Open main menu

Wikiquote β

G. Spencer-Brown

British mathematician

George Spencer-Brown (2 April 1923 – 25 August 2016) was a polymath best known as the author of Laws of Form.



Laws of Form, (1969)Edit

  • We take as given the idea of distinction and the idea of indication, and that we cannot make an indication without drawing a distinction. We take, therefore, the form of distinction for the form.
    • p. 1, cited in Niklas Luhmann, Risk: A Sociological Theory, Walter de Gruyter, 1993 p. 223.
  • Let us consider, for a moment, the world as described by the physicist. It consists of a number of fundamental particles which, if shot through their own space, appear as waves, and are thus... of the same laminated structure as pearls or onions, and other wave forms called electromagnetic which it is convenient, by Occam’s razor, to consider as travelling through space with a standard velocity. All these appear bound by certain natural laws which indicate the form of their relationship.
Now the physicist himself, who describes all this, is, in his own account, himself constructed of it. He is, in short, made of a conglomeration of the very particulars he describes, no more, no less, bound together by and obeying such general laws as he himself has managed to find and to record.
Thus we cannot escape the fact that the world we know is constructed in order (and thus in such a way as to be able) to see itself.
This is indeed amazing.
Not so much in view of what it sees, although this may appear fantastic enough, but in respect of the fact that it can see at all.
But in order to do so, evidently it must first cut itself up into at least one state which sees, and at least one other state which is seen. In this severed and mutilated condition, whatever it sees is only partially itself. We may take it that the world undoubtedly is itself (i.e. is indistinct from itself), but, in any attempt to see itself as an object, it must, equally undoubtedly, act so as to make itself distinct from, and therefore false to, itself. In this condition it will always partially elude itself.
  • To teach pride in knowledge is to put up an effective barrier against any advance upon what is already known, since it makes one ashamed to look beyond the bounds imposed by one's own ignorance.
    • Appendix 1.

Quotes about G. Spencer-BrownEdit

  • George Spencer-Brown—born in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England 1923—has held a number of occupational roles, such as a mathematician, consulting engineer, psychologist, pilot, educational consultant, author and poet, adviser in military communications (coding and code-breaking), football correspondent to the Daily Express; he even practised car racing with Gavin Maxwell.
    • Jenny Helin, ‎Tor Hernes, ‎Daniel Hjorth (2014) The Oxford Handbook of Process Philosophy and Organization Studies, p. 481.

External linksEdit

Wikipedia has an article about: