Thursday, September 25, 2014

Chapter 21 - Leibniz's Dreams: Part 3 - Idols of the 'Mind'

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.

A universal encyclopedia of knowledge and a general science of discovery would, in Korzybski’s terms, necessarily accelerate the time-binding power of Man by helping to extend the methodology of science and mathematics to more and more areas of human life. First, however, a great deal of the ‘deadwood’ blocking the rate of time-binding would have to be removed from the ‘tree of culture’. As Korzybski wrote in Manhood of Humanity
Metaphysical speculation and its swarming progeny of blind and selfish political philosophies, private opinions, private “truths,”and private doctrines, sectarian opinions, sectarian “truths” and sectarian doctrines, querulous, confused and blind—such is characteristic of the childhood of humanity. The period of humanity’s manhood will, I doubt not, be a scientific period—a period that will witness the gradual extension of scientific method to all the interests of mankind—a period in which man will discover the essential nature of man and establish, at length, the science and art of directing human energies and human capacities to the advancement of human weal in accordance with the laws of human nature. (12) 

As Korzybski was not the first to hold such a dream of scientific and cultural advancement, neither was Leibniz. Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), had gotten there before. Bacon had championed the move away from dry medieval scholasticism toward the modern experimental study of nature. He had proclaimed, “Knowledge is Power” and had hoped to usher in “The Great Instauration”—a golden age of science-based progress. Before Leibniz, he sought to create a universal encylopedia of knowledge. And he too had written about a general science, an art of thinking and discovery he hoped to advance. In his 1620 work, Novum Organum, he had presented this new system of thought, hoping to replace or at least expand on the logic of Aristotle. This would require recognizing and dealing with,
Four species of idols [sources of error which] beset the human mind, to which (for distinction’s sake) we have assigned names, calling the first Idols of the Tribe [intrinsic to general human nature, perception, etc.], the second Idols of the Den [intrinsic to each individual’s idiosyncracies and training], the third Idols of the Market [related to language], the fourth Idols of the Theatre [related to doctrines and beliefs]. (13) 
In Manhood of Humanity Korzybski had quoted at length from Bacon’s discussion of these idols. They seemed to summarize some of the major impediments to human understanding and successful time-binding which characterized the childhood of humanity. To clarify the mechanism of time-binding, Alfred would need to make a less ‘literary’, more exact formulation of how the ‘idols’ of the ‘mind’ were formed.

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. 
12. Korzybski 1921, pp. 44-45. 

13. Bacon qtd. in Korzybski 1921, pp. 42. 

< Part 2      Part 4 >

No comments: