2 thoughts on “Miraculous escape”

    1. Gary, yes, that’s why the materialist imagines a real miracle as an escape from his materialism.

      Maybe a bit more of the context would clarify the point. It’s from a father-daughter “metalogue” near the end of Bateson’s Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity:

      FATHER: There’s always a tendency – almost a need – to vulgarize religion, to turn it into entertainment or politics or magic or “power.”

      DAUGHTER: And ESP? And materialization? And out-of-body experience? And spiritualism ?

      FATHER: All symptoms, mistaken attempts at cute efforts to escape from a crude materialism that becomes intolerable . A miracle is a materialist’s idea of how to escape from his materialism .

      DAUGHTER: Is there no escape ? I don’t understand.

      FATHER: Oh, yes . But, you see , magic is really only a sort of pseudoscience. And like applied science, it always proposes the possibility of control. So you don’t get away from all that way of thought by sequences into which that way of thinking is already built-in.

      DAUGHTER: So how do you get away ?

      FATHER: Ah, yes. The reply to crude materialism is not miracles but beauty – or, of course, ugliness . A small piece of Beethoven symphony, a single Goldberg variation, a single organism, a cat or a cactus, the twenty-ninth sonnet or the Ancient Mariner’s sea snakes. You remember he “blessed them, unaware,” and the Albatross then fell from his neck into the sea.

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