Posts Tagged 'Laws of Media'

4 Causes and 4 Effects: “Intelligent Design Movement” and “Darwinian Evolution”

               “The combination of the four causes and the four effects is the most comprehensive and capable framework that has been developed so far whereby to evaluate the impacts and implications of new technologies.” – William Sheridan (“The Paradigm Shift of the Information Age,” 1990)

In response to Aristotle’s Four Causes – Material, Efficient, Formal and Final – 20th century culture, media and technology theorist Marshall McLuhan – the so-called “Sage of the Wired Age” – came up with Four Effects: Retrieval, Reversal, Obsolescence and Enhancement (or Amplification). This blog post briefly outlines the Four Effects and then applies them along with Aristotle’s Four Causes to two contemporary topics: the Intelligent Design Movement and Darwinian Evolution.

The Laws of Media: Four Effects

Viewed in the form of a (here sequential, but meant as simultaneous) tetrad, Marshall McLuhan poses the following questions about media:

A. “What recurrence or RETRIEVAL of earlier actions and services is brought into play simultaneously by the new form? What older, previously obsolesced ground is brought back and inheres in the new form?”

B. “When pushed to the limits of its potential, the new form will tend to reverse what had been its original characteristics. What is the REVERSAL potential of the new form?”  

C. “If some aspect of a situation is enlarged or enhanced, simultaneously the old condition or un-enhanced situation is displaced thereby. What is pushed aside or OBSOLESCED by the new ‘organ’?”

D. “What does the artefact ENHANCE or intensify or make possible or accelerate? This can be asked concerning a wastebasket, a painting, a steamroller, or a zipper, as well as about a proposition in Euclid or a law of physics. It can be asked about any word or phrase in any language.” (Laws of Media, 1988)     

Continue reading ‘4 Causes and 4 Effects: “Intelligent Design Movement” and “Darwinian Evolution”’

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