Friday, April 17, 2015

Chapter 57 - "Release Of Atomic Energy": 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.

Despite the fact that Hayakawa’s work in ETC. had begun to get more bothersome, Korzybski had continued to send in contributions and Hayakawa continued to publish them.(1) Korzybski’s contributions (forewords and reviews of articles and books from the fields of psychiatry, education, biology, physics, etc.) provided updates to the background research material he had used in Science and Sanity. They also reflected an issue that had pulled on his attention for some time. The authors of these articles and books were pointing out the need for explicitly acknowledging the value orientation of the sciences, the need for integration among different areas of study, and the need for application of scientific attitudes and approaches to social problems. Although they pointed out such needs, these authors for the most part failed to indicate practical means for fulfilling them. Korzybski considered it important to point out that his methodology, explicitly dealing with neuro-evaluational and neuro-linguistic issues, provided that missing factor of application. As he had written to Keyser in the fall of 1943, 
Under separate cover I am sending to you the first issue of ETC: A REVIEW OF GENERAL SEMANTICS. On my insistence the first number of the ETC opened with Thorndike’s ‘Science and Values’. Please note my foreword. I endorsed that article thoroughly and yet does it work? It does not. And it takes our particular training to make it workable. We are in an empirical field and we count the results. In the next issue of ETC we are publishing, also with my foreword, the presidential address of Langmuir, and a paper of Bell on Greek mathematics. The difficulties again are the same; we can say ‘fine, fine, fine’ and no doubt they are fine. As an engineer I ask ‘does that work?’ and the answer is unfortunately ‘no’. We need a whole discipline as shown in forty hours of seminars, the extensional method as I call it, to make it work. We are having results, which as far as I am concerned, is all that matters. (2)

Perhaps more than anything else Korzybski wanted to get across to people this message of application. As he would often say, with every seminar he learned something more about how to do this—especially in regard to the obstacles related to students’ preconceived attitudes and corresponding psycho-logical difficulties. He also felt concerned about the obstacles involved in conveying his work to individuals (not just his students) from different groups: individuals within a particular group might share common ‘problematic’ attitudes. In 1945, he found new opportunities to address two of the main groups he had long sought to influence: mathematicians and psychiatrists.

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. In the Discussion section of ETC ’s 1944-1945 Winter issue, Hayakawa had reprinted an article, “Semantics, General Semantics: An Attempt At Definition”, that he had originally written for the Dictionary of World Literature. In the article, Hayakawa defined ‘General Semantics’ under the term ‘Semantics’, which from Korzybski’s view—at this point in the development of his work—confused the two disciplines. Hayakawa also referred to the extensional devices as ‘semantic devices’—an inaccuracy in terms of Korzybski’s usage, which Korzybski believed, increased the confusion. Perhaps most bothersome, Hayakawa had written this original article, had it published, and then reprinted it in ETC., without consulting Korzybski at any step. See Korzybski’s ‘Protest letter to the editor of ETC.’ in Alfred Korzybski Collected Writings, p. 820. 

2. AK to C. J. Keyser, 10/6/1943, IGS Archives.

Part 2 >

No comments: