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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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Faith and Fight

Faith and Fight

(p.79) Four Faith and Fight

Anthony Chaney

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter explores double-bind theory and the concept of power, including the sexist tendency among proponents to blame the mother. Similarly, radicals, liberals, and secular existentialists challenged the “tragic turn” as bourgeois accommodation to status quo power relations. The holism of systemic approaches foregrounded the old problem of whether nature supplies an ethic. Bateson and the double-bind research team struggled to account for power in the schizophrenic family in a way that blamed neither victim nor victimizer. Bateson's recognition of progressive stalemate in the schizophrenic family drew on the systems theory concept of runaway. Runaway in arms race policies, in turn, reflected political and theoretical conflicts between Norbert Weiner and John von Neumann, the leading mathematicians of the Macy Conferences on Cybernetics. In two essays, Bateson critiques the centrality of power in von Neumann's game theory. Meanwhile, Bateson's conflicts with the more pragmatic research team members, such as Jay Haley, lead him to cast about for a new direction. His eulogy for Frieda Fromm-Reichmann echoed a similar debate over political quietism between Reinhold Niebuhr and Richard Niebuhr.

Keywords:   tragic turn, holism, systems theory, runaway, Norbert Weiner, John von Neumann, game theory, Macy Conferences on Cybernetics, political quietism, Frieda Fromm-Reichmann

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