Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity

Publisher summary

This is the major life's work of one of the great thinkers of our time. Gregory Bateson's contributions to anthropology, biology, psychiatry, and other social sciences have won him international fame. Here he does no less than provide a new way of thinking about the world around us. We must, he says, learn to 'think as Nature thinks,' if we are to learn to live in harmony on the planet. And insofar as 'we are a mental process, to that same extent we must expect the natural world to show similar characteristics of mentality.' 

Thus the startling theme of this book is that biological evolution is a mental process. Occidental quantitative thinking (the kind of thought that too often results in the philosophy of 'bigger is better') is actually unnatural, or contrary to the natural order; we must move away from this thinking and begin to delve deeply into the actual patterns of the world around us. Around these themes Bateson has woven one of the most fascinating, challenging, and truly important discussions yet published on the human condition. 

A brilliant teacher, Bateson has filled his book with intriguing examples from the world of nature he knows so well. A crab's claw becomes a lesson in Nature's symmetry, an elephant's trunk a clue to the roles that context and function play in the natural order. What pattern, asks Bateson, connects the crab to the lobster and the orchid to the primrose--and all the four of them to me? Indeed, this book is a lively exploration of the pattern that connects all the living beings of our planet.


Gregory Bateson