Friday, October 24, 2014

Chapter 25 - "The Brotherhood Of Doctrines": Part 5 - "The Brotherhood of Doctrines"

Korzybski: A Biography (Free Online Edition)
Copyright © 2014 (2011) by Bruce I. Kodish 
All rights reserved. Copyright material may be quoted verbatim without need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder, provided that attribution is clearly given and that the material quoted is reasonably brief in extent.

Over the last year Alfred had been “sweating blood” trying to more clearly formulate the mechanism of time-binding. Now he was sweating to get this article into acceptable shape for Haywood. He and Mira, who had also been working hard, thought they both deserved a little rest and decided to take a day off on his birthday, July 3. Here is how Alfred described the day to Keyser (I can imagine a wry smile on Korzybski’s face as he typed the letter the following day):
…Yesterday was my birthday (I began 43) we decided with Mira to loaf all day, once in a year. Well - it wasn’t such, we both got up with headaches, then worked at home until noon, then we decided to go lunch. Mira heard from the wife of the head of Marshall Field (you know the Field Marshall of drygoods) that the lunches there are very good, so we went there. After waiting for three quarters of an hour we did not succeed in placing our order (the place looks very rotten) disgusted we went away hungry angry etc etc. On the corner we found a “Harmony” cafeteria we went there sick angry and hungry, the food LOOKed pretty well, we made our choice, well it was so rotten that it is impossible to describe, but we were hungry and had no time because of an appointment, so we ate a little and kept our appointment. This rotten food did not improve our headache or temper, after our appointments we decided to go to a “movie” I saw a movie the “Son of the Wolf” with a lot of snow pleinty of wolfs and dogs etc etc we thought it should be good (Jack London) we went there, there was no noise (music) no wolfs no dogs, a miserable show. So perfectly miserable we walked “home”, and we went to bed and I read loud to Mira “Mathematical Philosophy, The Study of Fate and Freedom” occasionally making some remarks about the rotten fate.   
Today we felt better, and your dear old letter made us happy, so the real birthday mood will prevail today. Mira of course said “Bless his heart”.  
Love from both to both (24) 

In July, Mira had more trips around the Chicago area. Alfred worked hard on the article, to be entitled “The Brotherhood of Doctrines”. (By the end of the month, he was already working on his third rewrite.) When he wasn’t working on the article, he was writing letters to newspapers and magazines throughout the country asking for copies of reviews of Manhood and articles about him or Mira that his clipping service had not already provided them. He and Mira wanted to get back to New York soon, possibly sometime in August. They would be packing to leave for Europe and he wanted to have as complete a scrapbook as possible before he left. They didn’t leave Chicago until September. Alfred was busy tuning up his Builder article. Haywood had come to visit for a couple of days in early August and undoubtedly made some comments. Then Mira did some editing. Finally, Alfred sent the manuscript to Keyser to edit as well. Keyser liked it, quickly sent back his comments, and Alfred was pleased. He had to leave out some of the details, but he could expand on them in a later article. Now at least he would be able to use the material about logical fate to explain the importance of Polakov’s book in The New York Call piece he was still planning to write. He sent the completed article to Haywood on August 27, along with a request for 1000 reprints.

Alfred’s review article of Mathematical Philosophy for The Builder began with a reference to the revolutionary changes that had been going on in science and mathematics. The ‘Brotherhood of Man’ could be advanced through the ‘Brotherhood of Doctrines’, an “empire of sound logic” where people guided their human affairs by means of “scientific knowledge.”(25) As Eddington and others had made clear, relativity in its deepest ‘philosophical’ aspect epitomized the empire of sound logic because it required recognizing the role of the observer in any observation. In the article, Korzybski put it thusly, “...all that man can know is a joint phenomenon of the observer and the observed.”

Korzybski used the relation of the observer to the observed to roughly characterize the evolution of human knowledge according to three stages of development, one stage emerging out of the other. In the first “Absolutist” or “Pre-scientific period…the observer was everything, the observed didn’t matter.” In this period, humans projected their own reactions, ‘thoughts’, ‘emotions’, etc., onto the rest of the world. A second, “Mixed Absolute-Relativist” period, otherwise called the “Classical or Semi-scientific” period, emphasized the observed phenomena. It had advanced further than the pre-scientific by eliminating the grosser animistic projections of the observer. However, although it made use of logic, it assumed the subject–predicate logic used was ‘perfect’. Thus, it continued to project the built-in assumptions of that logic (made by the observer) onto the observed. The third, “Relativist”, “Mathematical or Scientific Period” had started with Boole’s The Laws of Thought in 1854, which had begun the modern examination of mathematical/logical foundations. Here the interaction of the observer (in particular his logic and assumptions) with the observed had begun to be clear. As Korzybski put it,
…for science and life logic is as vital a factor as “facts” because, for human knowledge, there are no “facts” free from the share of the observer’s mind....if there is such a thing as general knowledge, its foundation must be found outside of gross empiricism. Most probably such a thing does exist and its origin may be traced to the constitution of the human mind itself—to sound modern logic (mathematics). 
Perhaps a “qualitative” mathematics could exist, where a general mathematical approach could be applied to more and more aspects of life. Alfred wrote, “...all man can know is an abstraction....some of his abstractions were false to fact;...a few abstractions…were at once the easiest to handle and were correct,…[t]hese abstractions were numbers.” As he discussed at some length, “The creation of number was the most reasonable, the first truly scientific act done by man...” Mathematics constituted “...the first perfect instrument by which to train his brain, his nerve currents, in the ideal way befitting the actual universe (not a fiction) and himself a part of it.”
Now it is easy to understand from this physiological point of view why mathematics has developed so soundly....The biggest triumph of human thought was, and forever will be, the discovery of new mathematical methods embracing larger and larger parts of the whole—these are the milestones of man’s progress. 
This went along with something he had mentioned earlier—that so-called ‘intuitions’, ‘emotions’, etc., “will fall into line automatically.” Qualitative mathematics will affect them since “It is a fallacy of the old schools to divide man into parcels, elements; all human faculties consist of an inter-connected whole.”

