Monday, August 9, 2010
"My Dear Russell": Korzybski and Bertrand Russell- Part I
Prior to its 1933 publication, Korzybski had sent him proofs of Science and Sanity. Russell cabled back to him “Your work is impressive and your erudition extraordinary. Have not had time for thorough reading but think well of parts read. Undoubtedly your theories demand serious consideration.” (1) This testimonial was important for Alfred although he had been disappointed that Russell had not been able to study the book more.
Subsequent correspondence years later makes clear that Russell never did take time for a thorough reading. In 1939 he wrote to Korzybski “I should like very much to know about the semantic definition of number that you mention [in a previous letter to Russell].” (2) If Russell had read with any care either the page proofs or the published copy of Science and Sanity that Korzybski sent to him, then he would not have missed Korzybski’s suggested improvement upon Russell’s definition of number, discussed in detail in Chapter XVIII of Science and Sanity and mentioned in various places throughout the book.
1. B. Russell to Alfred Korzybski (telegram), 4/7/1933. Alfred Korzybski Digital Archives 25.2551
2. B. Russell to Alfred Korzybski, 1/14/1939. Institute of General Semantics Archives.