the long road

The long road of exploration into the origins of the right-hemisphere model of communication rests on an important footnote. The history of the term medium, we are on the trail, begins with Thomas Aquinas and his attempt to translate those passages of the Aristotelian text which deals with the physiological-perceptual theories of vision, of seeing, hearing, of touch, Tasting and smelling (Περι Πυχη). Here Aquinas interpolated with some embarrassment in a Greek text the word medium where it is not found. This leads to large and prolonged irritation in the discussion on optics in the early modern period, especially in Kepler, then goes over into the first mechanistic interpretations of Descartes and flows into the clean and sober mathematical relationships of the medium-term in Newton. They in turn clash in German Romanticism into an intense, classically motivated resistence and motivated to take on the great speculative ways in dealing with the concept of the medium in Schelling and Hegel. Highly charged with exuberant romantic speculation the concept of the medium gets into the clutches of the telegraph, radio and film Рthe amplifying and multiplying apparates of the 19th century. And they do so with far reaching consequences. (QUOTE)

It does not help to clearify McLuhans conception of the medium but shines light on some of his implications. For him, the medium is the message is to say that it is all in the head. Like the human body adapts to its environment in accordance with evolutionary princibles so does the human mind adapt to the men made environment in order to cope with the new circumstances to survive it. That which is assumed in evolutionary biology for everything except mental qualities was the focus of McLuhans work. He can be judged in this sense as a cognitive antropologist who uses

Traditionally the theme of evolution was interpreted on religious, political or biological grounds. With the neo-darwinian synthesis emerged a new view on how Biology reenteres the realm of Culture. Out of this understanding that dismissed any claims about any intrinsic superiority of one culture over another, in fact of any culture over any other, the science of memetics is the most recent proponent. The Science of Memetics attempts to explain cultural evolution as that of memes – cultural units analogous to genes – utilizing the same princibles for their propagation that genes do. This analogy between biological, Darwinian evolution on one hand, and cultural evolution on the other hand is the battleground on which the author attempts to shine some light.

With evolution in the interest of selfish genes, Charles Darwkin one of the prominent advocates of universal Darwinism, first formulated in his books – The selfish genes & Extended phenotype – the idea of a meme as an analogue to genes emerged. Susane Blackmore in – The meme machine – gives us so far the fullest account of what the science of Memetics looks like. In both works, evolution is seen as a process without foresight, governed by three princibles – variation, heridity, selection. Like in Darwin’s Decent of Men, The Decent of Culture is an analogue process without foresight, governed by the same princibles. In both accounts, the biological and cultural, the product of evolution is an organism better adapted to its environment in the interest of the smalles unite programmed for procreation.

Culture is portraied as some byproduct of biological, hence darwinian, evolution that is in its dominante manifestation unique to the species homo sapiens and hence must obey to the same princibles put forward by Charls Darwin. One basic assumption of defenders of this view asserts that there is evolution in culture by a process which is in itself blind; analogous to the princible of natural selection in the science of all living things ultimatly leading to the propagation of the “succsessful” culture.

While the science of biology rests on the solid basement as a branch of the natural siences, sociology as a branch of the humanities utilizes means of the former to gain descriptive knowledge of observed phenomenon but is not in itself governed by deductive reasoning and hence computability and predictability of phenomena.


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