September 13, 2008

An ancient motive

Tim Parks has an interesting article in today's Guardian about Gregory Bateson. My favourite bit is a quote from Bateson himself:

"We social scientists would do well to hold back our eagerness to control that world which we so imperfectly understand. The fact of our imperfect understanding should not be allowed to feed our anxiety and so increase the need to control. Rather our studies could be inspired by a more ancient, but today less honoured, motive: a curiosity about the world of which we are part. The rewards of such work are not power but beauty."

The only modification I would like to make to Bateson's statement would be to change the first sentence to, "We would do well to hold back our eagerness to control that world which we so imperfectly understand." and then it could apply to all of us.

Note: The Bateson quote is from "Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution and Epistemology" first published in 1972, pp 269

Posted by richard at September 13, 2008 3:39 PM