Family psychology, physiological and comparative psychology, philosophical and theoretical psychology, psychotherapy
1904, Grantchester, England
1980, San Francisco, USA
Gregory Bateson (9 May 1904 – 4 July 1980) was an English anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, visual anthropologist, semiotician and cyberneticist whose work intersected that of many other fields. In the 1940s he helped extend systems theory and ...
Gregory Bateson (9 May 1904 – 4 July 1980) was an English anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, visual anthropologist, semiotician and cyberneticist whose work intersected that of many other fields. In the 1940s he helped extend systems theory and cybernetics to the social and behavioral sciences. He spent the last decade of his life developing a "meta-science" of epistemology to bring together the various early forms of systems theory developing in different fields of science. His writings include Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972) and Mind and Nature (1979). Angels Fear (published posthumously in 1987) was co-authored by his daughter Mary Catherine Bateson.
Bateson was born in Grantchester in Cambridgeshire, England on 9 May 1904. He was the third and youngest son of [Caroline] Beatrice Durham and the distinguished geneticist William Bateson. He was named Gregory after Gregor Mendel, the Austrian monk who founded the modern science of genetics.
The younger Bateson attended Charterhouse School from 1917 to 1921, obtained a Bachelor of Arts in biology at St. John's College, Cambridge in 1925, and continued at Cambridge from 1927 to 1929. Bateson lectured in linguistics at the University of Sydney in 1928. From 1931 to 1937 he was a Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, spent the years before World War II in the South Pacific in New Guinea and Bali doing anthropology. During 1936–1950 he was married to Margaret Mead. At that time he applied his knowledge to the war effort before moving to the United States.
In Palo Alto, California, Bateson and his colleagues Donald Jackson, Jay Haley and John H. Weakland developed the double-bind theory (see also Bateson Project).
Bateson's interest in systems theory and cybernetics forms a thread running through his work. He was one of the original members of the core group of the Macy conferences in Cybernetics, and the later set on Group Processes, where he represented the social and behavioral sciences. Bateson was interested in the relationship of these fields to epistemology. His association with the editor and author Stewart Brand helped to widen his influence. From the 1970s until his last years, a broader audience of university students and educated people working in many fields came to know his thought.
In 1956 he became a naturalised citizen of the United States. Bateson was a member of William Irwin Thompson's Lindisfarne Association. In the 1970s, he taught at the Humanistic Psychology Institute (renamed the Saybrook University) in San Francisco; and in 1972 joined the faculty of Kresge College at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1976. In 1976, California Governor Jerry Brown appointed Bateson to the Board of Regents of the University of California, in which position he served until his death (although he resigned from the Special Research Projects committee in 1979, in opposition to the university's work on nuclear weapons). He died on Independence Day, 1980, in the guest house of the San Francisco Zen Center.