"For Rebbe Nachman, living in tune meant awareness—being aware of the transient nature of this world and the eternity of the next.
From his window facing the marketplace Rebbe Nachman spotted one of his followers rushing by:
"Have you looked up at the sky this morning? The Rebbe asked.
"No, Rebbe, I haven't the time."
"Believe me, in fifty years everything you see here today will be gone. There will be another fair—with other horses, other wagons, different people. I won't be here then and neither will you. So whats so important that you don't have time to look at the sky?!" From The Empty Chair: Finding Hope and Joy: Timeless Wisdom from a Hasidic Master Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. Adapted by Moshe Mykoff and the Breslov Research Center
"And in the case of superior things like stars, we discover a kind of unity in separation. The higher we rise on the scale of being, the easier it is to discern a connection even among things separated by vast distances." ——Marcus Aurelius, Meditations*
*quoted from Nature's Hidden Force by George Land and Beth Jarman, p. 81
Alfred Korzybski was born in Warsaw, Poland (then part of the Czarist Russian Empire) on this day, July 3, 136 years ago in 1879. I described his work, confusedly (to some) called "general semantics" in the 2004 edition of the General Semantics Bulletin #71:
The Scientific Philosophy of General Semantics General Semantics (GS) qualifies as an unusual, tough- to-‘pin down’, interdisciplinary field. “Is it a science or a philosophy?” Perhaps GS may best be seen as neither ‘science’ nor ‘philosophy’ but rather as both/and––a scientific philosophy applicable moreover to the life concerns of ‘the man and woman in the street’.
In the scientific realm, GS has elements which bring it within the larger field of the behavioral/social sciences. Here, the main accomplishment of Alfred Korzybski, the original formulator of GS, was theoretical: his integrative theory of human evaluation based on knowledge from a variety of fields. Formulated as a foundation for a new interdisciplinary science of humanity, GS suggests methodological guidelines for all (yes, all) areas of inquiry and has substantive implications for ongoing research on neuro-evaluative, neuro-linguistic factors in human behavior.
In addition to this, GS focuses on examining underlying assumptions in a way that many people would call “philosophical.” Korzybski did not find that term entirely congenial––chiefly because it had become associated with verbalistic speculations detached from scientific/mathematical knowledge and practical application. However, he did respect the work of some philosophers, especially some of those who worked in mathematical logic and the theory of knowledge or epistemology. Indeed, he viewed his own inquiry into “the structure of human knowledge”as “an up-to-date epistemology.” Korzybski pioneered in applying knowledge from mathematics, physics, biology, neuroscience, psychiatry, etc., to epistemological questions, and conversely, in applying an up-to-date, scientific epistemology to physics, biology, psychiatry, etc.––and especially to everyday life. He contended that factors of sanity exist within the work of mathematicians and scientists.
A great deal of wisdom was present in the culture when Korzybski formulated GS. Nonetheless, much of this wisdom did not get applied. To an appalling extent––despite the work of Korzybski and many others––it still doesn’t. With its emphasis on daily life application, the scientific philosophy of GS has preeminent value in providing specific methods for practicing a scientific attitude—an attitude of inquiry—for individuals, groups and organizations.
If you have struggled to understand a subject of interest and realize that you still remain short of adequately understanding it, your ignorance will not impede further progress in learning. But if you think you understand adequately and you actually don't, your ignorance of your ignorance—which amounts to false knowledge—will stop you in your tracks.