Developing Sanity in Human Affairs

By Susan Presby Kodish; Robert P. Holston | Go to book overview
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that his labels and theories do not always accurately represent the actual objective level of life. He or she can check out those higher-order abstractions with the territory more often.

If one learns to examine his or her premises, and realizes that those premises can lead to projection of their maps as the only right maps, they can make the adjustments necessary to consider other cultures and different behavior.

Korzysbki offers a variety of extensional devices and other techniques that could be helpful in this restructuring, but I do not want to underestimate the enormity of the task. It is very difficult to promote true restructuring that leads to actual behavioral changes, even among those steeped in general semantics.

Such a process would have to start as part of the very early stages of education. That would require major reforms in education and reconsideration of curriculum. Students would have to be taught to recognize flaws in their language use, and evaluation process, well before the Aristotelian system has become cemented in their neurolinguistic environment.

There are isolated areas where such reeducation is happening. Empirical results of such "experimental" projects are overall lacking or are still in the assessment stages.

Even if general semantics was infused throughout the curricula of schools, as good general semanticists we would still have to be cautious about jumping to oversimplified cause and effect conclusions about its effectiveness in promoting an appreciation for diversity. At best, we might find that exposure to general semantics can promote an increase in appreciation for diversity among some people at some points in time under some approaches and circumstances. But in a world where diversity tends to drive us apart rather than add to the richness of our life's experience, doesn't such an effort seem worth it? 14

Alfred Korzybski, Collected Writings: 1920-1950, M. Kendig, ed. ( Englewood, NJ: Institute of General Semanstics, 1990) p. 26.
Ibid., p. 28.
Ibid., p. 713.
Ibid., p. 714.
Ibid., p. 701.
Edward Stewart and Milton Bennett, American Cultural Patterns: A Cross- Cultural Perspective (Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press, Inc., 1991), p. 52.
Korzybski, Collected Writings, p. 701.
Glen Fisher, Public Diplomacy and the Behavioral Sciences ( Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1972).
Korzybski, Collected Writings, p. 702.
S. I. Hayakawa, Language in Action ( New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1939), p. 153.
Wendell Johnson, People in Quandaries ( New York: Harper & Brothers, 1946; reprinted San Francisco: International Society for General Semantics, 1989), pp. 270- 281.
Stewart and Bennett, American Cultural Pattern, p. 2.


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