In the shadow of sociology: Bateson through the lens of Durkheim

Journal of Classical Sociology 21 (2):165-187 (2021)

Jørn Bjerre
Aarhus University
Gregory Bateson developed his transdisciplinary thinking in the shadow of sociology, but his ideas are not generally viewed as part of the field of classical sociology. This article will explain this exclusion by arguing that Bateson’s way of theorising – while attempting to make progress in the understanding of reality – returns to ideas that were already rejected within the field in which he first worked. Furthermore, as a reading of Bateson through the lens of Durkheim will show, Bateson’s theories fail to provide a better understanding of social reality than those of his predecessors. This type of critical analysis demonstrates the weakness of some of Bateson’s central claims and contributes to a more in-depth understanding and reassessment of his ideas from a sociological perspective. Pointing out that Bateson’s critique of the modern worldview is based on a pre-critical and pre-modern philosophy of wholeness is not to invalidate Bateson’s foundational intuition that our current mode of thinking challenges our chances of surviving as a species. However, in order to make a theoretically convincing argument concerning how our thinking challenges our survival, a more critical understanding of the relation between mind and society than the one Bateson offers is required.
Keywords Systems theory  Bateson  Cybernetic  Social reality  Sociology  Durkheim  Progress
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,160
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Gregory Bateson’s Re-Visioning of Epistemology.Will Stillwell & Jere Moorman - 2012 - Tradition and Discovery 39 (1):34-48.
Reformas epistemológicas: Descartes, Spinoza, Bateson.Germán Bula - 2011 - Logos: Revista de la Facultad de Filosofia y Humanidades 19:141-164.
The Sign of Love: Gregory Bateson and the Family Therapy Paradigm.Alexander Kozin - 2003 - American Journal of Semiotics 19 (1/4):221-241.
Playing with Bateson.Corey Anton - 2003 - American Journal of Semiotics 19 (1/4):127-152.
The Sign of Love.Alexander Kozin - 2003 - American Journal of Semiotics 19 (1/4):221-241.
Gregory Bateson Archive: A Guide/Catalog.Rodney Earl Donaldson - 1987 - Dissertation, The Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities


Added to PP index

Total views
126 ( #91,591 of 2,499,274 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #209,670 of 2,499,274 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes