IGS Discussion Forums: Learning GS Topics: Characteristics in GS
Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, May 26, 2008 - 08:33 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

I see that things have "developed" while I have not been paying attention.

Ben begins with "The Structural Differential in its Event Level represents an infinity of characteristics. From this infinity we abstract a finite number of them."

The use of the verb 'represents' brings in a presumption, and that presumption normally entails the prior existence of a domain and a range with a mapping "function", "relation", "correspondence", etc., ("represents") that associates subordinate "parts", "structures", "regions", "areas", etc., in the domain ("space") with some "corresponding" subordinate "parts", "structures", "regions", "areas", etc., in the range ("space") [a metaphor]. The term 'characteristic' is used to generically "name" these subordinate "parts", "structures", "regions", "areas", etc., in both the domain and in the range. Novices often make the mistake of "identifying" a domain characteristic with a range characteristic as somehow "being" "the same". In the neurological abstraction process, the range characteristic is better described as a "response" or "reaction" to the domain characteristic, and they are not identical, and in spite of the assertion to the contrary, often have no "similarity of structure" between them.

But any answer to a question based on these presumption is already biased in the direction of naive or scientific realsim by presuming "existence" as is metaphysically imported by use of the third person English language "assertion" format to state the problem as in "X represents Y".

Nervous systems have reactions - "re-actions" - "re-actions", but they also have actions, and some such actions may appear to re-present (an object from a "thing") when they were not abstractions from any inputs.

How do I get around this presumptive bias? By describing the entire sequence using only the first person form.

I experience
I experience perceptions
I presume my perceptions are caused.
I hypothesize that the cause of at least some of my perceptions arise from outside myself.
I build a hypothesized structure which predicts subsequent perceptions based on prior perceptions.
In that structure I hypothesize objects and causal relations among them, including the results of actions I take and perceptions subsequent to those actions.

As a recipient of the symbolic representation of the experiences of billions of such actions duly recorded by millions, abstracted, and organized by thousands, I have the hypotheses of "existence" of others, "things", and relations, dynamic and relatively static, including the common belief in "existence" independently of any one actor of other persons ("minds") and "things".

This includes the writings of hundreds of philosophers over thousands of years on the questions of "being" and "knowledge" abstracted and condensed into the general terms 'metaphysics' and 'epistemology', which I, personally, relate directly to the third person English and the first person English sentence structures respectively.

Korzybski's perspective is very simple. We can NOT "know" in the strong philosophical sense (knowledge entails truth) any "thing". Descartes, in his Cogito, discusses the question of what we can "know", and he arrives at the solution "Cogito ergo sum". He concluded that the only thing that we can "know" is that we are (exist) while we are actively aware of our thinking. Paraphrase: If I try to doubt my own existence, I see that I must exist as the doubter. (Which some subsequent philosophers tore apart.)

Korzybski is consistent with the view that we can not know anything in any strong (infallable) sense. In that subsequent followers of Korzybsk followed the philosophy of science closely, general semantics comes down to the building of maps (models) and the testing of them through use with the subsequent revision based on prediction failures (as in Popper) (with the hope of some eventual convergence).

The event level "represents" that our perceptions (objects) are caused and hypothesizes that these caused objects are abstracted from the event level. We have no "knowledge" of any form, structure, multiplicity, etc., of this event level itself, but we have built up a model over the millennia that seems to be a pretty good predictor of our experiences.

If we weaken the strict meaning of the term 'knowledge' by adding the qualifier "scientific", we can describe it as a current model or theory that has not yet been disconfirmed by actual use - has not yet made a prediction failure. (not in the sense of did not predict, but in the sense of predicting what must happen but didn't. In this sense, we "project" all our scientific knowledge onto the event level, but we recognize through consciousness of abstraction that this perception, model, "knowledge", "map", etc., is NOT what it purports to represent.

I'll come back to this, but first let's correct a mistaken impression. Ben writes "Korzybski sorted out life into three different classes: chemistry-binding, space-binding, and time-binding."
These are decidedly NOT "classes" in the sense of exclusive and exhaustive. They represent dimension of life like the three spacial dimensions we use to describe volume. We do not measure something by asking which is more important, its length? it's width? its height? Any physical object takes part of all three, and all three are useful for various functions. A length of rope, the width of a door the depth (height) of a well, etc.

Every physical object gets characterized in terms of its mass (energy), its location (space) and it's duration (time [of existence]), and every such object has all three of these dimensions.

Recall that Korzybski arose at a time when "Scince" had proclaimed that "man" was "nothing but" an animal, and that went very much against all the religious teachings. Social darwinism was in vogue justifying all manner of unsociable and unconscionable behavior in guise of "survival of the fittest". We still feel the religious back-lash today decrying "science" and blaming our troubles on "godless atheistic scientists". Korzybski to the rescue. Korzybski "rescued" "science" by providing an apparent "scientific" "definition" of man that clearly separated man from animals. The metaphoric mapping relating physical mass, length, and time to behavioral energy, space, and time (binding) is unmistakeable. Mass, length, and time are three relatively independent dimensions of which various object can partake of differing "muchness" independently.

Look at the activity of energy binding. A flow of energy is tapped, converted and stored so it can be used in a different time period.
Look at the activity of space binding. Space is controlled for the purpose of having access to the output of the energy binders in the region, so that the stored energy can be consumed for the benefit of the so-called "space binders". Competition is for area to control. The halmark is both competition among other space binders and control of resources over time. Store and find seeds. Multi-level carnivors feed on other space binders that manage bound enery over time.

Humans come along and do more, because they record the record of such aforementioned activity and plan not only how to acquire "space" among others, but how to manage the distribution of enery over time.

Plants convert sunlite to starch and sugars.
Plants which spread out leaves compete with each other - space binding - for space in the sun.

Animals feed on these by taking control of an area of space containing enough energy binders.
Some animals affect the distribution by moving stores of energy around - hoarding seeds. Others gorge themselves in times of plenty to have reserves for times scarcity. These are both rudimentary time-manageemnt of energy resources - though without the use of symbols.

Plants that store food engage in energy and rudimenary time binding.
Animals that hoard fat or food engage in enery, space, and rudimentary time binding.
Humans that compete with each other for jobs, money, homes, engage in space binding far above that of the animals, but we do much more time-binding too.

Every living thing partakes of varying degrees of enery, space, and time binding. Humans do all three the best, but they do time-binding far above the rudimentary efforts of plants and animals.

None of life is purely one-dimensional, but each species has more or less of one or the other.

Converting excess food to fat is a form of enery binding. Most animals and people do it. (Some wish we could not). We conduct gastric surgery on ourselves to reduce our capability of doing so.

Metabolizing fat is using these energy stores.

We hoard food external to our bodies. This is enery binding in another form. It's also time-binding in a rudimentary form. Nutty squirrils do it. We do it.

It has been reported that a bird, hiding seeds, and noticing another bird watching it, comes back later and moves the seeds. No language is apparently involved, but some form of memory, planning, and execution, with "consciousness" of another's abstracting (He's watching me hide this seed, so he'll probably come back and steal it), involves planning to and remembering to return and move the seed. This is managing activity over time - a rudimentary form of time-binding, though not using symbolic written symbols.

The bird has to be aware of another bird, aware of the other bird's actions (watching), relate that to his own actions. Connect it to hiding the seed. Remembering one's own action - taking a seed. Projecting that action on the other. His taking my seed. Getting complicated enough for you?

Energy, space, and time -binding represent dimensions of life, not classifications, although we can classify life broadly acconding to significant differences between how much and how well each activity forms a part of the organism's behavior.

Note "... as recorded in books and otherwise." makes allowance for "oral traditions", including in "languages" we have not decoded or understood, such as the dolphins may be using. Whales have a "culture" involving "singing". Could these songs include, unbeknownst to us, ballads about Ahab? Remember the Iliad and the Oddesy - the teaching of apprentice schumans in still primitive tribes.

Thomas wrote "... if animals could time-bind they should have progressed to actual science by now, shouldn't they?"

You mean technological science, don't you? Why must all "science" use "instruments" and "records"? The essential structural underpinning of science is building, using, testing, rebuilding, reusing, retesting, etc., etc., ; it does not require technology or instrumentation, and, in an atmosphere where fire cannot flourish, technological development is rather limited. Methings we/you exhibit "species-cultural" chauvisism: if it ain't like us, it ain't it.

Consider that religions are an application of space-binding. Leaders collect flocks who support their particular "church". In most cases each such "church" proclaims the teachings of all others as "false". Converting disciples - gathering sheep - collecting symbolic territory. Individuals "compete" with each other to rise though the hierarchy of their respective churches. And the proclamations of the leaders are almost never questioned (for fear of excomunication). How does this differ from a tribe of chimps or baboons? Are we less violent? Consider the inquisition. How about nationalism and countries. Territories are pretty obviously space bound, aren't they? Violence? Wars based on ideology, territory, nationalism, etc. Pretty effective space-binding eh? We do more and more extremely than any animals we know. Only the war-like chimps come close. Too bad we aren't more like the bonoboes... but that's another story; Woodstock was a good start, but the flower-children never gained supremacy.

My point is that we humans do far more competitive space binding, enabled by the use of symbols and by time-binding, than any animal species.

Plants manage the use of energy over time by storing excess energy.
Plants manage the use of space by competing with each other for area both individually and as species.
Animals manage the use of energy over time by storing fat, by hoarding plant energy sources, and by controlling areas of space containing plants and other animals.
Animals manage the use of space by competing with each other and with other species for control of echological niches - areas of space and time.
Animals compete with each others for space an order of magnitude larger than plants by virtue of their mobility.
Animals manage energy an order of magnitude large than plants, because they can control the energy produced by other beings, whereas a plant, with the exception of a few pasites, can only control their own energy production.
Humans - manage the use of energy over time, individually, in groups, as well as manage the energy production of other species, something only a few ant species in addition to us do.

