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General Semantics Literature A short review by Tom Valcanis.

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1 General Semantics Literature A short review by Tom Valcanis

2 Branches of GS General Semantics GestaltRET Media Ecology Cybernetics Language Studies Radical Constructivism

3 Alfred Korzybski, “Science and Sanity” The first formulation of General Semantics and non-Aristotelian Systems 2 nd text on time-binding The Principia Mathematica of General Semantics Introduced almost all still-used principles of GS

4 Stuart Chase, “The Tyranny of Words” Stuart Chase was a public intellectual in the time of FDR – thought to have coined the term “The New Deal” Dealt with General Semantics in conjunction with linguistics – Ogden and Richards et. al. Applied GS principles to public discourse and political communication

5 Samuel I. Hayakawa, “Language and Thought in Action” Written in 1942 in response to the Nazi propaganda machine A professor of English, jazz critic and later successful U.S. Senator of California (R) Updated frequently and once as a textbook for communications and media studies esp. journalism Modified structural differential as “abstraction ladder” still used today

6 Susan and Bruce Kodish, “Drive Yourself Sane” One of the more modern texts on GS Husband and wife team with “40 years of experience in GS, psychology, personal coaching, movement therapy/education, and mind-body awareness” Laid out specifically for beginners and specifically for General Semantics unlike two previous texts

7 First Wave of GS Texts Mostly written while Korzybski was still alive Expanded upon general formulations and explored different areas Emerged alongside new technical and scientific discoveries in Relativity, Electronics and Cell Biology Wendell Johnson, “People in Quandaries” Irving J. Lee, “Language Habits in Human Affairs” Anatol Rapoport, “Science and the Goals of Man”

8 Second Wave of GS Texts Written after the passing of Korzybski and during the time of ETC., The Review of General Semantics journal Harry Weinberg, “Levels of Knowing and Existence” Samuel Bois, “The Art of Awareness” Gregory Bateson, “Steps to an Ecology of Mind”

9 Influence on Psychotherapy Directly influenced Albert Ellis’ Rational Emotive Therapy and Fritz Perls’ Gestalt therapy Fritz Perls et. al. “Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and growth in the human personality” Drs. Albert Ellis and Robert Harper “A Rational Guide to Living” Also inspired Milton Erickson, Paul Watzlawick, Gregory Bateson, Richard Bandler and John Grinder among others

10 Contributions to Media Studies Started the Media Ecology movement Neil Postman was a student and practitioner of GS, also editor of ETC. Neil Postman, “Amusing Ourselves To Death”, “Technopoly” and GS text “Crazy Talk, Stupid Talk” Also used GS principles in education – the “inquiry method” 2 nd wave: Dr. Lance Strate, Doug Rushkoff

11 GS in Fiction GS themes have made their way into fiction A. E. van Vogt, “The World of Null-A” Robert Anton Wilson “Schrodinger’s Cat” and “Illuminatus! Trilogy” Wilson was a great proponent of GS Influenced L. Ron Hubbard (but we don’t like to talk about that) Themes shared in Jorge Luis Borges books and short stories such as “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”

12 How can GS be used? A more pertinent question is how can’t it be used – but that’s not the point here GS as a inquiry based method for –Critical thinking –Rational, empirical thinking and evaluation –“Fuzzy” logical induction –Map/territory distinction and relation –Non-allness –Consciousness of abstraction

13 Thank you for listening! Enjoy your afternoon at the conference.

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