Robert Logan

Robert Logan
University of Toronto | U of T · Department of Physics

PhD MIT 1965; BSc MIT 1961

Publications

Publications (147)
Chapter
This chapter is a contribution to previous attempts of scholars and artists to explore the spiral form as a universal structure and its manifestation in the arts. Texts that embark on exploring the spiral as an underlying form of nature, planetary movements, the structure of galaxies and nebulae, DNA, RNA, proteins, biological structures and its ex...
Chapter
We will make the bold assertion in this chapter that McLuhan’s philosophy of media ecology has at its roots the spiral structure. We will further suggest that many of the artists, scholars and philosophers that had a significant influence on his thinking made use of spiral structures in their thinking as well.
Chapter
It is believed by most biologists that life began on this planet with the formation of ribonucleic acid (RNA) illustrated in Fig. 8.1 that have the property of being self-replicating as well as the ability to catalyze the production of the chemical groups and information transfers required for life within living cells. The structure of RNA is that...
Chapter
Before starting our study of the topology of the thought and communications that the human mind creates as part of the Mathematics in Mind series we asked ourselves the question: what is the origin of mathematics in mind? To answer this question, we must first ask, what is the origin of the mind and what is the origin of mathematics. We will start...
Chapter
The cyclic/spiral structure of human thought patterns is a universal characteristic of many cultures throughout human history. The idea of eternal return is the notion that events in the universe and in particular the events experienced by humankind repeat themselves so that they occur and re-occur for ever and ever. This notion dates back to ancie...
Chapter
We have used the term hyperlink to describe any linking from a body of information in one medium to a body of information in that medium or possibly in another medium. Examples include hyperlinks from a Web-based text file to another Web site, a video, a podcast, etc.
Chapter
In Chaps. 2–4 we described how spoken language emerged from mimetic communication and then evolved into written language and mathematics and from there into the language of science. Each new language emerged from its predecessors as a way of dealing with the information overload that its predecessors were unable to cope with. Science and science-ba...
Preprint
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We suggest that despite McLuhan’s claim not to have a theory of communication that in fact the body of his work does indeed constitute a theory of media and their effects which I have called his General Theory of Media (GToM) that also includes his Laws of Media (LoM). Both McLuhan’s GToM and his LoM are described. A comparison is made of three not...
Chapter
We argue that the dream of the supporters of the technological singularity, the notion that computers will one day be smarter than their human creators will never be realized. The notion of intelligence that advocates of the technological singularity promote does not take into account the full dimension of human intelligence. Human intelligence as...
Chapter
There are those that claim that they are good at reading and writing but they are not as good when it comes to mathematics. Actually the 3 R’s of reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic are more closely related than most people think. I will show in this essay that the origin of verbal language and mathematics depend on each other. In particular the mathem...
Chapter
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Recent statistics about the mobile phone market in Brazil state that for every 100 inhabitants there are 130 mobile phones. Despite the euphoria that those numbers bring to business, the social uses of mobile technology in Brazil tells a lot about Brazilian society and culture itself, and show a more complex picture than merely a marketing phenomen...
Article
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There are almost as many definitions of information as there are scholars writing about the philosophy of information. We shall narrow the definition of information for the purposes of this article and look at information from the perspective of the original meaning of the word as the formation of the mind. Mind within this context will include the...
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With digital media, not only are media extensions of their human users, as McLuhan posited, but there is a flip or reversal in which the human users of digital media become an extension of those digital media as these media scoop up their data and use them to the advantage of those that control these media. The implications of this loss of privacy...
Chapter
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When we think of the human mind we most often think of its capacity for verbal language as we are the only living organism capable of speech. We are aware of the fact that the human mind is capable of mathematical thinking and think that mathematics was a later development of the human mind long after humankind had acquired language. In a book soon...
Preprint
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Abstract: It is suggested that despite the fact that McLuhan claimed not to have a theory of communication that in fact the body of his work does indeed constitute a theory of media and their effects, which is termed as Marshall McLuhan’s General Theory of Media (GTOM). It is shown that his reversals of figure and ground; concepts and percepts; cau...
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We address the question of whether AI, and in particular the Singularity—the notion that AI-based computers can exceed human intelligence—is a fallacy or a great opportunity. We have invited a group of scholars to address this question, whose positions on the Singularity range from advocates to skeptics. No conclusion can be reached as the developm...
