By the late 19th Century, in his work Progress and Poverty (a volume in Korzybski’s personal library), American political economist Henry George, demonstrated a sense of both the transmission of culture and of progress, consistent with the notion of time-binding.
The narrow span of human life allows the individual to go but a short distance, but though each generation may do but little, yet generations, succeeding to the gain of their predecessors, may gradually elevate the status of mankind, as coral polyps, building one generation upon the work of the other, gradually elevate themselves from the bottom of the sea. (1)Then in the first decade of the 20th Century, writer Henry Adams—noting the breathtaking changes brought on by expanding scientific knowledge and technological advances—had suggested a historical law of acceleration to account for them. Adams did not supply an actual equation, although he did suggest its exponential nature. Clearly, the main factors that entered into Korzybski’s formulation of time-binding had been recognized by many others before him.
Granted, he stood on their shoulders. Still Korzybski’s formulation of time-binding did something new. It brought together under one unifying, functional formulation the various related factors that others had previously noted. Making time-binding, the distinguishing feature of the human class of life gave the phenomenon a greater significance. His formula PRT and his emphasis on the implications and applications of conscious time-binding for human welfare gave added value to the formulation. It seemed to him that his new definition, with these accompanying aspects, constituted a proper starting point for an applied science of humanity—a new art and science of human engineering.