Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology

Publisher summary

Gregory Bateson was a philosopher, anthropologist, photographer, naturalist, and poet, as well as the husband and collaborator of Margaret Mead. With a new foreword by his daughter Mary Katherine Bateson, this classic anthology of his major work will continue to delight and inform generations of readers.

“This collection amounts to a retrospective exhibition of a working life. . . . Bateson has come to this position during a career that carried him not only into anthropology, for which he was first trained, but into psychiatry, genetics, and communication theory. . . . He . . . examines the nature of the mind, seeing it not as a nebulous something, somehow lodged somewhere in the body of each man, but as a network of interactions relating the individual with his society and his species and with the universe at large.”—D. W. Harding, New York Review of Books

“[Bateson’s] view of the world, of science, of culture, and of man is vast and challenging. His efforts at synthesis are tantalizingly and cryptically suggestive. . . .This is a book we should all read and ponder.”—Roger Keesing, American Anthropologist

Table of contents

  • Foreword by Mary Catherine Bateson
    • 1999
    • 1971
  • Introduction: The Science of Mind and Order
  • Part I: Metalogues
    • Why Do Things Get in a Muddle
    • Why Do Frenchmen?
    • About Games and Being Serious
    • How Much Do You Know?
    • Why Do Things Have Outlines?
    • Why a Swan?
    • What Is an Instinct?
  • Part II: Form and Pattern in Anthropology
    • Culture Contact and Schismogenesis
    • Experiments in Thinking about Observed Ethnological Material
    • Morale and National Character
    • Bali: The Value System of a Steady State
    • Style, Grace, and Information in Primitive Art
    • Comment on Part II
  • Part III: Form and Pathology in Relationship
    • Social Planning and the Concept of Deutero-Learning
    • A Theory of Play and Fantasy
    • Epidemiology of a Schizophrenia
    • Toward a Theory of Schizophrenia
    • The Group Dynamics of Schizophrenia
    • Minimal Requirements for a Theory of Schizophrenia 
    • Double Bind, 1969
    • The Logical Categories of Learning and Communication
    • The Cybernetics of “Self”: A Theory of Alcoholism
    • Comment on Part III
  • Part IV: Biology and Evolution
    • On Empty-Headedness among Biologists and State Boards of Education
    • The Role of Somatic Change in Evolution
    • Problems in Cetacean and Other Mammalian Communication
    • A Re-examination of “Bateson’s Rule”
    • Comments on Part IV
  • Part V: Epistemology and Ecology
    • Cybernetic Explanation
    • Redundancy and Coding 
    • Conscious Purpose versus Nature
    • Effects of Conscious Purpose on Human Adaptation
    • Form, Substance and Difference
    • Comment on Part V
  • Part VI: Crisis in the Ecology of Mind
    • Form Versailles to Cybernetics
    • Pathologies of Epistemology
    • The Roots of Ecological Crisis
    • Ecology and Flexibility in Urban Civilization
  • Index


Gregory Bateson