Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Sigma-EOS: A Fourth Non-Aristotelian Model

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Sigma-EOS: A Fourth Non-Aristotelian Model

Article excerpt

1. Introduction: Various Non-Aristotelian Models

Alfred Korzybski asserted that he "produced and formulated General Semantics as the foundation of the first non-Aristotelian system, based on the discovery of new relations, and so psycho-logical mechanisms." (Kendig, 1990; p. 816) Various people have commented on Korzybski's work, frequently working from a deficiency of understanding. This paper presents the foundations for a second non-Aristotelian system, congruent with the two models developed in varying degrees by Korzybski. Due to a significant shift in premises, it seems appropriate to consider this the beginning of a non-Aristotelian, but non-Korzybskian, system. This does not mean an anti-Korzybskian system, for the post-Korzybskian models have grown from Korzybski's fundamental insights.

Since 1933, Korzybski and his followers have produced and elaborated upon what one might characterize as four epistemological models. In various degrees of detail, these models seek to explain how we interact with our physico-psychosemantic environments-as-a-whole-at-a-date, and hence how we can improve the manner in which we do so. The two primary models appeared in Korzybski's seminal Science and Sanity (Korzybski, 1933) and in his subsequent writings (cf. Kendig, 1990; p. 479, 563, and 683). He did not refer to his approaches as "models," although he might have done so had he written in more recent times. We may cite the following as non-Aristotelian models related to the work of Korzybski:

(i) Korzybski's Model I.

Korzybski devoted almost all of Science and Sanity to explaining and justifying this model. He produced supporting psychological, psychiatric, physiological, physico-mathematical, etc., information to buttress his Model I, contained in Part VII of his hauptwerk. He regarded the Structural Differential as a diagrammatic summary of this model. Figure 1 contains an example of the Structural Differential as produced by Korzybski.

(ii) Korzybski's Model II.

Most of the material included in what this writer calls Korzybski's Model II appeared explicitly in Science and Sanity (Korzybski, 1933; p. 384), but without the diagram which he made available to students attending his seminars from 1944 to his death in March, 1950. A minimal amount of discussion of Model II, with the diagram, appeared in several publications (Kendig, 1990, as noted above) with the title, "An Extensional Analysis of the Process of Abstracting from an Electro-Colloidal Point of View." Figure 2 shows the diagram that accompanied those papers. Korzybski never elaborated this model beyond the rather brief discussion contained in the early mimeographed sheets. Apparently he still worried about and worked on this model at the time of his death.

(iiia) Modification by Bois.

Korzybski's student, Dr. J. Samuel Bois, contributed to the further development of Korzybski's Model I. (Bois, 1966; p. 79f) Although not as highly inflected as the other models discussed in this paper, his efforts obviously merit mention here as a related model. The writer leaves it to others, most particularly students of Bois, to discuss and elaborate the details of his model. In general, his modification consisted of explicitly placing a human "semantic reactor" between the various levels shown in the Structural Differential, and discussing the greater degree of understanding that this produces.

(iiib) Elaborations by Pula, etc.

Based particularly on Korzybski's Model II, Mr. Robert P. Pula, with his expansion of the notion of "abstracting" to such extent that it seems like little more than another term for "evaluation," plus evidently related efforts by Dr. Stuart A. Mayper, seems to work toward the development of another model. (Pula, 1972, 1992; Mayper, 1990) Fortunately for the rest of us, they now call their work "general-semantics"; this differentiates it from Korzybski's work, although they clearly did not intend this result. …

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