General Semantics Seminar-Workshop Bibliography
by Robert P. Pula
Revised, Updated and Annotated, 1996
General semantics, begun with Korzybski’s definition of humans as time-binders in 1921, presented as a system/discipline in 1933, has, in the last six decades, become a field. A public-sized library of books, articles, papers, studies, dissertations — even a few notorious novels — rest on shelves all over the planet. Some of them are excellent. Given the foundations of general semantics, ‘its’ library needs to include writings from related fields. “So many books, so little time.” Our seminar bibliography, then, must be highly selective, limited to items that for historical as well as formulational reasons I deem required reading for the well-informed, well-trained, understanding general semanticist.
This bibliography does not include a preponderance of works in general philosophy. Nevertheless, I recommend that serious (not somber) students of general semantics study (evaluate) at least a few surveys of the history of philosophy, the development of scientific paradigms (Ptolemy/Aristotle-Copernicus/Galileo, Newton, Einstein, …) to get some perspective of where we fit (and don’t fit) in the evolution of human formulating. Korzybski dedicated Science and Sanity to those whose works “have greatly influenced my enquiry, …” including Aristotle. We should have at least some familiarity with his work. Students seem not likely to develop a strong understanding of “non-Aristotelian” without a strong understanding of “Aristotelian,” especially since they represent a continuum.
I have included some detailed accounts of the work of the Polish mathematicians and logicians (and mathematical logicians) who influenced Korzybski in his non-Aristotelian direction. Serious, non- ‘gee-whiz’ training in general semantics should include evaluating of Korzybski’s explications of the sciences he built his system on, aided by study of the writings of other scientists, both contemporary and more recent. Reading writings that have had to be translated can also promote your awareness of the planetary sweep of our enterprise. Some of those have been included.
Most of the selected works listed here deal directly with general semantics or with reports which seem resonant with general semantics formulations, 1921 … 1933 … 1995 …. I have also included some critiques which the student should be familiar with and, eventually, able to deal with. Works specifically treating general semantics are marked: * .
The General Semantics Bulletin (1950…) and ETC: A Review of General Semantics (1943…) are rich in pertinent materials, particularly at the levels of explication and application. The Bulletin is generally the more rigorous and scholarly journal, while ETC. more often (but not ‘always’) features pieces of the ‘familiar essay’ type. Both contain much of interest for those concerned with the history of general semantics, biographies of leading formulators, etc.
Bachelard, Gaston, The Philosophy of No, 1940. Translated by G. C. Waterston. New York: Orion Press, 1968. * Frenchman Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962) was one of the early internationally known philosophers who recognized the importance of Korzybski’s work: “The psychological and even physiological conditions of a non-Aristotelian logic have been resolutely faced in the great work of Count Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity.” (The Philosophy of No, p. 108) “The philosophie du non destroys nothing, Bachelard held; it consolidates what it supersedes.” (Colin Smith, “Gaston Bachelard,” in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Vol. 1, p. 234.) See below for a complete listing of this important Encyclopedia.
Barrett, Stephen, M.D. and Victor Herbert, M.D., J.D., The Vitamin Pushers: How the “Health Food” Industry is Selling America a Bill of Goods. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1994. A non-technical, but well-grounded in rigorous science, discussion of the unscientific (yea, anti-scientific) and outright fraudulent claims made by purveyors of megadoses of vitamins, ‘organic’ foods (what foods are not?), etc., etc. Chapter 2, “Thirty Ways to Spot Quacks and Pushers,” provides a short course in enlightened skepticism à la Popper and Korzybski. To lighten the load, you might check out a video of The Inspector General (starring Danny Kaye) in which Walter Slezak flogs “Yakov’s Elixir” (good for everything) to the ‘great unwashed’.
Berman, Sanford I., Logic and General Semantics: Writings of Oliver Reiser and Others. San Francisco (now Concord, CA): International Society for General Semantics, 1989. * Oliver Reiser was, like Bachelard above, an early academic philosopher (University of Pittsburgh) who became something of a ‘Korzybskian’. I say “something” because Reiser, formulator of a ‘world brain’, had a tendency to get excited. Nevertheless, he wrote some telling analyses of the shift from Aristotelian to non-Aristotelian, discussion of the Russell-Korzybski relationship, etc. Berman presents and discusses a rich dose of Reiser’s formulations, those of others, and some of his own. Two of Reiser’s books are listed below. This book available from the IGS.
Black, Max, Language and Philosophy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1949. * Still one of the best-reasoned critiques of the foundations of general semantics by a major American philosopher who comes from Lotfi Zadeh country. Bruce Kodish has written an equally well-reasoned rejoinder, not yet published. See also Gorman, Paulson and Youngren, listed below.
Bochenski, I.M., Contemporary European Philosophy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1961. A brief, clear, accessible account of philosophical trends of the first half of our century, trends of which Korzybski was partly an expression.
———-, The Methods of Contemporary Thought. (1965) Translated by Peter Caws. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1968. A more explicitly methodological examination of the historical-descriptive material covered in Bochenski’s prior book.
Bois, J.Samuel, Explorations in Awareness. New York: Harper and Row, 1957. Reprinted by the International Society for General Semantics, 1978. * Bois’ first book in general semantics, still an excellent introduction.
———-, The Art of Awareness. Dubuque, IA: Wm. C. Brown, 1966. Third Edition, Fourth Printing, 1983. * Bois’ major work (I used it as a text for a college-level course in general semantics in Baltimore), somewhat marred by his lingering fondness for semi-mystical expression. (See my review in the General Semantics Bulletin, listed below.)
———-, Communication as Creative Experience. Los Angeles: Viewpoints, 1968. * A pamphlet in which Bois presents what he sees as elaborations and extensions of general semantics as related to the communicating human organism. Built on further exposition of his Bachelard and Korzybski-derived “Epistemological Profile,” introduced in The Art of Awareness.
———-, Breeds of Men: Toward the Adulthood of Humankind (Post-Korzybskian General Semantics). New York: Harper and Row, 1970. * Bois’ most lively book, in which he stakes his claim to having gone beyond Korzybski. The ‘breeds’ in the title refer to the stages of the Epistemological Profile, culminating (temporarily, presumably) in “Breed 5,” which some of us see as potentially regressive.
———-, Epistemics: The Science-Art of Innovating. San Francisco: International Society for General Semantics, 1972. (Now publishing in Concord, CA.) Bois’ last and most personal book in which he appears as an exemplar of the formulational progression he has discussed here and in his previous publications. I have not starred it because Bois writes that Epistemics is “an emergent [My italics:RPP] from general semantics” and “a new science-art of utopia designing.” general semantics qualifies as non-utopian.
Bourland, D. David, Jr. and Paul Dennithorne Johnson, eds., To Be or Not: An E-Prime Anthology. International Society for General Semantics, 1991. * Not all general semanticists agree with Bourland’s campaign to eliminate all uses of ‘is’ (forms of “to be”) from English, but, at minimum, use of E-Prime for exercises in general semantics training (developing consciousness of abstracting) seems useful. The book contains discussion of E-Prime, applications, examples, etc. A second volume, More E-Prime (same publisher), appeared in 1994.
Brillouin, Leon, Scientific Uncertainty, and Information. New York: Academic Press, 1964. A superior explanation for the ‘intelligent layperson’ of uncertainty, space-time, etc., and the role of the (human) scientist in discovering-inventing science, by a noted French physicist (the Brillouin Formula, Brillouin scattering, Brillouin zone, etc.) working in America. It helped me to appreciate Korzybski’s discussions in Book III of Science and Sanity.
Bronowski, Jacob, Science and Human Values. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1959. Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecturer Bronowski discusses issues which energized (and exercised) the Korzybski of Manhood of Humanity (1921), triggered in Bronowski’s case by his writing of the official British report on the effects of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
———-, “Towards a Philosophy of Biology,” (Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture) General Semantics Bulletin, No. 34, 1967, pp. 17-22. Cognizant in physics as well as biology, Bronowski concludes his typically brilliant lecture: “The living creature and its evolution are the two matched faces of life. In this pairing, evolution is the creative partner: it does not solve a problem, as the cycles of the organism do, but makes a genuine creation — a creature. We can say of it what Piet Hein said of a work of art, in a penetrating phrase: that it solves a problem which we could not formulate until it was solved.”
