When raising these themes, one is beset by queries of the “Was it a good thing?” variety. Such questions seem to mean: “How should we feel about these matters?” They never suggest that anything could be done about them. Surely, understanding the formal dynamic or configuration of such events is the prime concern. That is really doing something. (GG 212-213, italics added)
Marshall McLuhan discovered how to bring new focus to the study of human being. This vast domain has been subject to brilliant examination at least since Plato and Aristotle. But systematic investigation of a domain awaits the discovery of its elements – only consider the continuing explosive growth of new sciences in the domain of physical nature following the specification of the chemical element in the course of the nineteenth century. Before this time, the domain of physical nature was certainly not unknown. But after it, more and more sciences have initiated its examination in new ways. As a result, our knowledge of physical nature is now incomparably richer than it was two hundred years ago.
McLuhan did not discover a new domain of investigation. What he did discover was how to specify its elements – media – and thereby to advance investigation of this domain towards an ever-increasing number of new sciences. Hence the name: McLuhan’s New Sciences.
In Understanding Media McLuhan observes:
…in the electronic age, data classification yields to pattern recognition (…) men resort to the study of configurations, like the sailor in Edgar Allan Poe’s Maelstrom. (vii)
The aim of this site is to set out the patterns he recognized and the study of configurations to which he resorted.