Humans compete, compete, compete, and they plan for competition. They compete violently in as many way as possible, individually, as groups, and planned over time.

We cooperate to learn symbol systems so that we can compete more and better (or worse, depending on your point of view).

If you still have a perplexity with respect to "knowing" what "is", don't fret; you aren't alone. The question has plagued mankind for well over twenty-five centuries. Consider it just another manefistation of the wave-particle duality - or the atomism-vs-infinite divisibility question.

Me? - I'm going dancing.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, May 27, 2008 - 01:13 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Science, the core principle expressed by the philosophy of science, does not require technology. It does not require the use of fire or any other instrumentation. Those are both "application areas" of the core principle of "science", which is to use, test, and revise our model of our experiences. Through our application of this core structure we get empiricism, but tools are not required for a model to be scientific.

If it's not testable, it's not "scientific".

Consequently, a properly maintained oral tradition that embodies tested models of experience constitutes a scientific model so long as no part of the model is dogmatically unquestioned. Because we cannot speak "whalese", we cannot know if what we call whale-song comprises a scientific model of their environment being maintained as an oral tradition that is continually updated by use and testing. Obviously water inhibits fire, and the lack of grasping limbs inhibits tool use, so we cannot say, not knowing the "language", that it does not constitute a "scientific" model.

I "know" what I mean by "science", and I have stated it. Perhaps you would care to state what for you constitutes the minimum required to be called "science". Then, through time binding we can see what different conclusions might be the logical fate of our respective premises as to what "science" ... ("means", "is", "requires", constitutes, etc.).

In any event, the "model" is not what it models, doesn't cover all of what it models, and reflects its makers. A model not of our making just may not have enough "resonance points" for us to perceive it as a model. Can a caveman with his stone axe and wooden pegs conceive of welding metal structures together? We have our hammers and we see where we can put nails; how can we conceive of a world view in which the major portion of the brain is devoted to sound waves? We even call it echo-location because we have to "see" a "point"; we're stuck in the particle nature of sound when those who live in the environment are immersed in the wave nature of the environment. The squiggly lines on a holgram don't mean much to us in any direct way until we can use coherent light to construct a virtual image elsewhere than the hologram - projected there by our brains. We see where the nail is.

The whales and the dolphins just may have "science", though, lacking tools and fire, not technological applications of "science". Since we often confuse the two, we just may be biased to deny the scientific method can be applied and used without the benefit of tools or non-volitile symbol systems. Species/cultural chauvinism - a topic addressed in philosohpy with respect to the "other minds" problem.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, May 27, 2008 - 01:33 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

George asks "Quo vadis GS? Can GS become a memeplex valued by millions? How to sell GS in India and China?"

1. Since I ascribe to evolutionary epistemology, I would suggest that the coevolution of media echology niches might eventually be used to trace the future history of its development. It probably won't "go" where any current practicioners hope.

2. It would have to be seen as fulfilling an unfulfilled need, and that is most likely to happen with something that is new. General semantics has probably missed the train in terms of timing, as it is already labeled as "self-improvement" as a best, or a "pseudo-science" by some, a cult by others, - in all such cases as "not" new. "Science" does not have an ethical component, as these are seen as independent. What can be done and what ought to be done don't have any inherent connection. Korzybski claimed that general semantics would provide the basis for such a connection, but none has emerged other than the naturalistic fallacy that we cooperate in symbol use therefore we "ought" to cooperate in symbol use. So the answer to "2" is "probably not". And, in spite of the lip-service to the idea of cooperation, it's is most observably not evident in the community of general semanticists let alone a hallmark of human activity - contrary to the claims of Korzybski and his first and second generation disciples.

3. Hire some con-men to do the job. Hell, general semanticists can't even agree as to what it is that they are peddling. A good "snake-oil" salesman doesn't care; he just gets the product sold, and then moves on before anyone discovers the truth about it.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, May 27, 2008 - 10:57 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

It's dogma to say that animals absolutely and positively can NOT time-bind; it's testable science when we define the actions that constitute time-binding, and then test to see whether or not some particular species behavior fits the definition of that action. You are not alone when you exhibit species chauvinism, that is, claim that no animals can time bind. I leave the question open as testable science. As it currently is, we simply do not have enough observation data to answer the question with respect to whales and their "songs". But if you prejudge the answer before observation and testing, you are not doing science; you are preaching a dogma, the "religion" of general semantics, not the "science" of general semantics.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, May 27, 2008 - 11:03 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Thomas, you have not presented what you mean by the term 'science'.
Failure to do so precludes any discussion of the differences between our starting premises let alone any "logical fate" that follows from the differences.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, May 28, 2008 - 11:57 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

I refer readers to the general theory of time-binding, in which the difference is characterised as a rate of accumulation of information encoded in symbols. Symbols include verbal representations, in any language, human or otherwise. If we cannot understand a hypothetical language, then we cannot measure its rate of accumulation, and hence we can not evaluate it as "space-binding" or "time-binding". Moreover, the difference in rate is characetrized in the general theory qualatatively, not quantatatively, so there was/is no hard and fast boundary. They remain open to interpretation. "Animals" may be accumulative. Since both these notions as well as the characterizations are described as high level abstractions, they represent selections from a broader domain - to which I apply the normal curve distribution, and such curves extend infinitely in both directions, thus resulting in overlap. Once again, any "dividing line" that converts these overlapping structure into "exclusive and exhaustive" "categories" is a mapping that reflects the map maker. For me there are no "categories" in the territory, as Korzybski cautions in "The General Theory".

Science and "knowledge" progress by successive applications of variation and refinement by abstraction. If we are lucky, we eventually end up with crystal clear distinctions and definitions that form the "theory". And we then use the theory to make predictions, revising the theory when predictions fail.

Korzybsky claims "Fido does not know and cannot know that he abstracts, because it takes science to know that we abstract, and Fido has no science, as a matter of brute fact." (TGT: 13-14)

These assertions aren't science; science is documented by observation, but we have no way to determine if "Fido" does or does not have any introspective capabilities, so the claim is not even scientific, as it is not testable. We can see clear indications in the case of higher primates behavior with mirrors that some are quite capable of self-awareness, and self-awareness is not far removed from awareness of self-activity, including "thinking". The bird who sees another bird watching him hide a seed, and then returns to move the seed, clearly shows awareness of not only its own abstracting process, but of projecting that abstracting process on others! This is observed research that Korzybski obviously never heard of (as it was only reported recently in brain difference studies). Maybe "Fido" can't count the number of sheep, maybe he can. Maybe dogs can't exhibit what we project as "shame" when they are scolded for an accident; maybe some can.

In the progression from action-reaction to symbols there is a stage of conditioning in which something unrelated is learned to be associated with something else - the sound of a bell with the arrival of food powder. Language is just conditioning with orders of magnitude more complexity.

My cortex functions as if designed for association. Evolution produced this at many orders of the phylogenetic scale, likely because associations in the territory are ubiquitous.

Written symbols are a second order pairing to the object <--> verbalization <--> second object (written mark). Is writing required for time-binding? No, but it sure helps. The same can be said of tools.

The terms energy, space, time, -binding started out with certain associations and describe certain behaviors. Analysis of the behaviors and the interactions dictates refined definitions for the terms. The old associatons may become obviated and serve as dogma to inhibit the scientific progress in model building.

What do plant's "do"? The convert the sun's energy into a form that can be stored and used later. This is energy-binding.

We started with plants associated with the term, provide a behavioral description that serves as a tentative definition. Now we can see that that definition does not apply to all plants and only plants. It also applies to animals and man, but in different ways.

Animals convert energy stored by plants (and other animals) into fat reservs for later usage. They conver the sun's enery indirecty for future use.
Some animals do this outside their bodies by hoarding.
People do this too.
So energy binding, as defined as an activity, is done in varing degrees using different methods by all three "classes" of life. To say that ONLY plants bind energy now becomes out-of-date dogma that contradicts the definition abstracted from a fuzzy majority of plants.

Organic Sun-originated-energy savers.

Simiar extrapolation, reasoninging, applies to space binding and then to time-binding. And these revisions and enhancements to definitions rather than simple named classes offeres the logical fate that both apply to all three classes of life in varying degrees and using varying methods - dimensions, not classes.

And this type of reasoning is what scientific progress from generation to generation is about - abstracting refinement, evolution, and improvement.

Let's get on with it. Let the cultists cite chapter and verse and remain in 1921-1933.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, May 28, 2008 - 09:46 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Nora wrote, "You'd make a much better argument if you didn't end it by accusing others of cultism."

I notice that you did not address the "argument" per se.

I wrote "Let the cultists cite chapter and verse and remain in 1921-1933." My statement was not an accusation. You failed to correctly apply the logic in my statement.

The logic of "let cultists cite chapter and verse" becomes my conditional: "IF X is a cultist THEN X cites chapter and verse."

Your logic:
Your conditional: If X cites chapter and verse, then X is a cultist.
Y is citing chapter and verse.
Therefore, Y is a cultist.

My conditional IS NOT equivalent to your conditional, which is how you must interpret what I did say in order to validate an argument that one is accusing another of being a cultist.

The flaw:
If X is a cultist, then X cites chapter and verse.
Y cites chapter and verse.
Sorry but we cannot conclude that Y is a cultist without committing the fallacy of affirming the consequent. That reasoning is invalid.

I did not nor did I intend to say that he who cites chapter and verse is a cultist. (Although repetitively quoting of "chapter and verse" without supplying an interpretation may be an indicator.)

It is my opinion that one of the businesses that the Institute should be about is abstracting, consoslidating, revising, and publishing updated revisions to evolving general semantics formulations in the "light" of corroborated scientific research.

As in science, definitions get revised and theories get revised to fit new facts.

You appear to have abstracted in your mind that anyone who does not agree with me gets labeled a cultist by me. That is false. I have never named anyone and applied such a label to them. But frequently arguing for dismissing secondary writings on the grounds that the formulations differ from Korzybski's precise wording shows an unwillingness to update and revise. It's unacceptable to say it is so because that's what Korzybski said. We need to have a definitive explanation as to why it was said that way, as well as a carefull relating of those formulations to current observations of behavior and other up-to-date discoveries. "Korbski said it this way" is not an acceptable reason for keeping the formulation unchange. Show how the definitions and theories fit together with current observations - in a testable manner capable of disconfirming the theories. Then you will have a science that agrees with the structure defined by Popper and accepted by the Institute (unless the current Institute officials are re-thinking that choice).

Philosophers are continually re-examining, re-analyzing, and even re-translating the writings of all the major philosophers down through the ages, and many of them are doing so in the light of the current philosphy of science as it has evolved.

But anyone who repeats exact words, often with a raised voice, is not engaging in the above; such an activity is expressing a form of dominance or control - it represents a power struggle rather than the effort of evolving understanding.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, May 28, 2008 - 11:27 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Loel, I can't take credit for "species chavinism"; the phraseology has been around philosophy writing, particularly in the philosophy of mind, for quite some time.

I just finished "Where Mathematics Comes From", on the heels of having finshed "Philosophy in the Flesh", both by Lakoff. In applying cognitive science to philosophy and mathematics Lakoff leaves nothing to be "sacrosanct" "a priori" knowledge. Everything may be questioned, including our most cherished pet theories.

In some ways I see this as bringing what I call the "C" of general semantics, "the map reflects the map maker", in "with a vengance". A lot of us humans think we can see/know/understand some "independent" reality that "exists" "independently" of us. Lakeoff does a pretty good job of showing the metaphorical connections of our highest level abstractions right down to our daily activities. We used to think that mathematics was a "universal" language that any "intelligent" species would eventually come to. Based on the multi-level metaphorical underpinnings inhering in everyday activities of human beings, that belief is severely open to question. It's humbling to realize that even when we think we have gotten outside our preconceptions, we learn the path by which we are trapped inside our own preconceptions.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, May 29, 2008 - 09:41 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Hi George,

You present some interesting relations.

Years ago I had a close friendship with a fellow who immigrated from Hong Kong and his wife from Canton. After observing them, and several other oriental language speakers, I noticed (abstracted) a pattern that seems to suggest that context is more significant in processing (their) language. A particular kind of joke, responding to a question with an out-of-context answer, went completely flat - was not understood. For example, answering the question "what would you like" as if it had been asked "what would you like (from life)" instead of "what whould you like (here and now)" produced only a non sequitur response. I saw this time and time again with different people. What I've read about the four intonations of Chinese, allowing one syllable to mean four different things depending on whether a level, rising, falling, or dipping tone is used, indicates that context helps determine what the words mean even more so than in English.

Brain research has reported that users of linear languages use a diferent part of the brain from those who use pictographic character languages - more "right" brain in the later - also the area of the brain more associated with feminine and relationships.

As an essentially monoglot English user (no early life seconds language), currently teaching ballroom dancing, I've noticed that men (predominately) have more trouble learning to do a new figure starting on a different compass heading than women (predominately) do. [Same dance figure, but starting facing a different direction.] I describe this as an evolutionary adaptation. Men "know" that returning home is not the same as going hunting. But women in the tribe "know" that (social) relationships don't change with the compass. I personally suffer from this "affliction" or "skill" (I can always find my way back from whence I came.)

If I put this together with the aforementioned language observations (abstractions), we can possibly note that the language in use imposes a "bias" on the user. I have noticed this very clearly with artificial language (computer programming languages) users. During an Artificial Intelligence course, programmers skilled in several different languages were tasked with devolping a Lisp implementation of a BASIC program to translate ordinary English into formal logic statements. When we divided part of the project up, we got very different styles of Lisp modules. The PL-1 programmer's Lisp module "looked like" and used "PL-1" structures and techniques; the BASIC programmersl's Lisp module "looked like" and used "BASIC" structures and techniques. The MUMPS programmer wrote a MUMPS-clone lisp module. Etc. Because I quickly assimilate new computer languges, I was the only one who saw and used the unique LISP capabilites effectively right off the bat. Eventually, as the project continued, the result used more Lisp structures as everybody learned how to apply some of the special LISP structures and capabilities.

If I extrapolate that experience to a lifetime of natural language use., it seems consistent with my experiences and your claims with respect to Asian speakers. I also remember that China has a "religious" history of "ancestor worship", and that would naturally translate into "don't offend the gods before they die (and achieve power)". Are you familiar with Julian Jaynes's, "The Origin of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicammeral Mind"? Like the Egyptian Pharos were thought to reappear, reincarnate, and "appear" to people after they were dead, Chinese ancestors "appeared" to the living.

So our "wetware" brains can be programmed to operate in many different ways. The general semantics "trapazoidal window" experiment shows that people from highly industrialized cultures with lots of right angles see the "window" as oscillating while more primitive cultures (lacking a lot of right angles) do not see the illusion. And this happens before any language is abstracted to describe the effect.

If our non-verbal "object" level experiences already show the infuence of our past experience (reflect the map maker) before we abstract to the level of language, is it not surprising that we can come up with such different formulations from ostensibly (according to realists) "the 'same' environmental event"? And just imagine how much more uncertainty when said "event-stimulus" is language!

And attributing these affects to a pre-event-level entity named "God" (or anything else), ... well, that goes well beyond my extrapolation inclination. I hypothesize structure to the event level based on my object level experiences and their interpretations, projecting, and testing. If I can't test it (in principle), it become irrelevant and is discarded from my model by Occam's Razor.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, May 29, 2008 - 10:14 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Thomas wrote, "Ralph, I don't think the people on this list need you telling us what is science and what isn't." Yes, you "don't think". But that's not what you "meant", is it? You "do" think the people on this list don't need [me] telling us what is science and what isn't"

Perhaps some do and some don't...

Professor Nasrudin was asked one day to come and give an explanation of science to a community. When he came to the podium, he asked the audience, "Do you know what I am about to tell you?". They answered, "No, we do not." Nasrudin then said, "Then it will take too long.", and he got down and left. The authorities then persuaded him to return for another try. This time, when he ascended the podium, he again asked, "Do you know what I am about to tell you?". The audience thought they would fool him, so they all said, "Yes.". Nasrudin then said, "Then there is no need for me to tell you.", and again he got down and left. The people, somewhat frustrated, sent a representative to persuade Nasrudin to come again. When Nasrudin ascended the podium, he again asked, "Do you know what I am about to tell you.". This time, the people had a plan. The audience said, "Some of us do, and some of us don't." Nasrudin immediately said, "Then let those who know tell those who don't know.", and he descended the podium and left.

How do you know what I mean when I use 'science'?

"When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean --- neither more nor less." and "
"Of course you don't [know what it means] --- till I tell you."


"There's glory for you!", [Humpty Dumpty said].

"I don't know what you mean by 'glory'," Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't --- till I tell you. I meant 'there's a nice knock-down argument for you!'"

"But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument,'" Alice objected.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean --- neither more nor less."

"The question is", said Alice, "whether you CAN make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master --- that's all."

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. "They've a temper, some of them--particularly verbs: they're the proudest--adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs--however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!"

"Would you tell me, please," said Alice, "what that means?"

"Now you talk like a reasonable child," said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. "I mean by 'impenetrability' that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you mean to do next, as I supposed you don't mean to stop here all the rest of your life."

"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone.

"When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Thomas, any specific content of science is an application area, and that is irrelevant to the structure of science. We must not confuse the method with what we find out using it within the limits of our own speciese capabilities. You imply that Science entails others knowing OUR HUMAN derived model from the use of our tools and our bodies. That's more species chauvinism. How can you measure whether or not or how someone else "knows" anything beyond hearing your own words coming back? We can not "know" in any strong sense anything - according to our current theory of knowledge with respect to science, and that is NOT a cop-out. It's recognizing and applying our "knowledge model" of uncertainty. We should NOT be asserting things that we have no way of testing. The philosophy of knowledge is fraught with difficulties and uncertainties as well as many different uncertain and ambigous definitions or characterizations of the term. I always include a qualifier when I use the term. I use knowledge as strong (entails truth) or "weak" as in the currently not-yet-disconfirmed model. Relativity is weak knowledge. Since "knowledge" is that held by an entity, we have the problem of measuring that which we cannot see directly, and that involves some operational definitions, the result of observation which produces an infrence - a theory - as to whether the subject "knows" according to how we define it.

Asking if Fido knows about the theory of light waves is like applying an American college SAT test in English to an Australian aboriginee with no second language. Species and Cultural chauvinism - like the Greeks (and Romans) - anyone who did not speak Greek (or Latin) were called "barbarians" the root of which meant "to babble".

See the movie "The Gods Must be Crazy".

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, May 29, 2008 - 11:00 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Essentially, all posts are "self-serving", especially those that ask others to change their chosen means of expression. More to the point, both "self-serving" and "clarifying" are not attributes of formulations; they are evaluation-abstractions that reflect the attitude of the speaker - "self-serving" a (negative) judgement about another's motivations, and "clarifying", a judgement about how easily one assimilates the presented formulations.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, May 30, 2008 - 08:36 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Hi George,
I think Hayakawa must have agreed with you, as he turned the structural differential upsidedown and called it the abstraction ladder - among other alterations. Others have laid it on the side and made other alterations. I find Lakeoff's "Metaphors we Live by" and "Philosophy in the Flesh" most "enlightening" in exposing many of the subliminal connections and associations we use in everyday thought and speech. "Up", "Higher", etc., metaphorically relate to climbing a hill and being able to see further. We get a "big picture" when we are atop a hill compared to being "down in the details".

I would recommend "On Intelligence" by Jeff Hawkins, particularly chapter 6, "How the Cortex Works". The cerebellum is not where our primitive instincts "live"; the cerebellum coordinates timing of inputs and motor actions with links to the other major brain areas.

The "primitive brain" is located elsewhere. See this for diagrams. Most notabily in general semantics terms is the thalamus. - hence what A.E. Van Vogt misnamed? the cortical-thalamic pause.

Your metaphor is "cute", but skating into the folds does not take one "down" in brain function towards the primitive brain areas. The cortex in the folds is functionally "identical" to the cortex in the non-folded area. The folds are only because, spread out, the cortext has a larger area than will fit smoothly inside the skull. Note the brain development down the phylogenetic scale. "Down" the scale brains have fewer and fewer folds.

The cortext is interconnected in a physically collumnar structure such that activation in one region tends to inhibit activation surrounding that region. Turn on one cell, and it tries to turn off its neighbors. This turns out to be a differential amplifier which has the ability to pick a signal out of noise in a particular central area. It is ideal for abstracting some commonality out of a varying distribution of inputs. Since these columns are all connected horizontally, and their outputs serve as inputs to other areas, we can learn hierarchies consisting of many levels, each feeding to the next, and this is what gives us the ability to form high level abstractions. The network gets programmed by our experience to learn and remember connections by mapping them to altered synapses. Used synapses strengthen. Unused synapses do not, or attrophy. Learning consists, in part, of strengthing and growing new synapses together with weakening and losing others. This effectively changes the "wiring diagram" - giving a physical interpretation to the expression "use it or lose it". It is already known that young brains experience a lot of culling of connections early in life as part of their initial learning.

We now know that brains grow new connections and new cells, and that a combination of problem solving - learning - together with aerobic exercise keeps the brain from degenerating faster.

I now continually learn new ballroom dance steps and I dance and teach regularly - multiple times per week. My currently believed best way to retard ageing.

The diagrams mentioned above show that the connection from the amygdala and thalamus to the cortex are much stronger than the reverse direction. But continued use and practice of the principles of general semantics can and will grow stronger connections where needed - from the cortex - and allow some weakening of the circuitry going to the cortex.

What we have discovered through current brain function research supports the old wisdom "use it or lose it" and "practice makes perfect".

Perhaps this will stimulate some better metaphors for communicating the need to apply general semantics towards achieving better cognitive and less (negative) emotional communications.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, May 30, 2008 - 08:44 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Hi Bruce,

Good to hear from you.

No. The parenthesis is meant to select out some negative emotion results. Emotions are a wonderful part of our existence; they perform many survival functions. But in the context of our highly abstract virtual environments and the associated ambiguity of meaning at such levels the emotion-cognition process often goes too rapidly down the path of unverified assumptions and judgements. Applying general semantics in this area, by simply delaying our reactions so as to allow more abstraction - allows the "cognitive" direction to guide the "emotional" directive more effectively - even though they are intimately co-involved.

Recall my "Think-feel and Know-act"? It shows the relation between the abstraction side (input) and the action side (output) using the structural differential and Nina Bull's attitude theory of emotion. This post discusses how one can "manage" emotions using cognition. Note; it does NOT separate emotions from cognition, and it does not seek to "control" emotions.

What "Think-feel and Know-act" does not show is that our sensory/brain/motor circuits contain many parallel paths, some of which are "short-circuit" reflexes that bypass the brain entirely, some go right to the Amydala and thalamus, and some go by way of the cortex, with the path to the cortex being younger phylogenetically speaking - and therefore less well developed as a control circuit. We have to learn to use these circuits to effectively influnce the earlier, more direct, ones. We basically have to learn to hold off on our decisions as to whether something is "good" or "bad", as that decision (conscious, or otherwise) starts the emotional cascade directing our output.


1. What an insult!
2. Hmm... Was that an insult?
3. Gee, what did he (she) mean by that?

In 1 the body prepares to fight right away.
In 2 the body starts to make ready. All it takes is a second order abstraction in the same direction, but it is not instantaneous.
In 3, the body prepares to seek clarification, an extensional, positive activity.

The upshot is that by applying the attitude theory of emotion - choosing not to decide if some stimulus is "good" or "bad", we remain uncommitted to emotion directed action. We haven't "controlled" emotion once it has begun to form; we have prevented it from being appropriate.

The cognitive aspect occurs principally during the abstraction process that leads to an inference to a prior judgement or to a new judgement involving our valuing positively or negatively some object or experience. Once we have that value judgement, our bodies automatically, according to Nina Bull, "orient" in preparation for action to consumate the emotion. Moreover, delayed onset of that behavior results in a build-up of feelings - an increase in the intensity of the "emotion-state-feeling". (Elsewhere I argue for the survival value of such a system.)

To put it simply, we manage emotions not by controlling or supression of the build up of pressure, but by preventing the pump from being turned on in the first place. Deciding good/bad is turning the switch on with positive or negative orientation. At this point it's too late. The question of goodness must be reopened.

So, once again, I do not see myself or anyone else as having cognition and emotion "unconnected" or emotional qualities as negative.

Jumping to conclusions may produce distorted maps, and acting on them may result in undesirable responses from others.

"How can you be so calm in the face of this disaster?"
"Well, I just don't know what's good or bad."
"Don't you feel that something must be done right away?"
"Well, I just don't know if that good or bad either. Sometimes doing something right away makes matters worse. Sometimes not."

This suggests that we will be better able to obtain this state of "indecision" if we have more experiences, especially of plus or minus results for similar situations.

Incidentally, I think shorter posts are inherently more abstract, and thus more ambiguous.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, May 31, 2008 - 12:46 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben recalls Korzybski: From what I recall offhand, he used the example of cube, square, and line (and point). and asks, "Would you call a square a type of cube? A line a type of square? (A point a type of line?)"

Recall that the three dimensions in this analogy are length, width, and height, and stand for the three mutually independent and orthogonal directions. Every physical "thing" partakes of all three dimensions. A rod is like a line, in that it has lot of length but very little width and height, (setting aside any rotational perspective). A floor has length and width, but very little height. Most buildings have substantial size in all three.

The three dimensions that Korzybski uses are energy, space (all three) and time. All living beings partake of all three of these dimensions.
Plants do not move around much, but they accumulate - over time, energy.

The following is Copyright 2008 by Ralph E Kenyon Jr.

Let's look at this using some simple calculus - as Milton loves to do.

Plants have a rate-of-change of space with respect to time (ds/ds) that is very low, but they have a large de/dt function - ability to accumulate useable energy supplies.

Animals have a dynamic de/dt function (store fat - slow - or hoard seeds - fast), but they have a much larger ds/dt function; they move around a lot when they estabilish their territories - which allow them to take control of the energy binders in the area they control.

Humans and "time binding"?
Using dt/dt for a rate does not make sense for humans, as this is always 1. What we have instead is information. di/dt, and that is very, very, large.

We can see that animals have a very low di/dt, in that they accumulate information very slowly.

Plants do too, but only at the very, very, slow speed of genetic evolutions.

Plants improved by genetic mutation alone.

Animals improved by both genetic mutation and through copying their immediate parents; some species have some rudimentary aural symbol systems that they learn and gradually change over generations. (Some animals are no better than plants, some are way better - as there is the whole phylogenetic scale to cover - in degrees).

Humans improve by genetic mutation, by copying their parents, and by information transfer using symbols aided by the tool use that creates physical represtations of symbols - records.
Each new human must go through the process of copying parents to learn the symbol system, and then further learning to learn the hard symbol tool system. This gives them access to more than their immediate parents and associates know - access to physically stored records.

This description does not quite match up to Korzybski's multi-dimensional perspective, (which many have mistaken to be a classification system).

"Dimensionality" is an order of magnitude more complex than simple classification.

Classification divides a rod into segments.
Classification divides a floor into areas.
Classification divides a building into rooms.

But adding a dimension multiplies the possibilites. Rods can be woven to make floors. Floors can be tipped up to make walls and ceilings, in each case by getting outside the original dimension(s).

Rods - Plants bind energy.
Floors - Animals bind space (and energy)
Buildings - Man binds information (and space (and energy)).

So Korzybskis multi-dimensional characterization is best revised to Binders of energy with respect to time, binders of space with respect to time, and binders of information with respect to time.

Energy binders.
Space binders.
Information binders.


each with resect to time.

I maintain the copyright to this update/revision

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, May 31, 2008 - 01:03 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Thomas wrote, "the importance of a definition (or of any statement for that matter) is that when people "translate" it to objective levels they agree on what it means."

But the kind of "agreement" you speak of here cannot be measured in any direct way; it can only be taken for granted, or inferred, because any attempt to get at "meaning to a person" involves abstract, translation out of the nerological into speech or other acts which gets further abstracted and interpreted by any observer/listener/reader.

My "meaning/understanding" and your "meaning/understanding" are always separted and different nerologically, by abstraction, by experience, by interpretation, etc.

Even if we transplanted a direct nerve trunk from one brain to the next, the contents of one brain would still be encoded in nerve trunkline signals and then decoded by a different brain with differnt experiences.

Only operational definitions can have any reasonable utility in insuring, not understanding, not knowing, only repeatability, and these depend on assuming some common words and actions are understood.

Agreement "on objective levels" is not possible to be known within our current science and knowledge, and it is certainly not possible to be known as it goes againts general semantics principles of abstraction.

Agreement "on objective level" can only be assumed; it cannot be known, shown, or measured in any direct way. Moreover, any "indirect" way does not provide agreement, because the "identity" of what is to agreed to gets lost in abstraction and translation. What gets agreed to turns out to be different for each person, as exercises at general semantics laboratory-workshops have repeatedly shown.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, May 31, 2008 - 01:07 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Correction in bold to my earlier post.
"Plants have a rate-of-change of space with respect to time (ds/dt) that is very low, but they have a large de/dt function - ability to accumulate useable energy supplies."

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, May 31, 2008 - 04:13 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben, Nowhere have I ever said that man is a "mere" space binder or a "mere" time binder, or that an animal is a "mere" space binder, nor that man is "merely" an animal. Your quote is a straw-man.

One must recall that the notion of a "dimension" is a very high level abstraction, and that we cannot ever show a pure dimension. Nothing that exist physically has only one dimension, or even two dimensions. All have three. We need to carefully recall that "space-binder", "energy-binder" and "time-binder" are abstractions that enable us to share maps with others, that "in reality" nothing is the map. All living organisms have all three dimensions in different proportions. We ignore dimensions when we abstract, but we are then not being extensional about what we can abstract from the territory.

1. Dimensions are not categories, but we can construct categories by emphasizing a measure of one dimension over another.

2. Nothing "physically existing" "is" in a category; an entity abstracting labels it so.

3. I provided an update to Korzybski's dimensional system that better encapsulates his derived categories.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, May 31, 2008 - 10:39 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Hi Ben (and anybody else),

Why would classifying living things in a different way "motivate" people to behave differently? If not "why", then how?

Why should someone's abstraction into a classification system have any effect on the behvior of people?

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, June 1, 2008 - 10:29 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben (and others), it's not the classification that provides the motivation; it is the value/judgement (good or bad) that provides the motivation.

We have millions of years of evolution turning towards those things that have provided us with reward and turning away from those things that have proved hazardous. We have developed ways to learn from experience in rapidly changing environemntes how to recognize things or situations to approach and things or situations to avoid. We also have a built in mechanism to activate our motion towards or away from the aforementioned instinctive and learned things and experience, and we have added language to be able to orient towards or away based on the say-so of others - once we learn which words and phrases are to be associated with orienting towards and away from objects and situations. Evolution also provided use with a mechanism to insure that an orientation did not go unacted upon - proprioceptive and inerioceptive feedback which we call the feelings of emotions. We feel fear when we orient to run away. We feel desire when we orient to grasp. And we feel subtle variations and combinations of the six basic emotions that Nina Bull studied.

We have classified most of these generalizations into two primary basic orientations which we label "good" and "bad", and we learn through aural traditions in our early childhood and later through time-binding what positive or negative associations we have with words. And we have learned how to import the positive or negative value associations into new combinations - inference. Part of time-binding is learning to orient at the sound of a word or phrase that we have learned or we even infer has positive or negative abstract value association in our cultural and symbolic environments.

The categorization does not motivate people. The accociated positive or negative generalized value we learn is associated with the words that name the category induces correspondnig orientation, and our evolved emotional consumation mechanism provides the motivation to act on the orientation.

Read Nina Bull's "The Body and its Mind", one of the essential general semantics references books selected by Charlotte Read as part of the organismic self-awareness facet of the earlier general semantics seminar-laboratory-workshops.

It's only becase "being an animal" has positive or negative value associations through the dynamic state of the culture that peopele get motivated to act. However, when we realize that such categories as "man" or "animal" are so abstract as to be many levels of description and inference away from any real individuals, we should also realize that there are a great many abstraction paths to that high level, and people can apply the terms in many differnt ways.

We got "Social Darwinism" which applied "surivival of the fittes" as justifacation for unconscionable business practices in the past. It serves as a "justifaction" for what these business men wanted to do in the first place, so it was a "positive" label attached to "bad" behavior ("good" for the businessmen, "bad" by other standards).

There are many arguments - inferences - reasoning paths (both valid and invalid) - that can get to associating man as an animal or to get to distinguishing man from animals, depending on the interests of reasoner, and in the process the formulations can pick up either positive or negative value judgement associations along the way, (often guided by the desires of the reasoner - such as in political speech).

We must learn to continually prevent "short-circuiting" our consciousness of abstraction by jumping from categorization to judgement. Remember to describe, infer, canegorize, infer association with values, re-evaluate the assumed associataion, make a fresh decision as to value, and only then make a semi-final judgement to act upon. Anything less exhibits reduced and ineffective consciousness of abstracting.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, June 1, 2008 - 11:07 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail


I think that to call a definition a special kind of "description" tends to confuse the extensional with the intensional. Description is largely extensional, abstracting generalizations from many particulars. Definition, on the other hand, begins by specifing conditions and relations that must apply to apply the term named in the defining part (which to add confusion is also called a "definition"). That does not precude using abstract descriptions in the defining part of a definition. A "dictionary definition" is where you look up a word to see what lexicographers have constructed as such a "defining part" after performing many abstractions from many uses. The "dictionary" definition is a hypothetical model designed to capture and subsume as many of the majority uses of the term by a rule. In many time-binding instances it is this rule that a person first learns for a word, and they then try to fit that rule to circumstances.

Both definitions and descriptions associate a formulation relating other names with a word (or phrase). I can describe a dog - a name we have long used for many now quite different animals. We can describe them as mostly hairy with for legs, teeth, good sense of smell, associated with man, etc., but we cannot define a dog because it is the name of an abstract category generated from examples. We can define a trilateral as a three straight line segments pairwise connected at their endpoints so as to form a closed (plane) figure. ("Plane" is redundant, since three points determine a plane.) I can now look at any triangle and decide if it is or is not a trilateral.

Since I was "brought up" in "mathematics", (cultural difference in language) I would eschew the use of 'definition' where 'description' can be use simply becasue the intensional-extensional dimensional directions firgures so significantly in general semantics.

Wide-spread acceptance of a dictionary "definition" does not make it an intensional "definition"; it's still a just a standardized "description".

A formulational substitution for a name may be given by a standardized description (which requires that the listener be familiar with the standardized description), a dictionary definition (which the listener may look up), or an intensional definition (which the listener may use to evaluate if an object of interest satisfies that intensional definition).

If we start making a common abstraction from definitions and descriptions, we obscure the differences - in this case the very important distinction between intensional and extensional.

I don't think we can do away with intensional definitions, as some would have us do, because these are important in generating theories - our maps - and the testing of those theories.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, June 1, 2008 - 12:59 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben, A value judgement is a much higher level of abstraction than basic classification.

Your wrote "getting told some classification, you do something. Told another thing, you likely do something else."

Your motivation to do something does not come from the classification. It comes from your internal desire to do something. The evaluation of the mouse as "good for effecting the screen" allows you to exercise your motive of changing the screen. Your motive of keeping the papers from being blown motivates you to move the object evaulated as "good for keeping the papers in place".

Motivation always comes from within the person in response to drives and purposes - even thoese coerced by others. Judgement evaluates an object or activity as "good" or "bad" for one's desires to effect change in one's environment or to one's self. Hearing such a classification and associating "good for" or "bad for" effecting the desired results may direct the implemenation of the action. We see the object. We classify it as a paperweight. We bring forth the association "good for keeping papers in place". We bring forth our motive or desire to keep the papers in place. We orient towards the paperweight as "good" (relatively for us now). We then act on our orientation and consumate the motivation.

But, if we don't care about the papers, then the classification of the paperweight, even if it gets evaluated as good for keeping papers in place, has no effect on us without a corresponding internal desire about the environment, namely that these papers do not get scattered.

Motivation does not come from outside of us. Even coerced behavior is motivated by our desire to avoid adversive stimuli.

We value something, and we orient towards it. Then we act on that orientation.

We don't act because we are told something; we act because we evaluate what we are told as effecting in satisfying our pre-existing motivations.

Calling somebody something can stimulate directly opposite behaviors - one to deny and one to affirm the applied label - both responses to internal motivations to affect how others see us. Which behavior results depends on the values inherent in the person. Businessmen desire to take a relative advantage of others by selling stuff, often whether the prospective buyer needs it or not. If Social Darwinism says this is ok, then it eases his conscience (if he has one).

We do not create motivation; we manage it by manipulating the symbolic environment, but this only works when we know both what associations of value are commonly connected to words and phrases as well as the desires of the person we desire to "motivate".

To suggest that a mere classification statement such as "men are animals" will motivate people to behave like animals fails to take into consideration the many level of abstraction or the fact that motivation inheres in the person, not in the information coming to the person. As many people can react "no way" as can react "oh, goodie" (denial and affirmation). It depends on the internal values which motivate the individual.

Keeping all these levels of abstraction separate and in our consciousness of abstracting allows us a certain freedom from the manipulation of others - freedom to re-evaluate and choose differently than those with less consciousness of abstraction.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, June 1, 2008 - 07:57 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben wrote, "In the mouse example, a person decides to move a mouse when someone else classifies the item; I said nothing about a screen."

No act exists outside of an objective context. As Nora said, "context and purpose. We always have the organism-in-its-environment-as-awhole. Just because you did not mention a screen (what a computer mouse is usually used to effect changes to), does not mean that there was not that or something else that you happened to choose not to abstract to linguistic levels. (The map covers not all the territory.) Even if the person picks up the mouse or move it out of sheer curiosity, he or she does so from internal motivation. You said "A person has to determine that later. E.g., does the mouse work? does the paperweight hold papers in place?". That only happens because the person already has a model to test against; he or she has an advance idea which drives the testing. A nearly new-born baby who is just beginning to experience the world has built in motivation to move and try, and the child begins to build a neurological picture of its own functioning and the environment as it learns.

Discussion of motivation most certainly does NOT lie outside the scope of general semantics. The whole notion that humans "should" behave "better" if they don't classify themselves as "animals" deals exactly with motivation for action. Besides, general semantics deals with knowledge and understanding based on the structure and function of the human nervous system and its processing, of which motivation is a major part.

At the base level, all mobile life is motivated (pun intended) by the need to move around in order to find food, mates, reproduce, avoid predators, and to store sources of energy in time of plenty for times of scarcity. Humans have invented tools to assist in the process of exercising their evolutionarily given motivations. These tools include symbolic language recorded in non-volitile media.

The knee-jerk reflex might be said to be "externally" or "extrinsically" motivated. But we are looking for things and for ways to do things continually, even when we appear just to be reacting to our environments.

It's not the statement that motivates people. It's the value they give to it. We "go for" that which we value. If we have a learned association of value with a word or phrase, it is that association that moves us to act. The words in and of themselves, without value, are just noise. Recall the general semantics maxim - meaning is not in words; it's in people. Value is not an attribute of words or even of things; it an attitude about the words or things that people have - derived through learned experiences. With consciousness of abstraction we can sometimes take control and alter those learned associations. But many people think the words have the power not the people. Not!

When you abstract and verbalize a name (mouse, or paperweight) you provide a stimulus that evokes the experiences the person has with that sound, including utility, value, and many associations. The person responds to those values and experiences (his or her map) in terms of his or her immediately existing internal motivation. He or she could even be moving it irrespective of which you call it simply to see what's under it. But you telling him or her what you abstract and name it as does not create a motivation to act; it enables him or her to act according to the value he or she has associated with his or her idiosyncratic experience, learning, etc, associated to the sound he or she heard (not necessarily what you said).

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, June 2, 2008 - 04:06 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben, One of my specialties while I was in the Navy was Leadership and Management. There is a lot of time-binding references on the subject, much of it about motivation.

In the above example you cite, a student raises his or her hand, because he or she wants to be called on and allowed to express him or herself, presumably about the subject, but sometimes for unrelated reasons, such as a desire (motivation) to leave the room to go to the bathroom, etc..

In leadership theory, we do not create motivation in others; we seek to channel existing motivation.

General semantics models the human nervous system from abstraction through judgement. I felt from the beginning that it focused mostly on the input side of information processing. But general semantics as taught by the IGS at seminars did not stop there; Charlotte included organisimic self-awareness which included the attitude theory of emotion - dealing the feeling side of behavior and the notion that "feelings make us do things" (contrary to the principle of the attitude theory - which holds that orienting leads to doing, but feelings occur when doing is delayed after orienting). T-groups, aka "here-now" groups, "encounter" groups, "sensitivity training", and other names were incorporated into the teachings of the institute of general semantics almost from the time they were first invented. They deal with ways of reacting.

I don't think that it's "bickering" to point out that any hypothesized situation described by a verbal abstraction can be interpreted in many ways by a listener. Such was the topic of an exercise at seminar-laboratory-workshops. You can always supply a more detailed picture and I can revise my picture to be consistent with your abstract presentation of it.

My point is that your statements are not what motivates me. They form an input which I can choose, based on my own motivations - agenda - interests - to respond to or not to respond to. Your statements do not motivate me. It is my evaluation of your statements and fitting them to my value system that produces my judgement about your statements. Then I decide if I want to try to show you (and/or our readers) something different - or not.

Your claim can be reduced to formulations motivate behavior.

That's too abstract to be useful.

Formulations may be abstracted by an individual and evaluated as consistent with, not consistent with, or irrelevant to his or her beliefs, desires, or values. Depending on his or her current values - propensities to act, he or she may be predisposed to re-act differently depending on differnt evaluations.

Formulations stimulate abstractions that produces descriptions, inferences, and judgements as to goodness of fit (of the inferences) to the listener's desires, beliefs, values.

The listener has a built-in motivaton to achieve his or her desires, sustain his or her believes, and serve his or her values, and acts on the inferences using his or her current map or belief as to how.

It's not a linear process such as "formulations motivate behavior".

Intrinsic and learned values motivate behavior.
Abstracted judgements, inferences, and descriptions are used by motivation to inform the bahavior.

I think the evidence is in; when you say, "by saying classifications don't motivate, then the prosthelytizing of the distictions amongst man, animal, and plant probably generates a vain endeavor." as general semantics has not "caught on" in the eye of the general public. After all, all the religions already make the claim, and they go on to promise that the end of this miserable mortal struggle does not end one's "identity". Religions promise much more "after death".

General semantics says, "We'll give you peace on earth."
Reigions trump that by saying, "We'll give you peace on earth, AND we'll give you an afterlife."
Poor scence (in the past) said, "We'll give you a continuous struggle until you die."

Not much to choose from, eh?

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, June 3, 2008 - 01:27 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Yes, Ben, I understand your view, but as statements are inanimate objects, I do not believe they motivate anything. Motivation comes from within a person, and is a response to a persons values or desires. I am motivated to seek food. I value formulations that show a clear relation between entities and objects where the driving force for action originates in the person, not in the inanimate object.

Wind is a force that can move things and people.
But words are not. It is the person who wants something or some action that reads words, abstracts a description, makes and inference, and judges that his or her understanding or map of the situation depicted fits a model of cause and effect that the person has. Then the person exercises the behavior which his or her model tells him or her that his or her desire will be achieved.

This is a multi-stage process with many more levels of abstraction that your simple three stage "(verbal) object (may) 'motivate' (provide the driving force) behavior (action of an animate entity)".

It's clear that we disagree as to what motivation means and how it can be described, as well as how it relates to (verbal) objects and entities.

I have internal motivation to seek food. Internal sensors tell me when it's time.

"Why don't you buy lunch?" won't result in eating behavior if I'm not hungry; it might if I am. The "motivation" is internal, and it gets activated if I judge that your sentence shows me a way to satisfy my desire.

For me, "motivation" only inhers in animate entities.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, June 5, 2008 - 10:36 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben writes "a map can motivate you. It can send you in one direction or another.". The map does not send; the person chooses to go. Motivation intrinsic to the person is what enables the person to choose. The direction chosen depend no the desire, goal, value, belief, etc. of the person.

Ben, you are consistently droping majorly significant characteristics of the situation and arriving at a level of abstraction far above those appropriate to general semantict organism in its environment as a whole. You might as well be describing the situation with "sound bites". I can't help you there. Only experience with consciousness of abstracting and being careful to remain extensional will give you the experience necessary to prevent you from jumping to way too high a abstraction level. You have externalized motivation from the motive force of organisms (people) into inanimate objects by dropping the characteristics of the organisms.


Motive implies to impart movement. A rock has no power to motivate a person, but a person may pick up a rock if the person evaluates it as "pretty" or "desirable". The action is initiated by the person. Only animate structures can "motivate" or move a person.

Dog trainers externalize the motive force as inhering in inanimate objects such as food pellets. They loosely call such objects "motivators", but they are triggering and managing motivations that are built into the dog - the evolved desire to eat. These little dog-treats do not work as motivators if the dog is not kept a little hungry. Once again, the motivation is in the dog, not the treat.

A cause and effect chain in a conditioned reflex, such as Pavlov's salivation did not originate in the bell. Recall that there was no salivation at the ringing of the bell prior to conditioning. The dog's instinctive reaction to the presense of food is not something I consider to be "motivation". Loosely speaking, the dog will work for food because the dog has an evolutionarily supplied motive - to eat to survive, and it only works when the dog has some hunger - that is unless the dog has been conditioned by association.

Some of us have delevoped a motivation - to eat to enjoy eating, and they call us gourmands. We are motivated to eat new foods. The site of foods evoke that motivation, but many of the foods do not evoke eating behavior in other people.

Words do not in and of themselves move people. People hear the words and bring forth their memories of experences associated with the sound or print, and this evokes in them their maps and their desires. It is their desires that motivate them, not the objects they see.

Tasty items trigger one actions, but labeling those tasty things brings with them the associations the person has to the words and the values, beliefs, and desires. Many people have a well developed map as to what is "good to eat" for humans, and their map includes revulsive association with stuff they believe is not for humens to eat. These associations are so ingrained in some people, that they cannot get past the labels to the actual object, and vomiting is one possible response. But the fact that the same ("dog")food did not evoke the same reaction is all who ate is shows that there is no direct physical cause-effect action. Hence the cause of the action of the people was not the food itself; it was something in the person, namely their values, and beliefs, (maps), some of which are viserally learned. I grew up eating milk-bone dog biscuits. They were tasty, and they did not harm me - to my knowledge. I've even checked out the taste as an adult many years after my association with general semantics. They still tasted good. I was extensionally oriented. Intensional orientation can produce the vomit reaction you saw. But the "dog"food is not the motivator, nor are the labels that describe it as such. The motivator is in the person. I will stick with that interpretation. Motivation is a force capable of instilling motion (action). The charcter of motivation is intensional, so we normally do not apply "motivation" to natural forces such as gravity (or wind), although the ancient Philosophers attributed gravity as a motivator - all things "wanted" to be in the lowest possible state, so they were "motivated" to move. We no longer apply that to any physical forces.

Motivation is intensional, and it is internal to people. Not objects, not words, not symbols, but the evaluation of such as to their effecaciousness toward achieving desires, goals, ect.

If you use the passive voice, and say that such-and-such person "is motivated by" gold, we would normally transform that to this person is greedy and desires gold. The gold is not the motivator; the greed or desire to have gold is. Without the desire to have some, no collecting or seeking behavior occurs.

So the "power" to motivate a person to action is not in the gold; if it were, it would motivate everybody. But it does not; it only triggers the motivation already existing in people.

Wikipedia: A sign is an entity which signifies another entity. A natural sign is an entity which bears a causal relation to the signified entity, as thunder is a sign of storm. A conventional sign signifies by agreement, as a full stop signifies the end of a sentence. (Contrast a symbol which stands for another thing, as a flag may be a symbol of a nation)

Excite? Nope.

