2 Answers

  1. Well, you can't embrace the vast, and yet you have to try…

    So, Alfred Korzybski , a Polish and then American scientist, in the first half of the 20th century, wanted to create a discipline that would serve the purpose of teaching and restoring people to sanity. Such a desire arose in him under the impression of the First World War, from the number of senseless murders of each other that representatives of the biological species Homo Sapiens allowed themselves.

    Korzybsky called the created discipline “general semantics”, its brief essence is contained in the author's capacious aphorism:”A map is not a territory.” In other words, to cope with the infinite variety and variability of the world, people build models of it that are simplified reflections (this process is called “abstraction“). The advantage of models is their simplicity, which allows you to use them for orientation and decision-making, just as geographical maps help you move around the terrain without being this terrain. At the same time, you need to pay for convenience: a person has a tendency to forget that he once put something on the map, and this is something much more complex, richer and more changeable. That's when all the problems start when the map is suddenly equated to a territory. We can say that all psychological work boils down to helping the client untangle his models and his reality. Korzybski called the ability to avoid falling into semantic traps, to constantly remember the difference between reflection and reflected, “conscious abstraction.”

    A general illustration of the modeling process and a tool for teaching conscious abstraction isStructural Differential (SD):

    I will try to clearly explain what kind of device it is and why it is needed. I use this image:

    Each figure connected by strings is called a “level” or”abstraction order“. A person models, starting from the level of

    I. An “event” or” process “ is a parabola broken off from above. Broken off because it is supposed to continue indefinitely upwards. This order shows the infinite universe, the world, reality. Each hole in the parabola is a certain characteristic, attribute, criterion, parameter. Strings hanging down, connecting to the next level, or hanging freely are event parameters that we know about and take into account when mapping.

    II. “Object” – a circle with holes. This is the level at which our nervous system creates something perceived, such as an apple. Through the senses, we receive information from which our nervous system “sculpts” the final, formed gestalt. Apple is a stripped – down and simplified part of the previous level of abstraction, because not all its characteristics were taken into account, and this is impossible. The strings that go from the parabola to the circle on the CD are the parameters used for abstracting, such as the shape, smell, and color of an apple.

    III. “Description” – a rectangle. The level of verbal description, words, and speech labels. For example, the word “apple”. And here again there is an abstraction, omission of parameters, because we will never be able to fully describe a particular apple in words, it is too complex and versatile.

    IV. “Conclusion 1” is the next rectangle. For example, the belief “apples are fruits”. Here we are even further removed from reality, abstracting the previous order.

    V. “Conclusion 2”,” conclusion on conclusion “ – the next rectangle. For example, the belief ” Fruit is healthy, so apples are healthy.”

    VI. And so on, ad infinitum downwards. The abstraction chain is never interrupted.

    SD Korzybsky came up with the idea to nonverbally teach people conscious abstraction. On the example of a specific situation: a woman says that “All men are goats” and this card gives her problems. This is the level of conclusion, and quite far from even the level of description. The previous conclusion would probably be “this particular guy is a goat”, even higher – “this particular guy in this particular situation is a goat”, even higher – “a particular guy did something unpleasant for me” (level of “description”), then there is a direct experience (images, sounds, sensations and emotions), how this guy did it (level of “object”) and, finally, you can return to the “event” and otherwise map it into a more satisfactory new “object”, “description”, “conclusion”, etc.

    When analyzing this example, a woman needs to indicate each level of her abstraction on the SD, and also use strings so that she understands what characteristics she took into account and omitted when abstracting. For example, there were men in her life who were not goats at least in some situations (these strings were not tied somewhere on the way to the final conclusion, that is, the parameter was removed).

    Something like that.

  2. This is one of the manifestations – not the most famous, but not completely forgotten-of attempts to create logical systems that calculate possible correct statements. Here you can recall D. Gilbert, Frege, and Quine. But after some time, Godel proved a famous theorem: an arithmetic system (i.e., made up of discrete signs) can be either complete or consistent. I remember that at Moscow State University we proved this in structural and applied linguistics, but a long time ago….And I remembered Korzybski when I read the text on the memorial to the heroes of the Warsaw uprising of 1944 in Warsaw. They first write that the uprising was raised to get ahead of the Soviet Army, and by the end of the text-indignation that the same army did not break through and did not save. So, as you can see, even one text is public! – it can be very contradictory. “And this is the nation of Korzybski and Tarski!” I thought.

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