Australian General Semantics Society Inc.


 Saturday 15th March 2023

"An Introduction to the Epistemological Profile of Bois et al"

Facilitator: Mr David Hewson

We were fortunate to have be joined on-line by people from Montreal, Ohio, Sydney, Wolli Creek (NSW), Gerringong, (NSW) and Canberra.

We looked at the first four stages of the profile, that discuss various levels of understanding of our knowledge about the world, i.e. epistemology.

Reasons for this course:
  * An introduction to Einstein’s relativity theory, as requested.
  * Issues raised by Jaison’s talk, e.g. “Are we living in a matrix like ‘The Matrix’ movie?”.
  * Epistemological levels give useful context to those topics.

First we reviewed some GS formulations to give context, to better understand the levels. Formulations like: expectations, stress, either/or, projection, identification, fact-inference confusion, logical fate, abstracting, etc.

References for preliminary reading:
  * "The Art of Awareness" by Bois,
  * "Explorations in Awareness" by Bois,
  * "Sanity for Survival" by Pemberton.

1) Review of GS formulations
     to give context to better understand the epistemological stages.

We reviewed the following areas and formulations:

a. Communication theory and bypassing of meaning.

b. How to cope with stress, e.g. calm deep breathing.

c. Exercises to recognise Either / Or and identification errors.

d. We reviewed abstracting and the structural differential

e. Gavan gave an introduction to the logical fate, P1=> T1 process.

f. We introduced Watzlawick’s four levels of knowledge.

   i. Level 1 direct experience, e.g. looking at two doors.

   ii. Level 2 knowledge about the object or event not directly experienced.

   iii. Level 3 summarises level 2 knowledge
       e.g. Aristotle’s “A is A”, so a plant (A) can’t become a soldier (not A).

   iv. Level 4 knowledge about level 3 knowledge which is where GS sits.

2) Epistemological stages give context to understand relativity and reality talk.
    The stages were:

a. Sensing stage

   i. Object level on structural differential (i.e. senses) identification with event level / WIGO / territory, i.e. Projecting.
     Things and events are what they are sensed to be, e.g. water feels cold so it is cold, things and events get personified.

   ii. Knowledge model is animism where things a motivated by spirits.
      Teleological models based on the first model a baby learns, that of human action towards goals.

   iii. Age of superstition, witchcraft, believing in magical powers and religion was polytheistic.

   iv. Simplistic causal model, i.e. “Post Hoc ergo Propter Hoc”, supported by witchcraft theories.

   v. They have signal reactions, i.e. copying animals. And they believe that anything can change into anything else.

b. Classifying / Aristotelian stage

   i. Language levels on structural differential identified with event level / WIGO.

   ii. Knowledge found by studying the inherent characteristics of things / processes.
       Religion is now monotheistic with prophets and sacred texts.

   iii. Age of classification and Aristotelian logic where A is A and stays as A
      and cannot change into anything else.
      A is either B or not B. A cannot be both B and not B. Subject predicate language.

   iv. Single cause and effect chain model, e.g. dominoes falling.

   v. Believe in absolute truth, dogma, tradition, authority, ritual, etc.

c. Relating / Early science stage

   i. Senses or symbolic maps seen as only views of the territory.
      No longer identification of an abstraction ≡ territory.
      Know that “the map is not the territory” it represents.

   ii. Knowledge found via facts from observation and not from people / authorities.
      Using maths to relate variables e.g. F=ma, F=G*M*m/(r^2) and P*V=n*R*T

   iii. People like Newton, finding “God’s laws”. Like finding your lost ring under a rock.
        Others find no God when they look using telescope and microscope.
       Both feel certain about their attitudes. World seen as a giant clock.

   iv. Move from single cause for an event to a convergence of many causes,
        in a network. World seen as dynamic.

   v. Not as dogmatic as stage 2 and willing to change with changing circumstances.

d. Postulating / modern science stage

   i. Postulators make up a map and they don’t find it. The map is then checked.
      Instead of a set of absolute beliefs the person has a set of tentative postulates.
      Generalised uncertainty.

   ii. Invariance under transformation. So no longer anything goes with varying viewpoints.

   iii. Willing to change methods of thinking as well as changing your mind.

   iv. Move away from THE geometry (i.e. Euclidean) to a geometry,
       e.g. a non-Euclidean like the surface of a sphere.
       Move away from THE philosophy (i.e. Aristotelian)
       to a philosophy like general semantics being just one possible non-Aristotelian philosophy.
      Transactional viewpoint.

   v. Viewing can affect what is viewed both at the quantum level and in human interactions.
       Asking the wrong question can give you the wrong answer.

   vi. Probabilistic causal model.

3) Introduction to Einstein special relativity theory.

    We discussed reference frames as viewpoints
    and watched a video about special relativity.
4) Finally we looked at the question of “Are we living in a matrix like ‘The Matrix’ movie?”.

We decided after looking at various visual illusions that while our senses do distort, delete and generalise from physical reality, it is highly likely we are looking at a reasonably good approximation of reality and not a complete illusion as in the movie “The matrix.”.

Our senses reinforce each other. We noted that while general semantics aims to move your evaluations off 100% certainty, its aims to do this by only a small amount and that it is a good idea to avoid the either/or trap of thinking that if your image of reality is not perfect then it is useless.


  Saturday 15th February 2023, 10am - 1pm Sydney time
  Friday 14th February 2023, 8pm – 11 pm Ohio / New York time.
   On-line, by Zoom (Covid and 'flu safe!):

  Zero, Zilch - it's free!



Next meeting:  Saturday 27th May 2023  10am - 1pm (Sydney time)

"AI - Making 'Human Intelligence' Obsolete?"

Facilitator: Mr Robert James


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
16th April 2023