Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Letter from the Editor

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Letter from the Editor

Article excerpt

One way of thinking of general semantics is as a "systems" approach for the understanding of the construction of meaning through symbolic interaction. So it is, that among the many fine articles contained in this issue of ETC, we are pleased to present the second half of Robert Logan's The Terrance Deacon's Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged From Matter. The Teleodynamics of Culture, Language, Organization, Science, Economics and Technology (CLOSET), with the subtitle for Part II: Are Culture, Language, Organization, Science, Economics and Technology (CLOSET) Teleodynamic Phenomena? As far as titles go, this is quite a mouthful--but the complexities contained in the subject matter require this type of detailed description, and certainly the question posited by the subtitle is immediately recognized as being an important contemporary issue.

Teleodynamics is a term that Terrance Deacon (the central figure in Logan's essay) uses to define the dynamical organization and relationship of consciousness to the origin of life. His claim is that much in the same way as the concept of zero revolutionized mathematics, thinking about life, mind, and other ententional phenomena can similarly help us overcome the artificial dichotomy of "mind" and "body" in terms of "constraints" --here defined as "what is absent." One example he uses is the hole that defines the hub of a wagon wheel, in which the hole itself contains no physicality, yet constrains or restricts the interrelationships of the wheel's other components.

Such "systems thinking" is not unique per se, and, in fact, lies at the heart of much of Korzybski's foundational work; and what is now known as "systems theory" is recognized as a foundational cornerstone of much of the theoretical work done in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries in terms of complex interactions. No doubt due to the depth and breadth of complexity imbedded within systems theory, there is no one definition that summarizes all of its various components, but it is generally acknowledged that Ludwig von Bertalanffy is the founding father of the discipline which has subsequently been extended to cybernetics, history, politics, sociology, psychology, and other social scientific and scientific pursuits. At the heart of this framework of understanding for Bertalanffy is the notion that self-regulating phenomena (think of weather or human learning) behave differently in open systems versus closed systems. …

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