A Legacy for Living Systems

Gregory Bateson as Precursor to Biosemiotics

  • Jesper Hoffmeyer

Part of the Biosemiotics book series (BSEM, volume 2)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Jesper Hoffmeyer
    Pages 1-13
  3. Tyrone Cashman
    Pages 45-58
  4. Julie Hui, Tyrone Cashman, Terrence Deacon
    Pages 77-92
  5. Robert E. Ulanowicz
    Pages 121-134
  6. Theresa S. S. Schilhab, Christian Gerlach
    Pages 135-144
  7. Brian Goodwin
    Pages 145-152
  8. Deborah Eicher-Catt
    Pages 257-276
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 277-289

About this book


Gregory Bateson’s contribution to 20th century thinking has appealed to scholars from a wide range of fields dealing in one way or another with aspects of communication and epistemology. A number of his insights were taken up and developed further in anthropology, psychology, evolutionary biology and communication theory. But the large, trans-disciplinary synthesis that, in his own mind, was his major contribution to science received little attention from the mainstream scientific communities.

This book represents a major attempt to revise this deficiency. Scholars from ecology, biochemistry, evolutionary biology, cognitive science, anthropology and philosophy discuss how Bateson's thinking might lead to a fruitful reframing of central problems in modern science. Most important perhaps, Bateson's bioanthropology is shown to play a key role in developing the set of ideas explored in the new field of biosemiotics. The idea that organismic life is indeed basically semiotic or communicative lies at the heart of the biosemiotic approach to the study of life.

The only book of its kind, this volume provides a key resource for the quickly-growing substratum of scholars in the biosciences, philosophy and medicine who are seeking an elegant new approach to exploring highly complex systems.


"What pattern connects the crab to the lobster and the orchid to the primrose and all the four of them to me? And me to you?"

- Gregory Bateson
from Mind and Nature


Adaptation Biosemiotics Evolution Gregory Bateson Meaning Mind cognitive science communication complex system evolutionary biology media medicine protocells

Editors and affiliations

  • Jesper Hoffmeyer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CopenhagenDenmark

Bibliographic information