6 Jun 2009

Bateson, Sensing Switches, in Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity

by Corry Shores
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Sensing Switches

Gregory Bateson

Mind and Nature:

A Necessary Unity

Ch. IV

Criteria of Mental Process

Criterion 4. Mental Process Requires Circular

(or More Complex) Chains of Determination

Sense organs, as we have already noted, admit only news of difference and are indeed normally triggered only by change, i.e., by events or by those differences in the perceived world which can be made into events by moving the sense organ. In other words, the end organs of sense are analogous to switches. They must be turned ‘on’ for a single moment by external impact. That single moment is the generating of a single impulse in the afferent nerve. The threshold (i.e., the amount of event required to throw the switch) is, of course, another matter and may be changed by many physiological circumstances, including the state of the neighboring end organs. (121bc)

Bateson, Gregory. Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity.London: Wildwood House, 1979.

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