IGS Discussion Forums: Learning GS Topics: On the whys and wherefores for the term "general semantics"
Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, December 2, 2007 - 09:44 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

In response to Ben: Relate linguistics to "Grammar Relations" and semantics to "Semantic Relations" in Levels or perspectives on the use of language. When you position "linguistics" and "semantics" as opposing players, you have them at the same level in a context that is not multi-level. These relate at distinct levels, as my brief article shows.

In response to David: Our behavior is much more than "reactions to our evaluation of language. Language is a relatively recent addition to our complex of action and response. Most reptiles respond predominately. Mammals, in general, are much more active, and they respond to sensory discoveries that accrue as a result of action that moves them about. We humans have all this plus active pursuit in symbolic environments. Underlying all this, with varying degrees of active engagement in environments, is The Philosophy of Mobile Life.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, December 3, 2007 - 10:55 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Thanks, Nora,
My supplement was indeed to recall context and add some (organism-in-its-environment-as-a-whole perspective. Every abstraction leave stuff out (the map covers not all the territory), as did David's.

David's claim that my response "your response is not a reaction to what [he] wrote" seems like a very inaccurate map of the situation. He might better have said that he did not see my reaction to what he wrote as limited to what he wanted to talk about.

I wanted to add to David's having left out any reference to the "non-verbal" in Steve's quote, because Steve's "stimulus, need, prompt, or ‘thing.’" reflects much more of our processing than "just" reactions to language and our subsequent higher level abstractions from what he heard in words. A more general picture uniting the "input" and "output" is shown in my Think-Feel and Know-Act. My model holds that we act (planning our lives) more than we "react", and much more of this is sub-conscious and non-verbal - except possibly for some philosophers. :-)

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, December 3, 2007 - 06:41 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Well, Ben, your "tennis" model looks to me like a flat (static) photograph when compared to a 3D movie in which there are more dimensions showing interaction. Semantic deals with the relations betwen language and references, while linguistis deals predominately with language, largely without a major focus on referents - losing one dimension. General semantics, adds yet another dimension - the dynamic interaction of nervous systems using language to perform references (semantics) and talk about language (linguistics).

Putting "linguistics" into a "game-like" structure as one team "opposing" another team "semantics" - each vying with the other for some competative upper hand just does not, for me, provide any "informative value" for "understanding" general semantics - a multi-dimensional combination of which semantics is a sub-part itself containing linguistics as a sub-part.

A telescope with three segments, each inside the other, from inside out, linguistics, semantics, and general semantics, each segment adding more power for "seeing", seems like a much better metaphor to me.

One man's dream is another's nightmare. :-)

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, December 4, 2007 - 10:16 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Refer to this diagram. Abstracting and filters bring forth not only our current incoming experience, but our history of past associations and respones. Decide and values "boil down to" something as simple as "positive" ("go for it", "do something with it", etc.), "negative" ("avoid it", "challenge it", "refute it", "fight it", etc.) and "neutral" ("ignore it", habituate to it, etc.). These two stages in the process nigh always include our entire non-verbal past experience, motivations, values, etc., together with and as modified by our current state of physical, emotional, hormonal, etc., as well as our recent verbal history, and that includes our motives and goals, sub-conscious as well as conscious (which may not be consistent with each other) leading up to the moment. These "state variables" contribute to forming our action-response where the "action" portion comes from our values, motives, and plans, (both sub-conscious and conscious) and the "response" portion comes from our recent abstraction-filtering process. Only a small portion of this gets vocalized. Consider the "bar-pickup" scenario - rarely does the vocalizations match the motives and actions.

I'm continuing to emphasize that we cannot elementalisitally split "reactions to evaluations of language" from all our other non-verbal organismic functioning.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, December 4, 2007 - 11:19 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Korzybski defines a semantic reaction as a reaction in terms of the meaning (to the person) of the stimulus. "Semantics" simpliciter deals with the relation between words and their referents. In this case the "significance" as is "sign of" comes from the person's past experiences with both words and non-verbal experiences. "General semantics", however, goes beyond the verbal; it include the nervous system responses to all stimuli, and you can get this sense from Korzybski.

Differentiate this from a "reflex". Touching a flame or stepping on a sharp object causes a "reflex" jerking back from the source of the pain.

A soft touch by a member of the preferred gender can evoke a warm positive response or a frightened negative respone, depending on the person's history. The point is what this experience means to the person whether verbal or not, conscious or not.

Example (positive, verbal, conscious) the use of the word 'love' by of one's pair bond lover.

Example (negative, non-verbal, unconscious) the touch of a stranger of the opposite sex for someone who does not remember having been sexually abused as a child.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, December 5, 2007 - 01:00 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

If a "Jaguar", "Cougar", "Mustang", etc., were speeding towards me ....
Sorry, I couldn't resist it.