The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.

— Gregory Bateson

The most sublime Gregory Bateson quotes that are little-known but priceless

But epistemology is always and inevitably personal.

The point of the probe is always in the heart of the explorer: What is my answer to the question of the nature of knowing?


The only way out is spiritual, intellectual, and emotional revolution in which, finally, we learn to experience first hand the interloping connections between person and person, organism and organism, action and consequence.


What is the pattern that connects the crab to the lobster and the primrose to the orchid, and all of them to me, and me to you?


If a man achieves or suffers change in premises which are deeply embedded in his mind, he will surely find that the results of that change will ramify throughout his whole universe.


Without context words and actions have no meaning at all


We are most of us governed by epistemologies that we know to be wrong


In the transmission of human culture, people always attempt to replicate, to pass on to the next generation the skills and values of the parents, but the attempt always fails because cultural transmission is geared to learning, not DNA.


But the myth of power is, of course, a very powerful myth, and probably most people in this world more or less believe in it. It is a myth, which, if everybody believes in it, becomes to that extent self-validating. But it is still epistemological lunacy and leads inevitably to various sorts of disaster.


The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do.


Numbers are the product of counting. Quantities are the product of measurement. This means that numbers can conceivably be accurate because there is a discontinuity between each integer and the next.


Most of us have lost that sense of unity of biosphere and humanity which would bind and reassure us all with an affirmation of beauty. Most of us do not today believe that whatever the ups and down of detail within our limited experience, the larger whole is primarily beautiful.


Language commonly stresses only one side of any interaction.


About Gregory Bateson

Quotes 82 sayings
Nationality British
Profession Scientist
Birthday October 16

To think straight, it is advisable to expect all qualities and attributes, adjectives, and so on to refer to at least two sets of interactions in time.


Official education was telling people almost nothing of the nature of all those things on the seashores, and in the redwood forests, in the deserts and in the plains.


Some tools of thought are so blunt that they are almost useless;

others are so sharp that they are dangerous. But the wise man will have the use of both kinds.


Things have to be done fast in America , and therefore therapy has to be brief.


A man walking is never in balance, but always correcting for imbalance.


Science, like art, religion, commerce, warfare, and even sleep, is based on presuppositions.


Creative thought must always contain a random component.


It is to the Riddle of the Sphinx that I have devoted fifty years of professional life as an anthropologist.


All experience is subjective.


It is, I claim, nonsense to say that it does not matter which individual man acted as the nucleus for the change. It is precisely this that makes history unpredictable into the future.


Logic is a poor model of cause and effect.


Money is always transitively valued. More money is supposedly always better than less money.


Interesting phenomena occur when two or more rhythmic patterns are combined, and these phenomena illustrate very aptly the enrichment of information that occurs when one description is combined with another.


A major difficulty is that the answer to the Riddle of the Sphinx is partly a product of the answers that we already have given to the riddle in its various forms.


Multiple descriptions are better than one.


Still more astonishing is that world of rigorous fantasy which we call mathematics.


Synaptic summation is the technical term used in neurophysiology for those instances in which some neuron C is fired only by a combination of neurons A and B.


It is of first-class importance that our answer to the Riddle of the Sphinx should be in step with how we conduct our civilisation, and this should in turn be in step with the actual workings of living systems.


We are discovering today that several of the premises which are deeply ingrained in our way of life are simply untrue and become pathogenic when implemented with modern technology.


It is impossible, in principle, to explain any pattern by invoking a single quantity.


There are many matters and many circumstances in which consciousness is undesirable and silence is golden, so that secrecy can be used as a marker to tell us that we are approaching the holy.


Rather, for all objects and experiences, there is a quantity that has optimum value. Above that quantity, the variable becomes toxic. To fall below that value is to be deprived.


There is a strong tendency in explanatory prose to invoke quantities of tension, energy, and whatnot to explain the genesis of pattern. I believe that all such explanations are inappropriate or wrong.


In no system which shows mental characteristics can any part have unilateral control over the whole. In other words, the mental characteristics of the system are imminent, not in some part, but in the system as a whole.


No organism can afford to be conscious of matters with which it could deal at unconscious levels.


Evolution has long been badly taught.

In particular, students - and even professional biologists - acquire theories of evolution without any deep understanding of what problem these theories attempt to solve. They learn but little of the evolution of evolutionary theory.


Pathology is a relatively easy thing to discuss, health is very difficult.

This, of course, is one of the reasons why there is such a thing as the sacred, and why the sacred is difficult to talk about, because the sacred is peculiarly related to the healthy. One does not like to disturb the sacred, for in general, to talk about something changes it, and perhaps will turn it into a pathology.


Science, like art, religion, commerce, warfare, and even sleep, is based on presuppositions. It differs, however, from most other branches of human activity in that not only are the pathways of scientific thought determined by the presuppositions of the scientists but their goals are the testing and revision of old presuppositions and the creation of new.


Information is a difference that makes a difference.


Life and 'Mind' are systemic processes.


The meaning of your communication is the response you get.


What is true is that the idea of power corrupts.

Power corrupts most rapidly those who believe in it, and it is they who will want it most. Obviously, our democratic system tends to give power to those who hunger for it and gives every opportunity to those who don't want power to avoid getting it. Not a very satisfactory arrangement if power corrupts those who believe in it and want it.


Number is different from quantity.


Somebody was saying to Picasso that he ought to make pictures of things the way they are-objective pictures. He mumbled that he wasn't quite sure what that would be. The person who was bullying him produced a photograph of his wife from his wallet and said, "There, you see, that is a picture of how she really is." Picasso looked at it and said, "She is rather small, isn't she? And flat?"


Surrender to alcohol intoxication provides a partial and subjective shortcut to a more correct state of mind.


The creature that wins against its environment destroys itself.


It takes two to know one.