Friday, October 31, 2014

Chapter 26 - "Fate And Freedom": Part 4 - Wittgenstein

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.

The continuing positive responses to his work (Leeds’ interest, requests for talks, positive letters and reviews, etc.) indicated to Alfred that, whatever the problems so far with his formulating, he was working in the right direction. One big confirmation of this for him came at the end of February when he happened upon Ludwig Wittgenstein’s book Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

Wittgenstein, a Viennese native from one of the wealthiest families in Austria, had trained in mechanical engineering and then come to England before World War I to study aeronautics at the University of Manchester. While there, Wittgenstein became interested in the foundations of mathematics and logic. He went to Cambridge to study with Bertrand Russell. He was soon teaching his teacher. Before the war, Wittgenstein returned to the continent, writing and pondering about some of the deepest issues of human life, language, and logic. With the start of the war, he joined the Austrian army, seeing action as an artillery man on the Russian front (perhaps he even fired on Korzybski), and as an artillery officer in Italy. Captured by the Italians, he finished the Tractatus (which he had been working on for some time) and sent the manuscript to Russell for review while still an Italian prisoner-of-war. The German version was published in 1921. An English translation by C. K. (Charles Kay) Ogden with the assistance of Frank Ramsey and an “Introduction” by Russell appeared in 1922. 

Wittgenstein on being awarded a scholarship from Trinity College, 1929.
Almost as soon as he discovered it, Alfred began to recommend it to friends and correspondents.(34) What did Korzybski find of value in the book? First, he delighted in its aphoristic verve, e.g., “A point in space is a place for an argument.” Alfred enjoyed quoting some of his favorite passages to others. Indeed, he and Mira read from it to each other in bed. On a more substantive level, the Tractatus related, in part, to questions Korzybski had been struggling with: How do humans—as opposed to animals—represent the world? How do the humans called mathematicians, scientists, and engineers represent the world as effectively as they do—as opposed to when they, and the rest of us, don’t? In the Tractatus, Wittgenstein had elaborated on the notion of representation as a picture of the world.(35) This concern for representation obviously related to language. In his later work Wittgenstein downplayed the importance of representation and became more interested in the varieties of language use or what he called “language games”. He thus turned away from his early work in the Tractatus. On the other hand, upon encountering Wittgenstein’s work, Korzybski was increasingly putting emphasis on the process and the quality of human forms of representation both in and outside of language (without denying other functions for language). This continued as a major focus for Korzybski for the rest of his life. Although he came to know of Wittgenstein’s later work, it had no influence on Korzybski’s subsequent formulating. However, he would recognize Wittgenstein’s work in the Tractatus as an important inspiration.

Soon after his introduction to Wittgenstein, Alfred was describing his own work with words Russell had used in his “Introduction” to describe the 
Tractatus, “I am working myself on the line of establishing an abstract science of man, which again necessitates the compliance with the principles of Symbolism and avoidance of the misuse of language.” [Russell’s words in italics.](36) Korzybski would pursue this in a different way from either Wittgenstein or the group of thinkers (to become known as “logical positivists” or “logical empiricists”) beginning to find major inspiration in the Tractatus.

For one thing, the Wittgenstein of the 
Tractatus seemed unwilling to accept what Korzybski took as a matter of course even in 1923, that the hypotheses of natural science, including biology, psychiatry, etc., might inform and set limits to philosophy as much as the other way around. Wittgenstein had written, “Philosophy is not one of the natural sciences. (The word “philosophy” must mean something which stands above or below, but not beside the natural sciences.)” [Tractatus, Proposition 4.111] To the extent Wittgenstein accepted this, he would probably have some reluctance to find out how the latest scientific investigations in physiology, neurology, biology, etc., might inform his philosophical concerns (and vice versa). Wittgenstein appeared to want to avoid getting “entangled in unessential psychological investigations”.[Tractatus, Proposition 4.1121] Perhaps this was part of the appeal of Wittgenstein to logical positivists, who in general seemed inclined to want to keep their work in a ‘formalistic’ vein, separate from considerations of biology, physiology, psychiatry, psychology, etc.

In contrast, Korzybski didn’t recognize any strict boundary separating so-called philosophy from so-called science, which separation he considered an arbitrary limitation on inquiry. Korzybski—looking at science, mathematics, and logic as forms of human behavior and thus products of human nervous systems—was becoming more and more convinced that he needed to delve even more deeply into other forms of human behavior as well. After finding Dr. Williams’ Mental Hygiene review of Manhood, he had started to read in the psychiatric literature and was continuing to study the biological, physiological background of behavior. He felt that if he wanted to better understand the mechanism of time-binding, he had to do so.

Another difference emerged between Korzybski and Wittgenstein (as well as various logical positivists). According to Wittgenstein, ethical and aesthetic values were “transcendental”, existing “outside the world.” “…[T]here can be no ethical propositions.” “Ethics [and aesthetics] cannot be expressed.” [
Tractatus, Propositons 6.41, 6.42, 6.421] Wittgenstein was not trying to denigrate values here. Rather he appeared to be emphasizing the great importance of what he judged could not be put into words. Nonetheless his position seemed to give support to a fundamental position of logical positivists: the meaninglessness and completely arbitrary nature of value judgments. This went along with their view of science and mathematics as value-free activities. The human subject (observer) could be considered as an ‘intellect’ apart from ‘emotion’.

Korzybski rejected these assumptions. Indeed, they would become for him prime examples of the elementalism he was beginning to fight against. Values were not outside the world but an inevitable result of worldly organisms (scientific observers or otherwise) purposefully interacting in some worldly environments. Science, mathematics and any other human activity were not ‘value-free’, since‘intellect’ did not exist separately from ‘emotion’. Indeed there were no meaningful propositions that did not involve some considerations of human values, ethical considerations, etc. Time-binding, the relation of the observer to the observed, and the process of logical fate were entirely shot through with human values.

In the 
Tractatus, Wittgenstein seemed insufficiently aware of the logical fate of his own elementalistic language. Korzybski sensed this and Wittgenstein eventually may have sensed it too. As for the logical positivists/empiricists, many would continue in varying degrees to elementalistically isolate science from philosophy, intellect from emotion, knowledge from value, theory from practice, etc. But clearly such elementalism was not restricted to them.

Aside from that, Korzybski shared a number of attitudes with the logical positivists/empiricists, i.e., his ‘anti-metaphysical’ bias, a certain ‘phenomenalistic’ and ‘nominalistic’ flavor to his thinking, and his interest in the unity of the sciences and the scientific method.(37) But Korzybski was creating his own path.

Wittgenstein had stated, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” Keyser, in a review of the 
Tractatus published later in 1923 called this “the nerve of Wittgenstein’s mysticism—a proposition cannot express its own structure or form, but can only exhibit it: the structure cannot be said, it can only be shown and seen. The inexpressible is the mystical.”(38) While Korzybski appreciated the importance of accepting that ultimately some things cannot be said but only shown, he was not satisfied with accepting someone else’s view of the limits of knowability or expressibility. He believed he could produce another language in which these issues could be analyzed further and more clearly. In March, in a draft of a biographical statement written in the third person for Haywood’s publication, Alfred stated, “Logical destiny which always makes logical boundaries to a language, in this case the language and its limitations of Wittgenstein, have been surpassed by Korzybski’s analysis and language.”(39) 

A bold claim—could he back it up? He knew that with the formulation of logical fate he had already in a way gotten to the other side of the limits Wittgenstein tended to treat as fixed. But it still wasn’t clear enough. A clearer analysis and language would connect to time-binding and the difference between animals and humans. He would have loved to discuss these matters with Wittgenstein and made a concerted effort to obtain his address, even writing to Wittgenstein’s British publisher. But to no avail. Still he had other incentives to stretch further. In April, he was starting a new round of lectures. For his next major piece of writing, as a preliminary to his coming book, he had decided he would write a new preface/introduction for a Second Edition of Manhood of Humanity, incorporating the material from “The Brotherhood of Doctrines”, “Fate and Freedom”, and this new material stimulated by Wittgenstein. He was stretching, pushing through the limits. Years later, after his death, Mira recalled observing his visible struggle in their apartment at the Grenoble:
We sublet a furnished apartment on the street opposite the rear entrance of [Carnegie] Orchestra Hall in New York City. It was a small one with a sitting room, with a double brass bed in an alcove. I was sitting by the window thinking and Alfred was as usual pacing back and forth between me and the bed. He was looking at me to see if I was listening when he accidentally banged into the foot of the bed, painfully hurting his left knee. While rubbing his knee he said, “That is an object, and if a dog had a similar experience, he would be similarly pained by it, but [I need to] make clear the difference between an animal object and a human object to clear up the confusion of that…" (40) 
He soon would do just that.

