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Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Volume 49, Issue 3, 2016

Dmitry Testov
Pages 158-177

The Concept of Pattern and the Communicative Bases of Bateson’s Anthropology

The article is devoted to the analysis of theoretical bases of G. Bateson's anthropology. The author focuses on the concept of pattern by tracing the origins of this concept in the Goethe's morphology, the Gestalt psychology, the Benedict's anthropology, the Cybernetics and the Communication theory. In the context of the Communication theory “pattern" appears as a synonym of the engineering term “redundancy" that makes possible to consider it as a necessary condition for anticipation of communication sequences and economy of description. In addition, the pattern (redundancy) as a information organization form stands as the main criterion for sig- nal/noise ratio distinction. According to Bateson, the “pattern" can also be seen as an approximate synonym of “meaning". Applying of this interpretation to Bateson's analysis of the culture makes possible a more rigorous view at the problems of anthropological observation and description. The analysis demonstrates the need for anthropological observation, detecting patterns of two levels: the first one is valid within cultural systems (basic ideas, values and symbols of culture), the other one is valid within the system «culture + the observer» (abstract models). Thus, recognition of the pattern of the first level belonging to the language of the observed culture makes possible the interpretation of cultural events and facts. The pattern of the second level is not recognized but it is constructed, in a language more abstract than both the language of the observed culture and the language of culture of the observer. It is an explanatory scheme, in which mapping the fragments of description.

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