Metapatterns Introduction

The term "metapattern" was coined by Gregory Bateson, one of the foremost thinkers of the 20th century. Metapatterns can be thought of as patterns of patterns or as patterns that appear in a wide variety of contexts. In addition to being found across many contexts, these patterns should be thought of as functional patterns with both general and specific functional characteristics.

Although Bateson did not specify any metapatterns, a global ecologist at New York University by the name of Tyler Volk did so in his book, Metapatterns: Across Space, Time, and Mind. Volk's metapatterns along with some that I have added to the list are described and explored at several site links listed below. However, a brief list of these patterns is also provided here.


A Brief List of Volk's and Bloom's Metapatterns:

  • Spheres
  • Tubes
  • Sheets
  • Borders and Pores
  • Layers
    • Hierarchies
    • Holarchies
    • Holons
    • Clonons
  • Centers
  • Binaries
  • Breaks
  • Arrows
  • Time — Calendars, Clocks
  • Cycles
  • Gradients
  • Triggers
  • Emergence
  • Clusters
  • Rigidity—Flexibility
  • Webs or Networks

Links to Metapatterns at Other Sites:


Some Books and Papers that Deal with Metapatterns and Related Patterns:

  • Bateson, G. (1976; 2002). Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity. Cresskill,NJ: Hampton Press.
  • Volk, T. (1995). Metapatterns: Across Space, Time, and Mind. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Volk, T., Bloom, J. W., & Richards, J. (2007). Toward a science of metapatterns: Building upon Bateson's foundation. Kybernetes, 36(7/8), 1070—1080.



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