Keyser’s book was not mentioned until the second half of the article. Korzybski provided a lengthy quote from Keyser regarding logical fate and freedom. Korzybski emphasized its importance: “Because of this logical fate, the analyzing of these doctrines, which underly all human activities, becomes the most important—nay, the all-important—fact for all the future of man.” Korzybski discussed the significance of Keyser’s “new mathematical method whereby this can be accomplished” with his “theory of postulates and doctrinal functions.” Korzybski then provided a list of some of the topics from Keyser’s table of contents deliberately leaving out mention of “Korzybski’s Concept of Man.” He was getting to ‘the grand finale’: “The layman, the “practical” man, the man in the street, says: What is that to me?” Korzybski pointed out that even some scientists might ask this question dismissively. His answer:
If they [the next generation] are taught false logic and false doctrines, mental cripples are produced, destined for a life of misery…It may take a still more terrible World War to whip mankind into the realization that man should use his brain and the knowledge already at hand.* 
[*Keyser’s insightful little book Thinking About Thinking (1926) gives his own extended answer to the ‘practical man’s’ question, “What is that to me?”.]
The final page “Summary” contained Korzybski’s logical destiny diagram with an accompanying explanation. He did not mention the term time-binding anywhere in the piece.

He had indeed put out a dazzling display of suggestive ideas, though readers might be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed. Even now, some readers might miss how much Korzybski’s views—despite some areas of agreement, i.e., the inspiration he had gotten from Principia Mathematica—put him at odds with the “logical positivist/empiricist” program which was coming to dominate the philosophy, particularly the philosophy of science, in the first half of the 20th century. Korzybski’s rejection of ‘empiricism’, his emphasis on the role of the observer and of the observer’s doctrine (theory) in observation, his bringing in of a “physiological point of view”, his strong emphasis on the living life applications of some seemingly esoteric notions from mathematics and science, and his advocacy of logical fate, i.e., his rejection of an assumption-free viewpoint for doing science (or living life for that matter), didn’t fit well within a “logical positivist” mold (although some of Korzybski’s students later tried to fit it).

Korzybski’s work would appear not only at odds with but also odd to people whose view of objectivity and rationality required sharp boundaries between philosophy and science, mathematics and science, disparate fields of science, and between these various theoretical areas and practical life. Where many saw sharp boundaries, Korzybski explored murky borderlines and found unceasing connections. In his own time, only a few philosophical ‘renegades’ like Gaston Bachelard, Oliver Reiser, F. S. C. Northrop, and L. L. Whyte would pay serious attention to Korzybski’s work. (26)  

At the end of August, Alfred also sent a typed version of the just-completed article to McEwen. He wondered what happened to McEwen’s review of Mathematical Philosophy. He hoped McEwen was not delaying just because he wanted to see Alfred’s latest piece of writing. Alfred had a shock when, a few days later, he got a letter from Keyser with the news that Science had just published a review of Mathematical Philosophy by G. A. Miller from the University of Illinois. Alfred had thought that Ritter had let the editor of Science know McEwen was planning to submit something. But obviously, the communication had gone awry. McEwen later expressed his disappointment. Although Miller’s review seemed generally favorable, it was not the blockbuster Korzybski and McEwen had hoped for. Well, Alfred couldn’t do anything about it now. He and Mira were otherwise occupied. They were getting ready to leave Chicago on September 1.

Their last minute preparations to leave Chicago included arranging to leave behind some of Mira’s luggage—a couple of trunks, some suitcases, hatboxes, and packages with art materials and portraits—at the Drake. This would reduce the amount of stuff Mira would have to lug since she was planning to come back to Chicago in about a month to do the portraits of the grandchildren of a Mrs. Shed. Mira didn’t travel light. There was much more of her stuff in storage in New York City. The Korzybskis were anxious to get there. If they were going to Poland they had a lot of sorting and packing to do.

You may download a pdf of all of the book's reference notes (including a note on primary source material and abbreviations used) from the link labeled Notes on the Contents page. The pdf of the Bibliography, linked on the Contents page contains full information on referenced books and articles. 
24. AK to C. J. Keyser, 7/4/1922. AKDA 8.90. 

 25. This and subsequent quotes in this chapter related to “The Brotherhood of Doctrines” come from that article, found on pp. 39–54 of Alfred Korzybski Collected Writings

26. Korzybski’s views here seem more or less compatible with those of a number of epistemologists/philosophers of science whose work became prominent after his death (David Bohm, N. R. Hanson, Thomas Kuhn, Michael Polanyi, and others). See Harold I. Brown, Perception, Theory and Commitment: The New Philosophy of Science

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chapter 25 - "The Brotherhood Of Doctrines": Part 4 - Midwest Sojourn

Korzybski: A Biography (Free Online Edition)
Copyright © 2014 (2011) by Bruce I. Kodish 
All rights reserved. Copyright material may be quoted verbatim without need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder, provided that attribution is clearly given and that the material quoted is reasonably brief in extent.

By April 29, they had settled in at Mira’s sister Amy’s farm in Lees Summit. They used the next couple of weeks to make plans. Mira was looking for some quick portrait commissions and arranging to give some presentations. She had a talk coming up at the Kansas City Women’s Club on May 3 and might have a client in Cleveland. Meanwhile, Alfred was busy writing letters, working on his articles and book, and making his own arrangements for lectures and meetings around the Midwest. 

At La Jolla, Alfred had met a vacationing Milwaukee pathologist, Dr. William Thalhimer, and his wife. When Thalhimer returned home, he helped arrange for Alfred to give a talk at The City Club of Milwaukee on May 16 and invited Alfred and Mira to stay at his home. On May 6, Alfred wrote to Miss Conway, the secretary of The City Club, with requests for the upcoming lecture:
… If possible please provide something like a blackboard for my lecture, a blackboard helps greatly the visualizing and therefore the understanding. The blackboard does not have to be large two feet square will do. In case you would have too much troubles in getting a blackboard half a dozen of sheets of heavy paper (stiff), white or grey will do also, in such case it would be necessary to provide heavy black pencil or chalk of dark blue color would be good. In such case we would nail with two nails all the papers at once and after using one sheet I would take it off like from a block.  
Here are some titles for my lecture select one please to your liking they mean just the same, all of them, to me. I give them in the order of my preference but you know your public better so please don’t be influenced by my order. 1) The science and art of human engineering 2) Mathematical revolution and social progress 3) A new natural law 4) Mathematics and life 5) Is peaceful progress possible? 6) Can political and social sciences become exact, genuine sciences? 7) Mathematics as common sense elevated to the dignity of science...(11)

The use of a blackboard for visualizing his ideas had by this time become a staple part of his presentation method. For the remainder of his life, he would continue to stress the importance of visualization with diagrams, etc., making great use of them as a speaker and teacher. In fact he had just come up with a way to visualize logical fate—a diagram which seemed to him to make evident some aspects of the formulation that even Keyser had not made clear.(12) He would use it in his upcoming talks and articles and over the years would continue to use it and refine it. (You’ll find an early form of the diagram in the next chapter.)

