Australian General Semantics Society Inc.




Seminar Summary - 17 June 2012



The many types of viewpoint,
and how this formulation can be used to reduce disagreement etc.

We viewed some of Milton's 2002 seminar on DVD.
Led by Mr David Hewson

at Pauline and Gavan's majestic Seminar Centre: "Clifftop View".

Catching Up

As "GS practitioners", we "always" have some GS Diary entries to share with the group.  We were happy this time to welcome Lillian and Raj to join the group.

Aim of today's presentation

As "GS practitioners", we strive-

  • To give a more extensional definition of viewpoints. 
  • To show a wide range of viewpoints.
  • To develop skill in dealing with viewpoints.  
  • Realise that we abstract differently from others. 
  • To cope with different viewpoints.
  • Not to try and get others to agree with our viewpoints,
    but to recognise how others have them,
    and in some situations how to reconcile them or look for invariants between them,
    for example by developing consciousness of abstracting.

A Brief Introduction to GS

  • Aristotelian and Non Aristotelian systems.
  • How we see the Aristotelian as a limiting case of Non Aristotelian systems.
    We considered an analogy of a 270 degree triangle on a globe, compared to a 180 degree triangle in the back yard.  The size on the sphere had reduced and in the limit we are back with 180 degree triangles.
  • Map- territory analogy.  M<>T,  M<> all T, M of M
  • Abstraction process of deletion, distortion and generalising.
  • Structural differential.
  • P1 => T1 diagram change method of moving from P1 to P2 to get T2.

Some Advantages to a Student of GS

a) Context: Why make these changes? What makes these changes important for us?   What’s the negative consequences of the Aristotelian system of thought?  E.g. Either OR thinking.

b) Content: What exactly is it that we are changing? Premises or assumptions.  Hence theories and hence behaviour.  Today we talk about the viewpoints  formulation.

c) Consequences. What is in it for me personally? Better premises.  Better theories.  Improved behaviour leads to:  Longer life.  Happier.  Less shock.  More sane behaviour.  More productive. Etc.

d) Price:  Must actually use it and not just talk about it.  Used an analogy of walking to work and someone gives you a new car to get there faster.  But scared of scratching your new Ferrari, you do not use it, and so gets you to work no faster.  Some people just talk about GS and do not use it much.  To use it you must have a skill.  To have a skill you must understand it. To understand you must learn it and remember it.

Memory Method

Spaced learning is up to 4 times better.  I.e. learn and have a break before more learning.

Viewpoints - Using the Structural Differential

Emphasising a viewpoint is NOT the territory it represents.

Range of Viewpoints

Physical viewpoints like relativity theory and the Doppler effect. 

Also perceptual illusions.  And how we use theory to resolve ambiguity. E.g. One observes part of the territory and then there are several explanations for the rest of the territory.

In the (no doubt authentic) image of Loch Ness, below, is this one, two or four sea serpents? 


Consider "Science and Sanity" p444 where the ideal observer sees X from x, but a normal person sees B(x) = y due to their history developing the theory B.

Breakout Groups - Viewpoint Types

Several exciting views emerged ...

Coping with Viewpoints

a) Being aware of it. I.e. consciousness of abstracting.

b) Be explicit about it. E.g. use “to me” or “from my point of view” in your speech.  Or like physics give results from an explicit viewpoint (they call it a reference frame). 

c) Try to see things from the other’s viewpoint.  E.g. “Walk a mile in the other’s moccasins.”

d) Try to take a positive interpretation of what others say.  Communicate in terms of the others knowledge and goals and decision making logic, etc.

e) Go to a higher abstraction level or look for invariance.  See “Operational Philosophy”  p 23-24

f) Use independent viewpoints to estimate what’s going on.  E.g. N=A*B/C formula to estimate N based on one person seeing A things and another seeing B things and there being C in common.  We tried this out on estimating the number of triangles in a figure.  Or use triangulation methods.

g) Get more information.  E.g. What do you mean?  How do you know?

Limits of Viewpoints

Consider that a star can be seen as red, white and blue, from 3 different viewpoints but not purple with pink polka dots.  E.g. wooden block that looked like a: square, circle and triangle, has no viewpoint that looks like a +.  So some viewpoints are incorrect.

Next Meeting:

Sunday July 15: "General Semantics in Everyday Life"
How to apply the principals we have learnt over the years,
more consistently when dealing with
What Is Going On around us.
Bring an example of how you have employed a GS principal,
successfully or otherwise, in the past month.

To be Led by Mrs Pauline Callahan.
10:30am - 4:30pm at Bonnet Bay, Sydney, Australia



(Updated 17/06/2012)

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