The book Sacred Unity: Further Steps to an Ecology of Mind appeared in 1991, the product of 8-9 years of dedicated editorial work by a student and disciple of his, Rodney E. Donaldson. It is, for all intents and purposes, Volume II of the collected works of Gregory Bateson–a continuation to a collection published during his lifetime, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, whose title insightfully fused with the latter title and that of  Mind and Nature: A Sacred Unity inaugurates the conceptual composite staple of Bateson’s legacy.

A book cover quote from the Introduction:

    Bateson sought continually to elucidate the basis of form and pattern. As a result he is a primary harbinger of what may be a major shift in Western thought, a paradigmatic shift from mindless biosphere to one arising in and through mental process. The implications of such a theoretical–and lived–unification of mind and body remain to be unfolded.
    Bateson’s work is unique. Using the findings of anthropology, cybernetics, and ecology, he worked forward from very simple principles to construct a view of the world relevant to current problems, providing a solid foundation for understanding what is wrong with current ways of thought about humankind and nature…

Far from contrarily, I’d like to make a couple of related points in response, which are important to the epistemological stance that the development of the presently unfolding Ecosonance Theory entails.

To start with, “current ways of thought about humankind and nature” refer to what Canadian epistemologist Lorraine Code in her 2006 book Ecological Thinking and elsewhere terms, in various phraseological incarnations, the mainstream Western masculinist epistemology of domination and privilege. “Western” and “mainstream” properly situate said attitude as nonexhaustively representing “current Western thought”.

I’d insist that–importantly–there have been (were, at the time) scholars within the pragmatist framework (at least), and at the time as well as later on within feminist epistemology among multiple views presenting justifiable and well-justified alternatives, such as systems theory, ecology, ecotheology, who resisted the Cartesian compression of a Newtonian universe, not that either Descartes or Newton themselves could have envisioned the fallacious extremes into which the creation, legitimation and conceptiualization of knowledge could have fallen. Let me say again, within certain circles of scholarship not reprieved from constraints of geographical spread, during a specific historical period.

So the “mindless” biosphere mentioned by Donaldson coexisted with the Native American tree of life of cyclical cosmology, as well as the non-schismogenic Balinese society, studied in detail in collaborative anthropological field work by Bateson, and his wife Margaret Mead (see one of their joint publications here).

Add to the above fairly well or partially documented ancient teachings (see sources of ecosonic enterest), and we’re looking at this point at just the tiny tip of the tip of an iceberg, whose full grandeur can be expected to be very rewarding to reveal. Not presuming to be taking the above-assigned “harbinger” and “unique” titles away from a current favourite, I’d say that Gregory Bateson is in fact the stronger for being a link in a holistic philosophical stream reaching as far back in our epistemological past as it can spread wide in our present and just as far as it has the potential to go into the global future.

Collaborators and like-minded explorers are welcome to get and stay in touch 🙂