Developing Sanity in Human Affairs

By Susan Presby Kodish; Robert P. Holston | Go to book overview
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fragmented, and theoretically unsupported of all the sciences. In this paper, I have
disclosed a fundamental error in contemporary biological theory;
created and deployed formalized notations which (so far) appear similar in structure to the "doings" or "happenings" of biological transacting;
derived, proved and presented theorems capable of forming the basis for disconfirmable predictions; and
reframed, reworked, and provided new proposed foundations for subdomains of biology such as overt animal behavior, enzyme chemistry, etc.

In summary, I have proposed a principled way of revising biological theory, using general-semantics principles to further the work begun by Korzybski, Sommerhoff, and others. I suggest that the basic structure of biology must include the requirement that it define and delimit its own field--the study of living organisms, as manifested in their apparently purposive behavior--and rigorously alter its methods to make them as nearly similar in structure to the objects of study as possible. If further scrutiny of the theory proposed here does not disconfirm my claims, then this work may indeed come to look like a step toward a theory of biology capable of conferring enough predictability to enable us to live within the biosphere in a sustainable fashion.

As a one-word abbreviation for this presumed setting, I use terms such as contacting (after Perls, Hefferline & Goodman, 1951) or abstracting (after Korzybski, 1933, 1941) or transacting (after Dewey & Bentley, 1949).
American Heritage Dictionary, New College Edition ( 1976).
I suggest that the mathematically defined construct of abstracting, within the theory outlined here, appears analogous to the old teleological construct of irritability, as used within the older teleological biologies.


American Heritage Dictionary, New College Edition ( 1976). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Ashby W. Ross ( 1962). "The Set Theory of Mechanism and Homeostasis." Technical Report No. 7, Electrical Engineering Research Laboratory, University of Illinois, Urbana 61803 (cf. Hilgartner & Randolph ( 1969a), p. 336ff).

Bourland D. David Jr., ( 1965/ 1966). "A Linguistic Note: Writing in E-Prime." General Semantics Bulletin, Nos. 32 & 33. Reprinted in D. David Bourland Jr. and Paul Dennithorne Johnston , To Be or Not: An E-Prime Anthology. San Francisco: International Society for General Semantics ( 1991).

Carroll John, ed. ( 1956). Language, Thought, and Reality. New York and London:


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