Introduction: Bateson the Precursor

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

Most scientists tacitly assume that the questions of origins, the origin of life and the origin of language or consciousness, are solvable on the basis of materialistic science, but only few among them seem to recognize the true enormity of the challenge posed by this belief. Bateson was one of those few. And while his thinking has influenced scholars from a wide range of fields dealing in one way or another with aspects of communication and epistemology, mainstream biology unfortunately has shown little interest in such matters, clinging instead to a simplified description of the natural world – a description that has never fully broken free of the Cartesian body–mind distinction and sees the natural world as purely material rather than shaped by processes and organization. Bateson understood that the epistemological errors behind this scientific attitude was also responsible for the inability of science to help us cope with the complex, unruly and messy problems confronting modern societies at many levels. He urged science to search for patterns that will emerge only in a broad-spectrum analysis of communication in all its forms This is the challenge to modern science and philosophy taken up by the authors of this book. The introduction briefly presents each of these approaches.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jesper Hoffmeyer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Molecular BiologyUniversity of CopenhagenDenmark

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