The Map is not the Territory

A massive modern human misbelieve (doxa) is that words and concepts are reality. Already Alfred Whitehead warned in 1908 for the ‘fallacy of misplaced concreteness’.

One of Gregory Bateson’s most quoted aphorisms is: ‘The Map is not the territory’.

He borrowed it from Alfred Korzybski who pointed that many people do confuse maps with territories, that is, confuse models of reality with reality itself.

With his marvelous British irony Bateson added the dictum: ‘Let’s Stamp out Nouns‘ by which he warned again for the trickster (written) language has become in western intellectual elite.

In Bateson’s ecological-systemic way of ‘gazing’ all is change and transformation.

Nouns are the least ‘fitting tools’ to describe realities which are continuously shifting, moving and changing.

A necessary step next to reflexivity is taking ourselves as (western) scientists less seriously and starts laughing about our relentless pursuit to get to the bottom of things. Get real!

There is no bottom of things, and even if it existed, we will never be able to fathom its complexities, beauties and shocking ‘truths’.

I do not mean we should stop trying to know!

It is a great privilege to live in a time and country where we can ‘rethink’ our worlds over and over.

Let us just enjoy the ride while not forgetting to eat frequently ‘humble pie‘.