The sequence is

Abstract "objects" from environment.
"Identify" abstractions by recall of memory.
Determine associations.
Identify utility, characteristics, and relative values of the abstracted objects.
Abstract one's own current need/desire/belief state.
Compare utility to desires.
Choose to act to satisfy desires.

One's "motive" is one's "reason for acting", and that is to satisfy a desire, belief, or value.

We will "react" to the detected and evaluated presense of an item (including words) when we see that it has utility for meeting a desire, belief, goal, etc.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, June 6, 2008 - 01:44 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

To make this simple, "motivation" is distingusihed from "force"; forces are natural, and not directed by will. Motivation is intensional and is directed by brains and neurological processes.

Natural forces are extrinsic to people.
Motivation is internal to people.

Information abstracted by senses, whether symbolic or not, may provide the "trigger" for activating a motivation, but these triggers are not the source of the motivation.

Do not abstract above this distincion and apply words conventionally reserved for intensional behavior to extensional non-animate sources.

When you abstract to too high a level, you become intensionally oriented and seek to force the word to fit your model rather than keeping your model up-to-date with the changing world. Millennia ago the ancient Greek metaphysics that attributed "motivation" to physical objects discarded that notion in favor of the notion of a physical force. "Symbols" map these physical objects. Today, we have physical forces reduced and abstracted to four: Electromagnetic, strong, weak, and gravity. The "push" force from physical "contact" is the electromagnetic repulsive force between the electrons in the outer orbits of atoms - per the standard (curent) model. Used pricisely, the notion of "motivation" is reserved for the acts of brains, which may be instinctive based on need satisfaction, or it may be learned based on associations between reward of some kind, or other experiences. We go for what we like, and we run from what we dislike. We like that which evolution has taught us helped us to survive and procreate. We also like what we associate with those satisfactions (food, rest, reproduction, etc.) The source of the motivation for acts is our evaluation, whether it be an instantaneous signal reaction or a drawn-out symbol response. We abstract to the utility value, and then act to satisify the need for which the object has utility.

If you back track and "externalize" motivation, you move in the direction of not taking responibility for your own actions. You can always choose, and that is the core of motivation - choice. This does not happen with physical forces. As I said earlier, even coerced behavior has internal motivation as its core - the desire to avoid the aversive consequences of not giving in to the coercion.

We are human time binders with a capacity to evaluate and choose. Our actions are determined by the models, maps, values, and experiences, and what we want at the moment, not by the possibility of satisfying a desire. If motivation makes something happen, it must do so always, and this is the pattern of a physical force - something without a choice point. We have choice. Motivation starts and stops with the choice point. The object that stimulated a choice that resulted in an action did not cause that behavior in a direct cause-effect way. It evoked an existing motivation within the entity.

Symbols and words may trigger motivation (through the process of abstraction and evaluation), but they are not the motivation nor the source of the motivation. A trigger is not a bomb, but a trigger is an essential part of a bomb going off, whereas a symbol or "object" abstracted from the environment may enable an action, but it does not directly cause it. Our actions come from multiple causes - and a trigger is one, but it must be combined with a minimum of two other characteristics - the presence of a motivation that can be activated and the conditions or state required for activation (need, desire, etc.)

"Have some pupkin pie." at the end of a big thanksgiving dinner, after having already eaten apple pie, pecan pie, ice cream, on top of a big dinner, shows that this formulation is not a motivator. Multiple causality requires a) The respondet likes apple pie, b) the respondent is hungry (the primary motivator); c) The responden does not have depressed states that inhibite eating, etc., etc..

Saying that people are not animals does not motivate people to behave differently from animals. There needs to be a "should" with respect to how people behave, AND there needs to be a desire in people to follow that should.

Moreover, Manhood of Humanity describes humans in a certain way - as time (information) binders. But to say that people "are" such and such way does not automatically generate that they "ought" to behave that way. Such is the well-known (to some) "naturalistic fallacy" - "to go from 'is' to 'ought'". Remember, this particular "is" just "is" an abstraction - a map - and it "is" not the territory.

We have a highly abstracted map that describes people as differing from animals in a major way - because people bind time (information) [in an exponentially higher rate (than animals)].

People are what they are and they do what they do, but our best model of them is only an abstraction. Now, do we want to somehow say that that map is "THE TRUTH" - that we "KNOW" what people "are"? Do we want to go further and use that abstraction to try to make people become that way as they are educated? This becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy - a self-defining system - an intensional one at that, because it is no longer open to unbiased extensional abstraction.

In the philosophy of mobile life mobility and "motivating" is part of the intrinsic nature of these organisms. They move. They move in response to internal and external stimuli, but the external stimuly do not cause the motion. It merly triggers a desire or need that gets acted upon.

Acting might be a difficult profession with respect to learning to simulate the behavior of another. One has to learn a model that produces the major desired actions, and usually that comes in the form of a role-model. W.C. Fields as a drunk. Cher as a V.A.M.P. Mae West as the quintessential sex queen. All these role-models are learned as external, and they are probably described with the word "motivation" as in a "method actor"? Your motivation is to reproduce the behavior believably. The role-models guide your behavior, and you probably call them your motivation. With this kind of externalization, it's no wonder you cannot see "motivation" as internal to people. These role-models are maps, but your desire, your motivation, is to use these maps effectively, and that is internal to you.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, June 6, 2008 - 08:11 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben, you cited a "gold star" as an "extrinsic motivator". The gold star in and of itself has no motivating power. It is the DESIRE TO HAVE ONE and even the desire to compete sucessfully with classmates that is the motivator. It could be any other symbolic token that is offered as a sign of a) approval, b) success, c) excellence, d) etc. Motivation is in the desire to get approval, be successful, be recognized for excellence, etc. The trivial token stands for something the person wants. The star does not make the student work for it; the desire in the student for what the star represents is what motivates the student - and that desire is internal to the student.

The food shortage is not the motivator. The lack of eating causes a body sensation that activates an evolved drive - the desire to obtain food. That evolved drive is synonomous with motivation.

Sorry, Ben, but I see no evidence in our culture or society that suggests that anybody has behaved any differently in any testable or measurable way simply by being called a time-binder. The notion is so abstract only a small percentage of the population has any falicity with the notion in the first place, and many of them brush it off as nonsence or questionable at best.

You said earlier "by saying classifications don't motivate, then the prosthelytizing of the distictions amongst man, animal, and plant probably generates a vain endeavor."

Since you don't want it to be a vain endeavor, you are committed to arguing against any thread that supports the argument.

I said earlier general semantics has not "caught on" in the eye of the general public. After all, all the religions already make the claim, and they go on to promise that the end of this miserable mortal struggle does not end one's "identity". Religions promise much more "after death".

General semantics says, "We'll give you peace on earth [using science]"
Reigions trump that by saying, "We'll give you peace on earth, AND we'll give you an afterlife [and you don't have to learn science]."
[S]cience [(today) says], "We'll give you a continuous struggle until you die."

It's clear that I am not motivated by your formulations (to change mine). and you are not motivated by my formulations (to change yours), and that seems to support my position that formulations in general and classifications in particular are not the source of motivation, even though they may sometimes trigger the motivaton within persons.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, June 7, 2008 - 12:38 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Not "Olympic gold medals are untrivial tokens motivating many", but "the desire to have Olympic gold medals - untrivial tokens - motivate many" ...

My revision of general semantics - now includes the rate description. I have decided that "binding time" is a misnomer - a poor description. What we do best is bind information with respect to time, that animals bind space with respect to time, and that plants bind energy with respect to time.

One dimensional Plants: de/dt
Two dimensional Animals: de/dt & ds/dt
Three dimensional Humans: de/dt & ds/dt & di/dt.

Plants store energy for future use.
Animals store energy for future use by taking control of space for their future use.
Humans store energy for future by taking control of space for their future use and by taking control of information for their future use.

There are three primary dimensions of physics: mass/energy, distance, and time. Distance is itself "multi-dimensional" in direction. When we speak of the four-dimensional space-time continuum, we present an abstraction that leaves out one of the primary physical dimensions - mass/energy. The key characterization of "time-binding" is the accumulation of information at an exponential rate, and that is expressible as the derivitive of information with respect to time.

You ask "Can GS become tools to design better futures?". Well, general semanticists have been claiming it is and prosteletizing it as such since Korzybski started peddling it to Mathematical societies and mental disease organizations. My view? He came across as as snake-oil salesman - sounds good while he spouted "techno-babble", but mostly forgotten after that. By now many of the technical terms appropriated by general semantics have become common in the language without the association. "Abstraction" "Level of abstraction", extension, just to mention a few.

General semantics can't be "software" because it does not have a well-formed language base. "Critical thinking" is already established.

When will general semantics be known, used by millions? Not a chance. A. E. Van Vogt saw to that with the Null-A trillogy. Can it become "cool"? Nope - too (apparently) intellectual. Useful for knowledge management? Sorry, but that name has been taken already. The Institute of general semantics had a highly effective training package in its two-week seminars. But they haven't been offered in decades. The Kodishes met at the 1981 seminar in North Adams.

What percentage of people who attended any general semantics seminars went on to publish in general semantics or to work in a profession that dared to use the name?

General semantics can't even agree how to best formulate their principles - how can they sell what they cannot say is their product?

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, June 7, 2008 - 10:40 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben, when you talk of external objects as "motivating" a person, this amounts to a conditioned response - to an internal motivation source. Yes, we do frequently use the term that way in the general society. But this is general semantics where we are "supposed to be" conscious of abstracting and more extensional in our descriptions and analysis. Consequently, being aware of the levels of abstraction in applying the word 'motivate' to behavior, I would not call the object of a conditioned response a "motivator", as without the conditioning, either directly as in Pavlov's dog, or indirectly as in learned time-binding and cultural behavior patterns, the behavior does not occur. The behavioral response to an object is conditional on the persons experience and his or her motivations: desires, hopes, needs, etc.

