Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Chapter 40 - Science And Sanity: 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.

Over the last six years, Philip Graven had worked with from 300 to 400 patients using Korzybski’s methods combined with psychoanalysis. At the beginning of 1932, Graven agreed to write up some of his case notes for a paper to be presented at a scientific conference that year. Graven tended to get bogged down in details, and—despite his protestations—seemed to Alfred to have a serious writer’s block. He never produced the paper. But in the meantime, Alfred had written a theoretical introduction for it, which he entitled “Psychophysiology”. This seemed to him like a good title for his book as well—for a good part of 1932 he would call it Psychophysiology: A General Introduction to a Theory of Sanity and General Semantics. Alfred had sent his article to a number of people—including neurologist C. Judson Herrick—who liked the article, which may have reinforced Alfred’s preference for the book title. Certainly bringing neurological considerations into the practical epistemology he had developed could be said to add a psychophysiological component. But he eventually decided not to use that uninviting and perhaps misleading name. 

In February 1932, Arthur F. Bentley had contacted him. Bentley, an Indiana-based, interdisciplinary-oriented, political scientist and independent scholar, was writing a book to be published later that year called Linguistic Analysis of Mathematics. Bentley had an interest in both Chwistek’s and Korzybski’s work, and would devote part of a chapter of his book to Korzybski. The two men corresponded mainly from 1932 until 1935. Part of their back and forth discussion in 1932 included consideration of a title for Alfred’s book.

Bentley initially suggested General Semantics: A Theory of Logic and Sanity. But, as Korzybski pointed out, the notion of ‘logic’ seemed too limited and elementalistic to describe his system. He preferred General Semantics: An Introduction to a Theory of Sanity and Non-Aristotelian Systems. However, that might seem rather too mysterious to an innocent reader and he narrowed in on Psychophysiology. By the beginning of June, he had second thoughts about that title and returned to the working title he had kept for several years, A General Introduction to a Theory of Sanity and Non-Aristotelian Systems. Bentley suggested General Semantics: A Non-Aristotelian Theory of Sanity and Knowledge. A little later that month, he suggested A Theory of Sanity: Presented in a Non-Aristotelian System of Science, perhaps too unwieldy and with too much emphasis—being written by a non-psychiatrist—on a theory of sanity. A few days later, Bentley came up with Knowledge and Sanity: A System of Non-Aristotelian Semantics. Alfred and Mira ‘chewed’ on this for a while. Alfred wrote back to Bentley on June 27:


A General Introduction to 

My wife and I rather like this title, it has many advantages over the older titles. I would avoid the ‘theory’ of sanity yet keep the word sanity, which [seems] even more correct. The words Gen. intr. would allow me to use the title GENERAL SEMANTICS (simply put) for my next book. (1) 

Bentley liked the title and others did too. By November, when the galley proofs with the book’s title page were going to be printed, Korzybski had dropped the first “General”. The final title became Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics. If the subtitle might seem obscure or even mislead some readers, the main alliterative title seemed snappy and clear. It not only caught the book’s main theme but also ended up catching many people’s attention.

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 Arthur F. Bentley, 6/27/1932. AKDA 7.552. 

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