———-, The Ascent of Man. Boston: Little, Brown, 1973. This lucid best-seller, based on Bronowski’s popular TV series for the BBC, draws on the anthropology and archaeology of art as well as on the ‘hard’ sciences. Can be read with Edelman’s Bright Air, Brilliant Fire (see below) for current evolutionary theory as it relates to the languaging/symbolizing form of life.
———- , The Common Sense of Science. New York: Vintage, n.d. A brief, sturdy, surprisingly simple (but not simple- ‘minded’) discussion of why the scientific way of evaluating is a superior way to get answers to those questions for which there may be answers. (Does not address such question-complaints as “Why was I ever born!?!”)
Carroll, John B., Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. See below under “Whorf.”
Chase, Stuart, The Power of Words. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1954. * A balanced discussion of various approaches and contributions to the examination of the role of language in human functioning, with emphasis on Korzybski’s work in Chapters 12 and 13. Avoids the exaggerations of Chase’s earlier Tyranny of Words, which led many to see general semantics as an anti-higher order verbalization discipline, i.e., opposed to higher order abstractions without which we could not construct a science.
———-, The Proper Study of Mankind (1948). New York: Harper Perennial Library, 1967. * Does a good job of presenting developments in sociology, philosophy, semantics, general semantics, etc., in a way which places Korzybski in his early twentieth century context.
Chisholm, Frank P., Introductory Lectures in General Semantics. (1944) Englewood, NJ: Institute of General Semantics, 1983 reprint. * Based on a set of lectures given at an Institute seminar, Chisholm’s reader-friendly expositions well illustrate how general semantics can be talked about by an English teacher who understands some science. Special emphasis on problems in education. This book available from the IGS.
Churchland, Patricia Smith, Neurophilosophy: Toward a Unified Science of Mind-Brain. MIT Press, 1986. One of the better presentations of the (finally) emerging movement in the neurosciences that rejects the elementalistic split ‘between’ ‘mind’ and brain. Her language isn’t yet up to Korzybskian standards, but she seems evolving in that direction, especially as she forthrightly faces up to epistemological issues.
Chwistek, Leon, The Limits of Science: Outline of Science and the Methodology of the Exact Sciences. Translated by Helen Charlotte Brodie and Arthur Prudden Coleman. Introduction and Appendix by Helen Charlotte Brodie. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1948. An ‘unknown classic’ which qualifies as a co-discussion of Bertrand Russell’s “Theory of Types” and constitutes a formative statement, earlier adumbrations of which influenced Korzybski’s formulations in a reactive way reminiscent of his responses to Russell.
Edelman, Gerald, Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind. New York: Basic Books, 1992. Taking a thoroughly anti-essentialist, anti-dualist, anti- ‘mentalist’ stance, Edelman details the mechanisms and functions of the human brain that have led to our becoming ‘thinking’, evaluating organisms. He presents copious data which are markedly consistent with Korzybski’s neuroscientific underpinnings of his neurolinguistic, neurosemantic system, “cortico-thalamic integration,” etc.
Edwards, Paul, Editor in Chief, The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 8 Volumes. New York and London: Macmillan, 1967. Reprinted, 1972. Perhaps the best, most comprehensive English-language compendium of its type, written clearly by specialists for the general reader, this work seems an indispensable source for general semantics practitioners who study beyond the level of those who limit themselves to prancing about the countryside intoning “The word is not the thing!”
Einstein, Albert and Leopold Infeld, The Evolution of Physics. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1961. In a classic of popular scientific explanation (and that difficult, tender art, collaboration), two giants of twentieth century physics give a clear, non-mystical survey of the developments in physics culminating in Einstein’s non-Newtonian system and later developments. It will help you to understand why so much stuff on “Star Trek” is scientific baloney.
Gorman, Margaret, General Semantics and Contemporary Thomism. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1962. * Originally published as Mother Gorman’s (she was for a time a Roman Catholic nun) doctoral dissertation at Catholic University as The Educational Implications of the Theory of Meaning and Symbolism of General Semantics in 1958, this excellent summary and respectful critique of general semantics from the point of view on neo-Thomism makes very useful, exercising reading for a student of general semantics, neophyte or veteran. The writings of Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), credited with ‘baptizing’ Aristotle, still provide the major, disciplined philosophical underpinnings for Catholic theology. (Yes, I know, John Paul II is a fan of Husserl, Scheler, et al.) Evaluating responsible critiques of general semantics provides an excellent way to check up on what of and how well you have learned the system. See also Black above, and Paulson and Youngren below.
