Marshall McLuhan

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Biographical Information

Herbert Marshall McLuhan, CC (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980) was a Canadian philosopher of communication theory. His work is viewed as one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory, as well as having practical applications in the advertising and television industries. Tom Wolfe suggests that a hidden influence on McLuhan's work is the Catholic philosopher Teilhard de Chardin whose ideas anticipated those of McLuhan, especially the evolution of the human mind into the "noosphere". Wolfe theorizes that McLuhan may have thought that association of his ideas with those of a Catholic theologian, albeit one suppressed by Rome, might have denied him the intellectual audience he wanted to reach and so omitted all reference of de Chardin from his published work, while privately acknowledging his influence. During his lifetime and afterward, McLuhan heavily influenced cultural critics, thinkers, and media theorists such as Neil Postman, Jean Baudrillard, Timothy Leary, Terence McKenna, William Irwin Thompson, Paul Levinson, Douglas Rushkoff, Jaron Lanier, Hugh Kenner, and John David Ebert, as well as political leaders such as Pierre Elliott Trudeau[85] and Jerry Brown. Andy Warhol was paraphrasing McLuhan with his now famous 15 minutes of fame

His son is Eric McLuhan.



  • Brian Winston, Misunderstanding Media (Cambridge, Mass., 1986). It should be mentioned that the revised edition, Media Technology and Society: A History—from the Telegraph to the Internet (London, 1998), not only removes the McLuhan reference from the title but also removes all discussion of McLuhan from the book.
  • Raymond Williams, (1974) Television: technology and cultural form. London: Fontana, pp.126-8.

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