Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bateson: Creatura and Pleroma

Where Basteson (1904-1980) wound up was dividing the world into pleroma and creatura, ideas he got from Jung. You see pleroma in the photograph of the badlands. Beautiful forms but it’s all uplift and erosion, physics and chemistry. Creatura is life: people, redwood forests, Congress, “mind.” Mind is made of interacting parts or circuits, requires collateral energy, is triggered by difference, and requires circular or more complex interaction. He divided existence this way to avoid the mind-matter Cartesian split that he felt had corrupted enlightenment epistemology. Cogito ergo sum, but I am thinking: something material is doing something mental. Mind isn’t separate, and is fair game for investigation.

For Bateson this was “religious” in so many words, but not mechanical or superstitious. He took a while to get there, though, and there’s a lot of it that leaves me thinking, “Huh?” or “Why does that follow?” Lipset’s biography helps, but I still fall off here and there. I’m reading Steps to an Ecology of Mind studying the building blocks slowly and painstakingly, hoping I’ll be able to make the tough connections.


Rachel said...

You may find Bateson's work with his daughter Mary Catherine, Angels Fear, of great interest.

Tom Roark said...

Thanks, Rachel. I've enjoyed Angels Fear. I think that Mary Catherine's acting as co-author instead of amenuensis may have made it more accessible -- even though it assumes Mind and Nature as a prerequisite.