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I. THEORY – 6. Perspectives

Antecedents of the digital discourse

Giorgio Buccellati – April 2021


Multilinearity is intrinsic to any confrontation with the opionions of others and with the need to adduce pertinent facts. The referencing can be generic or specific.

Generic referencing mentions the source without giving a a precise link. For example, Plato cites Solon.............

Specific referencing began only recently in the history of scholarship

refer to Diritto Politecnico article for confronation with pre- and protohistory

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Narrative thread: the earliest calendrical notations

A narrative thread is at the basis of logical thought, and as such it dates back to the very distant time when language began in concomitance with the articulation of logical thought (at least some 60,000 years ago). What this made possible was the linking among phenomena that were not linked in nature – a prime example being the recognition of the phases of the moon, that could never be observed as being co-present in the sky, but came soon te be seen as co-present in the mind of the observer.

What have been interpreted as the earliest known calendrical notations (Buccellati 2018 Voegelin) [DABI CODE NOT WORKING, see this standard link] can be seen as an early epistemic system, since it gives the representation of acquired knowledge in its double aspect of a sequential thread (the sequence) and evidentiary reference (the graphic renderings of the moon as seen in gthe sky). The link between the waxing and waning moments corresponds to the solid lines among steps in the figurative representation of a narrative thread.

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Punctuated narrative thread: Plato’s dialogs

One aspect of the dialogic form as chosen by Plato is the breaking up of the argument into sections. The immediate impact of the dialogic format is to add dynamism to the sequence: the interlocutors serve as pointers to an alternation in the points of view, in the sense that questions and answers, being attributed to living persons who ask and respond, emphasize the flow of the argument as it proceeds from one step to the next.

But there is more. The questions, which are often shorter than the answer, serve as titles for what is developed more at length in the the answer. This highlights the import of each step in the sequence: it is a way to underscore the autonomous import of each step in the sequence of the thread, framing, as it were, each moment in the sequence as having consistency of its own. In this respect, the question serves as if a title for the answer, in a way that is formally analogous to what we obtain, in the written text, by highlighting certain words (in bold and italic in this website).

The dialogic form has thus a specific epistemic function. It affirms the validity of the fragmentation of the argument into its component parts (the individual sets of questions and answers), while at the same time affirming the validity of the overall construct (the narrative thread).

As such, it antedates Plato by a long shot. The wisdom literature has rich antecedents of the dialogic form, whether explicitly, as in the Mesopotamian Dialog of Pessimism or the Theodicy, or implicitly as in the proverbs. What interests us here is the epistemic dimension: very early on, there is awareness of the nature of what a narrative thread is, and how it can be articulated into clearly distinguishable component parts.

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Physical multiplanarity: the “bookwheel”

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Implied multiplanarity: footnotes


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