Australian General Semantics Society Inc.


Saturday 25th October 2022
10am Sydney time, on line via Zoom 

"Favs and Flaws of Simply Thinking Through GS Principles"

facilitated by Dr Brett MacDonald PhD.

Catching Up

As "GS practitioners", we have plenty of GS Diary entries to share with the group.  In the month since our last meeting, members had experienced a range of "transitional events" related to their personal, community, and professional lives.

This is a "living document", subject to ongoing evolution as recollections re-emerge from our memories of the event, and are re-evaluated in light of ongoing experience and reflection.  It will never be "the full truth and nothing but the truth", or "a map that expresses everyone's notion of the territory"!

We often use GS formulations-principles-devices in our lives,
sometimes without conscious thought.

Some of these are reinforced by success and  habit.
The applications of these GS formulations are explored
in terms of personal preferences and deeper aspects that are worth considering.

• David H proposed that a good theme for a presentation was: wide range of GS formulations and which ones we find best (most useful).

• To this end David provided me with a list from his Index of Korzybski’s Olivet college seminars.

• This list was very useful, however, I became aware of some issues in the list, so rather than just ask you to assess items on the list (a good summary list), I would like to explore the list and some of the aspects that are not quite transparent with you.

• Near the end you can nominate and discuss which devices you like, have served you well, are difficult to operationise, emphasised, minimised, forgotten about,,,,

The next few points sets up a background for choices you will make and describe as your preferences. 

Most of the principles and devices relate to this structure, yet this is mostly the cognitive part of our being, what of the feeling part,,where is that ???

We don’t mention it but we have them
and they need addressing.


As we go through a list of principles and devices note which ones relate to feelings and emotions.

I don't think I am downplaying the significance of feelings in our lives. Most of our most memorable moments entwine feelings.

The greater part of our brain relates to feelings/non-verbal, apart from body maintenance
In comparison - 3mm of neurones on the cerebral cortex associates with cognition/thought, most of that is in the frontal cortex. 

Some research suggests that ...

  * People’s everyday life seems profoundly emotional:
    participants experienced at least one emotion 90% of the time.

  * The most frequent emotion was joy, followed by love and anxiety.

  * People experienced positive emotions 2.5 times more often than negative emotions,
    but also experienced positive and negative emotions simultaneously relatively frequently.

A few provisos to consider wrt devices

1. The ones most useful might be ones so familiar to you your not verbally aware your using them.

2. Some devices are purpose built so they emerge as the situation requires: context driven.

3. Since feelings appear as an undercurrent upon which cognition rests,,its good practice to be aware of the tide of that current.

4. The more abstract principles are effective when operationised via behavioural devices (A Laurie legacy)

5. Try to be AWARE of your part in a situation, shift up a level of abstraction to your MAP and formulate your action - be self-reflexive. Even apes can do it.

6. Can a principle attain its “full” potential without it becoming an extensional practice?

7. It could be very beneficial to select a few and use them frequently to make them a habit.

Let's view the list I got from David -
remember, note the feeling ones, and any you personally use

• absolutism, abstracting, abstraction levels, Achilles and the tortoise, adjust to facts, adjustment, aim of GS education, allness, application of knowledge, applying knowledge, Aristotle's laws, assumptions, attitude, extensional, barber paradox, body-mind, canalization, causality error, causative factors, chair example, conditional reflex, conditionality, consciousness of abstracting, consciousness of sanity mechanisms, context, dating, defensive reaction to failure, delayed reactions, descriptive level, differences, disk-fan example, dogmatism, dynamic stimuli, dynamic to static, either-or, elementalism, elementalism e.g. "body and mind", elementalism e.g. "matter and space and time", elementalism e.g. "space and time", elementalism to non-elementalism, elementalistic terms, emotion-intellect, etc, Euclidean geometry, evaluation, evaluational standards, event level, expectation and shock, expectations, extensional, extensional bargain, extensional devices,

• extensional theory of happiness, fact, facts and reality, facts similar in structure to life, factual description, false knowledge, fan example, feeling/ object level more important than verbal level, four dimensional world, frustration, glass tear drop example, GS - what is does, GS - what it is about, GS aims, GS benefits, GS importance, GS not final, GS premises, P1 - T1, GS takes time to learn, habit formation, happiness theory, hate, hormones, human behaviour extremes, hyphens, identification, identity, identity "is", illusion, delusion, importance of GS, hallucination, indexing, indexing, infantilism, inferential level, inferiority, insanity, intensional, intensional - extensional, intensional systems, invariance, investigate facts, is - four meanings, is as an auxiliary verb, is as an auxiliary verb, is of existence, is of identity, is of predication, jump to conclusions, law of facilitation, maladjusted, map is not all the territory, maps self reflexive, map-territory relation, map-territory relationship,

• match box demonstration - jumping to conclusions, math and physics, mathematics, maximum predictability, meanings of a word, measurement as extensional, mental illness cause, mentally ill, method of science, multiordinal terms, multiordinality, MULTMEANING,

• nagging, natural order of abstracting, natural order of evaluation, negative results more important than positive results, nervous system, neurosis, neurotic, never, always (words to avoid), Newton, non elementalism e.g. "space-time", "emotion-intellect", non-Aristotelian,

• non-elementalistic, non-Euclidean geometry, non-identification, non-Newtonian, object level, objective attitude, old Aristotelian orientation, optimism, order, organism as a whole in an environment, orientation change, paper roses example of identification, paradox of Zeno, Pavlov's experiment, pessimism, predication "is", predictability, predictability and shock,

Some questions about your choices:

1. Do you differentiate between principles and devices?

2. How many principles-devices did you choose?

3. How would your choices impact on your feelings/emotions?

4. a. How conscious were you of using them?

4. b. What are your thoughts/feelings about being conscious of using the principles-devices?

5. Which ones would you like to use more?

6. Lastly, which one would be most useful-event changing-critical-fundamental?
    For what reason?

Note: In psychology there are two guiding principles:
  * individual differences ....and
  * the Thought / Feelings / Behaviour Triad ...

Don't forget the interactions with feelings

*************************** * ***************************

"We dance around in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows."

Robert Frost

*************************** * ***************************

For Reference - a few GS Concepts ...

Multiordinal - term "multiordinal" refers to different levels of abstraction. Multiordinal means "many levels". The term "description" is an example of an m.o. term. We can describe something, then we can describe what we described. We can continue this process indefinitely. I did not eat lunch today. ("true")
I said I did not eat lunch today. ("true")
I just said that I said I did not eat lunch today. ("true" again)

In this example, "true" was applied to different levels of abstraction, and so can function as a m.o. term. So a multiordinal term appears identical on different levels of abstraction but has different meanings.

Intensional and Extensional - Extensional responses are those that deal with what is actually going on in the world, what is outside our own skins. They can be contrasted with what GS labels intensional responses, reactions based on what is going on inside us.

Non-Allness - No One Can Know All There Is To Know About Anything.
“We see what we see because we miss all the finer details.”
-Alfred Korzybski
Because we never experience all of an object, and our words do not capture the whole of the object, the concept of non-allness reminds us that there is always more than we know. This is evident in the structural differential as unattached strings between the levels.

Indexing - GS technique of indexing, a method (extensional device) that involves applying index numbers to words as a reminder that no two things are identical (e.g., car1, car2, car3, etc.). Indexing reminds us that every person or thing is unique and has unique characteristics. Other extensional devices include: dating, et cetera, hyphens, and quotes.

Two-Valued Orientation
- The Limitations of Our “Either/or” Language -
A multi-valued approach presents as a more realistic approach in a world abounding in gradations of observables. Adoption of the either/or perspective also infers that the choices are opposites and that one of the opposites may not exist while the other does exists e.g. hot/cold.

Time binding - Knowledge grows exponentially. We live long and prosper today largely because we inherit virtually free-of-charge the wisdom of preceding generations.

Map - Territory - Korzybski introduced and popularized the idea that the map is not the territory. In other words, the description of the thing is not the thing itself. The model is not reality. The abstraction is not the abstracted. Yet the higher order abstraction has its part: abstraction free of distraction - clarity.

Identity "is" - In the standard subject object language form the "is" plays the part of the copula (linking word). The issue becomes when the ensuing actions assume the subject has all and only the aspects attributed to the object.

Elementalism - Splitting verbally that cannot be split empirically. To overcome this splitting and focusing on the connection a hyphen is used e.g. space-time.

WIGO (what is going on) - An important aspect of working out where on the structural differential you are alluding to. A good "grounding" practice.

Projection - overlaying your beliefs, interpretations, etc onto a situation. This might be unhelpful.

Self-Reflexiveness - Language is self-reflexive in the sense that in language we can speak about language. We can assess our own performance as it happens. It's going to a higher order of abstraction, a verbalising about the lower order.

Signal and Symbol responses
- If we identify the word with the object, we tend to react to the word as if its the object signal before asking ourselves what the word stands for. The word is a representation of an object, that is, a symbol, an abstraction. when we react to the word as to a signal - and not as to a symbol - we dodge the level of description to jump from the start to that of the inference. Avoids reacting to words as to signals, remembering they are only symbols.

Signal-delayed reactions - Keep cool - allows choice of response and reaction, not a triggered one, a considered one. I know it as the Pause.

P1 - T1 - changing our theory (belief) requires the premise to be changed also for coherency in thought and action, since specific theories are derived from specific premise(s).

Next meeting:  12th November 2022  10am - 1pm (Sydney time)

"A GS Perspective on Owen Barfield's book 'Saving the Appearances'

Facilitated by Mr Jaison Tremain


This "summary" is a collection of notes provided by the presenter and/or derived from our discussion by a number of means.  It is by no means a scolarly dissertation on the subject(s) as presented.  It does not purport to be the "policy of AGS".

Comment and criticism (constructive and otherwise) is welcome.

If anyone has been misquoted, copyrights infringed or confidences betrayed, please
contact us.


Australian General Semantics Society

Updated by Robert james
15th October 2022