Symmathesy--A Word in Progress


  • Nora Bateson International Bateson Institute


Mutual Leaning, ecology, symmathesy, lving systems, interface, calibration, play, second order, context, transcontextual, Mind,


This work is a prologue on the development of the term Symmathesy to refer to the charactieristic of living systems best described as mutual learning. The term Symmathesy is a combination of the greek prefix "sym" meaning togther, combined with the greek word "mathesi" meaning learning. A Symmathesy is defined as either a noun or a verb. Symmathesy provides a language to study the processes of mutual learning through communication, relationship, interaction, play, interdependency and contextual evolution. This is a beginning effort to name the study of the liminal realm between the chaos of change in an ever evolving set of interactions, and the order of the context which is itself an interface. 

Symmathesy  (Noun): An entity composed by contextual mutual learning through interaction. This process of interaction and mutual learning takes place in living entities at larger or smaller scales of symmathesy. Symmathesy (Verb): The process of interaction, in its multiple variables, that produces a mutual learning context.

Author Biography

Nora Bateson, International Bateson Institute

Nora Bateson
Filmmaker, writer, educator. President of the International Bateson Institute, Sweden, USA, Canada Nora Bateson, is an award-winning filmmaker, writer and educator, as well as President of the International Bateson Institute based in Sweden. Her work asks the question “How we can improve our perception of the complexity we live within, so we may improve our interaction with the world?”. An international lecturer, researcher and writer, Nora wrote, directed and produced the award-winning documentary, An Ecology of Mind, a portrait of her father, Gregory Bateson. Her work brings the fields of biology, cognition, art, anthropology, psychology, and information technology together into a study of the patterns in ecology of living systems. The IBI integrates the sciences, arts and professional knowledge to create a qualitative inquiry of the integration of life. Nora is the president of the International Bateson Institute, directing research projects that require multiple contexts of research. interdependent processes. Asking, “How we can create a context in which to study the contexts?”  An impressive team of international thinkers, scientists and artists have been brought together by the IBI to generate an innovative form of inquiry, which Nora coined “Transcontextual Research”. As an educator she has developed curricula for schools in Northern California, and produced and directed award winning multimedia projects on intercultural and ecological understanding. Her work, which has been presented at the world’s top universities, is described as “offering audiences a lens through which to see the world that effects not only the way we see, but also the way we think”.  Nora’s work in facilitating cross-disciplinary discussions is part of her research into what she calls, “the ecology of the conversation”. Her speaking engagements include keynote addresses and lectures at international conferences and universities on a wide range of topics that span the fields of anti-fascism, ecology, education, the arts, family therapy, leadership and many more aspects of advocacy for living systems--she travels between conversations in different fields bringing multiple perspectives into view to reveal larger patterns.  Memberships and awards:Board Member: Tallberg Foundation, Royal Society of Arts fellow, Club of Rome full member, Fellow of Lindsifarne, Board member Bateson Idea Group (BIG), Board member Human Potential Foundation, Awards: Sustainable Thompkins Ecology Award, Winner Spokane Film Festival, Winner Santa Cruz Film Festival, Media Ecology Award. 



How to Cite

Bateson, N. (2016). Symmathesy--A Word in Progress. Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2015 Berlin, Germany, 1(1). Retrieved from