From Thing to Relation. On Bateson's Bioanthropology [chapter]

Jesper Hoffmeyer
2008 Biosemiotics  
The rapid increase in our technological mastering of more and more intimate and everyday aspects of life has created an acute sensitivity towards the huge lacunas left over by rational knowledge and technology. The present "turn towards the spiritual" has probably very much to do with such feelings of disturbance. From a Batesonean view the roots of these lacunae are to be found in fundamental epistemological errors in the preferred schemes of conceptualizations in western culture -a never
more » ... lture -a never decently surmounted dualism one might perhaps say. One central point here is the persistent reification of relation. Relations come in many kinds, but science invariably treats relations as dependent variables, dependent that is on things. Giving primacy to process and relation over things Bateson implicitly cleared the way for a semiotic kind of final causation, which however he would perhaps not himself have accepted, because his understanding of final causation implied an inversed -and totally contra factual -temporal ordering. The very systemic characteristics he found in aesthetics in natural systems seems however to point the way to other possibilities for understanding final causation. Possibilities which can be made fruitful in a biosemiotic reframing of technological challenges as well as in our feelings of belonging in a big "pattern that connects". A Deep Symmetry One reason why Gregory Bateson's thinking never did find the broad audience it deserved may be that he very explicitly placed himself in a position few people are prepared to consider possible. Bateson's ideas hit a strange blind spot in western thinking.
doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-6706-8_3 fatcat:sbaerlill5ddjnfuvdeov6a35u