cod. 1010890

Academic year 2023/24
1° year of course - Second semester
- Sergio MANGHI
Academic discipline
Sociologia dei processi culturali e comunicativi (SPS/08)
"discipline tecniche dell'informazione e della comunicazione"
Type of training activity
30 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

Introduction to the analysis of human cognitive processes as interactive and generative living dynamics.


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Course unit content

The idea of information in Gregory Bateson's ecology of mind

The course will discuss the idea of information, understood as an elementary unit of the cognitive process, by comparing two different perspectives: (a) that of modernism, widely held in common sense and in the media universe, where the word information indicates "objective" content (or data), believed to be independent of the perceptual and communicative action of the subject dealing with it, and its transmission along a channel that leaves it as intact as possible; (b) that of the ecology of mind, so called by the social scientist and biologist Gregory Bateson (1904-1980), where the word indicates the creative outcome of ongoing interactive processes among living beings, including humans, and with their environments, aimed at shaping their perceptual and relational experience (information is not transmitted, it is created).
Associated with the modernist perspective is a political ethos hinged on the "good use" of information (unmasking of manipulation, disclosure of "correct" data), grounded in the anthropocentric illusion that humans are endowed, unlike other living things, with an "I" capable of flying over the world of which they are a part, mapping it from the outside and keeping its essential dynamics under control. Illusion underlying, according to Bateson, both the current planetary ecological catastrophe and our enduring blindness to its deep cultural roots.
The ecology of mind is associated with a political ethos hinged on attention to the dynamics of interactions (or "relational dances") that give rise to the information on which, circularly, they feed to shape themselves, between freedom and domination, equality and inequality, fraternity/sorority and violence.

Full programme

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Required texts:
1. G. Bateson, excerpts from Verso un’ecologia della mente, Adelphi, Milano, 2000, see:
2. S. Manghi, La conoscenza ecologica. Attualità di Gregory Bateson, Cortina, Milano, 2010.
3. S. Manghi, “La trama che connette. Il potere, la cura”, in S. Cortopassi, C. Rovelli, a cura di, Sinfonia della natura, Tarka, Mulazzo (MS), pp. 99-116:

Recommended texts:
M. Arcidiacono, Gregory Bateson, tra rigore e immaginazione, Armando Siciliano Editore, Messina, 2022.
G. Bateson, Verso un’ecologia della mente, Adelphi, Milano, 2000, pp. 70-2 e 465-480.
G. Bateson, Mente e natura. Un’unità necessaria, Adelphi, Milano, 1986.
E. Coccia, Metamorfosi. Siamo un’unica sola vita, Einaudi, Torino, 2022.

Supplementary teaching materials are here:

Teaching methods

Lecture and interactive exercises.

Assessment methods and criteria

Essay of at least 15,000 characters, based on a personal idea, to be confirmed by the teacher, arising in attending class or from studying the indicated texts, but drawn from texts other than these, including films, news articles, interviews. Essay form:
0. Abstract of about 3-400 characters, 1. Exposition of the chosen "extra" text, 2. Illustration of the conceptual notions drawn from the three required texts, 3. Discussion of the "extra" text in the light of of of the notions in 2.
A different form may be agreed with the lecturer. Provisional versions of the text may be submitted to the lecturer for advice. The final text must be received by email to the lecturer at least 5 days before the roll call. The student(s) will receive the grade via email at least one day before the roll call.

Other information

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