What mental characteristics are to be expected in any

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What mental characteristics are to be expected in any large mental system or mind, the basic premises of whose character shall coincide with what we claim to know of cybernetics and systems theory? Starting from these premises, we surely cannot arrive at a lineal, billiard-ball materialism. But what sort of religion we shall develop is not clear. Will the vast organized system have free will? Is the ―God‖ capable of humor? Deceit? Error? Mental pathology? Can such a God perceive beauty? Or ugliness? What events or circumstances can impinge upon this God‘s sense organs ? Are there indeed organs of sense in such a system? And limitations of threshold? And attention? Is such a God capable of failure? Frustration? And, finally, consciousness? The great historical religions of the world have either answered such questions without pausing to note that these are questions that permit more than one answer, or they have obscured the matter under a mass of dogma and devotion. To ask such questions may indeed disturb faith, so that the questions themselves might seem to define a region where angels would appropriately fear to tread. Two things, however, are clear about any religion that might derive from cybernetics and system theory, ecology and natural history. First, that in the asking of questions, there will be no limit to our hubris; and second, that there shall always be humility in our acceptance of answers. In these two characteristics we shall be in sharp contrast with most of the religions of the world. They show little humility in their espousal of answers but great fear about what questions the will ask. If we can show that a recognition of a certain unity in the total fabric is a recurrent characteristic, it is possible that some of the most disparate epistemologies that human culture has generated may give clues as to how we should proceed.
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I Tragedy It seems that the dramatists of classical Greece and possibly their audiences and the philosophers who throve in that culture believed that an action occurring in one generation could set a context or set a process [[p_137]] going which would determine the shape of personal history for a long time to come. The story of the House of Atreus in myth and drama is a case in point. The initial murder of Chrysippus by his stepbrother Atreus stars a sequence in which the wife of Atreus is seduced by Atreus‘ brother Thyestes, and in the ensuing feud between the brothers, Atreus kills and cooks his brother‘s son, serving him to his father in a monstrous meal. These events led in the next generation to the sacrifice of Iphigenia by her father, Agamemnon, another son of Thyestes, and so on to the murder of Agamemnon by his wife, Clytemnestra, and her paramour, Aegisthus, brother of Agamemnon and son of Thyestes.
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  • Fall '19
  • Gregory Bateson

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