Hello world! – new blog about “LAWS OF FORM”

This is a blog about George Spencer-Brown’s ideas (expounded in “Laws of Form“) and also about his numerous philosophical disciples, a rather big crowd that includes extraordinary individuals, as well as ordinary people (who have been influenced by George Spencer-Brown‘s ideas): E.g. Louis Kaoufman, Richard Shoup , Art Collings, Dave Keenan, William Bricken, Tom McFarlane, Ben Goertzel, Eddie Oshins, Francisko Varela, Natalia Petrova, Jeff James, etc. and… myself – through Multiple Form Logic.

This blog’s header depicts the two fundamental axioms or “initials” of George Spencer-Brown‘s “Primary Arithmetic“: The image on the left is the “Law of Calling” and the one on the right is the “Law of Crossing“, i.e.

Law of CallingLaw of Calling

Law of CrossingLaw of Crossing

There is a certain revival of George Spencer-Brown’s ideas, taking place nowadays, and this blog will -hopefully- contribute to creative public discussions about GSB’s ideas.

gsbGeorge Spencer Brown

There is already a Yahoo group dedicated to “Laws of Form” (started many years ago by Mr. Richard Shoup) called the “Laws of Form forum”. However, all discussions in that Yahoo group are private, i.e. not visible to non-members (and to Search Engines).

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~ by Omadeon on February 7, 2009.

12 Responses to “Hello world! – new blog about “LAWS OF FORM””

  1. Is george spencer-brown still alive?

  2. @James,
    Oh dear! I just noticed your comment, after SO MANY DAYS…)

    well, as far as I know, YES, George Spencer-Brown is alive.

    Your site is one of the first sites I discovered in the Net, about GSB.

    I will check out the latest news about him in the “Laws of Form forum” in a minute.

  3. Good to hear from you. I really respect people like yourself who, as mathematicians, seem to occupy a different world from those of us who are not blessed enough to be mathematicians ourselves. Where I do feel that I am receptive to George Spencer-Brown’s ideas however is in the area of philosophy and mysticism (which he seeks to minimise in his book) but on closer reading one can see why Alan Watts and he were so close to each other’s way of thinkiong. Mnd you, Watts was a crystollographer so that entitles him to be called a mathematician as well. Anyway, I am a mere “wordy” person and an arty fart and erstwhile musician (not very good at either of them) but I cannot help thinking that Watts and GSB were “speaking” to me in a language that I could understand but Richrd Shoupe (great man that he is) was not quite in tune with it to the same degree. That is why I left the Laws of Form forum because what little I had within me [and which I was trying to offer Richard’s forum] was deemed by him to be “out of bounds”. I think he is mistaken in that regard by so restricting the ideas of GSB to practical maths alone. I know he has to keep a reign on his forum but I do wish he would take his courage in both hands and allow some discussion to take place on the philosphy of GSB and “Laws of Form”. Thank you for all you are doing here at this blog and I am very sorry I do not have the maths skills to help you in any meaningful way except to say that I reard you in the same way as somebody who might visit an art gallery to appreciate works of art. That is to say, I could never hope to “do what you do” but I certainly appreciate your artistry.

  4. James
    Thank you for your very kind words, which also came from the heart. (as commonly said).

    I agree with your perceptions (e.g. of Alan Watts and GSB being very closely related).
    I also feel that the philosophical aspects of Laws of Form are far-reaching and NOT exhaustively discussed in Mr. Shoupe’s forum. There have been quite a few exceptions, however. E.g. when William Bricken started a thread with some metaphysical or mystic ideas related to the Form.

    For me, this way of thinking has a potential to unify, in a very creative way (as well as formally correct – mathematically) ideas from very different worlds. The world of Emotion and the world of Reason, among others. Yesterday, I did not answer at once your very interesting comment, because I was involved in another discussion where a certain psychologist… did NOT believe we can unify Reason with Emotion. And he did this from a poetical and emotional point of view, as well !!! hehe
    It was impossible to explain to him, what Laws of Form is all about. I gave him a link to this blog.

    The Form is BOTH logical AND emotional. Nobody has discussed this astonishing fact, enough! 🙂

  5. Omodeon, that’s a great response to my post and thank you vey much for it. Can I bring to your attention another person who was close to GSB? First, let’s note that Watts was interested in pyschology and psychotherapy. The man I have in mind is RD Laing and I have a video clip with Watts and Laing togther [amazing!]. I mention RD Laing because it seems he used Game Theory on his early work and therefore we have another connection with the world of maths and the world of the subjective, as it were. Let me cover a lot of groudn quickly and say to your pyschologist friend that there is a common thread between GSB right up to the present time with NLP. Scrape under the surface of NLP and you see Bateson and Castanada – please also see the affinity between Buddhism and psychology. IMHO – it is possibel that GSB thrpough his Laws of Form was tryign to model (in NP terms) “life” as we live it – replacing he cruely of the social hierachy found within wesern families. BTW – I take your point about Bricklin (who is a great man) and the forum being flexible sometimes — I only hope this aspect of the study of GSB could grow even more.

