IGS Discussion Forums: Learning GS Topics: The Is of Authority
Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, December 17, 2007 - 12:11 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

As "boss", you have the "authority" to say, "You must include this.", or "I require this to be included.", or "this requirement must be met.", etc.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, December 17, 2007 - 03:23 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Leol wrote "One needs to know exactly the message one desires to communicate, as precisely as possible the proposed audience to persuade, and THEN devise the most effective way to present the message."

This seems quite logical, but two words in the above can be in conflict. One is 'persuade' and the other is 'present'. "Presenting" a message effectively allows the listener plenty of choice. "Persuading", on the other hand, seeks to obtain a certain result - to strongly bias the listener's "choice".

I'm sure most of you have heard the expression "He chases her until she catches him." Another is "The way to get what you want from someone, is to make him or her think it was his or her own idea."

"Communication" differs significatly from getting others to do something - as would be the result of "persuasion". As I have noted elsewhere, we "communicate" for the purpose of achieving ends, satisfying needs, etc. We rarely simply give information "simpliciter". We do it because it fits our desires, needs, goals, etc.

So I would add a previous stage to the ones you list.

One needs to know exactly the action one seeks to achieve.

One must know the proposed audience, including how they are likely to react to various messages.

One must formulate a message designed to effect that action by taking into consideration knowledge of the intended audience's likely reactions.

And it must be noted that such a message may ostensibly seem to be about something totally unrelated to the desired goal.

Politicians seek to respond at a sufficiently high level of abstraction that a majority can interprete the high level abstraction as consistent with their own beliefs; the politicians must be sufficiently abstract that they can encompass multiple perspectives and belief systems.

Many years ago I read a definition of rhetoric, and it stuck with me. "The art of making the weaker side appear stronger." I've never consider that to be "Aristotelian", in that Aristotle propose a formal system of reasoning based on a hierarchical system of categorization. Evolved formal logic eventually resulted in Russell's theory of types, a hierarchical classification system designed to avoid the contradictions introduced by allowing circularity.

"Rhetoric" imposes no such self limits on its methods. "Rhetoric" is still used in politics, everyday life, and in "unsane" resoning. But general semantics advocates using mathematically strict formal reasoning, just as we use in the scientific laboratories, in our every-day lives as the preferred "sane" reasoning.

The seven liberal arts were divided into

the Trivium:


and the Quadrivium


Rhetoric - the art of persuasion.
Logic - the science of reasoning.

It would seem like a main goal of general semantics, which advocated dispensing with "unsane" reasoning in favor of "sane" reasoning is asking us to forgo "rhetoric" in favor of "logic" (the advanced multi-valued logic of today).

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Monday, December 17, 2007 - 11:18 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

I agree with David.
To put it authoratively, your proposed "is of authority" "is" the "is of predication".

An "is of predication" might sound "authoratative" only when the listener has no experience for questioning the assertion.

Let's remember here Ocham's Razor. Do not multiply essentials beyond necessity. We have the "is of predication" as an essential. The "is of authority" is not essential, because it is "only" the is of predication, a duplicate name for an existing classification. As I noted above, an authoratative message can be sent without or with using the verb to-be.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, December 18, 2007 - 06:34 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

In an authority-responsibility relationship, exercising a little (leadership) "diplomacy" and "people respect", by employing the "fiction" that the subordinate has a choice, deals with both emotional response and "ego" considerations.

"Would you insure that this is included or taken care of?"

"Oh, by the way, we have to have this included; can you take care of it for me?" ("Have to have" replaces "important".)

There are many ways to say something that literally or ostensibly "means" the employee has a choice when he or she (under the orgizational structur) does not. Employing this "choice fiction" "raises" the (fictious) status of the "subordinate" to that of an "equal" or "co-worker". (Of course, the employee has the choice of quitting the relationship [possibly with dire consequences such as in labor contracts, military, etc.].)

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Tuesday, December 18, 2007 - 09:22 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

As Don Kerr said at general semantics seminars, words evoke the experiential elements of the listener, not those of the speaker. And, of course, we all have different experiences.

Time-binding, however, gets enabled when we use terms consistently with the usage of others. The relatively easy case comes with pointing and naming. Relations, I think, involve an order of magnitude more difficulty, as do successive higher levels of abstraction. One of the complaints about E-prime hold that it seems much less authoratative and decisive.

Taking into consideration that a large part of our cognitive experience operates at the level of relations among categories, Ben's "is of authority" directs the listener to his or her category experience, and, it seems to me, expects the listener to operate in the manner of the speakers category experience. This would, of course, work, provided both the speaker and listener shared experiences within a common universe of discourse.

So with my experiences I answer.
1. No.
2. Not a straight forward question; containes built in hypotheses.
3. No, but the question incudes the word 'other' thus presuming that the proposed "is of authority" is also Korzybskian, which it is not.
4. Previously answered in this thread.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, December 19, 2007 - 01:03 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Don Kerr had no suggestion of "manipulation". I can paraphrase based on having been there that he means that the listner hears the speaker's words with the listener's experiences, the listener's actions, with the listener's past responses, and with the listener's history of language exposure. (The obvious trivial example: failed communication between speakers with no common language. Not much is evoked.) Don Kerr went on to provide examples of finding out what the listener has done, experienced, etc., and choosing metaphors that related to those experiences. As an example, someone who has never ridden a bicycle would not have the experience of "tilting" the bicycle in order to effect a turn. A never-before-rider person would "logically" assume that one would turn the wheel to turn the bike, but that simply results in tipping over on the outside of the turn. We tilt into the turn to go around a corner.

Don was an above-the-knee amputee whose specialty was teaching veterns how to use their prosthetics; and he did so by helping them bring what they already knew - their experiential elements - to the use of prosthetics, thereby "short-circuiting" the physical therapy recovery time by orders of magnitude.

Is it "manipulating" as "puppets" if one can bring forth a person's past experiences so that the person can rapidly apply them to a new situation?

If you choose to manipulate people, the more you know about them, the more you can do so, especially if you know about their responses what they are not consciously aware of.

This however, is another level of abstraction, about power and control. It is not part of the very simple "fact" that a listener has ONLY his or her OWN experience to recall (be evorked) in response to hearing words.

The speaker "should" keep in mind that the listener hears the speakers words with the listener's meanings and experiences. Don Kerr, dealing with physical therapy, used this "knowledge" by finding out what his patients had experienced, and then choosing an applicable metaphor.

You like football metaphors? They just may not work very well with international "football" (soccer) players.

There are many ways to apply "knowledge" of people, and doing so is not "automatically" becoming puppet masters just because you learn much about them, (Unless you have nefarious motives to start with.)

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Wednesday, December 19, 2007 - 09:00 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail


Don Kerr's approach has somewhat more to do with the sending side of communication, an aspect sometimes apparently neglected when we concentratrate on the abstraction (input and evaluation) process.

It seems to me that some of the ethical overtones from general semantics, as in consciously cooperating to facilitate the communications process, extends our consciousness of abstracting to the awareness of "the other guy's" abstracting process, and learning more about his or her map gives us more information to evaluate which words to use to encode our cognition. It also, it seems to me, can show more respect for "the other guy" (when we are not trying to "put one over" on him or her.)

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, December 20, 2007 - 12:23 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David wrote "To me, the approach seemed consistent with the "supply side" formulations of GS as opposed to the "response side" formulations."

Huh? "supply side"? What the heck is that?

I spoke of Don Kerr's approach having to do with "sending" side of "communicating" based on speaking as output contrasted with hearing as input. We hear and we abstract and evaluate.
We bounce that against our own experiences and then "output" speech in the sending side of communicating.

How did this get to the very abstract "supply" and "response" of (not "communicating" but of) general semantics?

David wrote "As I understand it, an "utterance" would be classified as "supply side", and the "evaluation" of an utterance would be classified as "response side".

This does not make sense to me in this context, as "utterance" is something the result of something a person does - utter speech. How is that "supply" (which seems to connote incoming)?

And a "response" is another utterance or action after evaluation.

A heard utterance gets evaluated by the listener and responded to, thus turning the listener into the next speaker.

To what does "supply" refer?

My supplies are stuff I get and respond to.
My senses "supply" me with lots of things to consider.
I also "supply" lots of speech "to others".

