Academic journal article ETC. The aim of this paper is to show the relevance of the theory of general semantics for the psychotherapy field. General semantics was developed by Alfred Korzybski during the last century. It is concerned with, among other things, language and other symbols.

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Semantics involves the study of language ' meanings. Using general semantics, we're concerned with understanding how we evaluate, with the inner life of each individual, with how each of us experiences and makes sense of our experiences, with how we use language and how language 'uses' us.

While we're interested in what the word 'unicorn' refers to and how a dictionary might define it, we have more interest in the person using the word, with the kind of evaluating that might lead people to look for unicorns in their back yards. Do they think that they have found some? Do they re-evaluate their search when they don't find any? Do they investigate how they came to be looking for unicorns? How are they experiencing the search?

How do they talk about it? How are they experiencing the process of evaluating what has happened? Extensional Publishing, Share Flipboard Email. Richard Nordquist. English and Rhetoric Professor. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks. Alfred Korzybski , the founder of general semantics, maintained that the structural assumptions implicit in language are of necessity reflected in behavior.

Korzybski believed that if, through general semantics, people generally could be trained in the orientations of science in the handling of all their problems instead of just some of them , many social and personal problems now deemed to be insoluble would prove to be soluble.

There is a messianic flavor to Korzybski's writings--a fact which led to the dismissal of his views in some academic circles. Hayakawa, The Use and Misuse of Language. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience.

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What is General Semantics?

He argued that human knowledge of the world is limited both by the human nervous system and the languages humans have developed, and thus no one can have direct access to reality, given that the most we can know is that which is filtered through the brain's responses to reality. His best known dictum is " The map is not the territory ". Born in Warsaw , Poland , then part of the Russian Empire , Korzybski belonged to an aristocratic Polish family whose members had worked as mathematicians, scientists, and engineers for generations. He learned the Polish language at home and the Russian language in schools; and having a French and German governess , he became fluent in four languages as a child. Korzybski studied engineering at the Warsaw University of Technology. After being wounded in a leg and suffering other injuries, he moved to North America in first to Canada, then to the United States to coordinate the shipment of artillery to Russia.


General semantics

How is it that humans have progressed so rapidly in science, mathematics, and engineering, yet we continue to exhibit behaviors that result in misunderstanding, suspicion, bigotry,hatred, and even violence in our dealings with other people and with other cultures? Alfred Korzybski pursued this question as an engineer, military officer, and extraordinary observer of human behavior. He survived the horrific battlegrounds of World War I and wondered why humans could progress and advance in some areas, but not in others. Published Works.


Alfred Korzybski

General semantics is a self-improvement and therapy program begun in the s that seeks to regulate human mental habits and behaviors. After partial launches under the names human engineering and humanology , [1] Polish-American originator Alfred Korzybski [2] — fully launched the program as general semantics in with the publication of Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics. In Science and Sanity , general semantics is presented as both a theoretical and a practical system whose adoption can reliably alter human behavior in the direction of greater sanity. In the preface to the third edition of Science and Sanity , Korzybski wrote: "We need not blind ourselves with the old dogma that 'human nature cannot be changed', for we find that it can be changed.

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