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Richard Coyne

The cultural, social and spatial implications of computers and pervasive digital media spark my interest ... enjoy architecture, writing, designing, philosophy, coding and media mashups.
Richard Coyne has written 392 posts for Reflections on Technology, Media & Culture

Four-fold reality

C.S. Peirce is amongst the great geometers (or diagrammaticians or combinatorialiasts) of thought. We can also admit the contemporary philosopher of so-called “speculative realism,” Graham Harman, to the four sided pantheon with his book The Quadruple Object. The book is about much more, but in passing happens upon a good justification for the combinatorics of … Continue reading

Hunch, symptom, clue

I sold most of my bit coin last November and made a bit of a profit. Should I buy some more now it’s gone down in price? How do you reason under uncertainty? From a hermeneutical perspective we are always in an uncertain condition, though you might as well call it “contingency.” How you interpret, … Continue reading

Shadow of a doubt

In his book In Praise of Shadows, novelist Junʼichirō Tanizaki recaptures what is otherwise lost under the glare of modernity. As indicated in the title, he favours the half light, shadows and darkness of recesses, verandahs and outhouses, and with them the patina and ambiguity of materials worn over by time: old wood, stone, moss, … Continue reading

Inside out logic

If you live in Edinburgh, and Edinburgh is in Scotland, then you live in Scotland. This reasoning draws on the containment metaphor, and the transitivity of containment. It is easy to represent as a diagram, eg, as a Venn diagram. If something is in A then it is also in B. The diagram also applies … Continue reading

Marx on nonsense

“Either this man is dead, or my watch has stopped” (Marx). I’ve been wrestling with C.S. Peirce’s idea that any moment of communication is potentially made up of three aspects that he labels firstness, secondness and thirdness. Here, the philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) comes to my aid. Deleuze invokes Marx  — not Karl Marx, but … Continue reading

Nonsensical signs

“A tweeting egg! This struck Alice as very odd; she had only ever heard of birds being able to tweet. But then again, birds did come from eggs, so it made sense they should have this ability from the outset” (52). That’s Alice’s first impression of Trumpty Dumpty sitting on a wall in the satirical … Continue reading

Diagrammatics 101

Drawings, sketches and illustrations belong to the interpretative arts. Then there are diagrams. As iconic signs, diagrams make fewer claims in the realms of creativity and imagination, but they do have to be interpreted. Diagrams are in the company of charts, graphs and tables the authors of which extract the salient features of a phenomenon, show … Continue reading

Peirce decoded

Whether or not you agree with C.S. Peirce’s semiotic system, there’s something about his diagrams. A search on Google Images for “Peirce sign categories” reveals an industry of diagrammatic interpretations and reinterpretations that would appeal to anyone with an interest in the cryptographic. I’m going to add to that collection some further abstract diagrams, or … Continue reading

The power of ten

Ten is a good number. Ten of anything implies that the set is complete and finished. This, at least, is the account given by scholar Indra McEwen of the Pythagorean legacy on which the architectural theorist Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (c. 70-15BC) drew in writing his Ten Books of Architecture. McEwen argues that the division of … Continue reading

What does a theory look like?

What do theories look like? They are shaped like triangles. Theories are triangular. I am being glib, but according to one of the top OED definitions, a theory is a “collection of theorems forming a connected system.” The least number of entities that can be connected to create a number of relationships greater than the number … Continue reading

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