One of Bateson's central concerns was what he called "the pattern that connects." He believed that at some level of structure there is a congruence among the laws governing different types of events. Speaking of his father, a noted British geneticist, he said,
In this early -- and as I think he knew -- his best work, he posed problems of animal symmetry, segmentation, serial repetition of parts, patterns, etc. . . . I picked up a vague mystical feeling that we must look for the same sort of processes in all fields of natural phenomena -- that we might expect to find the same sort of laws at work in the structure of a crystal as in the structure of society, or that the segmentation of an earthworm might be comparable to the process by which basalt pillars are formed. 1
One of the elder Bateson's areas of study was the way parts of organisms differentiate. Some do so serially, down a hierarchical ladder, like the legs of a lobster; this is metameric differentiation. Others differentiate symmetrically, with each part exactly like the other, like the radial tentacles of a jellyfish.