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Philosophies 2017, 2(1), 2; doi:10.3390/philosophies2010002

The Alphabet Effect Re-Visited, McLuhan Reversals and Complexity Theory

Department of Physics, University of Toronto, 60 St. George, Toronto, ON M5S 1A7, Canada
Academic Editor: Marcin J. Schroeder
Received: 2 November 2016 / Revised: 14 December 2016 / Accepted: 22 December 2016 / Published: 3 January 2017
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [314 KB, uploaded 3 January 2017]

Abstract

The alphabet effect that showed that codified law, alphabetic writing, monotheism, abstract science and deductive logic are interlinked, first proposed by McLuhan and Logan (1977), is revisited. Marshall and Eric McLuhan’s (1988) insight that alphabetic writing led to the separation of figure and ground and their interplay, as well as the emergence of visual space, are reviewed and shown to be two additional effects of the alphabet. We then identify more additional new components of the alphabet effect by demonstrating that alphabetic writing also gave rise to (1) Duality, and (2) reductionism or the linear sequential relationship of causes followed by effects. We then review McLuhan’s (1962) claim that electrically configured information reversed the dominance of visual space over acoustic space and led to the reversals of (1) cause and effect, and (2) figure and ground. We then demonstrate that General System Theory first formulated by Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1968), which also includes chaos theory, complexity theory and emergence (aka emergent dynamics) and Jakob von Uexküll’s (1926) notion of umwelt also entail the reversal of many aspects of the alphabet effect such as the reversals of (1) cause and effect, and (2) figure and ground. View Full-Text
Keywords: alphabet effect; emergence; figure; ground; alphabet; monotheism; science; logic; codified law alphabet effect; emergence; figure; ground; alphabet; monotheism; science; logic; codified law
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Logan, R.K. The Alphabet Effect Re-Visited, McLuhan Reversals and Complexity Theory. Philosophies 2017, 2, 2.

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