Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Poetry Ring

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Poetry Ring

Article excerpt

General semanticists by and large are well acquainted with the story of how a young engineer from Poland named Alfred Korzybski was horrified by his experiences during the First World War, the first war to use weapons of mass destruction, the war that put an end to the notion that war is glamorous, glorious, an occasion for celebration rather than a tragedy. And motivated by what he had witnessed, Korzybski asked, why can't we build a peaceful world for ourselves? Why can't we make the same kind of progress in human relations and ethical conduct as scientists and engineers make in their endeavors? Simply put, why can't humanity grow up and settle its conflicts like mature adults? Korzybski posed these questions in his first book. Manhood of Humanity, where he characterized our species as a time-binding class of life, that is, as a species capable of storing and passing knowledge down from generation to generation. In turn, he answered them in his second book. Science and Sanity, where he introduced the non-Aristotelian discipline of general semantics. Consequently, over the past three quarters of a century, general semantics has been offered as an antidote to the insanity of war and conflict.

War is also a topic for poetry, one perhaps as old as poetry itself. For example, the Trojan War was the subject of Homer's Iliad, which begins with the wrath of Achilles and ends with the funeral of Hector. Certainly, one of the best known poems in the English language is the nineteenth century "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Celebration gave way to critique during the twentieth century, paralleling social and political developments. …

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