Monday, May 26, 2008

Forerunners to the Time-Binding Notion (Part I)

Although they resulted from his own process of questioning, observation, and discovery, Korzybski would have been the first to admit that the ideas expressed in his manuscript were not entirely original. He had predecessors.

First of all, he had been prepared for the formulation of time-binding by the very time and location of his birth. By 1879, even a Pole born in Warsaw was in a real sense born into exile. For Poland did not exist—except in the history, culture, language, and literature that ethnic Poles sought to preserve and carry on to their younger generation. Since the beginning of the 19th Century, Poles had been emigrating in large numbers from the oppressive conditions of post-partition existence. To remain a Pole required conscious effort whether one remained in the former Polish lands or went abroad. The mere fact of Alfred’s beginning his life as a Pole seems likely to have sensitized him to the significance of preserving and transmitting a culture under difficult circumstances. In addition, Korzybski’s emphasis in Manhood on the value of a scientific-mathematical attitude to human affairs—leading to a “human engineering”—also seems like a natural outgrowth of his upbringing by an engineer father in the heyday of Polish positivist philosophy and its esteem of science.

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