    Do you think your maths is able to model social science (or at least major parts of it) and the model it ought to use is a hybrid of Hinduism/Buddhism mixed with our present culture (which Watts seemed to be suggesting as the way forward).
    Thanks for yout thoughts – YES – the form is both logical end emotional and other cultures readly admit of this as a possiblity and all goes well until we get stuck in the “linear thinking” and “infinite regression” traps of conventional western Judeo Christian thought.

  6. @James,
    I am very glad you mentioned R.D. Laing (to start with). I lived in London, back in the seventies and had attended some of his talks, at the time; I was also a friend of some people in RD Laing’s Philadelphia Association, etc. (long story)…

    Unfortunately Panayotis (the guy I mentioned) is a behaviourist, so (as far as I know) he is probably not… crazily fascinated by the great connections you summarized: GSB and Laing, NLP and Bateson, Buddhism, etc.

    The usual interpretation of emotion as -basically- a senseless irrational drive which needs to adapt to society through rules and self-restraint (in turn con-fused with Reason and Logic) seems to be rampant in behaviourist thinking, but I didn’t make a strong objection to it, since we were discussing something completely irrelevant (all Greek to you I’m afraid, as well)! 🙂

    However, everything you wrote is correct and fascinating for me.
    My own “Multiple Form Logic” has used inspiration from Laing’s “Knots” (which I had read many times, in my early twenties), attempting -initially- to formalize an Interpersonal Psychology; what Ronnie also used to call “Interpersonal Space”.

    My first reading of “Laws of Form” was in precisely those times, while RD Laing and Hugh Crawford (et.al) were often giving talks about these things and lots of people attended.

    And then… it suddenly occurred to me that something very basic was missing, from the “One and Only Form”.
    Hence… “Multiple Forms”!

  7. What an amazing story! I must admit that I am only now piecing most of this stuff together, but all along something told me that such contributions those which came from Watts and RD Laing, simply MUST have become absorbed into main stream social science – the only thing was that I was unsure precisely how that “absorption” would have happened. So thank you for confiring for me that my ideas/speculations in these regards have at least some basis basis to them and not just flights of fancy on my part. Does Willhelm Reich come into your scheme of things, or do you think he was merely the kinda wild cannon character that many people paint him as? I like to listen to Kate Bush’s “Cludbuster” about his life and watching the vid makes me feel quite sad when you see the Dad getting seperated from his child 😦
    Here I am a 56 year old geriatric with two sons in their mid/late twenties and I STILL cannot control my sentimental streak! Hehe!
    I will tryt o pass soem links to you of the Kate Bush vid and other things I hope might interest you if that’s okay with you.
    BTW – I was reently readign Willard Von Ormon Quine so our psychlologist friend can feel quite at home here — we’re a broad church, eh?!
    (Hope that’s good Greek Omodeon, I saw it in the Big Fat Greek Wedding) :-))

  8. James,
    It’s possible that “mainstream social science” is indifferent or negligent of all these unifiable great ideas, especially ever since the death of Ronnie Laing and other events and discoveries, that probably steered these sciences away from this realm, into other directions, e.g. biochemistry and brain-scan studies. Personally, of course, I remain influenced -AND proud of it- and -yes- one of my influences has indeed been Wilhelm Reich (the first “alternative theorist” I ever read, when I was 16 y.o.)

    I try to focus on very specific things, however, like Logic and theorem-proving, etc. (which are verifiable by anyone). There is an extended section of the “about-page” devoted to such topics, in this blog (after the first paragraphs which are just copies of what you already read):

    I’d be very interested to watch that Kate Bush video you mentioned, BTW.
    We are indeed a very “broad church” as you said!

    All the best to ya
    (and “yAsoo” is correct Greek for “bye”, BTW). 🙂

  9. Cheers, I’ll check that link out now!
    Here is the Kate Bush link


  10. Thanx a lot James!

    As regards philosophical (even… poetic) aspects of Multiple Form Logic and Laws of Form, there have been quite a few posts in my main blog, e.g.
    [The CONSISTENCY of ODYSSEUS ELYTIS’ (poetic work) ”Genesis” with George SPENCER-BROWN’s ideas in “LAWS of FORM”]

    More generally, posts about similar issues are:

  11. Is this a correct understanding of LoF?

    ‘Something’ is first of all what difference it makes from other things. But if ‘something’ looks at itself from the perspective of other things, using this same difference, this same difference will gain more difference for the ‘something’. This is because the ‘something’ has used a difference first to refer to itself, and then to look at the difference by which it has referred to itself.

    Though the operative difference seems to be the same in the first and second observations, it is not. The first observation distinguishes ‘something’ from other things; the second observation takes the distinction from other things and applies it to the ‘something’ . When a distinction from other things is applied to something, the result is not the same as the result of simply distinguishing from other things.

    Reference to ‘something’ is re-iterated in the consecutive distinctions from and to. This leads to condensation of differences, or meaning.

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