Alfred Korzybski Quotes

A quotes list created by Lee Sonogan

If General Semantics, the brainchild of the charlatan Alfred Korzybski,  sounds like it could have been a rehearsal for L. Ron Hubbard's  Scientology, that is no…

Throwing light upon general semantics, Alfred (1879-1950) was a renowned polymath who engineered his way through human knowledge. Emphasizing the limitations due to the broader development of different languages, he argued this also prevents a person from achieving an acknowledgement of absolute reality. All summing up to his dictum in ‘The map is not the territory. At best we are only at the mercy of what filters through the brain’s response into reality.

  • Thus, we see that one of the obvious origins of human disagreement lies in the use of noises for words.
  • To regard human beings as tools – as instruments – for the use of other human beings is not only unscientific but it is repugnant, stupid and short sighted. Tools are made by man but have not the autonomy of their maker – they have not man’s time-binding capacity for initiation, for self-direction, and self-improvement.
  • Two important characteristics of maps should be noticed. A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness.
  • There are two ways to slide easily through life; to believe everything or doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking.
  • Who rules our symbols, rules us.
  • We see what we see because we miss all the finer details.
  • The present non-aristotelian system is based on fundamental negative premises; namely, the complete denial of ‘identity.’
  • To use words to sense reality is like going with a lamp to search for darkness.
  • As words are not the things we speak about, and structure is the only link between them, structure becomes the only content of knowledge. If we gamble on verbal structures that have no observable empirical structures, such gambling can never give us any structural information about the world. Therefore such verbal structures are structurally obsolete, and if we believe in them, they induce delusions or other semantic disturbances.
  • It seems evident that everything which exists in nature, is natural, no matter how simple or complicated a phenomenon it is; and on no occasion can the so-called ‘supernatural’ be anything else than a completely natural law, though it may, at the moment, be above and beyond the present understanding.
  • The objective level is not words, and cannot be reached by words alone. We must point our finger and be silent, or we will never reach this level.
  • Let us repeat the two crucial negative premises as established firmly by all human experience: (1) Words are not the things we are speaking about; and (2) There is no such thing as an object in absolute isolation.
  • It is amusing to discover, in the twentieth century, that the quarrels between two lovers, two mathematicians, two nations, two economic systems, usually assumed insoluble in a finite period should exhibit one mechanism, the semantic mechanism of identification – the discovery of which makes universal agreement possible, in mathematics and in life.
  • Different ‘philosophies’ represent nothing but methods of evaluation, which may lead to empirical mis-evaluation if science and empirical facts are disregarded.
  • Words don’t mean, people mean.
  • Any proposition containing the word “is” creates a linguistic structural confusion which will eventually give birth to serious fallacies.

Just one more pioneer in linguistic terms from a wide lecturing career based on personal experience. His time-binding premise is a unique capacity that separates people from animals.

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