Sunday, March 10, 2013

Chain Indexing

The Chain Index, which Korzybski developed in the mid-1940s has significantly bedeviled generations of students of Korzybski's work. "Supermoderator" in the RGS forum has done what I rate as a better job of explaining it than even Korzybski did.

The 'chain' part comes from the analogy to the "chain reaction", for example when there is a doubling or other multipication of some process with each iteration of the process, for example, a nuclear or chemical chain reaction ( ).

With the chain index, we make our own little chain reaction of differences, of differentiating one thing in our classification or naming, so one thing becomes two things or more depending on the context of time and place (although the time dimension can be taken care of with the device of dating). Further differentiating as to context, can go on indefinitely, although it is probably often not necessary.

It's not only organism(1)-as-a-whole-in-environment(1) different from organism(1)-as-a-whole-in environment(2). It's every thing-as-a-whole-in-its-environment different from 'itself' in a different environment. Ken Keyes called it the "when index". It remains a matter of assessment to decide whether the differences makes a difference to us or not (in a particular time and location). In other words, our assessments of this should best be chain-indexed as well if we want to remain careful evaluators.

Want to join the chain-indexing gang?

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