Australian General Semantics Society Inc.





Seminar Summary - 12th March 2016


"GS formulations for Problem Solving 2016"
An introduction to General Semantics where we will learn formulations that can help you solve your problems.

(at Bonnet Bay)

Led by Mr David Hewson

Our seminar
was graciously hosted once again, by the congenial Pauline, Gavan and Carlton at Bonnet Bay. Gavan provided another inspirational luncheon, to keep us going through the "siesta zone" of the day.


GS Diary
In the spirit of "applying general semantics principles" to our lives, as opposed to dwelling in theory, we considered members' accounts of observations and applications relating to the principles and formulations of our discipline.



We covered much material old and new, including ...


An introduction to GS history and Korzybski motivation 

   for developing GS after WWI. 

Intensional / extensional definitions, 

   e.g. "Man is a featherless biped" allows a plucked chicken to fit in category "man(kind)".  

   Pointing out Gavan, Pauline, Robert, Jeanne, as members of the category does not.



   Where one defines a word differently to another's denotation or connotation.

   Primitive, Aristotelian, Non-Aristotelian systems.


Aristotle's laws:

A is A, A is B or Not B, A cannot be both B and Not B. 

  * Limitation of Aristotle’s law with dating  At1 → At2 as t1→t2 e.g. 

     Robert at 5 years old is not Robert at 95 years old

     but as age goes from 5 towards 95 the similarity gets closer.  

  * On a sphere a triangle can be have 270 degree internal angles,

     but as the triangle gets much smaller this heads towards 180 degrees.


Extensional devices: 

  * Indexing, dating, etc, quotes, hyphens.

  * "Whole back yard hot" (summer) and "cold" (winter) uses dating.  

     "Kitchen hot and cold at same time" uses indexing. 

GS assumptions:

  * Map is not the Territory, 

  * Map is not all the territory, 

  * Maps can be made of Maps.

  * Structural differential and abstraction process



  * The "is of identity".  On structural differential, vertical identification equates levels 
     e.g. Rubber pencil (object or descriptive level) equated with a pencil (event level).

  * Horizontal identity, identifies members of a group with same name.


Fact-inference confusion as an example of vertical identity.  Examples:

  * A primitive tribesman when 5 years old and then at 85 years old, 
     looks at the stars and sees no change. (Fact)  

     He then tells his grandson that the heavens are unchanging and hence eternal. (Inference)

  * Sea serpent image depicting three parts of a sea serpent (fact) 

     and asked how many sea serpents (inference). 





  The "is of projection" where explicitly using a viewpoint is a solution. 

  At the object level we looked at a rotating disk as a projection example.


Allness barrier

  Solved with Etc extensional device.


Two valued orientation

  Solved with degree orientation.


IFD (Idealisation, Frustration and Demoralisation)

Ideal or high in the sense of being: highly vague, highly valued or too high an achievement level.  

  * Highly vague - hard to know when you have succeeded.  

  * Highly valued -hard to risk failure.  

  * High level -      hard to achieve.

Failure to achieve goals leads to frustration and then demoralisation.


We then looked at how GS relates to problems:

  * Problem definition and the use of GS assumptions to help improve it.

  * Functional fixedness relates to the identification of uses of something, 

    e.g. Goal of two distant strings to tie together with a hammer, small nails and a chair as tools.

  * Mental set relates to habitual responses which we tested out via several water jugs tests.

  * Analogy uses information from past problems to help solve the current problem.


We looked at several ways to bypass the difficulty in the problem.  

  Example problems included: 

  * The nine dot puzzle by breaking the assumption that the solution is inside the square. 

  * How to transport a sheep, fox and bag of wheat across a river in two object capacity boat.  

  * We solved the Tower of Hanoi puzzle by abstraction.    


Business Meeting

The usual: Plans for the year: Dates and places of meetings, international liaisons, finances etc.


Next Meeting:

Sat April 23

"Drive Yourself Sane"
   Using the Uncommon Sense of General Semantics ... 
   We’ll revisit Susan and Bruce Kodish’s work of 15 years ago,  
   see what might have changed in that time,
   and how we can apply their principles in search of greater sanity.
   Led by Robert James.

Disclaimer: This "summary" is a collection of notes derived from our discussion by a number of means.  It is by no means a scholarly dissertation on the subject as presented.  It does not purport to be the "policy of AGS".  Comment and criticism (constructive or otherwise) is welcome.  If anyone has been misquoted, copyrights infringed or confidences betrayed, please Contact us.



Updated by RJ 21 March 2016

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