Love and Trust
Love and Trust
This chapter interrogates Gregory Bateson's message to the Congress on the Dialectics of Liberation in particular, and his ecology of mind in general, on the question of defeatism and despair. If human partiality and purposive action introduce errors into the larger system, and if at scale, these errors are systemically destructive, how are human beings to respond to the social and environmental problems they face? Transcripts from Bateson's final appearance on a congress panel dramatize these questions. Actions and answers offered by Stokely Carmichael, R. D. Laing, and Emmett Grogan, the congress's most discussed participants, are examined. These figures took the position that solutions can be found in the ancient call for individual heroism. Bateson, in contrast, called for an indirect, non-purposeful class of actions that generate love of systemic integrity. These actions include the practices of art, ritual, non-utilitarian science, and "the best of religion." These practices may provide pathways to systemic correction. Because they come from a position of dependence, they call for trust. The debate between Reinhold Niebuhr and Richard Niebuhr is revisited concerning the moral significance of human agency in order to underscore Bateson's argument for the immanence of mind in nature.
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