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It is argued that of Block’s (On a confusion about a function of consciousness, 1995; The Nature of Consciousness: Philosophical Debates, 1997) two types of consciousness, namely phenomenal consciousness (p-consciousness) and access consciousness (a-consciousness), that p-consciousness applies to all living things but that a-consciousness is unique...
Chapter
In this chapter, the authors first examine the meaning and significance of information, which will entail a critique of Shannon information theory. They show it is really a theory of the transmission of signals. They describe how MacKay and Bateson adds the element of meaning to the definition of information. They then examine the proposition of Ka...
Preprint
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Use is made of Daniel Lewis's idea that "awareness depends not only on involvement, but detachment as well" to better understand McLuhan's notion of the following ideas: the subliminal effects of media and technology; Narcissus narcosis; figure/ground and the relationship of environment and anti-environment.
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Use is made of Daniel Lewis’s idea that “awareness depends not only on involvement, but detachment as well” to better understand McLuhan’s notion of the following ideas: the subliminal effects of media and technology; Narcissus narcosis; figure/ground and the relationship of environment and anti-environment.
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Important aspects of human cognition are considered in terms of patterning, which we claim represents a shift from focusing on what is present to what is absent. We make use of Deacon’s notion of absentials and apply it to the patterning that underscores human cognition. Several important aspects of human cognition are considered that represent a s...
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We will explore the nature of space from a media ecology/Marshall McLuhan point of view. We will examine both space and time as the origin or etymology of the term 'space' includes both the notion of 3-space and time. We show how various media of communication influence how we perceive space and time from the origin of language to today's digital r...
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Full-text available
We will explore the nature of space from a media ecology/Marshall McLuhan point of view. We will examine both space and time as the origin or etymology of the term 'space' includes both the notion of 3-space and time. We show how various media of communication influence how we perceive space and time from the origin of language to today's digital r...
Chapter
Full-text available
Modern societies are facing two major trends: widespread population ageing and rapid development of new technologies. Since old age is usually also a time of reduced and diminished abilities and health, it is very important to recognize the potential of technological advances to enhance health, abilities and relationships. However, the abilities, n...
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We propose that the ability of humans to identify and create patterns led to the unique aspects of human cognition and culture as a complex emergent dynamic system consisting of the following human traits: patterning, social organization beyond that of the nuclear family that emerged with the control of fire, rudimentary set theory or categorizatio...
Preprint
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Chalmers' (1995) easy and the hard problems of consciousness correspond to the problem of explaining Block's (1995) access consciousness and phenomenal consciousness respectively. Chalmers' hard problem of consciousness is basically explaining how living organism are able to perceive or experience their percepts. Chalmers' easy problem of conscious...
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The insights that Marshall McLuhan developed that might be of use to the design and architecture communities are collected in this presentation. They include his notion of visual and acoustic space, hot and cool media, the Global Village, the reversal of cause and effect, the role of the artist in society, and do-it yourself (DIY) culture. We discu...
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In this article we examine the thesis that Sigmund Freud might have had a possible influence on the thinking of Marshall McLuhan. We also develop the parallels in their thinking. The first hint of this connection is that McLuhan frequently refers to Freud in his writings. The second hint is that both men were battling invisible forces unnoticed or...
Preprint
Full-text available
The idea of the Anthropocene is investigated in a multidisciplinary study by combining the perspectives of geography, biology and media ecology (i.e. the study of the impacts of technology). The hypothesis is developed that the Anthropocene did not have a precise starting point (i.e. there is no “golden spike”), but that the Anthropocene began in s...
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Given that consciousness is an essential ingredient for achieving Singularity, the notion that an Artificial General Intelligence device can exceed the intelligence of a human, namely, the question of whether a computer can achieve consciousness, is explored. Given that consciousness is being aware of one’s perceptions and/or of one’s thoughts, it...
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Making use of the techniques of media ecology we argue that the premise of the technological Singularity based on the notion computers will one day be smarter that their human creators is false. We also analyze the comments of other critics of the Singularity, as well supporters of this notion. The notion of intelligence that advocates of the techn...
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Full-text available
We examine the spiral structure of the thinking and the work of Marshall McLuhan, which we believe will provide a new way of viewing McLuhan’s work. In particular, we believe that the way he reversed figure and ground, reversed content and medium, reversed cause and effect, and the relationship he established between the content of a new medium and...
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The origin of McLuhan’s notion of acoustic space is described. It is shown that his definition of acoustic space as having its center everywhere and its margin nowhere can be traced back to the Christian mystics of the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance dating as far back as the 12th Century.
