a saucepan?
9856What is the pattern that connects the crab to the lobster and the primrose to the orchid, and all of them to me, and me to you?
9851We do not know enough about how the present will lead into the future.
9845Money is always transitively valued. More money is supposedly always better than less money.
9828Language commonly stresses only one side of any interaction.
9838We create the world that we perceive, not because there is no reality outside our heads, but because we select and edit the reality we see to conform to our beliefs about what sort of world we live in. The man who believes that the resources of the world are infinite, for example, or that if something is good for you then the more of it the better, will not be able to see his errors, because he will not look for evidence of them. For a man to change the basic beliefs that determine his perception - his epistemological premises - he must first become aware that reality is not necessarily as he believes it to be. Sometimes the dissonance between reality and false beliefs reaches a point when it becomes impossible to avoid the awareness that the world no longer makes sense. Only then is it possible for the mind to consider radically different ideas and perceptions.
9855Without context words and actions have no meaning at all.
9832We can never be quite clear whether we are referring to the world as it is or to the world as we see it.
9842In the transmission of human culture, people always attempt to replicate, to pass on to the next generation the skills and values of the parents, but the attempt always fails because cultural transmission is geared to learning, not DNA.
9866Science probes; it does not prove.
9853It is of first-class importance that our answer to the Riddle of the Sphinx should be in step with how we conduct our civilisation, and this should in turn be in step with the actual workings of living systems.
9836Rigor alone is paralytic death, but imagination alone is insanity.
9870Play is the establishment and exploration of relationship.
9868Multiple descriptions are better than one.
9846All experience is subjective.
9857But the myth of power is, of course, a very powerful myth, and probably most people in this world more or less believe in it. It is a myth, which, if everybody believes in it, becomes to that extent self-validating. But it is still epistemological lunacy and leads inevitably to various sorts of disaster.
9869There are many matters and many circumstances in which consciousness is undesirable and silence is golden, so that secrecy can be used as a marker to tell us that we are approaching the holy.
9875The wise legislator will only rarely initiate a new rule of behaviour; more usually he will confine himself to affirming in law what has already become the custom of the people.
9834Thirty years ago, we used to ask: Can a computer simulate all processes of logic? The answer was yes, but the question was surely wrong. We should have asked: Can logic simulate all sequences of cause and effect? And the answer would have been no.
9877Schizophrenia --its nature, etiology, and the kind of therapy to use for it--remains one of the most puzzling of the mental illnesses. The theory of schizophrenia presented here is based on communications analysis, and specifically on the Theory of Logical Types. From this theory and from observations of schizophrenic patients is derived a description, and the necessary conditions for, a situation called the "double bind"--a situation in which no matter what a person does, he "can't win." It is hypothesized that a person caught in the double bind may develop schizophrenic symptoms
9841We are most of us governed by epistemologies that we know to be wrong.
9844There is a strong tendency in explanatory prose to invoke quantities of tension, energy, and whatnot to explain the genesis of pattern. I believe that all such explanations are inappropriate or wrong.
9865Desired substance, things, patterns, or sequences of experience that are in some sense "good" for the organism - items of diet, conditions of life, temperature, entertainment, sex, and so forth - are never such that more of the something is always better than less of the something. Rather, for all objects and experiences, there is a quantity that has optimum value. Above that quantity, the variable becomes toxic. To fall below that value is to be deprived.
10014Un essere umano in rapporto con un altro ha un controllo molto limitato su ciò che accade in quel rapporto. Egli è una parte in una unità di due persone, e il controllo che ogni parte può avere sull'intero è strettamente limitata.
9859I shall argue that the problem of grace is fundamentally a problem of integration and what is to be integrated is the diverse parts of the mind - especially those multiple levels of which one extreme is called 'consciousness' and the other the 'unconscious'.
9878Perhaps there is no such thing as unilateral power. After all, the man in power depends on receiving information all the time from outside. He responds to that information just as much as he causes things to happen... it is an interaction, and not a lineal situation.
9864Our initial sensory data are always "first derivatives," statements about differences which exist among external objects or statements about changes which occur either in them or in our relationship to them. Objects and circumstances which remain absolutely constant relative to the observer, unchanged either by his own movement or by external events, are in general difficult and perhaps always impossible to perceive. What we perceive easily is difference and change and difference is a relationship.
55 quotes found