The suggested titles for the Milwaukee lecture indicate how the concerns of Mathematical Philosophy were taking up more and more of Alfred’s attention. He had already abandoned the article on evolution and time-binding that Ritter had suggested he write. Now he held off working on what he had called “the big guns”, an article for Science intended to serve as an overview of his second book. To write this he would have had to connect the various strands of what he had been studying (which now included logical fate and related material from Keyser’s new book) into some kind of coherent, consistent whole. But obstacles had emerged due to “verbal difficulties”.

Meanwhile, he had been invited by the editor of The Call, a ‘progressive’ newspaper in New York, to write a joint review of Polakov’s and Keyser’s books, with one of the titles he had suggested for the City Club talk, “Mathematical Revolution and Social Progress”. Perhaps his way to at least write this review would seem clear if he just ‘spit things out’ in a letter to Keyser with the hope his mentor might have some suggestions for him.When Mira saw the letter, she jokingly called it Alfred’s “sermon on the farm”. In the meantime, he was also ‘spitting things out’ in his correspondence with McEwen for their Science review of Keyser’s book, and in his various other letters, and talks with people. As he wrote to Keyser in his ‘sermon’, he felt sure of one thing: “Einsteinian ‘joint phenomenon of the observer and the observed,’ your ‘logical destiny’ and the theory of types and classes are three tremendous milestones which will show the road.”(13)

On May 15, Alfred left for Milwaukee with Mira since she had decided to go with him rather than to Cleveland in pursuit of a questionable portrait job. The Korzybskis stayed with the Thalhimers. On the 16th Alfred spoke at the City Club which didn’t use any of his suggested titles but advertised the subject of his talk as “The Manhood of Humanity”. (14) Several Milwaukee newspapers published stories on it the next day. Alfred was now specifically presenting his notion of time-binding within the framework of logical fate. One of the main points he made to his somewhat ‘radical’ audience—Milwaukee had a socialist mayor at the time—was that social reforms that seek new solutions but start from the old premises (such as viewing ‘man’ as an animal) are destined by logical fate to fail. (15) 

As much as the Thalhimers might have wanted them to stay longer, Alfred and Mira had to get to Chicago. Alfred had a talk scheduled at the May 19 meeting of the Chicago Chapter of the American Association of Engineers. Since Alfred also had a couple of people he wanted to see around the state of Illinois, and since Mira had friends in the city and might be able to get some business there, they decided they would use Chicago as their Midwest base of operations. They moved into a suite at the Drake, a luxury hotel near Lake Shore Drive. (16)  

One of the people Alfred wanted to meet with was mathematician James Byrnie Shaw, a professor at the University of Illinois-Urbana, which lies about 130 miles south of Chicago, in East-Central Illinois. Shaw had a deep interest in the foundations of mathematics, having written a book, Lectures on the Philosophy of Mathematics (1918), and a review of Principia Mathematica that Korzybski had found inspiring and useful. He wanted to see Shaw and get his opinion about some new ideas. McEwen, who knew Shaw, had given Alfred a letter of introduction. Just before leaving Amy’s farm, Alfred sent Shaw a copy of Manhood with McEwen’s letter, requesting a meeting. Shaw, happy to receive the book and to meet with Alfred, replied promptly. He booked a room for Alfred at the University Club in Urbana. Alfred arrived there on May 24 and stayed for over a week.

Shaw proved himself a gracious host, arranging meetings for Alfred and introducing him to colleagues. Alfred felt especially grateful to meet R. D. Carmichael, another mathematician in Shaw’s department who had wide-ranging interests in physics (he had already written a book about relativity), philosophy, and literature. Carmichael quickly became interested in Alfred’s work. Alfred later wrote to Keyser about his time with the two men:
During my stay in Urbana I spent all my time with Dr. Shaw and Dr. Carmichael. We had endless debates. I had two lectures before them, one was the official one before the [mathematics] faculty [which some philosophers and engineers also attended], where of course I was very modest, simple but trenchant, some of the older mathematicians wanted to trap me with silly and tricky questions. The lecture was adjudged by Shaw and C. as “masterful”. It seems to me that really this lecture could be successfully reproduced before any mathematical faculty, and afterwards I had a 3 hours lecture-debate before Shaw and Carmichael. In this one I went very far and spoke about things which are still in the making and which I would not dare to speak publicly. Both S & C were very responsive and participated in the dreams…(17) 

Alfred considered his trip to Urbana a success. With Carmichael, he had found a real ‘fan’. A couple of months afterwards, Carmichael wrote to Alfred from his family farm in Randolph, Alabama where he was spending his summer vacation, “…I have read “Manhood of Humanity” for the third time; and I have enjoyed it more on the third reading than on either of the other two.”(18) The two men would continue an active correspondence for a number of years with Carmichael eventually writing Supplement I, “The Logic of Relativity” for Science and Sanity.

Shaw’s immediate evaluation seemed rather more restrained. As he wrote to Alfred on June 24, time-binding seemed to him, “…as old an idea as the thinking part of the [human] race itself” and a consequence of “man [as] an individual of a spiritual essence and immortal.” He had more to say than Carmichael about Alfred’s presentation to them of the practical application of mathematics to life:
I think you stress entirely too much the value of mathematical logic in the discussion of your theme. Very little of your reasoning is mathematical logic. …anyone who studies logistic [mathematical logic] in the hope that thereby he will find a method directly applicable to the discussion of the making over of human progress, will be disappointed. He may gain some sharpness of wits, he may become a better thinker, but he could do that equally well in studying other things than mathematical logic. 
As a philosopher, then, what do I think of your plans?...It seems certain to me that most of our action is not instigated by what we think or believe, though these will determine some features of the things we do or the manner of acting. I am of the opinion that what we desire in our inmost selves determines our action. In other words we do not act on account of reasoning…(19)
As he wrote to Keyser later, Alfred got depressed reading this. He hadn’t gotten across to Shaw what he wanted to get across but he did appreciate Shaw’s honesty and desire to be helpful. He knew he would have to work harder to clarify what he was trying to express. In his reply to Shaw a couple of days later he wrote:
Many thanks for your long letter and frankness. It is impossible for me to form at once an opinion about it, generally speaking I see your point and I agree that most of what you say is legitimate in the old way. It seems that in the “new” way I will have to elaborate my problems further with more details and maybe I will be able to convince some day such important critics as you are. I value your letter greatly and it will be for me a precious and competent indication where are to be found the weak spots in my theory. 
There is a fundamental principle as expressed by Professor E. H. Moore which has taken strongly hold of me namely, “The existence of analogies between central features of various theories implies the existence of a general theory which underlies the particular theories and unifies them with respect to those central features.” I see my way clear to show it and prove it theoretically but also experimentally. Of course only the future will show if I will fail or not.  
I will keep in touch with [you], and hope we will exchange our writings, my permanent address will be Fifth Avenue Bank New York City. Many thanks once more for all your kindness and also your kind wishes,
     cordially yours (20) 
Korzybski and Shaw would indeed keep in touch over the years. Shaw later became more favorably disposed towards the further developments in Alfred’s work. And he helped Alfred by providing him with an amended table from his book showing the structure of mathematics, which Alfred used in Science and Sanity (pp. 251-2).

