One of the most important contributions of Gregory Bateson to the study of human communication is that he advocated Epistemology, based on his developing the "Theory of Logical Types" introduced by Alfred N. Whitehead & Bertrand Russell in their "Principia Mathematica" (1910-13); this theory is summarised in "Change"(1974) written by Watzlawick, Weakland and Fisch of the Mental Research Institute (i.e., the Palo Alto Group) and its essential axiom is "whatever involves all of a collection must not be one of the collection"; namely, a class (consisting of specific members) cannot be a member of itself. For example, the human race consists of all the human beings but the human race is not a human being. A "logical typing miss" here will produce, for instance, confusion between the map and the territory or make a schizophrenic eat the menu instead of the food which is described on it.

Epistemology is defined as the knowledge (or science) about "how we know what we know" and epistemological study about the mechanism of our human brain is the main basis of communicational psychology like NLP; namely, it enables us to know the process (i.e., patterns) of the problems encountered in our daily life which determines their content (the former being "one logical type higher" than the latter) in order to overcome them. In other words, whatever change we try to make on the content level, we might continue a "Game Without End" (Cf. "Pragmatics of Human Communication" and "Change" by Watzlawick et al.) without going anywhere and it is usually a change on the process level which brings about what we desire to achieve; namely, it is not a "first-order change" but rather a "second-order change" which produces the change which we want to achieve.(Cf. "Change".) Epistemological study also enables us to know "how to learn to learn" by going up the hierarchy of logical types, and thus can accelerate our learning process in any field. (Because it deals with the processes or patterns of our learning, the contents to be learnt don't matter any more.)

From the above, it could be said that, while this century's scientific technology has gone through numerous quantum leaps, the human psychology too finally came, or had to come, to the stage where it undergoes its own quantum leaps continuously; hence, the possibility for modern people to harmonise their own outer and inner lives. It can also be said that we as human beings have finally arrived at the possibility to bridge the gap between materialism and spirituality; in this context, Bateson goes as far as to say that the problems proposed by Aristotle 2,500 years ago and compounded by Descartes (e.g., the mind/body split) have been already solved by his and/or Russell's epistemology! (Cf. "Angels Fear")

(NB: The text of this page is a quotation from Guhen Kitaoka's training manual "Effective Communicator's Manual" with relevant amendments.)

Copyright ©1996-2000, by Guhen Kitaoka. All rights reserved internationally.