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Marshall McLuhan’s Laws of Media (LOM), which describe the evolution of artifacts in terms of enhancement, obsolescence, retrieval, and reversal (or flip) are extended to create Laws of Media Environments (LOME) and Laws of Media Users (LOMU). It is shown that the environment or ground in which the figures of the artifacts in the LOM operate and th...
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This essay will serve as an introduction to the collection of essays in this Special Issue of MDPI Philosophies that will explore the philosophical roots of Marshall McLuhan’s study of media and the field of media ecology that followed in its wake.
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An analysis is made of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si from a general systems approach. A call is made for a dialogue between theologians and environmental scientist. A parallel is found between the Pope’s identification of rapidification as a root cause of global warming and McLuhan’s notion of the speedup of modern life due to the emergence o...
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Terrence Deacon's (2012) notion developed in his book Incomplete Nature (IN) that living organisms are teleodynamic systems that are self-maintaining, self-correcting and self-reproducing is extended to human social systems. The hypothesis is developed that culture, language, organization, science, economics and technology (CLOSET) can be construed...
Research
Full-text available
Marshall McLuhan’s Laws of Media (LOM), which describe the evolution of artifacts in terms of enhancement, obsolescence, retrieval and reversal (or flip) are extended to create Laws of Media Environments (LOME) and Laws of Media Users (LOMU). It is shown that the environment or ground in which the figures of the artifacts in the LOM operate and the...
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Full-text available
General systems theory (allgemeine systemtheorie) was pursued by a number of thinkers but its origins seems to date back to 1928 and the biological work of Ludwig von Bertalanffy’s PhD thesis. There are many definitions of a general system but in essence a general system is one that is composed of interacting and interrelated components such that a...
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Robert Ulanowicz (2009) in, A Third Window: Natural Life Beyond Newton and Darwin, has described what he calls “process ecology,” as a way of explaining in a non-reductive manner the origins of life, the behaviour of the ecosystems of living organisms and emergent processes in general. This book according to Stuart Kauffman who wrote the preface is...
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Logan (2007) in his book The Extended Mind developed the hypothesis that language, culture, and technology can be construed as organisms that evolve and reproduce themselves. This idea is extended in two ways. First by showing that organization, science, and economics can also be construed as organisms that evolve and reproduce themselves. Secondly...
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Abstract: I. A. Richards’ development of feedforward is reviewed. The impact of feedforward on the work of Marshall McLuhan is then surveyed and shown to have influenced his use of figure/ground, the user as content, the content of a new medium is some older medium, the use of the probe, effects preceding cause, avoidance of a point of view and rol...
Article
Recent statistics about the mobile phone market in Brazil state that for every 100 inhabitants there are 130 mobile phones. Despite the euphoria that those numbers bring to business, the social uses of mobile technology in Brazil tells a lot about Brazilian society and culture itself, and show a more complex picture than merely a marketing phenomen...
Article
Full-text available
In this article we examine the thesis that Sigmund Freud might have had a possible influence on the thinking of Marshall McLuhan. We also develop the parallels in their thinking. The first hint of this connection is that McLuhan frequently refers to Freud in his writings. The second hint is that both men were battling invisible forces - unnoticed o...
Article
Full-text available
A review is made of the systems biology work of Stuart Kauffman and Terrence Deacon. A parallel between their work and media ecology is developed. An argument is made that Media Ecology is about the application of systems thinking to understanding media, communications and the impact of technology.
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Full-text available
We make use of McLuhan's Laws of Media and his notion that our technologies are "the extensions of man" to understand ecological issues in general and global warming in particular. We examine the evolution of humankind's exploitation of energy that have increased human wealth and well being. We identify the benefits and costs of tool making, the co...
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We develop complementary connections between McLuhan’s media ecology notion of media as ‘extensions of man’ and the Extended Mind Thesis of Andy Clark.
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Logan [1] in his book The Extended Mind developed the hypothesis that language, culture, technology and science can be treated as organisms that evolve and reproduce themselves. This idea is extended by making use of the notion of teleodynamics that Deacon [2] introduced and developed in his book Incomplete Nature to explain the nature of life, sen...
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The different forms of duality in Robert Ulanowicz’s (2009) book A Third Window are compared to the notion of neo-duality found in Logan and Schumann (2005). The influence of Heraclitus on the formulation Ulanowicz’ duality is described. It is argued that the origin of language, which led to conceptualization and emotional intelligence, also gave r...