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. 
34. On February 24, Korzybski wrote the following to Jesse S. Reeves, a political scientist he had met during his talk at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor: 
...It [Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus] is of enormous importance as a trial of the establishing [of] a LOGICAL language, in which arguments would be impossible, and only errors could be corrected. He claims in many instances finality, I do not think so, but he said there more than any other writer I know of. I have already in two readings found some mistakes, but in general I am amazed on the bigness of this work. It seems to me that you may enjoy studying an example of this new stuff. There is no doubt that he is on the right track. I feel very enthusiastic about it because my own thoughts were developing in the same channels, and he has saved me considerable amount of time through his work, my lecture [“Fate and Freedom] deals with the same subject but yet in [a] more general and further going way. The book as the beginning is a marvel, but I don’t believe that finality can be attained even theoretically, IT seems to me that I am able to prove that finality is NOT in the nature of things and therefore theoretically impossible. [AK to Jesse S. Reeves, 2/24/1923. AKDA 9.511]
35.The following passages (among others) were underlined in green for special emphasis in Korzybski’s well-marked copy of Wittgenstein’s book: 
2.1 We make to ourselves pictures of facts.…
2.12 The picture is a model of reality.…
2.15 That the elements of the picture are combined with one another in a definite way, represents that the things are so combined with one another. This connexion of the elements of the picture is called its structure, and the possibility of this structure is called the form of representation of the picture.…
2.16 In order to be a picture a fact must have something in common with what it pictures.
2.161 In the picture and the pictured there must be a something identical in order that the one can be a picture of the other at all.
2.17 What the picture must have in common with reality in order to be able to represent it after its manner—rightly or falsely—is its form of representation.
36. AK to Joseph Roe (NYU dept of Industrial Engineering), 3/9/1923. AKDA 9.530. 

 37. See Leszek Kolakowski, The Alienation of Reason: A History of Positivist Thought, Chapter One, for more on ‘the rules’ of phenomenalism, nominalism, etc. in ‘positivistic thought’. 

38. C.J. Keyser, “Fundamental Thinking”. Literary Review, August 18, 1923. IGS Archives. 

39. AKDA 13.591-3. 

40. MEK, Autobiographical Memoir (Unpublished), p. 43, IGS Archives.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chapter 26 - "Fate And Freedom": Part 3 - More Delays

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.

By the start of December, Alfred and Mira had set their departure time for the end of January. While they continued to pack and Alfred worked on his upcoming lecture, it seemed like a good time for him to have some serious dental work done. He had neglected his teeth during the war, especially during his time on the Eastern Front. His irregular and inadequate diet then (like the loaf of bread he once retrieved from a muddy road) hardly promoted good dental hygiene. The result, as Alfred described it in a letter was “a terrible mess with my bones, jaws, teeth, etc.” On December 1, he had “a hard and ugly operation where they kept me one hour and half under gas.” He stayed overnight at the hospital and felt “knocked out” and unable to work for a week.(21) The exact nature of the surgery is not clear, but after Alfred had more dental work done in the following months, Henry Lane referred in a letter to Alfred’s “last surviving tooth” with an unknown quantity of irony.(22) Alfred probably had at least some of his teeth extracted during this period, due to a combination of decay and gum disease. If so, he would have had to get some kind of dental bridgework done, so he could eat properly. (A 1947 letter to him from his student, dentist Louis Barrett, referred Alfred to a prosthetic dentist for emergency work. By this time Alfred had partial, if not complete, dentures.) (23)  Having recovered sufficiently from the surgery, Alfred returned to work by mid-December. Alfred’s lectures in the Midwest and his and Mira’s return to Poland were looming as they approached the new year. 

On January 9, 1923 Alfred left New York City on “The Wolverine”, a fast overnight train to Detroit. He had a sleeper berth and got into Detroit on the morning of the next day (though not “on time”, so he got a refund from the railroad, which reimbursed passengers for late-arriving trains). There he met his host Henry Lane.(24) He spoke on January 11 to a joint meeting of the Detroit Mathematics and History Clubs (25), then left for Urbana where on January 12 he spoke at the University of Illinois Graduate Mathematics Club.(26) 

The following day, he left for Ann Arbor, Michigan where he had arranged with one of the professors to speak at the University of Michigan Mathematics department on January 15.(27) By January 20, he had returned to New York City from his ‘whirlwind’ tour of the Midwest, which he considered a success.

He had renewed his friendships with Professors Shaw and Carmichael at Urbana. He had also made some new friends—Henry Lane whom he finally met in person, and Louis C. Karpinski, a mathematician and specialist in the history of mathematics and cartography at the University of Michigan, with whom he would maintain a long-term correspondence. Korzybski found the reception in Ann Arbor especially gratifying. “I had a very pleasant surprise [there]. Apparently they are very interested…I had a large and very warm and able audience, after the lecture I stayed a whole day in a few conferences with some of the more interested men.”(28)  

Alfred was eager to get the written manuscript of the lecture published. Soon after he returned to New York, he sent it off to James McKeen Cattell, Editor of Science. He also had friends like Bridges and McCormack make inquiries at various publications. Lane had suggested publication in the local Detroit Journal of Education or in the national journal, The Mathematics Teacher, published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, both of which had shown interest in Korzybski’s lecture. (
The Mathematics Teacher, later accepted “Fate and Freedom” for publication in its May 1923 issue.) Making these inquiries and waiting for replies took time. Besides this, Alfred and Mira still hadn’t finished packing, Alfred had returned from the Midwest with a cold, and he needed more dental work. They certainly were not going to be leaving for Poland at the end of January or even sometime in February. In a letter to Keyser on February 3, Alfred wrote, “We made our minds up to sail about the 15th of March.”(29)  To Luella Twining, he wrote “We are sailing in about 5 weeks, that’s decided for good this time.”(30) 

A couple of weeks later, Alfred was contacted by William B. Leeds, Jr., multi-millionaire son of a tin plate magnate. Leeds, in his early twenties, had read and re-read Manhood of Humanity and had developed a big enthusiasm for time-binding. He had also recently gone to the movie theatre and seen a new animated silent movie on “The Einstein Theory of Relativity” produced by Max Fleischer Studios (later to gain fame for their Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons). 

The Einstein Theory of Relativity (1923),
Max Fleischer Studios

On February 15, Leeds wrote to Korzybski:
...I have been astonished…to see how plain such difficult ideas [as relativity] can be made. It has occurred to me that if the ideas in your book were to be explained in a similar simple manner as I believe they can, there would be thus rendered a very great service to the public. I should therefore like to propose the offering of 10,000 dollars for two prizes: one for the best [motion picture] scenario based upon your book, and one for the best essay dealing with the nature and significance of your concept of humanity as the time-binding class of life. Should you approve of this proposal, it would give me great pleasure to place at your disposal the sum above mentioned to be applied by you as above indicated. In such case I would suggest a meeting at your convenience for the consideration of details.(31) 
Here was a huge opportunity to publicize his work. Korzybski was going to do everything he could to take advantage of it. He met with Leeds, who had a suite at the Ambassador Hotel. By March 10 they had a plan. Alfred and Mira, Keyser, Polakov, Wolf, and Alfred’s friend Guy Van Amringe along with Fred Barton, who may have served as Leeds’ initial contact to Korzybski, and Barton’s wife, would form a corporation, which would administer the Leeds Prizes. Alfred would serve as president and Fred Barton would manage the publicity. The corporation would find judges, administer the prizes, own the copyright of the winning film scenario, and produce the movie based on it. They hoped to get Scientific American magazine involved in the essay contest. But the plan had intrinsic complications. With Leeds’ money completely devoted to the prizes, and apparently not to be provided immediately, Korzybski and friends needed to raise money at once for advertising, publicity, office work, film production, etc. And they had no guarantee Scientific American or any other publication would have any interest in the essay.

