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

By Alfred Korzybski | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND EDITION 1941

There is what may perhaps be called the method of optimism, which leads us either willfully or instinctively to shut our eyes to the possibility of evil. Thus the optimist who treats a problem in algebra or analytic geometry will say, if stops to reflect on what he is doing: 'I know that I have no right to divide by zero; but there are so many other values which the expression by which I am dividing might have that I will assume that the Evil One has not thrown a zero in my denominator this time.'

MAXIME BÔCHER*

God may forgive you your sins,
but your nervous system wont.

OLD MAXIM.

When in perplexity, read on.

OLD MAXIM.


Section A. Recent developments and the founding of the Institute of General Semantics.

Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-aristotelian Systems and General Semantics, first published in October, 1933, was intended to be a textbook showing how in modern scientific methods we can find factors of sanity, to be tested empirically. Although a great many scientific discoveries have been made since the first publication, it did not seem necessary to revise the text for this second edition because the methodological data given, important for our purpose, have not changed. However, the list of books in preparation for the Non-aristotelian Library has been revised, and in this introduction I indicate some new developments in general semantics and include a short new bibliography, supplementing the bibliography of 619 titles given on page 767 ff.

In 1935 I began to conduct seminar courses in general semantics in schools, colleges and universities, and before various groups of educators,** scientists, and physicians, including psychiatrists. In the same year a group of students of Science and Sanity organized the First Amer-

____________________
*
Congress of Arts and Science, St. Louis, 1904, Vol. 1, p. 472.
**
I use the word 'educator' in its standard English sense; namely, 'one who or that which educates'. I use 'educate in the sense of: 'to rear . . . bring up from childhood, so as to form habits, manners, mental and physical aptitudes . . . To provide schooling for . . . train generally . . . train so as to develop some special aptitude, taste, or disposition! Etc. ( The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, Oxford, at the Clarendon Press, 1933.) In this sense any teacher from nursery school through university professors are 'educators'. From a life point of view this would include even parents, nurses, etc.

-xxv-

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