Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics

By Alfred Korzybski | Go to book overview

PREFACE TO THE FOURTH EDITION 1958

A quarter of a century has now elapsed since the first edition of Alfred Korzybski's principal work, Science and Sanity, appeared. The second edition was published in 1941 and the third was prepared in 1948, two years before the author's death. Although the second and third editions provided clarification and amplification of certain aspects of the non-aristotelian orientation originally proposed by the author, and while they cited important new data illustrating the rewards accruing to certain fields of human endeavor (e.g., psychotherapy) in consequence of the utilization of the orientations earnestly espoused by him, they represented no important departures from the first edition in respect of basic principles at theoretic and pragmatic levels. Nor, in serious retrospection, did any such appear to have been indicated.

Considering that the author himself, in applying the formulation of 'the self-reflexive map' to his own work, asserted on more than one occasion that perceptible revisions of his formulations must be anticipated and that such would very likely prove fairly compelling within a period estimated at twenty-five years, it comes as something of a surprise that as the 1958 reprinting of Science and Sanity goes to press no major alterations seem as yet to be required. In this modern world of rapid change--in which Man has acquired information regarding the intra- and extraorganic realms of his Universe at an unprecedented exponential rate; in which the Atomic Age has come into actual being; in which conquests of space that were but fanciful dreams only yesteryear have become astonishing realities; in which new specialties, bridging freely across the gaps of the unknown between conventional scientific disciplines, have sprung into life and become full-fledged within a matter of months; and in which far-seeing men of good will have organized their endeavors to unify the sciences, arts and humanitarian pursuits-at-large and appear as never before determined (despite recalcitrant and reactionary private interests) to implement a One World such as might befit the dignity of humanity in its manhood--the continuing substantiality of Korzybski's 1933 formulations must be regarded as a tribute to his vision and integrative genius. Now that we are able to stand a little apart from historical developments and view his life's work in some perspective, it can hardly be doubted that he grasped, as few had done before him and certainly none had so systematically and comprehensively treated, the abiding significance of linguistic habits and the communicative processes-

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