Mira sent a telegram to Alfred in Urbana a few days before he was ready to leave. She couldn’t find some of her jewelry and thought it might have been stolen. Alfred wrote back to her advising her on what to do, how to deal with the police, etc., but there seemed little else he could do immediately so he proceeded with his plans to head north to La Salle, Illinois before returning to Chicago. He was going to La Salle to see Dr. Thomas J. McCormack, the principal of the La Salle-Peru Township High School. The two men had begun corresponding while Alfred was still in La Jolla. Korzybski had read an article by McCormack that greatly impressed him. McCormack in turn had learned about Korzybski through reading Keyser’s piece about his work in the Hibbert Journal. McCormack invited Alfred for a visit. Especially after McCormack finished reading Manhood in early May, both men felt eager to spend some time together.

McCormack, trained in science and mathematics, had a long association with Dr. Paul Carus, his wife Mary Hegeler Carus, and their Open Court Publishing Company, which had been founded in the final decades of the 19th century in La Salle with money from Mrs. Carus’ father. Open Court, which published a wide range of serious philosophical and scientific books and a journal called The MonistMcCormack felt favorably inclined towards Korzybski’s work, having in his own writings expanded on Mach’s view of science as the economy of thought, was dedicated to the rapprochement of science and religion. Since Dr. Carus’s death in 1919, the enterprise, now with offices in Chicago, had been in the hands of Mrs. Carus. McCormack, had worked as an editor for Open Court and had translated numerous books on science, mathematics, and even religion. He was perhaps best known as the authorized translator of Ernst Mach’s works into English. having in his own writings expanded on Mach’s view of science as the economy of thought. By formulating progress as due to the accumulation of intellectual labor, which thereby became intellectual capital, McCormack—similarly to Polakov—had already come close to Korzybski’s formulation of time-binding.

Alfred stayed with McCormack for a week before returning to Chicago on June 8. As Korzybski described it in a letter to Keyser,
The visit ended not only in a complete theoretical understanding but also it developed into a “love affair.” The whole family of Dr. McC., himself included, and myself we fell in violent love. Well they really are splendid people…I met three times the Caruses once at their home, once at my lecture in Dr. McC.’s house and once at a party they gave to us in the Carus country home…(21)

As soon as Alfred left, McCormack wrote to Mrs. Carus. Alfred had mentioned his interest in stopping at the Open Court office in Chicago to obtain some books for his research. McCormack asked Mrs. Carus to give Korzybski a discount and, surprisingly, she wrote back saying Korzybski could have whatever books he wanted for free. Although McCormack wrote to Alfred with this news, Alfred didn’t find out about it until he walked into the Open Court office and was told by Catherine Cook, the office manager. He felt most grateful to both McCormack and Mrs. Carus for what amounted to a $600 gift, a substantial number of volumes in 1922. Unfortunately Korzybski had most of the books shipped to England where he and Mira expected to stop over on their way to Poland later in the year. When they ultimately didn’t go, they couldn’t recover the books. Open Court later graciously replenished part of Alfred’s lost library.

Among the volumes Alfred managed to hold onto were McCormack’s English translations of Mach’s writings. In Science and Sanity, Alfred would include Mach on the dedication page list of those whose works greatly influenced his inquiry. It seems likely Alfred’s personal friendship with Mach’s authorized English translator boosted his interest and gave him extra insight into Mach’s writings, which amplified Alfred’s already strong sense of the importance of epistemology (the theory of knowledge) for science and had a significant impact on how Alfred eventually developed his work to apply epistemology in daily life.

In the following years, Korzybski and McCormack stayed in touch. Korzybski felt deep shock when he learned of McCormack’s death in 1932, a year before Science and Sanity—the fruit of the labors McCormack had given early assistance to—was published.

Alfred returned to Chicago late in the evening at the end of the first week of June. He was eager to see his wife. Tired and hungry, he rushed to meet Mira whom he discovered giving a speech on his work. Alfred, sitting in the back of the room, stomach growling, had a momentary shock when Mira got stuck at a certain point in her presentation and called out to him, “Alfred, come on and finish my speech.”(22) Besides this unexpected presentation, he had several more talks scheduled for June. He had lobbied to talk at an upcoming conference of engineering educators at Urbana but was unable to get a last minute slot. But other groups wanted him. He was not just giving ‘boring’ talks on science and mathematics. He had learned how to shape his message to draw people’s interest. For example, the headline of a Chicago newspaper reported on a June 13 lecture he gave, “Count Denies Women Are Illogical”.(23) With this kind of publicity, he might get a few more opportunities to speak in Chicago before heading east. Since Mira also had some clients to see around the city and in Detroit, they decided to stay in Chicago a little while longer. The Drake was beginning to seem too expensive, so they found a nearby studio to stay in more cheaply.
"Count Denies Women Are Illogical"
From the pages of Alfred Korzybski Scrapbook 3 in the Alfred Korzybski Digital Archives (AKDA)

Haywood, had just moved to Animosa, Iowa where The Builder was published. He sent Alfred an advance copy of his review of Manhood for the August edition. Alfred was impressed with Haywood’s intelligence and writing ability. Haywood was already working on a review of Keyser’s book for the October edition. Alfred wondered about writing a separate, longer article on Mathematical Philosophy which might serve as a nice complement to Haywood’s shorter piece. More than a review it would provide a kind of commentary on Keyser’s book, expanding on some of the themes Alfred had been developing. At the end of June, Haywood wrote to Alfred approving the plan. Perhaps because the project was more limited, it seemed more doable than the joint review of Keyser and Polakov that Alfred had contemplated doing for The New York Call. He was still working with McEwen on the Keyser review for Science, but most of the job was in McEwen’s lap at the moment. So Alfred set to work with his full energy on the article for Haywood, which would also serve as a preliminary sketch for his second book, which he now conceived of as Volume II of Manhood of Humanity.

You may download a pdf of all of the book's reference notes (including a note on primary source material and abbreviations used) from the link labeled Notes on the Contents page. The pdf of the Bibliography, linked on the Contents page contains full information on referenced books and articles. 
11. AK to Margaret Conway, 5/6/1922. AKDA 8.285. 

