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Different Languages and Clear Thinking 
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Re: Different Languages and Clear Thinking
Okay, that's it, it's time for me to start reading Korzybski. David, where would you recommend I start?


Thu Oct 24, 2013 7:31 pm
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Post Re: Different Languages and Clear Thinking
First of all, I don't recommend reading Science & Sanity to start with. It took me 3 different attempts spread over a period of 50 odd years before I could make it through. Eventually, however, you will have to do it. (It's available at the IGS store through the link below)

I will put together a few articles that I have collected over the last few years and post them where you can get to them. I've got a list of 30 or so that I'll have to go through and find what I think would be useful. That will take a couple of days.

I would suggest that you take a look at the website of the Institute of General Semantics
http://www.generalsemantics.org/ and take a look at the 'GS Learning Center' as well as the other sections.


Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:56 pm
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Re: Different Languages and Clear Thinking
That's very (and typically) generous of you, David.


Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:13 am
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Post Re: Different Languages and Clear Thinking
RobertPearson wrote:
. . . Heinlein wrote . . . "[T]he verb "to be" in English has twenty-one distinct meanings, every single one of which is false to fact."?
[/url]


Every time I read "Gulf" and run across this passage, my BS-sense starts tingling. Is there any meat behind it, or did Heinlein pull this one out of his rear? (My wife, when trying to teach my six-year-old son to be skeptical of what he sees on TV, calls statements like this "keister-facts".)

It almost has no semantic content itself -- it denies the truthfulness of what is probably the most important verb in English, yet uses that verb in the denial. It is an appeal to authority ("the dictionary says . . ."), which is a logical fallacy in and of itself, and then it denies the authority.


Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:36 am
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Post Re: Different Languages and Clear Thinking
BillMullins wrote:
RobertPearson wrote:
. . . Heinlein wrote . . . "[T]he verb "to be" in English has twenty-one distinct meanings, every single one of which is false to fact."?
[/url]


Every time I read "Gulf" and run across this passage, my BS-sense starts tingling. Is there any meat behind it, or did Heinlein pull this one out of his rear? (My wife, when trying to teach my six-year-old son to be skeptical of what he sees on TV, calls statements like this "keister-facts".)

It almost has no semantic content itself -- it denies the truthfulness of what is probably the most important verb in English, yet uses that verb in the denial. It is an appeal to authority ("the dictionary says . . ."), which is a logical fallacy in and of itself, and then it denies the authority.

(David Wright, please correct and extend my remarks where necessary):

Korzybski and his followers made a valid point about what they called "The 'is' of identity." This is from memory but it struck me hard when I first read it over 30 years ago and the impact is still visible. (note how many times "is" appears in that sentence!):o

When we say "X is Y": John is a bad boy, Mary is overweight, That is the Mississippi River--the statement is always false in some sense. John is much more than that, Mary is being compared to what standard (in Tonga she's "perfect.")? The river is certainly not the Mississippi of the day somone named it that, or even the river of one minute ago. This is what Heinlein is getting at with the lines in "Gulf":

Quote:
The world--the continuum known to science and including all human activity--does not contain "noun things" and "verb things"; it contains space-time events and relationships between them.

So, nothing is, everything becomes.

One other point that was tickling me was the part about how Speedtalk would make it impossible to state contradictions (or something like that):

Quote:
"Normal" languages, having their roots in days of superstition and ignorance, have in them inherently and unescapably wrong structures of mistaken ideas about the universe. One can think logically in English only by extreme effort, so bad it is as a mental tool.


Aristotle's Law of Non-contradiction only applies to static, frozen moments in time--the "Is of Identity." A is A. The World of Null-A, which I assume some of us have read, is of course a variation of Korzybski's "A is not-A" We know that an object can't exist and not exist at the same time, but in English it's easy as cake to make statements like "That tree is there and not there!"

Of course, in the context of the complete four-dimensional spacetime universe, that statement is completely true.

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Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:32 pm
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Re: Different Languages and Clear Thinking
So Clinton was right: "It depends what the meaning of 'is' is."


Fri Oct 25, 2013 1:29 pm
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Post Re: Different Languages and Clear Thinking
I have put together a series of articles about General Semantics.

It is located at http://home.windstream.net/dwrighsr/heinlein.html

I have moved it to the bottom of the left-hand pane.

All of these are in PDF and will open in a new tab or new page depending
on how you are set to open them. If your browser is set to download instead
of opening, then the article will be in your 'Downloads' folder most likely.

Revised 10/28/2013


Sat Oct 26, 2013 8:44 am
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Re: Different Languages and Clear Thinking
Thank you for that page, David; I've read a number of these articles now and I think I will look for some background on the connection between GS and NeuroLinguistic Programming, since it is immediately apparent that GS is a precursor or heavy influence upon. NLP. And I have a certification in NLP from Grinder.

It is certainly a shame that Heinlein did not write articles about GS, since they would undoubtedly have been far more accessible than Korzybski's writings. It's also clear to me that with a shift of a few decades, Heinlein would have been incorporating NLP instead into his fiction.


Sun Oct 27, 2013 7:00 pm
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Post Re: Different Languages and Clear Thinking
PeterScott wrote:
Thank you for that page, David; I've read a number of these articles now and I think I will look for some background on the connection between GS and NeuroLinguistic Programming, since it is immediately apparent that GS is a precursor or heavy influence upon. NLP. And I have a certification in NLP from Grinder.
I haven't looked into NLP. Will probably do so in near future.

Quote:
It is certainly a shame that Heinlein did not write articles about GS, since they would undoubtedly have been far more accessible than Korzybski's writings. It's also clear to me that with a shift of a few decades, Heinlein would have been incorporating NLP instead into his fiction.

In a letter to John Campbell, Heinlein talked of writing an article, but never got around to it. Campbell seemed uninterested in it.

Heinlein did say that his speaking in his fiction of GS was mostly to foster interest in it rather than trying to teach or explain it.


Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:41 am
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Post Re: Different Languages and Clear Thinking
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"There comes a time in the life of every human when he or she must decide to risk 'his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor' on an outcome dubious. Those who fail the challenge are merely overgrown children, can never be anything else."


Mon Oct 28, 2013 12:37 pm
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