Thursday, 26 April 2018

Gregory Bateson on Faulty Epistemology and Addiction

I have been reading recently a number of articles about the 12 step program initially established by A.A. but now the template for many forms of addiction treatment. Obviously it works in a great many cases. That doesn’t stop philosophers breaking out in quibbles chiefly around the issue of power, powerlessness and surrender to a higher power.
are addicts truly powerless
Massimo on weakness of will
vox on drug treatments

In my view they are all quite mistaken about the nature of addiction and will power. Gregory Bateson writing on The Cybernetics of “self”: A Theory of Alcoholism makes a powerful case for the root of addiction lying in a faulty epistemology.


The surrender to a higher power of an atheist addict is not nonsense if that power is the total system. I’m not going to try to summarise it. Nobody follows links but until you’ve read Bateson’s essay just shut up and quit your Cartesian wittering.

While you’re at it read the collection of essays (Steps to an Ecology of Mind pub. 1972) which includes the remarks on the 12 step program aforementioned:
Steps to an Ecology of Mind

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