Leeds’ offer quickly began to evaporate. In an initial publicity effort on March 13, copies of Leeds’ and Korzybski’s correspondence—along with a short notice written by Mira—were delivered to major newspapers in New York City. That evening Leeds called Korzybski asking him to have the publicity postponed. Leeds said he would take care of notifying the newspapers a few days later. That evening Korzybski wrote notes to the newspapers asking them to hold off any announcements of the prize. But there was no later notification. Would Leeds produce the money even after the contest had been conducted? Alfred was not willing to accept Leeds’ offer under the increasingly doubtful conditions. By March 27, the project had ended. Alfred clearly seemed irritated. As he wrote to Roy Haywood, “We met the young man and his wife…and they were very nice and looked sincere, they were NOT. They fooled us.”(32) (Leeds’ promises notwithstanding, his enthusiasm had dwindled and Korzybski didn’t hear from him again.) Afterwards, Alfred still entertained the possibility of forming a corporation to finance a contest and film without Leeds’ help. But Wolf, and probably others as well, dissuaded him from continuing for long with the plan.

During the period of their business with Leeds, Alfred and Mira had once again delayed their trip to Poland. Now they decided to put it off indefinitely. (Those reading this may breathe a sigh of relief, as I imagine the Korzybskis may have done.) Perhaps Alfred would go to Poland by himself for a few months. They soon decided against even that, since Alfred was becoming busier. Among other things he had been getting more invitations to lecture. Perhaps after things settled down, they would be able to get their momentum going once more for the move to Poland. But although they were not going to leave the U.S. just yet, they felt determined to leave the basement on East 22nd Street as soon as possible. Alfred had come to refer to it as “the rathole”. They were rushing and packing again, this time to move on April 1 to a two-room furnished suite at the Hotel Grenoble on 7th Avenue and 56th Street near Carnegie Hall.(33) 

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. 
21. AK to R.D. Carmichael, 12/7/1922. AKDA 9.301. 

22. Henry Lane to AK, 3/8/1923. AKDA 7.143-5. 

23. Louis G. Barrett, D.M.D. to Alfred Korzybski, July 10, 1947. IGS Archives. 

24. AKDA 9.433. 

25. AKDA 3.166. 

26. AKDA 3.167. 

27. AKDA 3.166. 

28. AK to J. B. Shaw, 1/22/1923. AKDA 9.445. 

29. AK to C. J. Keyser, 2/3/1923. AKDA 9.474. 

30. AKDA 9.484. 

31. William B. Leeds to AK, 2/15/1923. AKDA 9.556. 

32. AK to Roy Haywood, 3/26/1923. AKDA 13.589. 

33. Ibid. 

< Part 2      Part 4 >

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Chapter 26 - "Fate And Freedom": Part 2 - "Fate and Freedom"

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.

By the end of November, Alfred and Mira were still not fully packed. Moreover, Alfred was getting ‘distracted’ with invitations to speak. One of them from Henry A. Lane, president of The Detroit Mathematics Club, held particular interest. Lane wrote that most of the members in his organization of high school mathematics teachers had read Manhood of Humanity. Lane knew Keyser, who had told him that Korzybski “would give our Club a thought-provoking lecture.”(8) Would he address their group? How could Alfred resist? 

With openings to speak in January, March, or April, Alfred chose the January 11 date. Even though he would get only travel expenses and a small speaker’s fee, he could use his trip to Detroit as a final opportunity to visit and speak at a few other places in the Midwest—Urbana for instance. He longed to hear the responses of people who might have some sympathy for his emerging ideas about qualitative mathematics, etc., and give him some useful comments. Alfred and Mira once again postponed their departure.

Otto Sprengler, who ran a clipping service Alfred had started to use, had already invited Alfred to speak at an ethnic German literary club in New York City. Sprengler suggested the title, “Fate and Freedom”, based on the subtitle of Mathematical Philosophy.(9) That suited Alfred, since he was already developing related material from the “Brotherhood” article in the lectures he was giving once a week at Polakov’s studio. He would use “Fate and Freedom” as the title of his upcoming Midwest lectures as well. In the meantime, he was working on writing down the ‘backbone’ of his presentations—unusual for him until then, since he liked to speak as extemporaneously as possible.

Significantly, in his reply to Sprengler, Alfred made a specific request to speak to the German group in English. He told Sprengler, “...[S]everal of my foreign languages have been entirely paralysed by the last acquisition namely English, so I could not for the time being lecture in German neither in my own language. For the time being I am able to express myself scientifically only in English.”(10) Sprengler replied that this would not be a problem for his group. Korzybski’s sense of dependence on English for his work probably served as one of the factors that would make it difficult for him to leave the United States and return to Poland to live.

Two of the ideas in “The Brotherhood of Doctrines” loomed as especially significant— “logical fate” and the view that “all man can know is a joint phenomenon of the observer and the observed”. These notions interconnected—you could look at each of them in terms of the other. For example, thinking in terms of logical fate, it seemed clear that the necessity of an observer-observed relationship in any observation served as a basic postulate in the new relativistic worldview Alfred saw developing. Conversely, one of the most important aspects of what any observer contributed to his observations consisted of his framework of ‘logic’ (his postulates, doctrines, beliefs), i.e., logical fate.

As Alfred developed his new lecture material, he was able to bring out details he had cut or hadn’t developed in “Brotherhood”. More connections seemed to unfold, stimulating to be sure but also increasing the possibility of getting lost amidst the ‘thicket’ of formulations. When the lecture was finally published in the following year, Keyser wrote to him, “…I have read carefully your Fate and Freedom and think it excellent. It contains, however, too many [ideas]—the reader will not pause to digest so many.”(11) Perhaps so, but—in a way—that could not be helped. Korzybski was trying to do something of great difficulty. He could only do his best to express his ideas as clearly as possible. He could only hope to find some sympathetic listeners.

Korzybski interwove considerations of logical fate throughout the lecture. He pointed out the circularity in human knowledge: “No matter where we start, we must start with some undefined words which represent some assumptions or postulates. We see that knowledge at every stage presupposes knowledge of those undefined words.”(12) There was no getting around this, as Keyser had pointed out in Mathematical Philosophy: “If he [an author] contend, as sometimes he will contend, that he has defined all his terms and proved all his propositions, then either he is a performer of logical miracles or he is an ass; and, as you know, logical miracles are impossible.”(13) Alfred wanted to make clear that if it wasn’t possible to verbally define all your terms, at least you could try to discover your undefined terms and state them clearly. This was one of the cutting edges where traditional mathematics had begun to shift into Korzybski’s ‘qualitative’ mathematics. In traditional ‘pure’ mathematics, the examination of basic assumptions had become more obvious in the work in mathematical foundations, symbolic logic, etc. In mathematical physics, basic terms and the basic assumptions behind them had also recently begun to undergo major examination. It seemed apparent to Korzybski that such analysis needed to be carried out in everyday life as well as in science.(14) 

Korzybski had thus defined one of his major tasks: to uncover and revise the untenable presuppositions in science and life obstructing time-binding, i.e., the development of human knowledge and fuller human potential. He would make sure to include the diagram he had used before in “Brotherhood”. To consciously make use of logical fate, as the diagram indicated, a limited role existed for logic: to discover and remove the inconsistencies (indicated by the diagonal line), between the results people said they wanted and the basic principles they professed.(15) It was becoming clear, even to him, that he had grabbed a rather ungainly ‘bull’ by the ‘horns’.
Korzybski's Logical Destiny diagram 
from "Fate and Freedom" (

If one of the ‘horns’ was logical fate, the other horn was the observer-observed relation. In this new lecture, Korzybski would delve more deeply into the role of the observer (for Alfred an ‘essential’ aspect of relativity), and the related concepts of abstracting, and what he called the “physiological point of view of mathematics”. Some of his correspondence from this time indicates how much he had been mulling over these factors. 

