Gregory Bateson's Epistemology

10 Aug 2011 - 14:00

Gregory Bateson is famous for “the difference that makes a difference,” which is always a difference to someone (or more rarely, something). It is not always appreciated how deeply Bateson’s epistemology and worldview is centered in the observer, and how much it refers back to the observer. We will look at his analysis of how to draw delineating lines, to show that the definition of a system is always done by an observer and with reference to one. We may also look at his observer-centered analysis of entropy. And we will especially look at his definitions in the book Cybernetics of Cybernetics, of Adaptation, Double-Bind, and Conditioning — to see how these interactive processes with “environment” are described in Bateson’s epistemology. We will think about the implications of this observer-centeredness for differences among observers and why it mandates empathy and listening.

Tutorial facilitator: Phillip Guddemi
Tutorial duration: 3 hours

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This tutorial will be conducted in parallel to Randall Whitaker’s tutorial From Rosenblueth to Richmond: A Historical Review of Cybernetics. Please choose one to take part in and do not sign up for both tutorials.