I will continue to "insist", "prosteletize", "demand", etc., that we be precise in our verbal maps - keeping them more similar in structure to our best analzyed maps of behavior, and since that map in general semantics includes abstraction and extensionality, I reserve the word 'motivate' to indicate sources of behavior back in the conditioning/abstraction/association trail to its low level source - in this case what makes people (and mobile life) "move". You however may choose to refer to the stimulus object as a "motivator" - shorcutting the awareness of the levels of abstraction involved - if you so desire. I will continue to point out that any such shortcuts leaves out both the levels of abstraction involved and the association chain involved.

As I noted before, My motivation is not your words; my motivation is for people to see the more complex picture that delineates the various stages of abstraction involved. People who are not as aware form a direct association between the word and the conditioned stimulus (as external to people) - taking these out of the organism and imbuing inanimate objects with non-physical powers that they do not have. This is a form of "identification" we do not want to promote - confusing levels of abstraction.

So, to be precise, motivation, that which initiates action in people, is in people, though it may focus on stimulus objects abstracted from outside. To suggest that that which initiates action in people is external to them identifies through several levels of abstraction. Natural forces act independently of whether or not the affected entity is animate or not. Wind moves living and non-living both. Motivation moves only the animate - from within based on values and needs of the organism, and that only happens after a chain of abstraction from the event ("thing") through object (non-verbal), description, classification, association with value, value judgements, determination of utility towards meeting desires or needs, and subsquent orientation towards or away (or indifferent).

The precise "motivators" are a persons needs, desires, hopes, etc. The process of judgement involves a history of assoctiations as to what objects or actions produce what effects, and seeing or believing that an object or action will satisfy partially or completely a need or desire is what move a person to act. Motivation is needs, desires, together with beliefs and conditioned responses as to what actions will effect what results. All that is left is to judge that the object or action is of the appropriate kind. Expressed at this level of abstraction, I trust we have little disagreement, but when you apply the abstract word motivation to external objects, you "mean" something different; you "mean" the stimulus object prior to higher levels of abstraction - short-circuiting awareness of abstraction process and identification of the object with the need it is seen to fill.

Mommy! I got a gold star!
Child, you are such a smart one.
Reward is mother's approval.
Motivation is getting that approval, validation of "ok-ness" - the need for self-esteem - Maslow's forth level.

Mother, I got another one of those stupid gold stars.
Child, Many other kids are motivated by approval.
Yes, mother, it's so sad, when if they looked, they could just see how neat is is to fit all these bit of information together.
Reward is learning itself.
Motivation: the need to know and understand - Maslow's sixth level.

When it comes to "motivation" Abraham Maslow was perhaps the first to treat the general population rather than those with problems. His hierarchy of needs through seven levels (not just five as most management texts show), deals with motivation in his book "Motivation and personality". (extract)

I count Abraham Maslow among the second generation general semanticists.


Abraham Maslow, American psychologist and author (Motivation and Personality, Toward a Psychology of Being) most noted for his proposal of a hierarchy of human needs and the "father of humanistic psychology," attended and taught at Institute workshops in the 1950s. He also delivered the 1957 AKML.

If you treat motivation as external to persons, you are returning to pre-Maslow days and theory.

Want to sell something? Associate it with a primary motivator. One of the exercises at media ecology conferences was looking for the primary motivator associated with a commercial. Sex sells. Create the ad to imply that if the purchaser uses the product, he or she will be more successful in getting sex. Getting laid, in the vernacular, is the motivation that is being evoked.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, June 7, 2008 - 03:18 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail


The Institute of General Semantics used to offer the courses. I do not know to what extent time-binding was effectively used to preserve the content. I'm pretty sure nobody taught much of the Popper's philosophy of science or an introduction to relativity since Stuart Mayper died. Bob Pula had a way with the presentations that was also lost with his coagulation. Charlottte, long time organismic self-awareness and silent level teacher a direct associate of Korzybski from almost the beginning is also gone. The Sufi say the presence of the living teacher is required, and that is not longer the case. Do we have any first generation students left who can put together a package resembling what was taught? I do not know, but I fear not.

As Maxwell said, "There are two theories of the nature of light, the corpuscle theory and the wave theory; we used to believe in the corpuscle theory; now we believe in the wave theory because all those who believed in the corpuscle theory have died."

General semantics? Who's left? What did each of them believe?

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, June 7, 2008 - 04:16 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Nora, You said "within which another person chooses to act.", and that supports my contention that motivation is in the choice to act, based on the abstractor's evaluation of the environment stimulus. When we describe the stages of abstraction and the resons for acting we have little disagreement as to the objective process. Maslow puts motivation in human needs in seven levels - not in the things that satisfy that need, whereas Ben, and you seem to say that the things that satisfy needs are "motivators" - thus bypassing the abstraction-evaluation-decision process. The objects only sometimes result in people acting. But when the need is active in the person, it routinely and regularly initiates action, except when a more basic need takes priority. This is not my interpretation; it is Maslow's. I have copies of the salient chapter describing the theory of motivation on line, but the entire book adds much more.

We manage another's motivation by finding out about their buttons and pushing them - by presenting stimuli that what we learned predicts that the other will react in a certain way. If the person is not conscious of the process, then we may be said to be "taking advantage of 'superior knowledge' to manipulate them". But our words are not the motivators, their values and needs are. It's pure Maslow. My notion is that every general semanticsist should be quite familiar with second generation general seamanticist Abraham Maslow teaching that earned him recognition in our culture, our society, and a position as a Korzybski Lecturer, as well as a seminar teacher in general semantics.

If I (you) judge someone and make a pejorative proclamation about them, its not the words that motivate the person to beat me (you) down; its the person's evaluation that such action will have and effect, namely satisfaction, vengance, justice, inhibiting further action, or more, all of which are different kinds of motivation (values or needs). The judgement evoked an evaluation that activated motivation that directed action.

I know, it's the same old story, and you can no longer abstract any significant, to you, difference between what I said before and what I am saying now. Those are your abstractions. Every time I describe the process, I do so slightly differently, and I have the hope that a different abstraction will result.

My to you repetition is not simply digging in my heels are repeating the same thing over and over with no reason other than I said so. Each formulation has a detailed support structure that is consistently presented from slightly different views (now using meta-language).

Our model of abstraction, the structural differential, is very abstract, and it admits of virtually no human nervous system and brain function knowledge let alone the projected social and cultural (virtual) environments or the physiology of human knowing and processing.

Take the structural differential. Lay it flat. make a stack of them. Each successive event level representing a superimposed virtual semantic and symbolic environment.
Get into the "object level" circle and give it some detailed structure vis-a-vis human behavior by adding Maslow's theory and Nina-Bull's attitude theory of emotions, each of which generates several layers of stacked modified structural differentials.

We want the organism-in-its-environments-as-a-whole, and that includes inner models of the organisms functions vis-a-vis each symbolic environment.

Never mind "organism-as-a-whole-in-the-environment"; that harkens back to the days of behaviorism when the organism is treated as a black box that responds to stimuli. We must have a structured general theory of the functioning of the organism in our consciousness of abstracting, and those include at a minimum Charlotte's incorporation of the attitude theory of emotion as well as Maslows's hierarchy of needs, to which you may add Lawrence Kohlberg's stages of moral and ethical development (based in Piaget's genetic epistemology studies).

The projected structure of the organism and its functioning taken imbeded in a complex multidimensional projected physical, cultural, symbolic, and semantic, environments involving physical abstraction, multi-dimensional correlating, description, inference, judgement, evoking and using needs and desires to direct actions to survive, reproduce, learn, and teach all form a part of everyday "existence".

According to media ecology and others our modert TV culture has taught us to look for an instant technological solution to every problem encapsulated into a few second sound bite. The classic example "Ring around the collar!?" ... "Wisk it away." Problem one phrase. Solution one product you can purchase.

So it's no wonder some think "things" motivate people to act. That view is ubiquitous in the culture. And a great many people take refuge in it: "It wasn't my fault."

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, June 8, 2008 - 10:39 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Let me offer two pieces of extensional "evidence" from historical sources - the interpretation of which seems contradictory.

A class of students were randomly divided into two groups. The teachers, but NOT the students, were told group A were superior performers, but they should not treat the students any differently or communicate to them in any way that (fictious) "fact". After a year, the A group showed around a 10 point IQ score increase. (Details may vary as my memory evolves.)

It's reasonable to assume that the teachers saw the student performance though "biased" eyes, listened more carefully, gave them more attention, rewarded them more often, and thereby created a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The second study is known as the Hawthorne Experiment in management. Management "efficiency" studies went into a work place to measure the effect of changes in the physical (and social?) environment on worker productivity. During the process they changed many characteristis. More lighting, less lighting, different arrangements, and many other factors. At the end of the experiment, all the changes had been restored to the exact original setup. But the study showed productivity increase with nearly every change, and, when the experiment was done, productivity was significantly higher, even though all the different working condition classifications had beer restored to the original starting condition.

The first study may be interpreted as suggesting that external classification, even when unknown to the person, results in behavior change. The second may be interpreted as suggesting that external classification, even when known to the persons, changed in contradictory directions, do not cancel each other out, as would be expected if the external classification has any semblance of affecting behavior according to the classification.

The students experienced greater attention that stimulated and evoked their existing Maslow need structures - to have a sense of belonging at level 3, to feel good about themselvels at level four, to get tasks done at level five, and to know and understand at level 6. These internal motivations were stimulated by the extra attention more than in the control group.

In the case of the workers, the same result applied. The group got more attention. They "belong" (3) to an important group. They got approval (4). They happily focused more on the tasks (5) (self-actualizaton).

In both cases the motivations (needs) that were in the persons were stimulated by the events (classifications communicated) in the environments going on around them.

Anybody have knowledge of any other actual studies?