Quotes

"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
International Bateson Institute
December 5, 2014



"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
Mind and Nature
1979/2002



"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
Steps to an Ecology of Mind
1972/2000



"... 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
International Bateson Institute
December 4, 2014



"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
International Bateson Institute
November 23, 2014



"Science, like art, religion, commerce, warfare, and even sleep, is based on presuppositions. It differs, however, from most other branches of human activity in that not only are the pathways of scientific thought determined by the presuppositions of the scientists but their goals are the testing and revision of old presuppositions and the creation of new."

Gregory Bateson
International Bateson Institute
November 21, 2014



"We are still at the beginning. The orthodoxy of our knowledge as it is presented today by even the finest institutions at the pillars of our world--is still less formed than a lego version of the crumbling Acropolis. William Blake said: "Reason, or the ratio of all we have already known, is not the same that it shall be when we know more."-- This changes everything, and knowing what we know now, we can look forward to knowing how limited our vision was... is. There is so much more."

Nora Bateson
International Bateson Institute
September 28, 2014



"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
Steps to an Ecology of Mind
1972/2000



"Whenever we pride ourselves upon finding a newer, stricter way of thought or exposition; whenever we start insisting too hard upon "operationalism" or symbolic logic or any other of these very essential systems of tramlines, 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 loose and strict thinking, and this combination is the most precious tool of science."

Gregory Bateson
International Bateson Institute
February 23, 2014



"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
Steps to an Ecology of Mind
1972/2000



"Play is the establishment and exploration of relationship."

Gregory Bateson
Mind and Nature
1979/2002



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.

Gregory Bateson
Mind and Nature, p. 16
1979



Today, we pump a little natural history into children along with a little “art” so that they will forget their animal and ecological nature and the aesthetics of being alive and will grow up to be good businessmen.

Gregory Bateson
Mind and Nature, p. 133
1979



“We face … two great stochastic systems that are partly in interaction and partly isolated from each other. One system is within the individual and called learning, the other is immanent in heredity and in populations and is called evolution…. The unity of the combined system is necessary.”

Gregory Bateson
Mind and Nature, p. 141
1979



“The fascinating cases of adaptation which make nature appear so clever, so ingenious, may also be early steps toward pathology and overspecialization.”

Gregory Bateson
Mind and Nature, p. 163
1979



“The nature of pattern is not something that you can fool around with.”

Gregory Bateson
Mind and Nature, p. 353
1979



“I don’t have to tell you about the enormous tyranny of patterns; what I do have to tell you perhaps is that their tyranny is something you have to accept.”

Gregory Bateson
Mind and Nature, p. 353
1979



“If you grow up, as we do, with a worship of the quantitative aspect and a minimal attention to the qualitative aspect, I believe you inevitably land yourself in the dilemmas of our civilization.”

Gregory Bateson
"Pragmatic Conservatism" in Rigor & Imagination: Essays from the Legacy of Gregory Bateson
1981



“By aesthetic, I mean responsive to the pattern which connects.”

Gregory Bateson
Mind and Nature, p. 8
1979



“But we shall see as every schoolboy ought to know that logic is precisely unable to deal with recursive circuits without generating paradox and that quantities are precisely not the stuff of communicating systems.”

Gregory Bateson
Mind and Nature, p. 18
1979


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