Famous Quotes & Sayings

Gregory Bateson Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 92 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Gregory Bateson.

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Gregory Bateson Quotes 894096

We have been trained to think of patterns, with the exception of those of music, as fixed affairs. It is easier and lazier that way but, of course, all nonsense. In truth, the right way to begin to think about the pattern which connects is to think of it as primarily (whatever that means) a dance of interacting parts and only secondarily pegged down by various sorts of physical limits and by those limits which organisms characteristically impose. — Gregory Bateson

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But 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. — Gregory Bateson

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We can never be quite clear whether we are referring to the world as it is or to the world as we see it. — Gregory Bateson

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Interesting 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. — Gregory Bateson

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People are going to have to make themselves predictable, or the machines will get angry and kill them. — Gregory Bateson

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Logic is a poor model of cause and effect. — Gregory Bateson

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Those who lack all idea that it is possible to be wrong can learn nothing except know-how. — Gregory Bateson

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Language commonly stresses only one side of any interaction. — Gregory Bateson

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It is impossible, in principle, to explain any pattern by invoking a single quantity. — Gregory Bateson

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Multiple descriptions are better than one. — Gregory Bateson

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The meaning of your communication is the response you get. — Gregory Bateson

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Information consists of differences that make a difference. — Gregory Bateson

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We 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. — Gregory Bateson

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In 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. — Gregory Bateson

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Let's not pretend that mental phenomena can be mapped on to the characteristics of billiard balls. — Gregory Bateson

Gregory Bateson Quotes 1439503

What we mean by information the elementary unit of information is a difference which makes a difference, and it is able to make a difference because the neural pathways along which it travels and is continually transformed are themselves provided with energy. The pathways are ready to be triggered. We may even say that the question is already implicit in them. — Gregory Bateson

Gregory Bateson Quotes 442378

Whenever we pride ourselves upon finding a newer, stricter way of thought or exposition ... we lose something of the ability to think new thoughts. And equally, of course, whenever we rebel against the sterile rigidity of formal thought and exposition and let our ideas run wild, we likewise lose. As I see it, the advances in scientific thought come from a combination of lose and strict thinking, and this combination is the most precious tool of science. — Gregory Bateson

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If a man achieves or suffers change in premises which are deeply embedded in his mind, he will surely find that the results of that change will ramify throughout his whole universe. — Gregory Bateson

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After mastery comes artistry and not before. — Gregory Bateson

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Logic can often be reversed, but the effect does not precede the cause. — Gregory Bateson

Gregory Bateson Quotes 126493

We 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. — Gregory Bateson

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Without context words and actions have no meaning at all — Gregory Bateson

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Evolution 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. — Gregory Bateson

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The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of
course you never do. — Gregory Bateson

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All experience is subjective. — Gregory Bateson

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It is to the Riddle of the Sphinx that I have devoted fifty years of professional life as an anthropologist. — Gregory Bateson

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Things have to be done fast in America , and therefore therapy has to be brief. — Gregory Bateson

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We are most of us governed by epistemologies that we know to be wrong — Gregory Bateson

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Money is always transitively valued. More money is supposedly always better than less money. — Gregory Bateson

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In no system which shows mental characteristics can any part have unilateral control over the whole. In other words, the mental characteristics of the system are imminent, not in some part, but in the system as a whole. — Gregory Bateson

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Number is different from quantity. — Gregory Bateson

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If we pursue this matter further, we shall be told that the stable object is unchanging under the impact or stress of some particular external or internal variable or, perhaps, that it resists the passage of time. — Gregory Bateson

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When we think of coconuts or pigs, there are no coconuts or pigs in the brain. — Gregory Bateson

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Science, like art, religion, commerce, warfare, and even sleep, is based on presuppositions. — Gregory Bateson

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Play is the establishment and exploration of relationship. — Gregory Bateson

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In the nature of the case, an explorer can never know what he is exploring until it has been explored. — Gregory Bateson

