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RunawayGregory Bateson, the Double Bind, and the Rise of Ecological Consciousness$
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Anthony Chaney

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469631738

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469631738.001.0001

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Gregory Bateson and the Spirit of 1967

Gregory Bateson and the Spirit of 1967

(p.1) Introduction Gregory Bateson and the Spirit of 1967

Anthony Chaney

University of North Carolina Press

The introduction claims that ecological consciousness and its sensitivity to environmental crisis--called an apocalyptic encounter--is the foremost intellectual experience of the post-World War II period. Gregory Bateson's double-bind concept distilled ecological thought's challenge to modern perception and human instrumentality. Bateson's extension of the double-bind concept from the psychiatric clinic to human-environmental relations is proposed as a vehicle to better grasp the change ecological consciousness calls for. This argument is placed in two contexts: the broad context of modern disenchantment, and the narrower 1960s context of the debate over the nature of revolution. The first involves postmodern transformations broadly described as the cognitive revolution, complexity studies, and the science of interrelatedness. Bateson drew on science's traditions in natural history to build on the communication theory, information theory, and systems theory pioneered at the Macy Conferences on Cybernetics. The second context involves Bateson's appearance at the Congress on the Dialectics of Liberation in London in 1967, where he introduced a counterculture audience to the greenhouse effect and the prospect of climate change. A historical examination of ecological consciousness is defended as a way to approach the emotional force field surrounding the topic of environmental deterioration and global warming.

Keywords:   Gregory Bateson, environmental crisis, ecological thought, cognitive revolution, complexity studies, communication theory, information theory, systems theory, Macy Conferences, cybernetics

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