Lionel Robertson, a friend in Chicago, had written to Alfred after getting a copy of “Brotherhood”, requesting a first step in applying what he had read.(16) In his reply, Alfred indicated that, with regard to understanding the new orientation, he had no shortcuts to offer, only study. He gave Robertson a list of recommended books. One thing seemed clear, he wrote, if talking and thinking were crucial to the time-binding class of life, then how we talk and think had supreme significance. ‘Science’ was in many cases not ‘scientific’ because many ‘scientists’ had neglected this. Scientists needed to unite to investigate and revise their old doctrines. The Einstein theory provided a practical example of such revision. In the light of relativity, ‘space’ and ‘time’ in the Newtonian sense, had lost their absolutistic meanings. ‘The’ geometry of Euclid had become ‘a’ geometry. These concepts, as abstractions from events, did not and could not include everything about those events.

Alfred especially recommended to Robertson the recent works of Whitehead—The Organization of Thought, and in particular, The Principles of Natural Knowledge and The Concept of Nature, both of which he considered ‘epoch-making’.(17) Among other things, Whitehead’s treatment stressed the indivisibility of matter, space, and time, not only space and time as Einstein had formulated them.

As he wrote his upcoming lecture, Korzybski made sure to start out by acknowledging his time-binding debt to five authors in particular: Whitehead, Russell, Poincaré, Keyser, and Einstein. But his particular interest in Whitehead’s work at this time is indicated by the fact that he ended up quoting from and mentioning Whitehead more than any of the others, even Keyser. He gave particular attention to Whitehead’s discussion of abstractions, events, and objects from The Concept of Nature. From Whitehead’s work, Korzybski had derived a triad of notions related to making abstractions: 1) space-time events “that we can not recognize” or experience directly, 2) objects, i.e., those “things which we can recognize”, and 3) labels, i.e., words we attach to objects. There were true and false propositions and statements neither true nor false but meaningless because they contained inadequately-defined terms, or labels. Some terms represented formulations, which had what Poincaré had called “logical existence”. These were defined in terms of other formulations and were “free from contradiction”, such as the concepts used in ‘pure’ mathematics. Other concepts in science and everyday life needed to be defined in relation to some existing objects. The “central problem of all human knowledge” involved pseudo-symbols, labels that symbolized nothing, but which were taken as definite. In his lecture, Alfred said,
As we observed before, events, in the Whitehead sense, cannot be recognized, but the things we can recognize are called objects. An event is a very complex fact, and the relations between two events form an almost impenetrable maze. Events are recognized and labeled by the objects situated in them. Obviously an object is not the whole of the event, nor does the label which symbolizes the object cover the whole of the object. It is evident that everytime we mistake the object for the event we are making a serious error, and if we further mistake the label for the object, and therefore for the event, our errors become more serious, so serious indeed that they too often lead us to disaster. As a matter of fact, we all of us have from time immemorial indulged in this kind of mental stultification, and here we find the source of most of the metaphysical difficulties that still befog the life of man. (18) 
If he was unable to give Lionel Robinson an exact formula, here at least was a set of distinctions which seemed highly relevant. “Intellectual life” was “one long process of abstractions, generalizations, and assumptions…aspects of one whole activity…[which] materialize[s] in symbols which we call words.”(19) This process eventuated in “one vast (probably infinite) system of doctrines and doctrinal functions in the making, inherently governed by logical fate.” Distinguishing between events, objects, and labels seemed crucial to navigating safely within this system.

The process of ‘thought’ (making abstractions, generalizations, assumptions) had humble, organic beginnings. Korzybski elaborated in his lecture about this physiological point of view:
Thought, taken in its broad meaning, is a process. Man thinks with his whole being;….at the various stages of this process, there is a striking difference in respect to what may be called its velocity. The velocities of so-called instincts, intuitions, emotions, etc., are swift, like a flash, while the analysis of the raw material thus presented and the building out of it of concepts and speech is slow. In this difference of velocity lies, I suspect, the secret of “emotions,” etc. Unexpressed, amorphous thought is somehow very closely connected with, if not identical with, emotions. We all know, if we will but stop to reflect upon it, how very slow is the crystalization and development of ideas. 
It is useless to argue which comes “first,” “human nature” or “logic.” Such argument has no meaning. “Human nature” and “logic” have their common starting point in the physicochemical changes occurring in man, and as such, start simultaneously. We are thus enabled to see the supreme importance of concepts, which, as before suggested, are crystals of thought. Such crystals, once produced, are permanent and they serve to precipitate their kind from out of the supersaturated solutions of the emotions. (20)
Korzybski felt some excitement. He might have too many ideas. The interconnection of concepts might indeed seem dizzying. Despite these drawbacks, the implications seemed far-reaching. But though it seemed to him his ideas had great promise, they needed to mature more. He needed to demonstrate them more conclusively. And he needed to provide better answers to sympathetic people like Lionel Robertson who wanted “some link or application to our life of the moment.” It still wasn’t practical enough. His approach to understanding human knowledge seemed to have wings. But he needed to show it could fly.

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. 
8. Henry Lane to AK, 11/22/1922. AKDA 7.279. 

9. Otto Sprengler to AK, 11/26/1922. AKDA 7.255. 

10. AK to Otto Sprengler, 11/9/1922. AKDA 9.223. 

 11. C. J. Keyser to AK, 7/21/1923. AKDA 7.37. 

12. “Fate and Freedom”, Alfred Korzybski Collected Writings, p. 15. 

13. Keyser 1922, p. 152. 

14. “The few first words with which mankind started its vocabulary were labels for pre-scientific ideas, naïve generalizations full of silent assumptions, objectifications, of non-existents,…Our daily speech and in very large measure our scientific language is one enormous system of such assumptions.” [“Fate and Freedom”, in Alfred Korzybski Collected Writings, p. 18.] 

15. Logical Destiny diagram from “Fate and Freedom”, in Alfred Korzybski Collected Writings, p. 29. 

16. Lionel Robertson to AK, 11/19/1922. AKDA 7.277. 

17. AK to Lionel Robertson, 11/25/1922. AKDA 9.269. 

18. “Fate and Freedom”, in Alfred Korzybski Collected Writings, p. 17. 19. Ibid., p.20. 

20. Ibid, pp. 19-20. 21. AK to R.D. Carmichael, 12/7/1922. AKDA 9.301. 

< Part 1      Part 3

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chapter 26 - "Fate And Freedom": Part 1 - Introduction

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.

Alfred would bring Mira to Poland with him as his “war bride”. And Mira would bring with her ‘everything’ she had acquired over her years as a freelance artist. ‘Everything’ amounted to a lot.(1) Her belongings included clothing (much of which she had made herself); various velvets, brocades, silks, and other materials she had gathered in her travels; as well as art supplies, art work, genuine jewelry, costume jewelry, assorted tchotchkes, books, scrapbooks, photographs, written records, etc. In a later unpublished memoir, she described how she had ended up with the many trunks now in storage:
For several years I had the custom of, for instance, being in Scotland and would suddenly discover a desirable client was on the Riviera…or Hamburg. I would buy a trunk to store my tweeds in, and buy another trunk for my other costumes, and have them…put in the Manhattan Storage…the number of trunks I had accumulated made a truckload. (2)
On their return to New York City, they had found an apartment on East 22nd Street, a couple of blocks north of Gramercy Park and the National Arts Club. But it didn’t give them the space they needed to spread out and sort through all this stuff and pack what they were going to take. Luckily, within a couple of weeks they saw a sign one block away announcing “Basement for Rent”. They moved in for $10 a month. They found the basement at 30 East 22nd Street a “very large, warm, and comfortable place to pack, repack and crate” their trunks and suitcases. Someone they knew, an administrator at one of the New York City hospitals, was able to get a large brass bed from the hospital for them to use. In a sub-basement area, Alfred found a nice big mahogany desk he could use for writing. They were set.

