IGS Discussion Forums: Introduction: :-) Introduce Yourself!
Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, July 29, 2006 - 08:39 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

I suppose it's about time I introduced myself.

I started my Navy career in engineering and nuclear power. By 1972, I was a Navy Lieutenant assigned to DCASR-NY. I had recently read A.E. Van Vogt's The World of Null-A. I innocently picked up the book again, the following year, after I was separated from my first wife and had more time for my long-term passion, Science Fiction. The forward intrigued me, because it seemed to be about a real place, "Lakewood" Connecticut. On a whim I called the long distance information operator. (We had real people then.) When I asked about "Lakewood", she said, "No, but we have a Lakeville." So, on the off chance, I asked, "Do you have an Institute of General Semantics?" When she started to say, "That number is ...", I interrupted her excitedly, saying, "Whoa! There really is such a place?". Later I called the Institute, and was subsequently rewarded with a packet of reprints in the mail. I was curious, because I had been trained in mathematics, nuclear power engineering, both of which I was tops in, and the military. I already knew about "non-Newtonian" physics and "non-Euclidean" geometry. I was also already well versed in multi-valued logic, probability, and infinity in many forms. I felt a small degree of sympathy to what I had read about Korzybski.

What followed you can read about here.

In the years that followed, I continued reading, discussing, analyzing, and writing about general semantics, all the while continuing to evaluate it. I used the perspectives of my nuclear power training, my mathematics education, the general semantics growth, my computer science and management training, and my subsequent philosophy education to deepen my analysis of the touch-points between philosophy and general semantics.

One seminar activity which I judge as significant was the "here-now" group facilitated by Walt Weese". This has been called "T-groups", "sensitivity training", "encounter groups", etc., over the years. Another was Neil Postman's Korzybski Lecture - about Media Ecology, and my subsequent attendance at the Media Ecology 75 conference. Henry and Irene Ross, who brought me into the New York Society for General Semantics ongoing workshops, also figured into my "sticking around". By 1983 I was trying to tell the philosophers and linguists at UMASS about general semantics as I researched the sources Korzybski quoted. My horizons expanded exponentially throughout these years.

I continue to maintain an "undecided" orientation that places general semantics in the pending final evaluation category. My preferred Internet screen name is Diogenes, reflecting the Cynical school of philosophy.

In logic Antisthenes was troubled by the problem of the One and the Many. A nominalist to the core, he held that definition and predication are either false or tautological. Ideas do not exist save for the consciousness which thinks them. "A horse," said Antisthenes, "I can see, but horsehood I cannot see." Definition is merely a circuitous method of stating an identity: "a tree is a vegetable growth" is logically no more than "a tree is a tree." Sound familiar?

The people have changed significantly over the years since I first got involved. I read. I evaluate. I share. But I take Neil Postman to heart when he said, "Develop you crap detector". Sometimes "crap" is fertilizer, often is is rot and decay. I'm still evaluating.