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Prediction can never be absolutely valid and therefore science can never prove some generalization or even test a single descriptive statement and in that way arrive at final truth. — Gregory Bateson

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Most of us have lost that sense of unity of biosphere and humanity which would bind and reassure us all with an affirmation of beauty. Most of us do not today believe that whatever the ups and down of detail within our limited experience, the larger whole is primarily beautiful. — Gregory Bateson

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Numbers are the product of counting. Quantities are the product of measurement. This means that numbers can conceivably be accurate because there is a discontinuity between each integer and the next. — Gregory Bateson

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Life and 'Mind' are systemic processes. — Gregory Bateson

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The world is indeed only a small tide pool; disturb one part and the rest is threatened. — Gregory Bateson

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There are times when I catch myself believing that there is such a thing as something; which is separate from something else. — Gregory Bateson

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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. — Gregory Bateson

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Pathology is a relatively easy thing to discuss, health is very difficult. This, of course, is one of the reasons why there is such a thing as the sacred, and why the sacred is difficult to talk about, because the sacred is peculiarly related to the healthy. One does not like to disturb the sacred, for in general, to talk about something changes it, and perhaps will turn it into a pathology. — Gregory Bateson

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The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think — Gregory Bateson

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But epistemology is always and inevitably personal. The point of the probe is always in the heart of the explorer: What is my answer to the question of the nature of knowing? — Gregory Bateson

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Official education was telling people almost nothing of the nature of all those things on the seashores, and in the redwood forests, in the deserts and in the plains. — Gregory Bateson

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Wisdom is the intelligence of the system as a whole. — Gregory Bateson

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Perhaps 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. — Gregory Bateson

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Rigor alone is paralytic death, but imagination alone is insanity. — Gregory Bateson

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Yes, metaphor. That's how the whole fabric of mental interconnections holds together. Metaphor is right at the bottom of being alive. — Gregory Bateson

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It takes two to know one. — Gregory Bateson

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There are no monotone "values" in biology. — Gregory Bateson

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Some tools of thought are so blunt that they are almost useless; others are so sharp that they are dangerous. But the wise man will have the use of both kinds. — Gregory Bateson

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It 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. — Gregory Bateson

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The rules of the universe that we think we know are buried deep in our processes of perception. — Gregory Bateson

Gregory Bateson Quotes 1004223

Women watched for the spectacular performances of the men , and there can be no reasonable doubt that the presence of an audience is a very important factor in shaping the men's behavior. In fact, it is probable that the men are more exhibitionistic because the women admire their performances. Conversely, there can be no doubt that the spectacular behavior is a stimulus which summons the audience together, promoting in the women the appropriate behavior. — Gregory Bateson

Gregory Bateson Quotes 1005797

We are beginning to play with ideas of ecology, and although we immediately trivialize these into commerce or politics, there is at least an impulse still in the human breast to unify and thereby sanctify the total natural world, of which we are ... There have been, and still are, in the world many different and even contrasting epistemologies which have been alike in stressing an ultimate unity, and, although this is less sure, which have also stressed the notion that ultimate unity is aesthetic. The uniformity of these views gives hope that perhaps the great authority of quantitative science may be insufficient to deny an ultimate unifying beauty.
I hold to the presupposition that our loss of the sense of aesthetic unity was, quite simply, an epistemological mistake. — Gregory Bateson

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A man walking is never in balance, but always correcting for imbalance. — Gregory Bateson

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Information is a difference that makes a difference. — Gregory Bateson

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What is true is that the idea of power corrupts. Power corrupts most rapidly those who believe in it, and it is they who will want it most. Obviously, our democratic system tends to give power to those who hunger for it and gives every opportunity to those who don't want power to avoid getting it. Not a very satisfactory arrangement if power corrupts those who believe in it and want it. — Gregory Bateson

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Perhaps the attempt to achieve grace by identification with the animals was the most sensitive thing which was tried in the whole bloody history of religion . — Gregory Bateson

