Mary Catherine Bateson

One of the key concepts in Turning Signs is that of the guidance system. It’s rooted in systems theory and cybernetics, which are introduced in Chapter 3. I’ve just discovered that anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson, from whose works I’ve gleaned some deep insights into complex interactive systems, has a very recent talk on the Edge website called “How to Be a Systems Thinker”.

It’s a profound reflection on the current state of the world and how systems thinking could help humanity correct its course. It’s also a lament for the lost legacy of the early cybernetics movement, as its deeper wisdom has been mostly drowned out by the industry’s flood of “devices.” On the website you can read it or screen the live interview (about 42 minutes). I highly recommend it – especially for those who might have found Chapter 3 of Turning Signs something of a struggle.

One thought on “Mary Catherine Bateson”

  1. Thanks for sharing the Bateson video/article (I read the article) on systems thinking and cybernetics. I recalled how a number of years ago I used to think about these in relation to Peirce’s work and how Soren Brier used to (may still) think about them in a number of articles in *Cybernetics and Human Knowing* and in his book, *Cybersemiotics*. Maybe it is time to revisit some of my earlier systems thinking in this regard to see if I can develop it further in the direction of Peircean semeiotics and pragmaticism. I’ll be reading your Chapter 3 again soon too.

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