Design for Thinking: A First Book in Semantics

Design for Thinking: A First Book in Semantics

Design for Thinking: A First Book in Semantics

Design for Thinking: A First Book in Semantics

Excerpt

Even the titles of books are sometimes appropriately. ambiguous. I have heard, for example, that Lancelot Hogben Mathematics Jot the Million was not addressed to hoi polloi but to the one out of every sixty Englishmen who has what it takes to make sense of it. I have called this a "first book"; to a Basic English enthusiast "first book" seemed a better choice than "prolegomenon" or "propaedeutic." It is not a primer, however, if by primer we mean an easy first step for beginners. It is really my first book, the immediate result of twenty-five years of trial and error accompanied by no comforting sense of expertise and certainly not "written down" to the college freshmen for whom its successive revisions were primarily intended.

In conception it was designed to adapt the linguistic philosophy of The Meaning of Meaning to the American scholastic pattern; hence I have the honor of thanking Ivor Richards for many generous hours of counsel and criticism. It was due to his prompting that I finally tumbled to the profound importance of metaphor.

I have a similar obligation to Anne Upton, who first pointed out to me the obvious relation between the processes of semantic growth and the principles of analysis. Like Aristotle I have come to realize that in subjects like semantics, the obvious is always the hardest to discover.

There have been questions from time to time about the relation of this book to the General Semantics program. Was the failure to mention it intentional? The answer is No. If I were aware of so much as a word or a sentence derived from Lee, or Hayakawa, or Wendell Johnson, I should be proud indeed to acknowledge it, for I think that American education is distinctly in their debt. As for that "old white-bearded Satan" Korzybski, may God have mercy on his non-Aristotelian soul! What a pity that he could not have lived to read John Herman Randall's recent masterpiece!

Colleagues at Whittier College, Paul Smith, Charles Cooper, Roberta Foresberg, James Merrill, Gilbert McEwen, Frederick Harrison . . .

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