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Surrender to alcohol intoxication provides a partial and subjective shortcut to a more correct state of mind. — Gregory Bateson

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The creature that wins against its environment destroys itself. — Gregory Bateson

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We do not know enough about how the present will lead into the future. — Gregory Bateson

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Thirty 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. — Gregory Bateson

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Logic cannot model causal systems, and paradox is generated when time is ignored [as in logic]. — Gregory Bateson

Gregory Bateson Quotes 1406211

Our 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. — Gregory Bateson

Gregory Bateson Quotes 1486276

Schizophrenia
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 — Gregory Bateson

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Creative thought must always contain a random component. — Gregory Bateson

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It is, I claim, nonsense to say that it does not matter which individual man acted as the nucleus for the change. It is precisely this that makes history unpredictable into the future. — Gregory Bateson

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The only way out is spiritual, intellectual, and emotional revolution in which, finally, we learn to experience first hand the interloping connections between person and person, organism and organism, action and consequence. — Gregory Bateson

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The 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. — Gregory Bateson

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On the whole, it was not the crudest, the simplest, the most animalistic and primitive aspects of the human species that were reflected in the natural phenomena. It was, rather, the more complex, the aesthetic, the intricate, and the elegant aspects of people that reflected nature. It was not my greed, my purposiveness, my so-called 'animal,' so-called 'instincts,' and so forth that I was recognizing on the other side of that mirror, over there in 'nature.' Rather, I was seeing there the roots of human symmetry, beauty and ugliness, aesthetics, the human being's very aliveness and little bit of wisdom. His wisdom, his bodily grace, and even his habit of making beautiful objects are just as 'animal' as his cruelty. — Gregory Bateson

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The map is not the territory (coined by Alfred Korzybski), and the name is not the thing named. — Gregory Bateson

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There 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. — Gregory Bateson

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If 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. — Gregory Bateson

Gregory Bateson Quotes 1876500

Somebody was saying to Picasso that he ought to make pictures of things the way they are-objective pictures. He mumbled that he wasn't quite sure what that would be. The person who was bullying him produced a photograph of his wife from his wallet and said, "There, you see, that is a picture of how she really is." Picasso looked at it and said, "She is rather small, isn't she? And flat?" — Gregory Bateson

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To think straight, it is advisable to expect all qualities and attributes, adjectives, and so on to refer to at least two sets of interactions in time. — Gregory Bateson

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Still more astonishing is that world of rigorous fantasy we call mathematics. — Gregory Bateson

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Synaptic 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. — Gregory Bateson

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No 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. — Gregory Bateson

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There 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? — Gregory Bateson

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It is as if the stuff of which we are made were totally transparent and therefore imperceptible and as if the only appearances of which we can be aware are cracks and planes of fracture in that transparent matrix. Dreams and percepts and stories are perhaps cracks and irregularities in the uniform and timeless matrix. Was this what Plotinus meant by an 'invisible and unchanging beauty which pervades all things'? — Gregory Bateson

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Science probes; it does not prove. — Gregory Bateson

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There 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. — Gregory Bateson

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What 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? — Gregory Bateson

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Every move we make in fear of the next war in fact hastens it. — Gregory Bateson

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Members of weakly religious families get, of course, no religious training from any source outside the family. — Gregory Bateson

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A major difficulty is that the answer to the Riddle of the Sphinx is partly a product of the answers that we already have given to the riddle in its various forms. — Gregory Bateson

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I 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' — Gregory Bateson

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Science sometimes improves hypotheses and sometimes disproves them. But proof would be another matter and perhaps never occurs except in the realms of totally abstract tautology. We can sometimes say that if such and such abstract suppositions or postulates are given, then such and such abstract suppositions or postulates are given, then such and such must follow absolutely. But the truth about what can be perceived or arrived at by induction from perception is something else again. — Gregory Bateson