Mira called the Manhattan Storage Company and her truckload of trunks was delivered forthwith—well, actually not so forthwith. Mira called later in the morning to find out about the delay. She was told the driver had indeed arrived at the expected delivery time, taken one look at the basement apartment entrance, and decided the elegant trunks he had brought with him did not belong in such an unfashionable place. He drove his loaded truck back to the warehouse. With the second delivery later that day, the Korzybskis had over 20 trunks and several hundred bags and suitcases spread out on the basement floor.(3) When Mira decided not to return to Chicago in October, the Drake Hotel manager sent them several more of her trunks and bags which were added to the collection. Alfred’s contribution to this accumulation consisted mostly of books, over 100 volumes, which could be packed tightly in trunks amongst various other items, and his minimal (compared to Mira) amount of clothing— mostly khakis, one or two suits, etc.(4) 

Alfred and Mira put up lines of picture-wire across the basement ceiling so that Mira could take out her clothes to hang, examine, and sort. Meanwhile Alfred was dragging trunks, suitcases, and bags around the basement, consolidating smaller items to put into larger wooden crates which he would nail shut. It was hard work. He joked about his “rather foolish habit to hit once the nail, once my hand”.(5) Their activities in the basement apartment drew some outside interest. They had met a sidewalk coffee vendor who had a lunch wagon on the street above their front entryway. They had also introduced themselves to the policeman who worked the neighborhood beat. Apparently, it was easy from their apartment to hear the two men conversing. Early one morning, as Mira related it,
…I heard the voice of that policeman…say to the coffee vendor in a low voice “That couple in the back look damn queer to me, I wonder if they’re smugglers.” The doors in our basement were so old that a mild puff and huff would separate them from the hinges. To offset that effect Alfred had put on a large brass padlock on the door, while in the rear we only stuck in an old iron fork...Alfred was at his desk when I heard a man’s boots tiptoeing down the hall. I attracted Alfred’s attention, held my lips tight together to indicate silence, and motioned to the back door. Very quietly Alfred went there, swung it open, and there was the policeman kneeling to get his ear to the keyhole. Alfred invited him in to enjoy the hearty laughter over glasses of wine. (6)
Alfred and Mira had initially thought they could leave for Poland within a month. But packing was taking much more time than they had anticipated. By the beginning of October, they pushed back leaving for another month or so. In the meantime, Alfred was getting more publicity and finding more interest in his work. Manhood continued to get reviews. Then the September and October issues of the National Brain Power Monthly featured a two-part article by Alfred and Walter’s friend Charles W. Wood. The piece managed to discuss Alfred’s work through the unlikely-sounding topic of “Let’s Abolish Death: An Interview with Walter N. Polakov, America’s Leading Engineer, in Which He Nearly Frightens Us to Death by Saying that Death Itself is a Habit, and that if We Choose to Do so We May Go on Living Forever Right Here on This Planet”.(7) 

Walter was also getting the Time-Binding Club started again with a plan to have Alfred give a weekly talk at his studio. And Alfred was not only anticipating the publication of “The Brotherhood of Doctrines” in The Builder, he was planning to do his own little publicity campaign by distributing, via mail and in person, the 1000 reprints of the article he had ordered. Surprises awaited. First, the National Masonic Research Society mailed him 2000 reprints instead of 1000. Then he discovered they had not printed the last page with the logical fate diagram. The Society office quickly corrected the error. They printed and sent him the 2000 extra pages. After placing the missing page inside each reprint, he started to send them out to people on his mailing list. He soon began to get thank you letters with comments, which provided grist for further formulating. When November rolled around Alfred got another surprise from The Builder, this time from Haywood. Publication of the article had already been delayed twice. Now Haywood’s boss, who seldom interfered with editorial decisions, asked him not to publish Korzybski’s piece at all. Probably having seen one of the reprints ‘floating around’, he considered the article too ‘highbrow’ and not sufficiently related to Freemasonry. There was little that Haywood, who felt his job might be at stake, could do. Alfred felt disappointed. If the original would not see print, at least he had the ‘reprints’ to use. (Haywood finally did manage to get “The Brotherhood of Doctrines” published in The Builder, but only more than a year later, in the April 1924 issue.)

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. 
1. AK to Scudder Klyce, 12/9/1922. AKDA 9.286-7. 

2. MEK., Autobiographical Memoir (Unpublished), p. 38, IGS Archives. 

3. AK to Scudder Klyce, 12/9/1922. AKDA 9.286-7; AK to Harvey O’Higgins, 12/7/1922. AKDA 9.300. 

4. AK Personal Notebooks. AKDA 37. 

5. AK to Harvey O’Higgins, 12/7/1922. AKDA 9.300. 

6. MEK, Autobiographical Memoir (Unpublished), p. 42, IGS Archives. 

7. “Let’s Abolish Death...”. AKDA 3.140-141. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Chapter 25 - "The Brotherhood Of Doctrines": Part 5 - "The Brotherhood of Doctrines"

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.

Over the last year Alfred had been “sweating blood” trying to more clearly formulate the mechanism of time-binding. Now he was sweating to get this article into acceptable shape for Haywood. He and Mira, who had also been working hard, thought they both deserved a little rest and decided to take a day off on his birthday, July 3. Here is how Alfred described the day to Keyser (I can imagine a wry smile on Korzybski’s face as he typed the letter the following day):
…Yesterday was my birthday (I began 43) we decided with Mira to loaf all day, once in a year. Well - it wasn’t such, we both got up with headaches, then worked at home until noon, then we decided to go lunch. Mira heard from the wife of the head of Marshall Field (you know the Field Marshall of drygoods) that the lunches there are very good, so we went there. After waiting for three quarters of an hour we did not succeed in placing our order (the place looks very rotten) disgusted we went away hungry angry etc etc. On the corner we found a “Harmony” cafeteria we went there sick angry and hungry, the food LOOKed pretty well, we made our choice, well it was so rotten that it is impossible to describe, but we were hungry and had no time because of an appointment, so we ate a little and kept our appointment. This rotten food did not improve our headache or temper, after our appointments we decided to go to a “movie” I saw a movie the “Son of the Wolf” with a lot of snow pleinty of wolfs and dogs etc etc we thought it should be good (Jack London) we went there, there was no noise (music) no wolfs no dogs, a miserable show. So perfectly miserable we walked “home”, and we went to bed and I read loud to Mira “Mathematical Philosophy, The Study of Fate and Freedom” occasionally making some remarks about the rotten fate.   
Today we felt better, and your dear old letter made us happy, so the real birthday mood will prevail today. Mira of course said “Bless his heart”.  
Love from both to both (24) 
In July, Mira had more trips around the Chicago area. Alfred worked hard on the article, to be entitled “The Brotherhood of Doctrines”. (By the end of the month, he was already working on his third rewrite.) When he wasn’t working on the article, he was writing letters to newspapers and magazines throughout the country asking for copies of reviews of Manhood and articles about him or Mira that his clipping service had not already provided them. He and Mira wanted to get back to New York soon, possibly sometime in August. They would be packing to leave for Europe and he wanted to have as complete a scrapbook as possible before he left. They didn’t leave Chicago until September. Alfred was busy tuning up his Builder article. Haywood had come to visit for a couple of days in early August and undoubtedly made some comments. Then Mira did some editing. Finally, Alfred sent the manuscript to Keyser to edit as well. Keyser liked it, quickly sent back his comments, and Alfred was pleased. He had to leave out some of the details, but he could expand on them in a later article. Now at least he would be able to use the material about logical fate to explain the importance of Polakov’s book in The New York Call piece he was still planning to write. He sent the completed article to Haywood on August 27, along with a request for 1000 reprints.

