Australian General Semantics Society Inc.




Seminar Summary - Saturday 26th October 2019


"An Introduction to General Semantics"

General semantics is a renowned, practical discipline that applies modern scientific thinking and language strategies to solve problems in everyday life.

Through the application of its key ideas and principles, general semantics brings about clearer thinking, better speaking, improved communication, more peaceful interaction, and greater sanity to one’s life.

Originally developed by Alfred Korzybski, general semantics has served as the foundation for numerous approaches to human problems with its unique applications adapted from modern science.

Presented by David Hewson

Our Seminar:
was generously hosted at Gav & Pauline's beautiful Bonnet Bay home -
Thank you both!

Catching Up
Sharing of triumphs and tragedies and miscellaneous yarns.

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.

Report on the 2019 AKML Lecture and Symposium in New York City

Jeanne and Robert reported on their travels in North America and Canada.

Their reports on the Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture and Symposium are presented as a separate event.

Today's Discussion: "Introduction to General Semantics" (by David)

Some General Semantics Formulations

Alfred Korzybski wrote: "We need not blind ourselves with the old dogma that 'human nature cannot be changed', for we find that it can be changed. 

We use the P1 => P2 model to illustrate this.

Aristotelian to Null A not anti A but a limiting condition
e.g. non Euclidean (surface of a globe, wherea triangle has three 90 degre angles)
and non Newtonian v
c physics.

* Map – territory analogy

* Map-territory relations

* The map is not ALL the territory it represents. 
   Hence uncertainty about territory. Non-absolutism.

* The map is not the territory it represents. 
   The word is not the thing.
  Hence dating.

* Maps can be made of maps (self-reflexive) and the theory of types.
  We call this "Self-reflexiveness".

Aristotle’s assumptions
   A is A
   A is B or not B
   A cannot be both B and not B
   Then we apply indexing and dating to limit A=A


   Viewpoints affect what is seen e.g. relativity  (to me attitude)
   Background /context effect on evaluating & meaning
   Leaving out details and adding in others (over/under defined terms.)

Structural differential

   Abstracting natural order:
   from event to, senses, object(non verbal), label(verbal), etc

Abstracting problems
   Aristotles other laws of thought.  Horizontal and vertical identity.
   Three bowls of water experiment:
   for A can be both B and not B if you have viewpoints and context.

Identification of orders of abstraction
   e.g. one name for many levels, e.g. "X is X".

Non identity:
   At1 <> At2 v's identity of A=A as absolute sameness

Projection of properties onto reality:
   ie. IS of predication "a rose is red"

Extensional devices as a fix:
   i.e. date, index, etc, “and then”, quote and hyphen

Inferential knowledge different from facts or assumptions:
Confusion of levels.

Fact inference confusion test:
   Assumption change for evaluation and behavioural change (P1 => T1, etc).

Expectations affect what we see and hear, etc.

   Jumping to conclusions

Delayed reactions (preventative and therapeutic value):
   i.e. symbol versus signal reaction.

Degree orientation v's Either/Or:
   i.e. infinite valued probability v's T/F

Differences in similarities and similarities in differences:
   Rather than just similarities

Communication is imperfect:
   We must expect miscommunication and index word meaning

Operational Philosophy:
   Four truth values:

      * True:
    Experiment carried out and supported, tentatively.
      * False :
  Experiment carried out and refuted
      * Meaningless:
           No experiment can be defined.
      * Indeterminate:
           Experiment can be carried out but not at the moment
           e.g. Gavan has a $5 note on the table in front of him tomorrow at noon.

Propositions and propositional functions
   2 + 2 =4
   There are two books on the table.
   2 + x = 5
Occam’s Razor – principle of minimum assumptions
   Occam’s Razor is the principle that where a choice has to be made between a number of possible hypotheses. 
   Occam suggested choosing the simplest one.

   “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”  - Albert Einstein
   Etc – relates to the alternative hypothesis.
   Not just one sided cause and effect but two way, e.g.
      Supply goes up so prices go down and demand increases,
  Supply => Demand or Demand =function( supply)
   but ...
   Demand goes up then prices go up and so suppliers produce more so supply goes up,
      therefore Demand => Supply or Supply = function (Demand)

   i.e. two way causality.

 *** * *** 

See also David's seminar in August: "How to get What You Want ... "

His content then included, for example ...

to misunderstand and to be misunderstood.  Relates expectation and communications.

– what, where. Provides conditionality e.g. person1 is not person2  They have different goals and different ideas about how the world works, etc.

– when something happened, e.g. you at 5 years old are not you at 50 years old.

– we can learn from what have others done to solve a problem, like negotiating.

–either you get one thing or its contradictory.  According to Aristotle you can’t have both, i.e.  A cannot be B and not B.

orientation solution to either/or distortion.  Indexing or dating can be solutions to either/or also.

– “to me” reminds us about our abstracting.

Fact – inference
confusion, i.e. identifying orders of abstraction.

– projecting your abstracted evaluation onto the world / territory i.e. “is” of predication.

– remembering that something is left out when we abstract.

Seven ways we distort reality:
   mind reading,
   fortune telling,
   emotional reasoning and


Thank you:
  * To David for his research and thoughtfulness in compiling material for today's event!
  * And to all the others who contributed their wisdom and experience to our deliberations.  :-)


Next Meeting:

"How Will We be Remembered?
Why are some people almost instantly forgotten when they have gone, while others cling on, embedding themselves so deeply into our culture that we’re still studying them, psychoanalysing them, writing about their life, death and achievements,
even depicting them in films, millennia after they’re gone?

An important formulation in general semantics is the principle of time-binding:
We pass on stuff to future generations.

What have we created or influenced, that we can pass on ... ?

Presented 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 Robert James
27 October 2019

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