Double Vision

[...] relationship is always a product of double description.

It is correct [...] to begin to think of the two parties to the interaction as two eyes, each giving a monocular view of what goes on and, together, giving a binocular view in depth.

This double view is the relationship.

Relationship is not internal to the single person. It is nonsense to talk about 'dependency' or 'aggresiveness' or 'pride', and so on. All such words have their roots in what happens between persons, not in some something-or-other inside a person.

Only if you hold on tight to the primacy and priority of relationship can you avoid dormitive explanations. The opium does not contain a dormitive principle, and the man does not contain an aggressive instinct.

[I came to understand] that I will get nowhere by explaining prideful behaviour, for example, by referring to an individual's 'pride'. Nor can you explain aggression by referring to instinctive (or even learned) 'aggressiveness'.

Such an explanation, which shifts attention from the interpersonal field to a factitious inner tendency, principle, instinct, or whatnot, is, I suggest, very great nonsense which only hides the real questions.

If you want to talk about, say, 'pride', you must talk about two persons or two groups and what happens between them. 

The same is true of 'dependency', 'courage', 'passive-aggressive behaviour', 'fatalism', and the like. All characterlogical adjectives are to be reduced or expanded to derive their definitions from patterns of interchange, i.e., from combinations of double description.

[Gregory Bateson]
Mind and Nature, p. 146-7

................................................................................................................................................................................

Related posts:-
Everything is Connected
Small Mind/Large Mind
Small Part/Large System
Addiction: the Long and Short of it
"Laziness" (and other fictions)

No comments:

Post a Comment