McLuhan’s “challenge and collapse: the nemesis of creativity”

In McLuhan’s “challenge and collapse: The nemesis of creativity” he talks about Bertrand Russell’s “technique of suspended judgment” in the first paragraph. He also compares this to A.N. Whitehead’s “technique of discovery”. Both believed that these were the great discoveries of the 20th century. The “technique of discovery” basically means that whatever someone is trying to discover, they work backwards until they get to the very essence of what that is. At first this was pretty confusing but the example that McLuhan gave helps a lot. For instance, in art, you start off with an effect or an emotion. And then you keep adding to the art work so that it resembles that emotion or effect. The “technique of suspended judgment” as McLuhan put it, goes further. This technique predicts certain outcomes. The example that McLuhan gives is that a unhappy childhood can produce an unhappy adult. Connecting this with technology you can see how taming fire can result in a furnace being created; where it can either heat a home, make weapons such as swords, or just cook food. When it comes down to trying to understand these concepts, I began to realize that I was doing the same thing that A.N Whitehead and Bertrand Russell were doing. They are simply trying to better understand technology and where it comes from. They are trying to better understand the human condition in regards to technology just like I am trying to understand them. Throughout human history, human beings have constantly been inventing new technologies but also asking questions about that technology and how it changes us. Which is understandable; since the biggest thing separating our species from other animals is our use and creation of technology. The “technique of discovery” and the “technique of suspended judgment” are the techniques used to simply better understand the world we have created around us. These concepts were created in the 20th century where human interaction and effect on the world was more apparent than ever. A.N. Whitehead was searching for where technology came from where Bertrand Russell’s wanted to predict where technology was going. But like I stated before, the two, as well as McLuhan are simply trying to better understand the human relationship with technology.

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