[pcp-discuss:] Fwd: Criticisms of Bateson - my twopence ha'penny worth

From: Francis Heylighen (fheyligh@vub.ac.be)
Date: Fri Jan 26 2001 - 10:54:11 GMT

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    >Reply-To: "Paul A. Stokes" <stokes@humanitas.ucsb.edu>
    >From: "Paul A. Stokes" <stokes@humanitas.ucsb.edu>
    >To: "Francis Heylighen" <fheyligh@vub.ac.be>
    >Subject: Fw: [pcp-discuss:] Fwd: Criticisms of Bateson - my twopence
    >ha'penny worth
    >Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2001 17:36:50 -0800
    >X-Priority: 3
    >I would be obliged if you would forward this to the list. I am
    >having difficulty posting it - probably because I am not sending
    >from my Dublin college location (the adress with which I am
    >subscribed to the list) but from Santa Barbara! Many thanks,
    >Paul Stokes
    >Wiener was certainly sceptical of what he considered to be the
    >over-ambitious reachings of Bateson and Mead and would have erred on
    >the side of caution.
    >He was also possessed the haughty disdain of those who have command
    >of a narrowly defined technical
    >domain for those who seek to apply its principles to 'softer areas' but who
    >are not themselves technically expert in the area. Wiener might well have
    >doubted whether any non-mathematician ever really 'got' cybernetics.
    >Nonetheless he did manage to overcome his own limititations in this regard
    >and went on to produce 'The Human Use of Human Beings' in which he
    >unequivocally states (quotes available to anyone who wishes) that human
    >society cannot be understood outside of the framework of communication and
    >control i.e., cybernetics.He doesn't give us very clear guidelines as to how
    >to do this but there you are. Allay your fears.
    >If cybernetics was not applicable to the social domain then what of Powers'
    >Perceptual Control Theory and Beer's Viable System Model and
    >Managerial/Organizational Cybernetics generally?
    >As for Bateson. I really do consider him the heir of Wiener in this regard.
    >He is really very rigorous and logical - so much so as to be off-putting
    >because he cannot be denied once encountered. Dismissal is one way of course.
    >Even Norbert Elias dismissed Batson's Mind and Nature as 'metaphysical'.
    >This is a good joke but Elias was really cutting off his own nose to spite
    >his face. Bateson was actually opening the door ro precisely the kind of
    >conceptual revolution in the social sciences that Elias yearned for for
    >could not deliver himself. Bateson, of course, does not have the final say.
    >His work has to be built on and that is our task.
    >I have not read the Stengers article but would like to. (Anybody got the
    >exact ref?) It is hard to know what to make of such apparently superficial
    >and misinformed criticism. She may have been frustrated that Bateson's
    >inaugural distinction seemed to block her and Prigogine's work on
    >disspiative structures from wider acceptance and applicability particularly
    >in the social sciences and felt the need to attack him at the core of his
    >thought. A bad move I think. Human dissipative structures have to work
    >through information and communication, whether she likes it or not. It is
    >not beyond someone's imagination and creativity to work out a link between
    >their (P & S) and Bateson's work.
    >Of course we all live in the world of creatura, even physicists who must
    >metacommunicate about what they see happening in the pleromatic world of
    >energetics and causality. The fact that this world has been revealed to be
    >more even more complex and complicated in its interactions (thanks to P & S)
    >does not in principle invalidate Bateson's distinction.
    >Bateson has laid the foundation stone. It is up to us to erect the building.
    >For instance, Bateson's work on emotions was inspirational but it is
    >certainly not the last word. A great deal of further necessary work as been
    >done and should see the light of day shortly.
    >Some day the social sciences will recognise Bateson as one of their founding
    >Paul A. STOKES
    >Visiting Scholar
    >Dept.of Sociology, UCSB


    _________________________________________________________________________ Dr. Francis Heylighen <fheyligh@vub.ac.be> -- Center "Leo Apostel" Free University of Brussels, Krijgskundestr. 33, 1160 Brussels, Belgium tel +32-2-6442677; fax +32-2-6440744; http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/HEYL.html ======================================== Posting to pcp-discuss@lanl.gov from Francis Heylighen <fheyligh@vub.ac.be>

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