Gregory Bateson, anthropologist and philosopher, was a deeply original thinker who crossed multiple disciplines, always sitting on the edge between them. He began only late in life to attempt to synthesise his many contributions. As Brockman (2004) wrote, “Bateson is not easy … To spend time with him, in person or through his essays, was a rigorous intelligent exercise, an immense relief from the trivial forms that command respect in contemporary society.” But his contributions were considerable, to a wide range of fields. He was perhaps the most wide-ranging and profound thinker in early cybernetics, and his work provides a foundation for much of the important work that followed, and a deep insight into the problems of the world today. Practically every discussion of Bateson's work contains a different list of his disciplinary interests. He worked at one time or another in zoology, anthropology, cybernetics, communications theory, psychiatry, ethology (animal behaviour) and philosophy; and he also had a strong impact on family therapy, the environmental movement and organisational theory. His contribution to each of these fields was profound, but he was always ready to move on—as his biographer put it, he “posted himself to the margins of not one, but multiple disciplines from which he secluded and then absented himself” (Lipset 2005, p. 911).
KeywordsMultiple Discipline Hard Science Trivial Form Double Bind Original Thinker
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