The Importance of Story-Telling to Time-Binding: Crucial Issues for General Semantics to Address
Martha A. Bartter, C. Andrew Hilgartner, and Martin L. Stoneman
We suppose we should start with a teaching story to present our introductory ideas.
Once upon a time, during a million-year period of human gene altering called the Pleistocene, our early human ancestors lived in small groups of no more than about thirty individuals. By doing and sharing things together, they bonded to each other, and by bonding more closely to each other, they became more likely to stay together and help each other in the face of danger. When they had trouble finding food, everyone shared what they had; when facing a dangerous predator, everyone in the group either ran away or turned to fight together. Groups that did this successfully raised more young who lived to reproduce, thus genetically selecting the behaviors that tended to improve the ability of an individual to bond more closely with a group.
When a time came that group members could not physically share all their experiences, our Pleistocene ancestors developed ways to continue bonding by making gestures and sounds to each other. They also found these sounds and gestures useful to teach their young about their experiences, evoking in the listener a sort of "substitute experience." Practicing and using these techniques, our ancestors could eventually recount and remember stories about their lives; and they could, using stories, plan and imagine more and more experience; and they could share "substitute experience" with each other and with their young by means of telling and listening to stories. In this way, primarily by means of stories, a group could constantly augment their store of experiential knowledge within generations and between generations.
We store, remember, refer to, and act upon-and-from "substitute experiences" in very much the same way that we store, remember, refer to, and act upon-and-from "real experiences"--those that we did ourselves. Much of the time, we even fail to distinguished clearly between "real" and "substitute" experience.