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Easterbrook proposed that Innis’ shift from staples to communication/media entailed “no suggestion of a break or loss of continuity or of interests” (1953a, pp. At another commemoration, Easterbrook made a similar pronouncement: “Although it is possible to mark out some [phases] in Innis’s work, there is at no point any suggestion of a break or a radical shift in his mode of approach to national or general economic history” (1953b, p. To support these claims, Easterbrook noted (correctly) that Innis had been intent to test the limits or biases of knowledge.When developing his staples thesis, for example, Easterbrook explained, Innis was testing the limitations of the economics mainstream—and he quoted Innis to that effect (Easterbrook, 1953b).Innis consistently wrote what he thought was most truthful.
That being said, I must point out that Innis had much more in mind than just testing for bias in developing his staples thesis.
Actually, his main mission was the development such as Canada’s, to countervail the exploitative thrust, as he saw it, of the economics mainstream (Innis, 1972b; 1979a).
And again, Innis himself can be quoted to support this claim (Innis, 1972a).
However, once again, I must remark, Easterbrook failed to note that Innis had much bigger fish to fry than just testing for bias.
Regarding Innis’ emotional stability, or lack thereof, one could indeed point to Innis’ pessimism, to his tendency to depression, and to his “mental breakdown” of 1937 (Creighton, 1978; Watson, 2006).
Regarding his purportedly overweening ambition, however, Havelock’s conjectures seem totally off-target.
Other commentators suggest that in transitioning to media/communication, Innis merely extended his staples investigations of the timber and paper staples to news, public opinion, propaganda, advertising, and so forth (Berger, 1976; Bickerton, Brooks, & Gagnon, 2006; Heyer, 2003; Mc Luhan, 1971).
The incompleteness (one might say the) in this claim, again, is that it fails to recognize that Innis’ communication work is in important aspects antithetical to the staples thesis and that he developed the two bodies of writing for diametrically opposed reasons.
La dialectique ou contradiction entre le relativisme et l’universalisme dans les deux enquêtes majeures effectuées par Innis n’a pas jusqu’à présent été reconnue, et constitue le sujet de cet article.
MOTS CLÉS Innis; Dialectique; Principales ressources; Théorie économique; Théorie des médias According to his biographer and friend Donald Creighton, Harold Innis’ first decade of scholarship at the University of Toronto (1920–1930) was filled with frustration and loneliness (Creighton, 1978): he was the only one on staff researching Canadian economic history, for example, and his book on the fur trade (finally appearing in 1930) had been rejected by several publishers.