When you use "supply" so ambiguously as above, then I don't know if you are coming or going. How about a more extensional, lower level abstraction, description?

Don Kerr asks us to "do deeper evauation" of our correspondents, so we can learn what experiences they have that we share, so we can use those experiences to guide us in choosing our language when communicating with said respondents. This is managing our output selection process.

I cannot fit any notion of "supply" into this process.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, December 20, 2007 - 01:10 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David, Your last response to me, seems ("is") way off base. None of your inferences apply. You should go back and take my words at "face value" without trying to figure "motives", suppositions, etc..

Steve's article is of no help. "Demand" is used ambigously.

A supply curve describes how much producers are willing to produce at various prices. It's a graph of prices with respect to quantity, and the slope is positive (price on the verticle axis). A demand curve describes how much consumers are willing to buy at various prices. Its a graph of prices with respect to quantity, and the slope is negative. Where these two curves cross is the optimum price-production-consumption value. "Demand" increases when consumers are willing to pay more for the SAME quantity. "Supply" increase when producers are willing to make more at the same price or make the same amount at a lower price.

Decreasing the tax on production allows making more at that price, but when the supply increases, competition requires lowering the price to enable consumers to buy more. It does not "increase" the demand; it simply changes the location of the optimum point by lowering the overall supply curve. The demand schedule might be "increased" if consumers have more money to spend, then they would be willing to pay more for the same quantity produced. If consumption taxes are reduced, or income is increased, this might have the effect of changing demand, but only for products and services with elastic demand curves. Many products and services have inelastic demand curves.

If taxes are lowered on both production and consumption, we would expect to see a lowering of the supply curve (more quantity produced at the same price or lower price at the same production quantity) and a raising of the demand curve (more price for the same consumption quantity, or more consumption quantity for the same price). Notice that these essentially cancel each other out in words, but the actuality depends on which curve changes more, the extensional quantity changes in production and consumption. In principle they are the same except for the effect of inventories acting as buffers to prevent surplus and shortage (managing over time - surplus at one time fills a shortage at a later time, and vice versa depending on the inventory or "stocking level").

Without some significant overall detailed measurements of individual products and services over time, all the talk about various ecconomic theories are a hodge-podge of by-gosh and by-guess, but they make delightful "sound bites", particularly for the sheep who are awed by words they really don't understand. Not me.

I think the whole business is full of political and ecconomic double-speak.

I'm not even suggesting that Ben "should not" use colorful speech, but I am suggesting that we do not need this "is of authority" as another "is" category. Hierarchically a breakdown of the category of "is of predication" into a number of subordinate categories that are mutually exclusive and exhastive of the category might be a welcome extension at more extensional levels of abstraction. But "is of authority" does not fit that model. It's a "sound bite" based on a lot of time-binding history of arguments for and against E-prime, a restating of the claim that using "is" sounds much more authoratative than the wishy-washy "I think" or "it seems to me", "possibly", etc. So "is of authority" may be colorful and useful, but it is not yet an essential category distinguishing itself from others. (Remember, these are all abstract categories.)

Steve's article is also using some made up metaphors with no attempt to justify them. Its word-salad using abstractions and very little extensional stuff. It's not worth it to me to tear into it like a solid philosophical argument or a scientific report.

The time-binding record is everything written or recorded that can still be accessed by someone other than the orginator. It includes google, libraries, scholarly articles, U-tube, my last week's shopping list that is still on the refridgerator, etc. It's that simple. I suspect I coined the phrase, as I do not recall ever hearning the phrase prior to my deciding to use it. But the notion is inherent in the principle of time-binding. We don't bind time without the passing on of our symbolic communications from time one to time two, etc. Some ancient symbol records that have not been translated are no longer part of the time-binding record, because we cannot understand what they mean. But everything that is recorded that someone can read and interpret is a part of the time-binding record. Until you find someone else that used the term, I'll take responsibility and (credit [or discredit]) for first putting the phrase into the time-binding record. (How's that for self-reflection?) If we are time-binders, we have something that we can draw past information from, and that is the record - it's as simple as that.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, December 20, 2007 - 10:46 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David wrote "signal reaction" and "symbol reaction". As I recall it from seminars and other past experiences, the distinction / continuum is characterized as "signal reaction" on one end and "symbol response" on the other end.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Thursday, December 20, 2007 - 11:03 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

David wrote We invent categories to serve our purposes. Apparently, Ben felt he needed something called the "is of authority" to serve his purpose. If Ben thought he needed it, that's good enough for me. I'd even say his "is of authority" helped me relate to his experience better than if he had used "is of predication".