Alfred’s review article of Mathematical Philosophy for The Builder began with a reference to the revolutionary changes that had been going on in science and mathematics. The ‘Brotherhood of Man’ could be advanced through the ‘Brotherhood of Doctrines’, an “empire of sound logic” where people guided their human affairs by means of “scientific knowledge.”(25) As Eddington and others had made clear, relativity in its deepest ‘philosophical’ aspect epitomized the empire of sound logic because it required recognizing the role of the observer in any observation. In the article, Korzybski put it thusly, “...all that man can know is a joint phenomenon of the observer and the observed.”

Korzybski used the relation of the observer to the observed to roughly characterize the evolution of human knowledge according to three stages of development, one stage emerging out of the other. In the first “Absolutist” or “Pre-scientific period…the observer was everything, the observed didn’t matter.” In this period, humans projected their own reactions, ‘thoughts’, ‘emotions’, etc., onto the rest of the world. A second, “Mixed Absolute-Relativist” period, otherwise called the “Classical or Semi-scientific” period, emphasized the observed phenomena. It had advanced further than the pre-scientific by eliminating the grosser animistic projections of the observer. However, although it made use of logic, it assumed the subject–predicate logic used was ‘perfect’. Thus, it continued to project the built-in assumptions of that logic (made by the observer) onto the observed. The third, “Relativist”, “Mathematical or Scientific Period” had started with Boole’s The Laws of Thought in 1854, which had begun the modern examination of mathematical/logical foundations. Here the interaction of the observer (in particular his logic and assumptions) with the observed had begun to be clear. As Korzybski put it,
…for science and life logic is as vital a factor as “facts” because, for human knowledge, there are no “facts” free from the share of the observer’s mind....if there is such a thing as general knowledge, its foundation must be found outside of gross empiricism. Most probably such a thing does exist and its origin may be traced to the constitution of the human mind itself—to sound modern logic (mathematics). 
Perhaps a “qualitative” mathematics could exist, where a general mathematical approach could be applied to more and more aspects of life. Alfred wrote, “...all man can know is an abstraction....some of his abstractions were false to fact;...a few abstractions…were at once the easiest to handle and were correct,…[t]hese abstractions were numbers.” As he discussed at some length, “The creation of number was the most reasonable, the first truly scientific act done by man...” Mathematics constituted “...the first perfect instrument by which to train his brain, his nerve currents, in the ideal way befitting the actual universe (not a fiction) and himself a part of it.”
Now it is easy to understand from this physiological point of view why mathematics has developed so soundly....The biggest triumph of human thought was, and forever will be, the discovery of new mathematical methods embracing larger and larger parts of the whole—these are the milestones of man’s progress. 
This went along with something he had mentioned earlier—that so-called ‘intuitions’, ‘emotions’, etc., “will fall into line automatically.” Qualitative mathematics will affect them since “It is a fallacy of the old schools to divide man into parcels, elements; all human faculties consist of an inter-connected whole.”

Keyser’s book was not mentioned until the second half of the article. Korzybski provided a lengthy quote from Keyser regarding logical fate and freedom. Korzybski emphasized its importance: “Because of this logical fate, the analyzing of these doctrines, which underly all human activities, becomes the most important—nay, the all-important—fact for all the future of man.” Korzybski discussed the significance of Keyser’s “new mathematical method whereby this can be accomplished” with his “theory of postulates and doctrinal functions.” Korzybski then provided a list of some of the topics from Keyser’s table of contents deliberately leaving out mention of “Korzybski’s Concept of Man.” He was getting to ‘the grand finale’: “The layman, the “practical” man, the man in the street, says: What is that to me?” Korzybski pointed out that even some scientists might ask this question dismissively. His answer:
If they [the next generation] are taught false logic and false doctrines, mental cripples are produced, destined for a life of misery…It may take a still more terrible World War to whip mankind into the realization that man should use his brain and the knowledge already at hand.* 
[*Keyser’s insightful little book Thinking About Thinking (1926) gives his own extended answer to the ‘practical man’s’ question, “What is that to me?”.]
The final page “Summary” contained Korzybski’s logical destiny diagram with an accompanying explanation. He did not mention the term time-binding anywhere in the piece.

He had indeed put out a dazzling display of suggestive ideas, though readers might be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed. Even now, some readers might miss how much Korzybski’s views—despite some areas of agreement, i.e., the inspiration he had gotten from Principia Mathematica—put him at odds with the “logical positivist/empiricist” program which was coming to dominate the philosophy, particularly the philosophy of science, in the first half of the 20th century. Korzybski’s rejection of ‘empiricism’, his emphasis on the role of the observer and of the observer’s doctrine (theory) in observation, his bringing in of a “physiological point of view”, his strong emphasis on the living life applications of some seemingly esoteric notions from mathematics and science, and his advocacy of logical fate, i.e., his rejection of an assumption-free viewpoint for doing science (or living life for that matter), didn’t fit well within a “logical positivist” mold (although some of Korzybski’s students later tried to fit it).

Korzybski’s work would appear not only at odds with but also odd to people whose view of objectivity and rationality required sharp boundaries between philosophy and science, mathematics and science, disparate fields of science, and between these various theoretical areas and practical life. Where many saw sharp boundaries, Korzybski explored murky borderlines and found unceasing connections. In his own time, only a few philosophical ‘renegades’ like Gaston Bachelard, Oliver Reiser, F. S. C. Northrop, and L. L. Whyte would pay serious attention to Korzybski’s work. (26)  

At the end of August, Alfred also sent a typed version of the just-completed article to McEwen. He wondered what happened to McEwen’s review of Mathematical Philosophy. He hoped McEwen was not delaying just because he wanted to see Alfred’s latest piece of writing. Alfred had a shock when, a few days later, he got a letter from Keyser with the news that Science had just published a review of Mathematical Philosophy by G. A. Miller from the University of Illinois. Alfred had thought that Ritter had let the editor of Science know McEwen was planning to submit something. But obviously, the communication had gone awry. McEwen later expressed his disappointment. Although Miller’s review seemed generally favorable, it was not the blockbuster Korzybski and McEwen had hoped for. Well, Alfred couldn’t do anything about it now. He and Mira were otherwise occupied. They were getting ready to leave Chicago on September 1.

Their last minute preparations to leave Chicago included arranging to leave behind some of Mira’s luggage—a couple of trunks, some suitcases, hatboxes, and packages with art materials and portraits—at the Drake. This would reduce the amount of stuff Mira would have to lug since she was planning to come back to Chicago in about a month to do the portraits of the grandchildren of a Mrs. Shed. Mira didn’t travel light. There was much more of her stuff in storage in New York City. The Korzybskis were anxious to get there. If they were going to Poland they had a lot of sorting and packing to do.

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. 
24. AK to C. J. Keyser, 7/4/1922. AKDA 8.90. 

 25. This and subsequent quotes in this chapter related to “The Brotherhood of Doctrines” come from that article, found on pp. 39–54 of Alfred Korzybski Collected Writings

26. Korzybski’s views here seem more or less compatible with those of a number of epistemologists/philosophers of science whose work became prominent after his death (David Bohm, N. R. Hanson, Thomas Kuhn, Michael Polanyi, and others). See Harold I. Brown, Perception, Theory and Commitment: The New Philosophy of Science

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chapter 25 - "The Brotherhood Of Doctrines": Part 4 - Midwest Sojourn

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.

By April 29, they had settled in at Mira’s sister Amy’s farm in Lees Summit. They used the next couple of weeks to make plans. Mira was looking for some quick portrait commissions and arranging to give some presentations. She had a talk coming up at the Kansas City Women’s Club on May 3 and might have a client in Cleveland. Meanwhile, Alfred was busy writing letters, working on his articles and book, and making his own arrangements for lectures and meetings around the Midwest. 