12. AK to V. S. Sukanthar, 5/10/1922. AKDA 8.277. 

13. AK to C. J. Keyser, 5/13/1922. AKDA 8.254. 

14. City Club News, 5/12/1922. AKDA 1.290. 

15. The Milwaukee Leader, 5/17/1922. AKDA 3.102; The Wisconsin News, 5/17/1922. AKDA 3.99. 

16. “Drake-A-Day”. AKDA 3.110. 

17. AK to C. J. Keyser, 8/27/1922. AKDA 9.54. 

18. R. D. Carmichael to AK, 8/14/1922. AKDA 7.377-8. 

19. J.B. Shaw to AK, 6/24/1922. AKDA 7.450-452. 

20. AK to J.B. Shaw, 6/26/1922. AKDA 8.124. 

21. AK to C. J.Keyser, 6/8/1922. AKDA 8.188. 

22. AK to T. J. McCormack, 6/8/1922. AKDA 8.189. 

23. “Count Denies Women Are Illogical”. Chicago Evening American, 6/14/1922. AKDA 3.112. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

62nd Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture and GS Symposium- October 24-26, 2014

If you're in New York City or environs this weekend, the Institute of General Semantics is holding its annual Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture on Friday, October 24 featuring Jack El-Hai, author of a very interesting biography of one of Korzybski's students, psychiatrist Douglas M. Kelley, M. D. The lecture will be followed by a weekend symposium, Making Sense Through Time-Binding, which looks to have many thought-provoking presentations. Although I will not be going this year, many friends will attend, and if I lived closer I would definitely try to make it there.

Two of my friends from India will be honored with the J. Talbott Winchell Award for their work in promoting and teaching GS in India through the Balvant K. Parekh Centre for General Semantics and Other Human Sciences. Prafulla Kar, Director of the Centre, and Devkumar Trivedi will receive the award jointly. Professor Kar, the able administrator of the Centre's programs has developed a network of people and programs throughout India for teaching GS. Mr. Trivedi, a long time friend of the late Balvant K. Parekh—who introduced GS in modern times to India—is the lead Korzybskian-GS lecturer at the Centre's educational programs. My wife Susan and myself are among those who have previously received the prestigious Winchell Award and we both send our hearty congratulations to Prafulla and Dev for their well-deserved honor.

The Institute's 2014 Book Prize will go to 
Elizabeth Kolbert 

for her book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, a current look at depredations to the natural environment perhaps significantly caused by human action. Will the so-called sixth extinction include us? William Vogt, an early environmentalist noted for his book, The Road to Survival, applied GS in his 1948 analysis of ecological damage already taking place and was an early pioneer of environmentalism, a subject close to Korzybski's heart. So this book prize certainly seems appropriate for anyone interested in long term time-binding. Her book, which I haven't yet read, looks excellent. Congratulations to Elizabeth Kolbert, from an earlier Book Prize winner.  

Mary Lahman, Professor of Communication Studies at Manchester University and author of the book Awareness & Action: A General Semantics Approach to Effective Language Behavior will receive The 2014 Sanford I. Berman Award for Excellence in Teaching General Semantics. Dr. Lahman, worked with Professor Greg Thompson and former IGS Director, Steve Stockdale to produce a highly successful, free web-based GS course for the Canvas Network. Congratulations to Professor Lahman for her great contribution. 

I'm sorry that I won't be there to meet Jack El-Hai 
and hear him discuss his book, The Nazi and the Psychiatrist: Hermann Göring, Dr. Douglas M. Kelley, and a Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWII. Kelley studied with Korzybski, before the war, and as I wrote in Helping Soldiers and Veterans Readjust did important work during World War II applying GS to rehabilitate soldiers in the European Theatre of War suffering from PTSD, what was then referred to as "combat exhaustion". Immediately after the war, Kelley still in the U.S. Army was assigned to the prison at Nuremberg to interview high level Nazi prisoners, like Herman Göring, being held there. Presumably, Kelley's job was to help ensure that the German prisoners stayed healthy enough to be able to attend their trial. Kelley saw his job as a psychiatrist mainly to study the men in order to understand what led them to commit their crimes. Kelley left after the first month of the trial. His book 22 Cells in Nuremberg: A Psychiatrist Examines the Nazi Criminals, written soon afterwards, remains well worth reading. 

El-Hai covers Kelley's interesting family history (he was descended on his mother's side from the man who found the infamous Donner party), Kelley's early life, the story of his developing friendship with 
Göring (he and another physician weaned Göring from his addiction to heroin), and his later outwardly successful career as an academic psychiatrist and criminologist before his gradual descent into alcoholism and madness over the next ten years. (Kelley killed himself in front of his family in 1958 by swallowing cyanide—the method that Göring used at Nuremberg Prison.) I learned of Kelley's suicide years before, and, as others at the Institute then did, wondered at what could have happened to one of Korzybski's most promising students. El-Hai, given access to Kelley's papers and archives by Kelley's son, provides the story of Kelley's downfall—in dramatic and compelling detail.

But El-Hai did fall down in his limited, somewhat inaccurate treatment of Korzybski and of the role of GS in Kelley's life, thus missing some of the depth of tragedy of the psychiatrist, who could not apply the principles of sanity that he espoused to himself and his own personal quandaries. As El-Hai's book suggests, Kelley seemed burdened by difficult and disturbing questions about himself and others as a result of his encounter with the Nazi prisoners, especially Göring. Encounters with serious psychopaths/sociopaths can do that. (The study of psychopaths/sociopaths—still controversial, but highly relevant to the Nazis that Kelley met—had just gotten off the ground with the 1941 pioneering work, The Mask of Sanity, by another of Korzybski's seminar students, psychiatrist Hervey Cleckley.) I felt a slight sinking sensation when I read El-Hai's description of general semantics as 'the use of words and their meanings to shape behavior'. El-Hai's relative neglect of a study (Korzybski's GS) that was so important to Kelley, leaves a hole in his book for those familiar with Korzybski's work. Still, this book will remain important and useful for anyone interested in the history of GS. Kelley's troubles provide a tragic reminder that talking and writing eloquently about GS (which Korzybski called "a theory of sanity) is not enough. No amount of intellectual understanding will suffice. Applying it to others in therapy and research (as Kelley did) is not enough. Personal application remains a sine qua non, an essential condition, of the discipline. And sometimes even the best and brightest of us require help, sometimes a great deal of help—perhaps with medication too—to apply it to ourselves (a life-long endeavor). Kelley looked into an abyss when he met and befriended Göringthe abyss looked back at him. Eventually—without Kelley seeking the help he needed—it swallowed him whole.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chapter 25 - "The Brotherhood Of Doctrines": Part 3 - Fate and Feedback

Korzybski: A Biography (Free Online Edition)
Copyright © 2014 (2011) by Bruce I. Kodish 
All rights reserved. Copyright material may be quoted verbatim without need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder, provided that attribution is clearly given and that the material quoted is reasonably brief in extent.

