A system can be defined as a set of elements standing in interrelations. Interrelation means that elements, p, stand in relations, R, so that the behavior of an element p in R is different from its behavior in another relation, R’. If the behaviors in R and R’ are not different, there is no interaction, and the elements behave independently with respect to the relations R and R’. — Ludwig von Bertalanffy, (1901-1902) Austrian biologist, systems theorist, and founder of general systems theory (GST)
It is generally agreed that “system” is a model of general nature, that is, a conceptual analog of certain rather universal traits of observed entities. The use of models or analog constructs is the general procedure of science (or even of everyday cognition), as it is also the principle of analog simulation by computer. The difference from conventional disciplines is not essential but lies rather in the degree of generality (or abstraction): “system” refers to the very general characteristics partaken by a large class of entities conventionally treated in different disciplines. Hence the interdisciplinary nature of general systems theory; at the same time, its statements pertain to formal or structural commonalities abstracting from the “nature of elements and forces in the system” with which the special sciences (and explanations in these) are concerned. In other words, system-theoretical arguments pertain to, and have predictive value, inasmuch as such general structures are concerned. — Ludwig von Bertalanffy, (1901-1902) Austrian biologist, systems theorist, and founder of general systems theory (GST)
Scientific language, which Korzybski used as his model of sane language, is almost exclusively extensional and denotative, or at least tries to be. The language of the mentally ill, most obviously “un-sane,” is almost totally intensional and connotative. This is the language that does not correspond to anything “out there,” and this is, in fact, how and perhaps even why the user is mentally ill. Korzybski’s concern with keeping the conscious “connection” or correspondence between language and verifiable referents is, for all practical purposes, paralleled by the process of psychotherapy. In this process, which is largely “just talk,” the purpose is to foster closer and more accurate correspondence between the patient’s language and externally verifiable meanings. — Neil Postman, American educator, media theorist and cultural critic, associated with New York University for more than forty year (1931-2003)
Identity Project by ValeriaVi
Identity is defined as ‘absolute sameness in all respects’, and it is this ‘all’ which makes identity impossible. If we eliminate this ‘all’ from the definition, then the word ‘absolute’ loses its meaning, we have ‘sameness in some respects’, but we have no ‘identity’, and only ‘similarity’, ‘equivalence’, ‘equality’, etc. If we consider that all we deal with represents constantly changing sub-microscopic, interrelated processes which are not; and cannot be ‘identical with themselves’, the old dictum that ‘everything is identical with itself’ becomes in 1933 a principle invariably false to facts. — Alfred Korzybski, Polish-American scientist, engineer, mathematician, philosopher, linguist, logician, author of Science & Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics, and is remembered most for developing the theory of general semantics (1879-1950)
Using plurals rather than singular forms, and a, an, or some rather than the, can keep us from looking for “the cause” and for single factors rather than causes and multiple factors. As we’ve noted, Korzybski, for example, carefully called general semantics a rather than the non-aristotelian system.
As problem-solvers we can restrict ourselves and our alternatives when we think in terms of “‘the’ ‘best’ way” rather than “a better way” or “some better ways” to do something. Talking about “‘the’ solution” rather than “a solution” or “some solutions” contains a hidden assumption of absolutism or allness, that this is the only way, period!
We need to take care when we use or imply all or never. Unless we are dealing with pure mathematics, where by definition we can include all particulars that we are talking about, we can never, as far as we know, say all about anything. And even generalizations, without explicitly saying ‘all’, often imply hidden allness assumptions. — Susan Presby Kodish, Drive Yourself Sane: Using the Uncommon Sense of General Semantics (2010), Ch. 13 - Getting Extensional, P. 176
The third non-aristotelian premise states a view of maps as self-reflexive. This reflects the notion that we can make maps of our maps; we can talk about our talking, ‘think’ about our ‘thinking’, react to our reactions. It also reflects the notion that our maps serve as pictures of our nervous systems as much as they serve as pictures of what we’re mapping. In other words, we map our nervous systems along with anything else, so whatever we say says something about ourselves as well as the topic we’re talking about.
Thus, we question the common sense question, “What does that word ‘mean’?” The uncommon sense of general semantics suggests that we use the more appropriate question, “What do you ‘mean’ when you use that word?” Because the word ‘mean’ may imply that ‘meaning’ exists apart from a ‘meaning’-maker, we put it in quotes.
These aspect of self-reflexiveness leads to multiplicity in our abstracting and evaluating. Words involve multiple ‘meanings’ and ‘meanings’ change according to context, differently for each of us. We can call words ‘meaningless’ until we know the context in which they are used; hence the importance of the “What do you ‘mean’?” question. — Susan Presby Kodish, Drive Yourself Sane: Using the Uncommon Sense of General Semantics (2010), Ch. 11 - Self-Reflexive Mapping, P. 146-147
Alter Ego by `Fantasio
Here I want to make it very clear that mathematics is not what
many people think it is; it is not a system of mere formulas and theorems; but as beautifully defined by Professor Cassius J. Keyser, in his book The Human Worth of Rigorous Thinking (Columbia University Press, 1916), mathematics is the science of “Exact thought or rigorous thinking,” and one of its distinctive characteristics is “precision, sharpness, completeness of definitions.” This quality alone is sufficient to explain why people generally do not like mathematics and why even some scientists bluntly refuse to have anything to do with problems where in mathematical reasoning is involved. In the meantime, mathematical philosophy has very little, if anything, to do with mere calculations or with numbers as such or with formulas; it is a philosophy wherein precise, sharp and rigorous thinking is essential. Those who deliberately refuse to think “rigorously” that is mathematically—in connections where such thinking is possible, commit the sin of preferring the worse to the better; they deliberately violate the supreme law of intellectual rectitude. — Alfred Korzybski, Polish-American philosopher, scientist, engineer, mathematician, linguist, logician, author of Science & Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics, and is remembered most for developing the theory of general semantics (1879-1950)