Here's what I said "Hierarchically a breakdown of the category of "is of predication" into a number of subordinate categories that are mutually exclusive and exhastive of the [is of predication] category might be a welcome extension at more extensional levels of abstraction. But "is of authority" does not fit that model.

First, "is of authority" falls within the is of predication category. But is is not a proposed division of the is of predication into sub categories of which "is of authority" is one of the new sub categorization. Consequently it is NOT a "category" at all. It is a way of describing how people (may) respond to uses of the is of predication as compared with formulatons that do not use "is", or which employ other general semantics extensional devices such as "to me". This is why I suggested it is "colorful" speech; it applies "emotional color" with its use. It's not a category name, but it pretends to masquerade as one. In spite of assertions to the contrary Ben is NOT inventing a new category; he is applying a descriptive name to an existing category that points to possible ways people may respond to the formulation.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, December 21, 2007 - 09:06 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

If Ben is creating a sub-category, then he needs to differentiate it from other sub-categories and they also need to be described. The structure of categories is such that one does not create only one sub-category. One "categoriezes" something by using existing or creating new "slots" into which to divide instances. No instance was provided, no descriptions were provided, no alternatives were provided. Ben has a description of an existing category, not either a new category or a sub category. The term 'category' is being technically misused here. Ben created a description of the impact of the assertion form of the is of predication.

His use of "is of authority" may be authoratative in his original purpose - to convey to the subordinate that the subordinate "must" incude whatever "this" referred to, but in regards to treating "is of authority" as a new "classification" or "category" by, in his exact words, "discerning the is of authority from the other korzybskian ises", the "discernment" "abuses" the notion of category. "The word 'other' introduces the presumtion that it is also korzybskian. It would be like saying "discerning Jews from other races". "Jewishness" is not a race, because there are black, white, and asian Jews; Jewishness is not an "other" race. Similarly "is of authority" is not an "other" (Korzybskian) "is"; it is not even an "other" is, because it "is" the is of predication. Not only that, it can also be the "is of identity" (This is our copy machine.) or the "is of classification" (This is a Chevy; that is a Buick, etc.), "he is swimming" (auxillary "is"). Every one of these uses "sounds" more authoratative than "according to my memory this is ..., or "I think" this is important, etc.

The use of "is of authority" not only is not a sub-category of is of predication, it crosses the boundary of all the "is" classifications. Consequently is not a category of "is" We might divide language categorically into English assertions using the verb "to be" and paraphrazes that do not use "to be", and lable the one category the authoratative and the other non-authoratative. Now, let's look at the examples of all assertions using is, and we will divide them into instances where the assertions are "simpliciter" uses of is of identity, predication, and is of classification in constructions which do not include any qualifiers or indexes - none of "I think", "to me", "for this reason", and any other phraseology which changes the assertion from absolute to conditional.

Now we have a basis for using "is of authority" as the name of a classification, but it is not an alteration of the existing category structure, and it is not Korzybskian.

It also goes back to my article on the the spirit and the letter of E-prime.

This new cassification system encompases both English assertions using the verb "to be" and sentences not using it that could be paraphrased into "to be" sentences. Of the "to be" sentences, some have no conditional or indexing qualifiers. Those qualify as "is of authority" examples. But this classification is binary, because it distinguishes these uses of "is" from both other uses of is (with qualifiers) together with some non-uses of is. A simpler name would be A English and non-A English (Authoratative English and Non-Authoratative English.) It remains as an exercise to the reader to see if he or she can come up with authoratative statements in English without using the verb 'to be'.

There; you've done it; you've "pushed me" into laying out the a category structure to enable calling "is of authority" a category name, bringing out, once again, my pedantic verbosity. As my mother would say, Are you satisfied now?