Alfred saw huge implications in Keyser’s psychological approach to mathematics, not only for mathematical/scientific practice but for understanding and dealing with problems of human behavior in general. Logical fate highlighted the role of doctrines, not only in science and mathematics but also in personal life. As part of what Korzybski was calling his physiological point of view, an individual’s internally-held postulates (doctrines, beliefs, etc.) significantly determined that individual’s behavior, affecting their ‘emotions’, physiology, etc. To apply this postulational approach, (a sine qua non of human engineering for Alfred) a person would have to look within, i.e., make a detailed internal self-examination of his attitudes in the manner, for example, Alfred had used to examine and challenge his own previous antisemitic views. As he had already formulated in his “spiral theory” in the Biology Appendix in Manhood, ‘thought’ influenced physiology and behavior and, thereby, subsequent ‘thought’. 

The notion of logical fate did not provide a fully detailed theory of psychology. But what it suggested clashed with the stimulus-response approach of environmental determinism (behaviorism) becoming more and more popular in psychology departments around the United States in the first half of the 20th century. Alfred would early and openly criticize behaviorism. Despite this, he also later sought to show the connection of his formulations to those of Pavlov (as well as to those of Freud).

Unfortunately, a psychological theory adequate for accommodating Korzybski’s work did not appear until some twenty years after his death, with perceptual control theory (PCT), William T. Powers’ rigorous application of feedback theory to human behavior first published in book form in 1973 in Powers’ Behavior: The Control of Perception. According to PCT, every human (indeed every living thing)—as a negative feedback control system—controls his or her own inputs or perceptions, i.e., behaves in such a way so as to establish intended states of affairs. Circular—more exactly, spiral—causation governs its workings. Continuous signals from the environment (negative feedback) are received and compared to an intention; behavior then ongoingly gets modified as needed to produce the intended state. Simply stated: “We act to bring about (or maintain) what we want.”(6) What we want (our intentions/purposes/goals) are arranged in a hierarchy of increasing complexity and generality. For humans, the highest levels of intention—those of what Powers calls Principles and Systems Concepts (one’s basic beliefs, doctrines, self-image, etc.)—provide the most general formulations of what we want and so direct a person’s general behavior in order to produce the desired perceptions—logical fate redux. If anything, the ‘response’ controls the ‘stimulus’ not the other way around.

Korzybski, who had long emphasized the importance of circular causation in human behavior (his spiral theory), grabbed onto the notion of feedback when he became aware of it in the late 1940s, calling Norbert Wiener’s elaboration of it in Cybernetics “a turning-leaf in the history of human evolution and socio-cultural adjustment.”(7) But during his lifetime, as the stimulus-response model became pervasive in academic psychology and elsewhere, Korzybski’s work seemed destined to appeal mostly to those students of human behavior who rejected behaviorism.

While Alfred was pondering the implications of the premise that we are guided by our premises, he and Mira were preparing to leave their physical premises in southern California. Since Ritter had left La Jolla in mid-March for business in Berkeley and Washington, Alfred’s main reason for staying at the Scripps Institute—his conferences with Ritter—had disappeared. Then too, he felt frustrated with the attitudes of many of the other biologists at Scripps, who didn’t seem to get what he was driving at—except for George McEwen. Alfred had loaned him a copy of Mathematical Philosophy and McEwen seemed smitten. Alfred wanted to promote 
Mathematical Philosophy as much as he could. He was passing out and mailing flyers for Keyser’s book, and discussing it at every opportunity in letters and in person. But given that Keyser had bestowed so much attention to Alfred’s work, Alfred did not think it wise for him to submit his own review of the book to a major publication like Science. Instead, he and McEwen came up with a plan to write a joint review (Alfred would mainly guide and advise) that they would submit to Science under McEwen’s name. They began to meet about the project.

Toward the end of March, Alfred also had a five-hour interview with H. L. (Roy) Haywood, an ex-minister and Freemason living in National City, just south of San Diego. Haywood had become the editor of The Builder, a nationally-published monthly journal for students of Freemasonry published by the National Masonic Research Society in Animosa, Iowa. Haywood, who was planning to move to Animosa, had learned about Korzybski from his friends the Gronbergs, owners of the Artemsia Book Shop in San Diego, who arranged for the two men to meet. They became lifelong friends with Roy later serving as one of the editorial readers of Science and Sanity. Haywood was much taken both with the notions of time-binding and of logical fate. Alfred gave him a copy of Manhood, which Haywood reviewed in the August 1922 issue of 
The Builder. Alfred also had a copy of Mathematical Philosophy sent to Haywood who read it enthusiastically and reviewed it for the October 1922 issue. For Haywood, the connection between Freemasonry and Korzybski’s and Keysers’s work seemed clear.(8)

By the beginning of April, Mira and Alfred’s plans were set. They would head east at the end of the month. Mira had some business in Los Angeles and preceded Alfred there, staying at the Gates Hotel. Alfred left his cabin on the beach about a week later, traveling to Los Angeles with McEwen, with whom he had a number of meetings during his first week in the city. The two men read Keyser’s book together and worked on McEwen’s review for Science. Alfred also spoke at a meeting of the Southwestern Philosophical Association at Occidental College. After McEwen’s return to La Jolla, Alfred and Mira busied themselves with packing and with meetings and visits with friends.

Harry Bateman of the Caltech Math department had invited Alfred to speak there in mid-April. Alfred addressed about two dozen faculty and students from the math, physics, and chemistry departments. He wrote to Keyser about his lecture and about one of the scientists he met there, Paul Epstein, who had recently come to Caltech from Europe to teach theoretical physics:
I hope my lecture was a success. I spoke one hour and half, but nobody did want to go away, and I had to speak more. Comments of Bateman and Epstein were very favorable. Bateman is a Cambridge man. Epstein is a Polish Jew educated in Germany a friend of Einstein and a new star on the physicomathematical firmament, his discoveries in the quantum theory, I was told by Millikan are epoch making. Of course he is a relativist, but I was amazed to find his “philosophy” has not been affected at all by the theory of relativity, he still is a mixture of an absolutist and a relativist. I had to speak about the Einstein revolution as well, and I was told a complement by E. that I said things that were new to him. (9) 

