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Manhood of Humanity

Materials on general-semantics. An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and
Version: 1.0
Added: 16-03-2024
Updated: 16-03-2024
Manhood of Humanity, Second Edition A. Korzybski

This work began with a functional definition of 'man', formulated in 1921, based on an analysis of uniquely human potentials; specifically, that each generation can start where the previous one left off. I called this characteristic the 'time-binding' capacity .... We no longer have to blind ourselves to the old dogmas about the 'immutability of human nature' because we have discovered that we can change it. We should realize our human potentials so that we can go to the future with some hope. Alfred Korzybski.

General Semantics (GS) was developed by Alfred Korzybski, a Polish engineer who settled in the United States after World War I. The death and destruction of war horrified him and prompted him to search for an answer to the question of how humans have been able to advance technologically so far, yet are unable to put their relationships in order. After researching this question for more than a decade, he formulated a general semantics, which he presented most fully in his book Science and Sanity (1933).

«General semantics is not any kind of 'philosophy', 'psychology', or 'logic'. It is a new extensional discipline through which we explain and learn how to apply our nervous systems most effectively.» - A. Korzybski

«In general semantics, we do not 'preach' 'morality' or 'ethics' per se, but teach students awareness of abstraction, awareness of multi-order evaluation mechanisms, relationship orientation, etc., which lead to cortico-thalamic integration, and as a result 'morality', 'ethics', awareness of social responsibility, etc., follow automatically. » - A. Korzybski

Alfred Korzybski was born in the late 19th century into a noble family living in the Russian-occupied part of politically divided Poland. "I was born silent," he wrote - an observer looking around with an interest in what was happening. From an early age, he realized his calling to "solve problems." His father, an engineer by profession, fostered in him a respect for math and physics, and their practical applications. (Alfred later studied engineering himself.) He grew up a Polish patriot under the oppression of the Tsarist dictatorship. While serving in Russian army intelligence, he witnessed the horrors of World War I on the eastern front. By then, having moved to North America, he had witnessed the reckless behavior of people (including himself) for half his life. "I was simply tired of human stupidity. I didn't care about anything else."

Korzybski spent the rest of his days in a purposeful search and attempt to realize his life's dream - to promote harmony among people by understanding and solving the problems of human stupidity (preventable inadequate evaluation) and its consequences. What is it that human beings possess that makes them make tremendous progress in some areas (math, science, applied technology), but come to such a decline in others? Could we find a way to prevent at least some of the human ills and societal problems that Korzybski has seen? Would we have been able to update our maps (both in the narrow and broad sense of the term), including maps of ourselves, to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings and conflicts between people in society? Experience convinced him that people should develop their thinking abilities (which for Korzybski did not exist separately from their emotional life). He was troubled by the lack of a way to help thinking in a purposeful and systematic way. ("Where are we taught how to think? Nowhere.") His knowledge of science and mathematics also convinced him to try to develop a method of thinking for everyday life based on these disciplines. Korzybski conducted research on the 'strange' hypothesis - unconscious factors of personal and social adaptation (sanity) are realized in the professional behavior - including language - of scientists and mathema
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