Monday, November 12, 2012

General Semantics. From 3 Directions - - -

Seminal semanticist Alfred A. Korzybski: "The map is not the territory."

Seminal physicist Richard Feynman: "You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing - that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something." --and thanks to Brian Canton

Lakota elder Dan: "We didn't see that you had to name everything to make it exist, and that the name you gave something made it what it was." --Kent Nerburn, Neither Wolf nor Dog, New World Library, 2002 p. 165
When you take words as the things they represent (mistaking the map for the territory), as a result, you may often fail to "look at the bird and see what it's doing." This behavior is common, especially in "Western" super-"educated" cultures where book-learning -- which is nearly ALL words -- is emphasized.

This quirk of perception is surprising to members of those cultures which don't take the words as primary -- so much so, they often miss the implications. As Lakota elder Dan put it once he caught on, "We didn't see that you had to name everything to make it exist, and that the name you gave something made it what it was."

The question is, what is the main influence on your primary focus of attention. Is it what's suggested by words or is it the underlying reality?

Here's an interesting little test - - -


How did you do?

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