During this time, Alfred also made a trip to the town of Fullerton, south of Los Angeles, to tour a gasoline processing plant there run by the redundantly named Texas Gasoline Company of Texas. ‘Naturally’ the company had its headquarters in San Diego where Alfred and Mira had become friendly with Frank Avery, the secretary of the company, and Avery’s wife Sally. Alfred and Mira met with them socially and also became interested in investing in the enterprise which had at least two processing plants, the one in Fullerton and the other actually in Texas. Alfred had a friendly correspondence with both Avery, and J. Arthur Thompson, an L.A. real estate developer, who served as the company’s Vice President. Alfred and Mira had even looked into getting a bank loan, using some of Mira’s stock certificates in other companies as collateral, in order to get the money needed to become stockholders. But it doesn’t appear that they made the investment. They did maintain contact with the Averys, however. Within the next decade, Frank died but the Korzybskis continued to correspond with Sally, who later came east to visit them when they lived in Brooklyn. Finally on April 23, Alfred and Mira, with their 775 pounds of luggage, boarded the Atcheson, Topeka, and Santa Fe bound for Salt Lake City, through Denver, to Kansas City, Missouri. (10)

You may download a pdf of all of the book's reference notes (including a note on primary source material and abbreviations used) from the link labeled Notes on the Contents page. The pdf of the Bibliography, linked on the Contents page contains full information on referenced books and articles. 
6. Robertson, p. 230. Korzybski would have felt delighted to know that his work influenced Powers, who wrote the following to me on 11/17/2009: 
“...when I was in high school, a hopeless SF [science fiction] addict, I read A. E. van Vogt’s The World of Null-A and was intrigued to find that the chapter quotes were from a real book, Science and Sanity by our mutual friend. I rushed to the library and read the whole thing, and from then on, the word was not the object and the map was not the territory. I took courses in General Semantics in college from Lee and Hayakawa. These experiences had a definite influence on my thinking when the development of PCT [Perceptual Control Theory] began, in around 1953.” Comment on “Historic Breakthrough Promises Major Progress Throughout the LifeSciences” 
7. Korzybski qtd. by M. Kendig in “Book Comments”, General Semantics Bulletin 1 & 2, p. 46. 

 8. “Introduction by the Editor of “The Brotherhood of Doctrines”. The Builder Magazine, April 1924, Volume X – Number 4 in Alfred Korzybski Collected Writings, p. 53. 

9. AK to C. J. Keyser, 4/23/1922. AKDA 8.326. 

10. “775 pounds of luggage”, Jas. B. Duffy (Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe General Passenger Agent) to AK, 5/11/1922. AKDA 8.214. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Chapter 25 - "The Brotherhood Of Doctrines": Part 2 - Mathematical Philosophy

Korzybski: A Biography (Free Online Edition)
Copyright © 2014 (2011) by Bruce I. Kodish 
All rights reserved. Copyright material may be quoted verbatim without need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder, provided that attribution is clearly given and that the material quoted is reasonably brief in extent.

At the end of February, Dutton published Keyser’s book Mathematical Philosophy: A Study of Fate and Freedom. Keyser sent a copy to Korzybski at once. Despite being especially busy—with speaking engagements in Los Angeles and with whatever he had to do to help Mira set up a painting exhibit at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego—Alfred had nearly completed his first reading and marking of it by March 10. (1)

He had already seen the manuscript and table of contents, having quoted from it in Manhood. Nonetheless, reading the completed work seemed like a revelation. The force of his response was not only a function of his gratitude to Keyser for devoting the next-to-last chapter of the book to a discussion of “Korzybski’s Concept of Man”. Keyser—in his discussion of “logical fate”—had revealed to Alfred an essential aspect of the foundation of time-binding. The formulation would help Alfred begin to unify the numerous influences he had been absorbing over the past year. The notion of “logical fate” (logical destiny) formed the nucleus of two articles he would write over the following year, and would continue to guide the development of his work thereafter.

Mathematical philosophy, as Keyser indicated in the subtitle of his book, could be viewed as “the study of Fate and Freedom—logical fate and intellectual freedom.” What did this logical ‘fate’ or ‘destiny’ and the corresponding intellectual freedom consist of? As Keyser had described it:
…[I]t is in the world of ideas and only there that human beings as human may find principles or bases for rational theories and rational conduct of life,...; choices differ but some choice of principles we must make if we are to be really human—if, that is, we are to be rational—and when we have made it, we are at once bound by a destiny of consequences beyond the power of passion or will to control or modify; another choice of principles is but the election of another destiny. The world of ideas is, you see, the empire of Fate. (2) 

As his discussion in his chapter on Korzybski indicated, Keyser seemed particularly impressed by Korzybski’s notion of time-binding. In Manhood of Humanity—without having formulated it clearly himself—Korzybski had shown the mechanism of ‘logical fate’ at work in his discussion of the pernicious effects of specific false principles about humans and of the need to choose a new, more accurate base—time-binding—for the rational conduct of human life. What we humans think, and think about ourselves, makes a difference in how we behave. Manhood of Humanity provided a particularly significant example of such fate and freedom in human affairs.

In his book, Keyser—who had studied the history of mathematics for some time and had an interest in the thought processes of mathematicians—discussed various basic formulations in mathematics (postulates and postulational systems, doctrinal functions, transformation, invariance, groups, variables and limits, infinity, hyperspaces, non-euclidean geometries, etc.). Keyser demonstrated how mathematics—as the exemplar of logical fate—involved a consummate effort to make conscious and to work out the implications of particular starting principles or postulates. His chapter on “Non-Euclidean Geometry” seemed particularly clear about this.

For more than two thousand years, Euclid’s geometry had been considered ‘the’geometry of this world. Euclid’s axioms, viewed as ‘self-evident’, included this postulate: through any point outside of a line, only one other parallel line can be drawn. The absolutistic nature of this assumption was finally challenged in the 19th Century by several mathematicians such as Bolyai, Lobachevski, and Riemann. These men found they could create equally consistent and valid non-euclidean geometries by postulating either no parallel lines or an indefinite number of them. The resultant revolution in mathematics entailed a greater recognition of the freedom of humans in creating their starting postulates or assumptions. The propositions of Euclid represented not ‘the’ geometry of this world but rather a geometry, one among many. Indeed, relativity-oriented physicists had found the non-euclidean geometries to more closely approximate some features of the world than the euclidean did.

Korzybski could see quite clearly: logical fate and the time-binding shift from euclidean to non-euclidean geometry exemplified a general process in human life. Man was a doctrinal creature. From our postulates, i.e., our assumptions, premises, presuppositions, expectations, etc.—often unconscious —conclusions follow. We can, however, become conscious of and revise our assumptions. In his book, Keyser had discussed mathematical thinking as a consummate effort to make conscious and to work out the implications of assumptions. It served as the prototype of rigorous thinking in any field.

