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An Ecology of Mind

Distributed by Bullfrog Films, PO Box 149, Oley, PA 19547; 800-543-FROG (3764)
Produced by Nora Bateson
Directed by Nora Bateson
DVD, color, 60 min.
Sr. High - General Adult
Anthropology, Philosophy, Science, Social Sciences

Reviewed by Rue McKenzie, University of South Florida, Tampa

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   
Date Entered: 2/7/2012

The subtle gentleness of filmmaker Nora Bateson’s narrative throughout An Ecology of Mind provides an interesting contrast to the extremely complex thought processes of her father, Gregory Bateson. That said, it is obvious that Nora is every bit the critical thinker that her father was, and Gregory, in turn, was every bit as positive and caring in his contemplation as his daughter. Using historic footage, photographs, lectures and interviews, the film not only serves as a biographical portrait of a celebrated anthropologist, philosopher, and systems theorist, but also as a vehicle to encourage viewers to expand our typical perspectives and exercise our brains in a holistic manner. While those unfamiliar with the ideas discussed might get a bit lost with a single view (this reviewer definitely experienced many “huh?” moments), the film moves steadily on a deliberate course of attempted clarity. Bateson’s ideas focus on the connection of all things, the interrelationships between all things, and the importance of challenging our standard perceptions of all things.

An Ecology of Mind presents a range of difficult concepts introduced by Gregory Bateson, and expanded upon by various individuals with the ability to embrace and discuss his thought processes. Thought provoking quotations are sprinkled throughout the film, which provide guideposts for potential understanding for the viewer. Examples of these from Gregory Bateson include “A man walking is never in balance, but always correcting for imbalance”, and from Nora Bateson, “Our ability to remain stable is ironically a measure of our flexibility.” His assertion that major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think it works, illustrates the timeliness of Bateson’s philosophy.

An Ecology of Mind is a great mind-opener that would be a valuable resource for a variety of college level course discussions, as well as for the intellectually ambitious general viewer.


  • 2011 Media Ecology Association, The John Culkin Award for Outstanding Praxis in the Field of Media Ecology
  • 2011 Spokane International Film Festival, Best Documentary