Advanced Thinking: Mathematics, General Semantics ... Ways to Improve Relationships

Article excerpt

We were born communicating. We do not have to learn to communicate. ... But if the quality (representational accuracy) of our communication depends on the quality of our thinking, and the quality (degree of satisfaction) of our relationships depends on the quality of our communication, we might enjoy more satisfying relationships through working to improve our thinking and communicating. One way involves striving to become students of advanced thinking by infusing our vocabularies with mathematics and general semantics terms, and using them to modify our assumptions and beliefs and so improve our usual ways of thinking-feeling, talking about and doing things. Advanced thinking is not about what, or how much anyone knows. Advanced thinking refers specifically (and only) to moments of awareness--the contents of which involve "consciousness of abstracting": thinking in a general semantics (non-allness, non-identifying, non-elementalistic, heuristic, multidimensional, propositional, etc.) way about the ways we think about whatever we happen to be thinking about or reacting with--including ourselves. Many of our problems in communication and other relationships start--depending on where we stop our thinking In the spirit of "non-allness, non-identity, and conscious time-binding" (seeking improvement through applying general semantics), students of advanced thinking remain curious-lifelong-learners: When other thinking "say" "It is so," students of advanced thinking wonder and take a structural approach: "Is it so?--If so--How so?"

Grounded in the principles of "non-allness and non-identity," the proposition "advanced thinking" is based on the following criteria culled from "Webster's Collegiate Dictionary": "being beyond the elementary or introductory; greatly developed beyond initial stage; further on in time or course; being beyond others in progress or ideas; gradual betterment; to bring or move forward; progress in development." A school of thinking claiming to have superseded general semantics would in effect be supporting and illustrating the principle of "non-allness"--"We cannot sense, think, imagine, understand, know, say, write, all about anything or anyone--including ourselves:" We could avoid many personal, communication, and other problems by just remembering this seemingly simple proposition-principle. As advanced thinking starts where other thinking stops, students of advanced thinking, following a "non-allness, non-identity, propositional approach," become engaged in continuous self-educating, self-correcting, self improving way of communicating with themselves, others, and the world around them.

Recognizing that there were no generally accepted everyday communication standard, Alfred Korzybski proposed using his general semantics as a general way toward improving human communication-relationships. General Semantics constitutes a system about systems involving a generalization of the methods and approach of science and mathematics and includes the following interrelated propositions-principles-tools: "A General Theory of Time-binding (tools for improvements and adjustments), a general theory of evaluation and sanity, a general theory of psychotherapy, a general theory of values, a foundation for a theory of ethics, an international common denominator for communication and mutual understanding, among others." As this system has not yet been generally recognized or accepted, we miss many useful and effective tools for improving communication-and-relationships, and for understanding and resolving many of our disagreements, conflicts, violent outbursts, and societal breakdowns.

A Mathematical Approach Helps us Improve Communication

The progress of science, technology, and our expanding and improving knowledge of the world (including ourselves) results mainly from applying mathematics in our communicating-relationships with our diverse environments. In his book Science And Sanity expounding the "General Theory of Time-binding," on page 728, Alfred Korzybski proposed: "Science and mathematics show the working of the 'human mind' at its best. …