At La Jolla, Alfred had met a vacationing Milwaukee pathologist, Dr. William Thalhimer, and his wife. When Thalhimer returned home, he helped arrange for Alfred to give a talk at The City Club of Milwaukee on May 16 and invited Alfred and Mira to stay at his home. On May 6, Alfred wrote to Miss Conway, the secretary of The City Club, with requests for the upcoming lecture:
… If possible please provide something like a blackboard for my lecture, a blackboard helps greatly the visualizing and therefore the understanding. The blackboard does not have to be large two feet square will do. In case you would have too much troubles in getting a blackboard half a dozen of sheets of heavy paper (stiff), white or grey will do also, in such case it would be necessary to provide heavy black pencil or chalk of dark blue color would be good. In such case we would nail with two nails all the papers at once and after using one sheet I would take it off like from a block.  
Here are some titles for my lecture select one please to your liking they mean just the same, all of them, to me. I give them in the order of my preference but you know your public better so please don’t be influenced by my order. 1) The science and art of human engineering 2) Mathematical revolution and social progress 3) A new natural law 4) Mathematics and life 5) Is peaceful progress possible? 6) Can political and social sciences become exact, genuine sciences? 7) Mathematics as common sense elevated to the dignity of science...(11)

The use of a blackboard for visualizing his ideas had by this time become a staple part of his presentation method. For the remainder of his life, he would continue to stress the importance of visualization with diagrams, etc., making great use of them as a speaker and teacher. In fact he had just come up with a way to visualize logical fate—a diagram which seemed to him to make evident some aspects of the formulation that even Keyser had not made clear.(12) He would use it in his upcoming talks and articles and over the years would continue to use it and refine it. (You’ll find an early form of the diagram in the next chapter.)

The suggested titles for the Milwaukee lecture indicate how the concerns of Mathematical Philosophy were taking up more and more of Alfred’s attention. He had already abandoned the article on evolution and time-binding that Ritter had suggested he write. Now he held off working on what he had called “the big guns”, an article for Science intended to serve as an overview of his second book. To write this he would have had to connect the various strands of what he had been studying (which now included logical fate and related material from Keyser’s new book) into some kind of coherent, consistent whole. But obstacles had emerged due to “verbal difficulties”.

Meanwhile, he had been invited by the editor of The Call, a ‘progressive’ newspaper in New York, to write a joint review of Polakov’s and Keyser’s books, with one of the titles he had suggested for the City Club talk, “Mathematical Revolution and Social Progress”. Perhaps his way to at least write this review would seem clear if he just ‘spit things out’ in a letter to Keyser with the hope his mentor might have some suggestions for him.When Mira saw the letter, she jokingly called it Alfred’s “sermon on the farm”. In the meantime, he was also ‘spitting things out’ in his correspondence with McEwen for their Science review of Keyser’s book, and in his various other letters, and talks with people. As he wrote to Keyser in his ‘sermon’, he felt sure of one thing: “Einsteinian ‘joint phenomenon of the observer and the observed,’ your ‘logical destiny’ and the theory of types and classes are three tremendous milestones which will show the road.”(13)

On May 15, Alfred left for Milwaukee with Mira since she had decided to go with him rather than to Cleveland in pursuit of a questionable portrait job. The Korzybskis stayed with the Thalhimers. On the 16th Alfred spoke at the City Club which didn’t use any of his suggested titles but advertised the subject of his talk as “The Manhood of Humanity”. (14) Several Milwaukee newspapers published stories on it the next day. Alfred was now specifically presenting his notion of time-binding within the framework of logical fate. One of the main points he made to his somewhat ‘radical’ audience—Milwaukee had a socialist mayor at the time—was that social reforms that seek new solutions but start from the old premises (such as viewing ‘man’ as an animal) are destined by logical fate to fail. (15) 

As much as the Thalhimers might have wanted them to stay longer, Alfred and Mira had to get to Chicago. Alfred had a talk scheduled at the May 19 meeting of the Chicago Chapter of the American Association of Engineers. Since Alfred also had a couple of people he wanted to see around the state of Illinois, and since Mira had friends in the city and might be able to get some business there, they decided they would use Chicago as their Midwest base of operations. They moved into a suite at the Drake, a luxury hotel near Lake Shore Drive. (16)  

One of the people Alfred wanted to meet with was mathematician James Byrnie Shaw, a professor at the University of Illinois-Urbana, which lies about 130 miles south of Chicago, in East-Central Illinois. Shaw had a deep interest in the foundations of mathematics, having written a book, Lectures on the Philosophy of Mathematics (1918), and a review of Principia Mathematica that Korzybski had found inspiring and useful. He wanted to see Shaw and get his opinion about some new ideas. McEwen, who knew Shaw, had given Alfred a letter of introduction. Just before leaving Amy’s farm, Alfred sent Shaw a copy of Manhood with McEwen’s letter, requesting a meeting. Shaw, happy to receive the book and to meet with Alfred, replied promptly. He booked a room for Alfred at the University Club in Urbana. Alfred arrived there on May 24 and stayed for over a week.

Shaw proved himself a gracious host, arranging meetings for Alfred and introducing him to colleagues. Alfred felt especially grateful to meet R. D. Carmichael, another mathematician in Shaw’s department who had wide-ranging interests in physics (he had already written a book about relativity), philosophy, and literature. Carmichael quickly became interested in Alfred’s work. Alfred later wrote to Keyser about his time with the two men:
During my stay in Urbana I spent all my time with Dr. Shaw and Dr. Carmichael. We had endless debates. I had two lectures before them, one was the official one before the [mathematics] faculty [which some philosophers and engineers also attended], where of course I was very modest, simple but trenchant, some of the older mathematicians wanted to trap me with silly and tricky questions. The lecture was adjudged by Shaw and C. as “masterful”. It seems to me that really this lecture could be successfully reproduced before any mathematical faculty, and afterwards I had a 3 hours lecture-debate before Shaw and Carmichael. In this one I went very far and spoke about things which are still in the making and which I would not dare to speak publicly. Both S & C were very responsive and participated in the dreams…(17) 

Alfred considered his trip to Urbana a success. With Carmichael, he had found a real ‘fan’. A couple of months afterwards, Carmichael wrote to Alfred from his family farm in Randolph, Alabama where he was spending his summer vacation, “…I have read “Manhood of Humanity” for the third time; and I have enjoyed it more on the third reading than on either of the other two.”(18) The two men would continue an active correspondence for a number of years with Carmichael eventually writing Supplement I, “The Logic of Relativity” for Science and Sanity.

Shaw’s immediate evaluation seemed rather more restrained. As he wrote to Alfred on June 24, time-binding seemed to him, “…as old an idea as the thinking part of the [human] race itself” and a consequence of “man [as] an individual of a spiritual essence and immortal.” He had more to say than Carmichael about Alfred’s presentation to them of the practical application of mathematics to life:
I think you stress entirely too much the value of mathematical logic in the discussion of your theme. Very little of your reasoning is mathematical logic. …anyone who studies logistic [mathematical logic] in the hope that thereby he will find a method directly applicable to the discussion of the making over of human progress, will be disappointed. He may gain some sharpness of wits, he may become a better thinker, but he could do that equally well in studying other things than mathematical logic. 
As a philosopher, then, what do I think of your plans?...It seems certain to me that most of our action is not instigated by what we think or believe, though these will determine some features of the things we do or the manner of acting. I am of the opinion that what we desire in our inmost selves determines our action. In other words we do not act on account of reasoning…(19)
As he wrote to Keyser later, Alfred got depressed reading this. He hadn’t gotten across to Shaw what he wanted to get across but he did appreciate Shaw’s honesty and desire to be helpful. He knew he would have to work harder to clarify what he was trying to express. In his reply to Shaw a couple of days later he wrote:
Many thanks for your long letter and frankness. It is impossible for me to form at once an opinion about it, generally speaking I see your point and I agree that most of what you say is legitimate in the old way. It seems that in the “new” way I will have to elaborate my problems further with more details and maybe I will be able to convince some day such important critics as you are. I value your letter greatly and it will be for me a precious and competent indication where are to be found the weak spots in my theory. 
There is a fundamental principle as expressed by Professor E. H. Moore which has taken strongly hold of me namely, “The existence of analogies between central features of various theories implies the existence of a general theory which underlies the particular theories and unifies them with respect to those central features.” I see my way clear to show it and prove it theoretically but also experimentally. Of course only the future will show if I will fail or not.  
I will keep in touch with [you], and hope we will exchange our writings, my permanent address will be Fifth Avenue Bank New York City. Many thanks once more for all your kindness and also your kind wishes,
     cordially yours (20) 
Korzybski and Shaw would indeed keep in touch over the years. Shaw later became more favorably disposed towards the further developments in Alfred’s work. And he helped Alfred by providing him with an amended table from his book showing the structure of mathematics, which Alfred used in Science and Sanity (pp. 251-2).

