Sunday, February 26, 2012

Toward a Batesonian Cybernetic Concept of Culture

Guest lecture at the Department of
International Culture and Communication Studies

29 February, 2012
15.00 – 16.30

Copenhagen Business School

  Phillip Guddemi

Toward a Batesonian Cybernetic Concept of Culture

What would a cybernetic concept of culture look like if it were based on the mature epistemology of Gregory Bateson?  In some ways Bateson should be the best source of such a culture concept, as he was one of the pioneering anthropologists in New Guinea in the 1930s prior to his involvement in the Macy Conferences.  His interest in intercultural communication was catalyzed by the Second World War as well as by his prewar ethnographic experiences.  But after this period he ostensibly left anthropology and work on these issues.  I will show that his later cybernetic epistemology does have clear implications for culture and the concept of culture., concepts which in a second-order cybernetic epistemology have a distinct relationship to the Wittgensteinian idea of forms of life.

PHILLIP V. GUDDEMI: President, Bateson Idea Group, Sacramento, California USA; Managing Editor, Cybernetics and Human Knowing
Education: The University of Michigan, Ph.D., Anthropology, 1992; University of San Francisco, M.S., Environmental Management, 1982; The University of Michigan, M.A., Anthropology, 1979; University of California, Santa Cruz, B.A. (Honors), Anthropology, 1977.      
I was an undergraduate student of Gregory Bateson and I took four courses from him including an independent study on animal and human communication.  My graduate work at Michigan was with Roy Rappaport who included Batesonian and cybernetic ideas in his own research.  I did anthropological fieldwork in the far western East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea, spending 20 months in 1986-87 and then 6 months in 1995.  In 1990-91 I held the Andrew Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum, New York, researching the relation of Papua New Guinea art to ritual and social life.  My dissertation on Papua New Guinea art and ritual was completed in 1992.  Since that time I have revisited the field of cybernetics, presenting papers and publishing on Bateson’s work and on topics such as autopoiesis and semeiosis. I have specifically looked at a cybernetic reinterpretation of the concept of power, and I am also very interested in biosemiotics as an emerging paradigm for many of the issues Bateson worked on.  I have held the title of Managing Editor at C&HK since 2006 and I was Vice President for Membership for the American Society for Cybernetics between 2008 and 2011. 

Selected Cybernetics and Bateson Publications
“Conscious Purpose in 2010: Bateson’s Prescient Warning.”  Systems Research and Behavioral Science 28:5, 2011, pages 465-475.
“A Multi-Party Imaginary Dialogue about Power and Cybernetics.”  Integral Review 6:1, 2010, pages 197-207.
“You are adapting more to me than I am adapting to you (but what does more mean?): Cybernetic and Foucaultian explorations of the domain of power.  Proceedings of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the ISSS, 2008.
“Toward Batesonian sociocybernetics: from Naven to the mind beyond the skin.”  Kybernetes 36:7/8, 2007, pages 905-914.
“Breaking the Concept of Power (and Redescribing its Domain): Batesonian and Autopoietic Perspectives.”  Cybernetics and Human Knowing 13:3-4, 2006, pages 58-73.
Autopoiesis, Semeiosis, and Co-Coupling: A Relational Language for Describing Communication and Adaptation.”  Cybernetics and Human Knowing 7:2, 2000, pages 127-145.

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