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We review and summarize Terrence Deacon’s book, Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter.
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We review the historic development of concept of information including the relationship of Shannon information and entropy and the criticism of Shannon information because of its lack of a connection to meaning. We review the work of Kauffman, Logan et al. that shows that Shannon information fails to describe biotic information. We introduce the no...
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Program Or Be Programmed: Ten Commands For A Digital Age, Douglas Rushkoff (2010) New York: O/R Books, 152 pp., ISBN: 978-1-935928-15-7, P/BK, $14.95On The Binding Biases Of Time And Other Essays On General Semantics And Media Ecology, Lance Strate (2011) Fort Worth, TX: Institute Of General Semantics, 302 pp., ISBN: 978-0-9827559-2-1, H/Bk, $48, I...
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The focus of our recent research has been on Marshall McLuhan as an educational theorist, which has been less than adequately covered by McLuhan scholars. Marshall McLuhan had a lot to say about education, in fact it was one of his principal concerns, but even after his passing, he still has much to teach us about contemporary education. We can lea...
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Aphenomenological study of the quark rearrangement model is made using the results of cross section measurements of a number of annihilation reactions. The experimental data is shown to be consistent with the quark rearrangement model and Zweig's rule, if we restricted ourselves in the three-meson final states.
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In this paper we explore McLuhan's use of figure/ground, which plays a central role in his understanding of media and helps us to crack the McLuhan code.
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There is no question that the open source way of doing business has many distinct advantages over the traditional proprietary economy. Sharing IP (intellectual property) in an open economy is great but there has to be a return on the investment to create that IP. We examine the positive and negative aspects of the shift from industrial era capitali...
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Communication mediated by mobile devices is one of the most dynamic sectors of the global economy and is transforming many aspects of our social lives, including ways of relating to each other and our production, distribution, and consumption of cultural artifacts. We examine these transformations of mobile communications from a media ecology persp...
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A distinction is made between the brain and the mind. The architecture of the mind and language is then described within a neo-dualistic framework. A model for the origin of language based on emergence theory is presented. The complexity of hominid existence due to tool making, the control of fire and the social cooperation that fire required gave...
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It is argued that language is an emergent phenomenon that emerged from the autocatalysis of the various mechanisms that make speech possible.
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The sBook platform that provides for the convergence of the printed codex book (p-book) and the e-book is described. The sBook platform combines the advantages of both the p-book and the e-book and incorporates some additional features that make the book smart, social and a vehicle for “active reading”. We will describe a number of different forms...
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We are proposing a platform for a new form of the book, the sBook, which is a combination of the codex book and the e-book. The sBook combines the advantages of these two formats of the book as well as some additional features that we have designed for this new hybrid book. We describe one possible form of an sBook, which is a codex book that has b...
Article
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- We are proposing a platform for a new form of the book, the sBook, which is a combination of the codex book and the e-book. The sBook combines the advantages of these two formats of the book as well as some additional features that we have designed for this new hybrid book. We describe one possible form of an sBook, which is a codex book that has...
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Our aim in this article is to attempt to discuss propagating organization of process, a poorly articulated union of matter, energy, work, constraints and that vexed concept, “information”, which unite in far from equilibrium living physical systems. Our hope is to stimulate discussions by philosophers of biology and biologists to further clarify th...
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We wish to distinguish between two forms of communication or the transfer of information in the biosphere, namely biosemiosis in living organisms mediated by the chemical interactions of biomolecules and other forms of physical interactions such as signaling, on the one hand, and human communication and interaction in the form of language and cultu...
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This paper reveals the surprising and counterintuitive truth that design is not always at the forefront of innovation; it is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for the success of products and services. The authors argue that design must harness emergence, for it is only through this bottom-up and massively iterative, unfolding process that...
Book
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The ability to communicate through language is such a fundamental part of human existence that we often take it for granted, rarely considering how sophisticated the process is by which we understand and make ourselves understood. In The Extended Mind, acclaimed author Robert K. Logan examines the origin, emergence, and co-evolution of language, th...

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147
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Additional affiliations
September 2012 - present
University of St. Michael's College
Position
  • Fellow
March 2009 - present
Ontario College of Art and Design
Position
  • Principal Investigator
September 2007 - present
McMaster University
Position
  • Fellow
Education
September 1957 - August 1965
MIT
Field of study
  • physics

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Projects (7)