Mira sent a telegram to Alfred in Urbana a few days before he was ready to leave. She couldn’t find some of her jewelry and thought it might have been stolen. Alfred wrote back to her advising her on what to do, how to deal with the police, etc., but there seemed little else he could do immediately so he proceeded with his plans to head north to La Salle, Illinois before returning to Chicago. He was going to La Salle to see Dr. Thomas J. McCormack, the principal of the La Salle-Peru Township High School. The two men had begun corresponding while Alfred was still in La Jolla. Korzybski had read an article by McCormack that greatly impressed him. McCormack in turn had learned about Korzybski through reading Keyser’s piece about his work in the Hibbert Journal. McCormack invited Alfred for a visit. Especially after McCormack finished reading Manhood in early May, both men felt eager to spend some time together.

McCormack, trained in science and mathematics, had a long association with Dr. Paul Carus, his wife Mary Hegeler Carus, and their Open Court Publishing Company, which had been founded in the final decades of the 19th century in La Salle with money from Mrs. Carus’ father. Open Court, which published a wide range of serious philosophical and scientific books and a journal called The MonistMcCormack felt favorably inclined towards Korzybski’s work, having in his own writings expanded on Mach’s view of science as the economy of thought, was dedicated to the rapprochement of science and religion. Since Dr. Carus’s death in 1919, the enterprise, now with offices in Chicago, had been in the hands of Mrs. Carus. McCormack, had worked as an editor for Open Court and had translated numerous books on science, mathematics, and even religion. He was perhaps best known as the authorized translator of Ernst Mach’s works into English. having in his own writings expanded on Mach’s view of science as the economy of thought. By formulating progress as due to the accumulation of intellectual labor, which thereby became intellectual capital, McCormack—similarly to Polakov—had already come close to Korzybski’s formulation of time-binding.

Alfred stayed with McCormack for a week before returning to Chicago on June 8. As Korzybski described it in a letter to Keyser,
The visit ended not only in a complete theoretical understanding but also it developed into a “love affair.” The whole family of Dr. McC., himself included, and myself we fell in violent love. Well they really are splendid people…I met three times the Caruses once at their home, once at my lecture in Dr. McC.’s house and once at a party they gave to us in the Carus country home…(21)

As soon as Alfred left, McCormack wrote to Mrs. Carus. Alfred had mentioned his interest in stopping at the Open Court office in Chicago to obtain some books for his research. McCormack asked Mrs. Carus to give Korzybski a discount and, surprisingly, she wrote back saying Korzybski could have whatever books he wanted for free. Although McCormack wrote to Alfred with this news, Alfred didn’t find out about it until he walked into the Open Court office and was told by Catherine Cook, the office manager. He felt most grateful to both McCormack and Mrs. Carus for what amounted to a $600 gift, a substantial number of volumes in 1922. Unfortunately Korzybski had most of the books shipped to England where he and Mira expected to stop over on their way to Poland later in the year. When they ultimately didn’t go, they couldn’t recover the books. Open Court later graciously replenished part of Alfred’s lost library.

Among the volumes Alfred managed to hold onto were McCormack’s English translations of Mach’s writings. In Science and Sanity, Alfred would include Mach on the dedication page list of those whose works greatly influenced his inquiry. It seems likely Alfred’s personal friendship with Mach’s authorized English translator boosted his interest and gave him extra insight into Mach’s writings, which amplified Alfred’s already strong sense of the importance of epistemology (the theory of knowledge) for science and had a significant impact on how Alfred eventually developed his work to apply epistemology in daily life.

In the following years, Korzybski and McCormack stayed in touch. Korzybski felt deep shock when he learned of McCormack’s death in 1932, a year before Science and Sanity—the fruit of the labors McCormack had given early assistance to—was published.

Alfred returned to Chicago late in the evening at the end of the first week of June. He was eager to see his wife. Tired and hungry, he rushed to meet Mira whom he discovered giving a speech on his work. Alfred, sitting in the back of the room, stomach growling, had a momentary shock when Mira got stuck at a certain point in her presentation and called out to him, “Alfred, come on and finish my speech.”(22) Besides this unexpected presentation, he had several more talks scheduled for June. He had lobbied to talk at an upcoming conference of engineering educators at Urbana but was unable to get a last minute slot. But other groups wanted him. He was not just giving ‘boring’ talks on science and mathematics. He had learned how to shape his message to draw people’s interest. For example, the headline of a Chicago newspaper reported on a June 13 lecture he gave, “Count Denies Women Are Illogical”.(23) With this kind of publicity, he might get a few more opportunities to speak in Chicago before heading east. Since Mira also had some clients to see around the city and in Detroit, they decided to stay in Chicago a little while longer. The Drake was beginning to seem too expensive, so they found a nearby studio to stay in more cheaply.
"Count Denies Women Are Illogical"
From the pages of Alfred Korzybski Scrapbook 3 in the Alfred Korzybski Digital Archives (AKDA)

Haywood, had just moved to Animosa, Iowa where The Builder was published. He sent Alfred an advance copy of his review of Manhood for the August edition. Alfred was impressed with Haywood’s intelligence and writing ability. Haywood was already working on a review of Keyser’s book for the October edition. Alfred wondered about writing a separate, longer article on Mathematical Philosophy which might serve as a nice complement to Haywood’s shorter piece. More than a review it would provide a kind of commentary on Keyser’s book, expanding on some of the themes Alfred had been developing. At the end of June, Haywood wrote to Alfred approving the plan. Perhaps because the project was more limited, it seemed more doable than the joint review of Keyser and Polakov that Alfred had contemplated doing for The New York Call. He was still working with McEwen on the Keyser review for Science, but most of the job was in McEwen’s lap at the moment. So Alfred set to work with his full energy on the article for Haywood, which would also serve as a preliminary sketch for his second book, which he now conceived of as Volume II of Manhood of Humanity.

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. 
11. AK to Margaret Conway, 5/6/1922. AKDA 8.285. 

12. AK to V. S. Sukanthar, 5/10/1922. AKDA 8.277. 

13. AK to C. J. Keyser, 5/13/1922. AKDA 8.254. 

14. City Club News, 5/12/1922. AKDA 1.290. 

15. The Milwaukee Leader, 5/17/1922. AKDA 3.102; The Wisconsin News, 5/17/1922. AKDA 3.99. 

16. “Drake-A-Day”. AKDA 3.110. 

17. AK to C. J. Keyser, 8/27/1922. AKDA 9.54. 

18. R. D. Carmichael to AK, 8/14/1922. AKDA 7.377-8. 

19. J.B. Shaw to AK, 6/24/1922. AKDA 7.450-452. 

20. AK to J.B. Shaw, 6/26/1922. AKDA 8.124. 

21. AK to C. J.Keyser, 6/8/1922. AKDA 8.188. 

22. AK to T. J. McCormack, 6/8/1922. AKDA 8.189. 

23. “Count Denies Women Are Illogical”. Chicago Evening American, 6/14/1922. AKDA 3.112.

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