Australian General Semantics Society Inc.


Seminar Summary - 30 October 2011


“Teaching General Semantics Without the Jargon"

Presented by Mr David Hewson

Graciously hosted by Gavan and Pauline at "Clifftop View"

The aim of this seminar was to practise defining GS formulations without GS jargon, so as to better communicate the formulations to beginners.

We did the following.

First define your term or formulation accurately using any jargon needed.

Then think about your target audience.  What do they know?  What are they interested in?  What is your goal?

Convert your definition into one that you think they can easily understand, replacing the GS jargon with terms they can understand.  The students applied what they had learnt in the earlier seminar on communication, eg the definition should not be too long or too short, etc.

The definition is to have both intensional (verbal definition) and extension (definition by example) aspects.  The examples should cover both the most common or typical aspects of the formulation and also show how it varies or the boundaries of the formulation. 

We also showed how some of the formulations get used, by giving an example problem of its use.

At the end we looked at some quotes from “Korzybski: A Biography”

For example:

One of Alfred Korzybski's major aims was to uncover and revise the untenable assumptions/premises in science and everyday life that obstruct humans time-binding potential. 

A sane person doesn't accept his premises as true but at best only correct.  One makes testable predictions based on the theories derived from the premises and the theories get revised if necessary based on the results of the tests.

Insane people believed in foolish premises and abided by them with absolute conviction resulting in little or no revision and hence poor adaption to life.

Normal people [unsane] might accept foolish premises as true but often did not abide by them, ie they act hypocritically!  This leads to better, though in the long run inadequate adaption to life.

So GS tries to help people become more aware of and revise their faulty premises.

Korzybski also disagreed with the statement that "...every human problem can be solved by general semantics", ie it’s not a panacea.

Korzybski was going to call his work "general anthropology" at one stage.

Then I infer that he decided on the "general study of semantic reactions" which gets shortened to "general semantics".

Memory techniques were also presented.

Four memory techniques which can help people remember lessons at a seminar:

1) To put something into memory pay attention.  Most people can't remember (retrieve it from memory) something because they never remembered (stored it into memory) it in the first place because they were not paying attention. Ability to pay attention declines with age.  Silent level abstracting can help with attention.

2) To keep the memory, rehearse.  I.e. use it or lose it.  So revise and review.  

3) To make it easier to retrieve and reduce the "tip of the tongue" phenomenon, use multiple coding.  I.e. Remember it using different senses and languages and link it to more things.  Then you can remember by going back via any one of those things.

4) For future memories, reduce the memory load by using external aids, eg make notes.



Updated 31/10/2011 by RJ
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