About Bateson

John Brockman, Edge, May 12, 2009
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Bateson is on about an ecology of propositions, an evolution of truth. But that isn't quote it either, because it's all systems and feedback. "Bateson is not clearly understood because his work is not an explanation, but a commission, As Wittgenstein noted, 'a commission tells us what we must do.' In Bateson's case, what we must do is reprogram ourselves, train our intelligence and imagination to work according to radical configurations. Heinz Von Foerster points out that 'the blessed curse of a meta-language is that it wears the cloth of a first-order language, an 'object language.' Thus, any proposition carries with it the tantalizing ambiguity: Was it made in meta or in object language?' Nobody, knows and you can't find out. All attempts to speak about a meta-language, that is, to speak in meta-meta-language, are doomed to fail. As Wittgenstein observed: "Remain silent!" But Bateson cannot remain silent." And it is thus I tell you (echoing Friere) - the first thing you need to understand this way of thinking is to emancipate yourself, to become free - because if ou are in a position of subjective dependence on truth, you are not in the right epistemological frame to see.
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