‘If we continue to operate in terms of a Cartesian dualism* of mind versus matter, we shall probably also come to see the world in terms of God versus man; élite versus people; chosen race versus others; nation versus nation and man versus environment. It is doubtful whether a species having both an advanced technology and this strange way of looking at the world can endure…
The whole of our thinking about what we are and what other people are has got to be restructured.
This is not funny, and I do not know how long we have to do it in.
If we continue to operate on the premises that were fashionable during the Pre-Cybernetic era, and which were especially underlined during the Industrial Revolution, which seemed to validate the Darwinian unit of survival, we may have twenty or thirty years before the logical reductio ad absurdum of our old positions destroys us.
Nobody knows how long we have, under the present system, before some disaster strikes us, more serious than the destruction of any group of nations. The most important task today is, perhaps, to learn to think in a new way.’
Gregory Bateson (1904-1980), anthropologist, scientist and biological philosopher
*In the seventeenth century, Rene Descartes based his view of nature on the fundamental division between two independent and separate realms – that of mind, the ‚thinking thing’ (res cogitans), and that of matter, the ‚extended thing’ (res extensa). This conceptual split between mind and matter has haunted Western science and philosophy for more than 300 years.