Theres first level learning to do the right thing in

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thrown the colon out of kilter again. There‘s first -level learning to do the right thing in a particular context, but then you need a wider learning at the next level to deal with the fact of the changing context, which you create by your own response. I mean, life is hell, and only actors onstage are allowed to go on behaving in a uniform manner. DAUGHTER: Can growth become addictive? It can certainly create problems. FATHER: Yes, well, growth always presents the problem of how you can grow without altering proportions, perhaps fatally. A palm tree, for instance, has no cambium surrounding the trunk, no way of depositing additional layers of wood and becoming thicker as it grows taller. A palm tree just grows at the top and eventually it falls over. Continuous first-order change is fatal. So, does the pain of growth come out of the need for second-order change? And is addiction somehow the reciprocal or opposite of growth? DAUGHTER: So we‘ve got addiction and schizophrenia and growth and adaptation … I t hink this conversation is getting out of hand. FATHER: And the work scholars wanted to add ―attachment‖ too. With a civilization changing technologically t a rapid rate, the relationship of these words begins to be a sort of pincers that keeps catching us. The University of California has a relationship with two very large labs devoted to investigation atomic weaponry, Livermore and Los Alamos, where we employ some thirteen thousand people. It‘s a very elaborate organic attachment, not just a parasite we could shake off tomorrow and feel relief, but a symbiont whose tissues have grown together with our tissues. And the withdrawal symptoms would be pretty remarkable if we started to drop it. DAUGHTER: I‘m always amazed that people think one could simply eli minate atomic weaponry or cold turkey the arms race. FATHER: The regents don‘t even seem willing, in the middle of the whole seven-hundred-million-dollar business of physics and nuclear research, to put up the two or three million it would take to crack the formal characteristics of addiction-adaptation-attachment, as these concern the entire nation. DAUGHTER: Yes, well, don‘t grumble. We‘ve got a hypothetical engineer all ready to build us a machine but we haven‘t even worked out the specifications. [[p_131]] FATHER: Okay. So what have we got. Learning is to occur at two levels and to involve two interlocking parts or entities or something of that kind. And
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there‘s another problem. If you describe an organism, it will take a great number of descriptive statements how many eyes it has and the position of its eyes relative to its nose and the mouth somewhat south of that … and body temperature and blood-sugar levels and so on. Now these descriptive statements aren‘t separate, they are all interlocked in lops of various kinds, with all sorts of escalations and self- corrections. If you change any of them beyond a certain point, your creature is sort of tied by the leg, hampered by its changes. You get stress and if you go too far, then death. And a nation is like that too.
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  • Fall '19
  • Gregory Bateson

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