Of all the mathematicians he’d encountered and read, Alfred had not found anyone other than Keyser who emphasized this application of the mathematical ‘spirit’ to human life—in other words to all sorts of thinking not normally viewed as mathematical. In his chapter on “Truth and the Critic’s Art”, Keyser had even suggested how to go about examining non-mathematical doctrines—from the Sermon on the Mount to Darwin’s Origin of Species to “all manner of doctrinistic contentions of wise men, knaves, fanatics and fools”(3)—in terms of logical fate, i.e., postulational analysis. Interested as he was in human behavior in general, and problem-solving and trouble-shooting in all fields, Korzybski was going to pick up Keyser’s ‘ball’ and ‘run’ with it. He began talking and writing in letters about “logical fate” almost immediately after his first reading of Keyser’s book.

The label “logical fate” might lead the unwary astray here. At this time, Korzybski rather regularly harped on mathematical logic and talked of his developing work in terms of it. For example, he had just mailed a copy of Manhood to Eddington, writing, “My work is a trial of application of mathematical logic to life problems.”(4) But as Korzybski would come to realize over the next few years, ‘logical fate’ was not primarily a matter of formal logic. Even now, what Keyser called ‘logical fate’ seemed to Alfred primarily an assertion about human psychology: to a large extent, what a human does gets ‘driven’ internally by his doctrines or attitudes which involve, among other things, his choice of assumptions and his willingness to analyze and revise them when needed. Formal logical follow-through has a genuine but limited part to play in this process. In seeing mathematics in such a psychological light, Keyser did not seem like a typical mathematician or mathematical logician. (5) But this was exactly the kind of illumination Alfred was seeking.

You may download a pdf of all of the book's reference notes (including a note on primary source material and abbreviations used) from the link labeled Notes on the Contents page. The pdf of the Bibliography, linked on the Contents page contains full information on referenced books and articles. 
1. AK to C.J. Keyser, 3/10/1922. AKDA 8.460. 

2. Keyser 1922, p. 5. 

3. Ibid., p. 151 

 4. AK to A. S. Eddington, 4/5/1922. AKDA 8.361. 

5. See Keyser’s chapter on “The Psychology of Mathematics” where he wrote that:
…It is indeed obvious that the whole literature of mathematics may be read and interpreted as a commentary upon the nature of the human mind...A normal human mind is such that, if it begin with such-and-such principles or premises and with such-and-such ideas and if it combine them in such-and-such ways, moving from step to step in such-and-such order, it will find that it has thus passed from darkness to light,—from doubt to conviction. Obviously such a proposition is not mathematical; it is psychological—it states a fact respecting the nature of a normal human mind. Such interpretations of mathematical literature are psychologically very illuminating; the possibility of making them is so evident, once it is pointed out, that I should have refrained from mentioning it except for the fact of its being commonly overlooked and neglected. [Keyser 2001 (1922), pp. 412-413]

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Chapter 25 - "The Brotherhood Of Doctrines": Part 1 - Introduction

Korzybski: A Biography (Free Online Edition)
Copyright © 2014 (2011) by Bruce I. Kodish 
All rights reserved. Copyright material may be quoted verbatim without need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder, provided that attribution is clearly given and that the material quoted is reasonably brief in extent.

The time had come to leave La Jolla, to travel east to New York City, and from there to Poland—at last. Their friends in New York—Walter Polakov in particular—were missing the Korzybskis and eager for their return there. (Walter wrote later, saying that without Alfred to talk with, he had felt—even in Manhattan—like Robinson Crusoe.) But there were delays. Granted there was little if any money from it, but Alfred’s book was still getting publicity (Dutton ran a third printing in January) and people in Southern California wanted to hear him lecture. Mira, who had more of a chance to make some significant income from her work, also took whatever opportunity she could find to speak (about her work, time-binding, and the relation between the two) and to find clients in the area for her paintings. (In 1922 the portraits she would complete—she also typically created the frames—included the one below of Alfred, which she entitled “The Time-Binder,” obtained by the Art Institute of Chicago for its collection the following year.)

1922 Portrait of Alfred Korzybski with Frame by Mira Edgerly Korzybska 
(Original at the Art Institute of Chicago)

Alfred was eager to see Walter and Keyser again. He had a lot to talk about with them. Letters, even the long detailed ones he was apt to write, were not the same as a tête-à-tête in Walter’s studio or Keyser’s apartment over tea or something stronger (Prohibition notwithstanding). Walter’s and Keyser’s long-awaited books had both appeared. For Alfred, each man’s book represented one side of the development of the time-binding notion. While Keyser’s book focused on the mathematical foundations, Walter’s book emphasized the application of a time-binding, human engineering viewpoint to human affairs.

After more than a year’s delay (the publisher had run out of money), Walter’s book Mastering Power Production had finally gotten into print at the end of January. Alfred told Walter he considered it the applied second volume of Manhood of Humanity. Although written before Walter and Alfred’s first meeting in the fall of 1920, Polakov’s notion of “universal labor” had come extremely close to the formulation of time-binding. The book, a wide-ranging analysis of power production and its relation to socio-economic welfare, was not likely to get onto a national best-seller list. Yet the broad human framework of the book might still interest people other than power-industry engineers. Time-binding and the human engineering attitude, although not mentioned explicitly, permeated the book. Alfred wanted to promote it and Walter wanted him to write a review.

Though Alfred pushed Mastering Power Production to people whom he met and to lecture audiences, he wrote to Walter that he wasn’t well known enough to submit a review unless it had been solicited from him by a paper or magazine. Whether right or wrong about this, it was also true Korzybski simply did not have the writing facility of Polakov, who could quickly dash off finished prose pieces and had already published many magazine articles and reviews for a wide-variety of audiences. Alfred, a perfectionist—perhaps to a fault—produced finished writing more slowly. Walter, who had already produced a number of published pieces about Manhood, might have perceived this as a lack of reciprocity on Alfred’s part but seemed to accept Alfred’s rationale. Walter’s depressed mood seemed to have lifted a bit as his business, after a fallow period with almost no income, was beginning to pick up again. He was also starting on a new writing project, a more popularly oriented book with the tentative title Life and Work, explicitly applying the notion of time-binding to issues of labor and management—a natural next step for the industrial consultant whose last address to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in December 1921 had been, “Making Work Fascinating as the First Step toward Reduction of Waste”.

You may download a pdf of all of the book's reference notes (including a note on primary source material and abbreviations used) from the link labeled Notes on the Contents page. The pdf of the Bibliography, linked on the Contents page contains full information on referenced books and articles.