The Mirror of Information in Early Modern England: John by James Dougal Fleming

By James Dougal Fleming

This publication examines the seventeenth-century undertaking for a "real" or "universal" personality: a systematic and goal code. concentrating on the Essay in the direction of a true personality, and a philosophical language (1668) of the polymath John Wilkins, Fleming offers a close rationalization of ways a true personality truly used to be presupposed to paintings. He argues that the interval circulation shouldn't be understood as a curious episode within the historical past of language, yet as an illuminating avatar of data know-how. A non-oral code, supposedly amounting to a script of items, the nature used to be to aid clinical discourse via a common database, in alignment with cosmic truths. In these kind of methods, J.D. Fleming argues, the area of the nature bears phenomenological comparability to the area of contemporary electronic information—what has been referred to as the infosphere.

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Minds, in a tradition deriving from Aristotle, were thought to reflect things. This is not to say that minds were supposed to see naturally into the truths of their perceptions; but that the perceptions themselves were assumed to be, literally and entirely, real (from Latin res, thing). I will call this the speculative view (from Latin speculum, mirror). Sir Francis Bacon, the new Aristotle of seventeenth-century England, did not displace or revise the speculative assumption, but adapted and deployed it.

20 We need to try to recognize (without falling down another philological hole) that Shannon’s canonization of the message-concept was neither inevitable nor unprompted. Rather, it was a function of the communicative vectors that Shannon saw all around him, among which he had grown up, and on which he worked. Conduits and filaments, attenuated yet restrictive, connecting people and places at ever greater distances and with ever greater efficacy—via phone and television, as they had earlier by radio, as they had earlier still by telegraph, earlier yet still by pneumatic tube.

Polite stereotyped utterances,” he writes, such as “Happy Birthday” or “Congratulations on the birth of your child,” “carry very little information”: The telegraph company has taken advantage of this fact by listing on its telegraph blanks some 100 stereotyped messages for use in appropriate stereotyped situations. The customer chooses a message, and the signal transmitted by the telegraph company contains only the few symbols necessary to identify the particular message which has been chosen.

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