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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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Animal Stories

Animal Stories

(p.153) Seven Animal Stories

Anthony Chaney

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter narrates Bateson's cultivation of Konrad Lorenz as a friend and colleague in the spring of 1966. The Austrian Lorenz was a famed expert on animal behavior and one of the fathers of ethology. Lorenz and Bateson shared a foundation in natural history and a dislike of behaviorism. These matters featured a debate among scientists over the usefulness of the term "instinct" and were specialized versions of a broader nature-nurture debate. Lorenz sent Bateson his newly-published masterpiece of popular ethology, On Aggression. Lorenz's argument in the book is summarized with examples from the behavior of cichlids, geese, and rats. The chapter touches on suspicions of Lorenz's early work as sympathetic to Nazi ideology and, in turn, suspicions of holist approaches to biology in general as politically reactionary. Bateson's engagement with On Aggression was contemporaneous with a reading of T. H. White's The Sword and the Stone, and the chapter explores the resonance between the two books. Both reflect a postwar rehabilitation of the animal as a symbol of brutality and amorality. They spoke to Cold War anxieties concerning whether aggression in humans was instinctive.

Keywords:   Konrad Lorenz, ethology, natural history, behaviorism, nature-nurture debate, instinct, On Aggression, T. H. White, The Sword in the Stone, Cold War

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