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In 32 posthumously collected lectures, articles and essays of uneven quality, anthropologist Gregory Bateson (1904-1980) applies principles of cybernetics, which he helped develop, to psychiatry, the mind/body split, evolutionary biology and linguistics. Bateson discusses Balinese trance-dance, the dynamics of the schizophrenic family, cross-cultural contact and the need to reestablish a "sacred unity" between the human mind and the biosphere. Many of the pieces are technical or specialized; they range in provenance from 1942 to 1980; most were previously published. Donaldson, a former colleague of Bateson, has grouped the selections to roughly follow the sequence of Bateson's popular Steps to an Ecology of Mind. But in this volume, the articles do not cohere into a unified whole.
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These 32 essays by anthropologist Bateson (1904-80) explore those ideas and patterns within the human mind from a dynamic and holistic view of natural history and our species. Giving preference to subjectivity, Bateson rejects the traditional mind/body dualism but focuses on those relationships or differences within thought and perception. His research in zoology (dolphins), psychiatry (schizophrenia), and epistemology (the Iatmul of New Guinea) allowed for insights into culture and personality studies as well as contributions to the birth of cybernetics and systems theory. Bateson's worldview emphasizes the fact that our species is within an evolving environment and that human pathology must be seen in terms of a total vision of nature. Although his essays sometimes lack clarity and detail, they do provide a challenge to and option for the modern specialist in the social sciences. Of special interest is Bateson's "last lecture." Recommended for college and university libraries only.
- H. James Birx, Canisius Coll., Buffalo, N.Y.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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