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Primary natural relationship: Bateson, Rosen, and the Vedas

John J. Kineman (Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA)
K. Anil Kumar (Chemistry Department, Sri Satya Sai University, Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh, India)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 14 August 2007




To propose a conceptual paradigm for unifying concepts of material, living and spiritual nature, based on the natural philosophy of Gregory Bateson and the more formal relational theories of Robert Rosen.


The paper combines Bateson's natural philosophy with the relational meta‐theory of Robert Rosen to develop the world view we believe Bateson argued for. It shows that the assumptions of this view correspond with Vedic philosophy. An integral view of nature that can underlie mechanistic and relational science is provided.


Bateson's natural philosophy can be interpreted in terms of Rosen's relational concepts to provide a unifying view of nature based on information entailments. This is described in terms of an irreducible complementarity between abstract and material aspects of nature (corresponding to Bateson's “mind and nature”) that forms a causally effective, or “necessary” unity. Encoding and decoding relations correspond with Bateson's ideas of patterns and information. The general application of this view suggests a reality not unlike the “immortal luminous being” described in the Vedas and Upanishads of India.


The paper shows why the dualistic/mechanistic view of nature is inadequate for understanding living systems and natural complexity. It describes a more general foundation from which living and generative aspects of nature can be studied. This corresponds with the Vedic concept of intrinsic value (divinity) in nature, and lends support to deep ecology ethics. As Bateson argued, the relational view can be an ethical instrument, leading away from conflict as to understand better the roots of interconnectedness.



Kineman, J.J. and Anil Kumar, K. (2007), "Primary natural relationship: Bateson, Rosen, and the Vedas", Kybernetes, Vol. 36 No. 7/8, pp. 1055-1069.



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Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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