The Beauty of Detours

A Batesonian Philosophy of Technology

By Yoni Van Den Eede

Subjects: Philosophy, Science And Technology, Science And Society
Hardcover : 9781438477114, 260 pages, December 2019
Paperback : 9781438477121, 260 pages, July 2020

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Table of contents


Part I. Laying the Groundwork

1. Gregory Bateson’s “Ecology of Mind”

2. Philosophy of Technology

Part II. Bateson and Technology

3. Between One and Two: Epistemology/Ontology

4. Conscious Purpose

5. Remediating Conscious Purpose

Part III. The Art of Living with Technology

6. Toward Batesonian Philosophy of Technology

7. The Art of Living with Technology


Proposes an innovative, holistic understanding of technology.


Winner of the 2020 S.I. Hayakawa Book Prize presented by The Institute of General Semantics

Winner of the 2020 Susanne Langer Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Symbolic Form presented by the Media Ecology Association

The Beauty of Detours proposes a new way of understanding and defining technology by reading systems thinker Gregory Bateson in the framework of contemporary philosophy of technology. Although "technology" was not an explicit focus of Bateson's oeuvre, Yoni Van Den Eede shows that his thought is permeated with insights directly relevant to contemporary technological concerns. This book provides a systematic reading of Bateson that reveals these under-investigated elements of his thought. It also critiques the field of philosophy of technology for still reifying "technology" too much despite its attempt to de-reify it, arguing instead that it should incorporate Bateson's insights and focus more on processes of human knowing. Sketching a Batesonian philosophy of technology, Van Den Eede calls for greater attentiveness to the purpose of technology and its role in our lives.

Yoni Van Den Eede is Lecturer and Researcher in Philosophy at the Free University of Brussels, Belgium. He is the author of Amor Technologiae: Marshall McLuhan as Philosopher of Technology.


"This book offers a thorough and well-researched dive into Bateson's thinking on purpose, instrumentalism, technology, and epistemology. It is an important contribution to the discourse on AI and on the rapid development of the tech sector. Philosophically the book tackles difficult systemic questions about technology and addresses them at a much more sophisticated level than most books of its kind." — Nora Bateson, The International Bateson Institute