Gregory, R.L., Eye and Brain: The Psychology of Seeing.(1966) 3rd Edition, 1978, 2nd Reprinting, 1981. ‘The’ primer on its subject, firmly grounded in neuroscience and perception studies, by one of (if not ‘the’) world’s experts on how brains ‘see’ and what they do with it. Profusely and illuminatingly illustrated.
———- , The Intelligent Eye. New York: Mcgraw-Hill, 1970. A more ‘philosophical’ speculative treatment of material covered and suggested in Gregory’s previous book.
Hayakawa, S.I., Language in Thought and Action. 5th Edition, with Alan Hayakawa. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990. * Probably the most influential of the many popularizations and applications of Korzybski’s work, Hayakawa’s major book has been often reprinted, revised and re-editioned since its first iteration in 1939. Very well written, with apt applications to the teaching of English and general human communicating, it nevertheless misrepresents and misses some of the deeper epistemological implications of Science and Sanity. The student can usefully read it in conjunction with Bruce Kodish’s essay-review, “Getting Off Hayakawa’s Ladder,” General Semantics Bulletin, No. 57, 1993, pp. 65-76. Hayakawa’s other (later) books should also be examined.
Heisenberg, Werner, Philosophical Problems of Nuclear Science. (1952) New York: Fawcett World Library, 1966. An important discussion by one of the original formulators of (restricted) uncertainty, made piquant by the reader’s awareness that the author served the most certain tyranny (the Nazi one) known to history.
Hobson, J. Allan, The Dreaming Brain. New York: Basic Books, 1988. I have often preached in seminars that dreams qualify as home movies which we produce, direct, and in which we play all the parts. Dreaming is a very active process. We invent what we ‘receive’. Psychiatrist and neuroscientist Hobson puts flesh and bones on that assertion. He also makes this provocative statement about the procedures of psychoanalysts (having observed that the client-generated anecdotes they deal with do not even qualify as observations): “… their interpretation more closely resembles speculative literary criticism than it does scientific reasoning.” (p, 57)
Hofstadter, Douglas R., Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. (1979) New York: Vintage Books, 1980. I suggested in my review of this book (which the author thought was “kind”) that reader’s might be better able to handle it after having mastered some Korzybski: consciousness of abstracting, multiordinality of terms, neurolinguistic, neurosemantic effects (feedback), self-reflexiveness, etc. I claimed that there are “… reverberations, sympathetic vibrations between Hofstadter and Korzybski.” An adventure in abstracting.
Huizenga, John R., Cold Fusion: The Scientific Fiasco of the Century. Oxford/New York/Tokyo: Oxford University Press, 1993. An engaging, forthright and devastating study of how not to do science. Valuable case study for general semanticists, since the unspoken subject in this book is consciousness of abstracting, modes of evaluating — and time-binding ethics.
Infeld, Leopold, Albert Einstein: His Work and its Influence on Our World. Revised Edition. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1950. Einstein’s (and Born’s) collaborator again delivers remarkably non-obfuscatory clarifications: “Sometimes we hear that ‘time is a fourth dimension in relativity theory,’ and we are impressed by the mystical sound of these words. But there is nothing mystical about them. Events in the world must be described by four numbers, three of them referring to positions and one to time. Minkowski showed that it is much more convenient not to treat space alone as the background of our events, but space-time.” (p. 45)
Janicki, Karol, Toward Non-Essentialist Sociolinguistics. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1990. * The author credits Korzybski and Popper with being forerunners of what he calls “non-essentialist sociolinguistics.” He relies too heavily on Hayakawa to get to Korzybski; nevertheless, an important introduction to a kind of discussion that will soon lurch into the 21st century. 089925599X
Johnson, Kenneth, General Semantics: An Outline Survey. San Francisco (Concord, CA): International Society for General Semantics, 1972. * Written by a distinguished professor of the University of Wisconsin, this clear outline presents many of the main terms within an overview of general semantics as a system, an orientation based on self-challenging, scientific ways of evaluating. For those who prefer their general semantics in Italian, there is a translation (Lineamenti di Semantica Generale) by Massimo Baldini, with an introduction by Francesco Barone, published by Armando Armando (sic) in Rome. This book available from the IGS.
———- , ed., Research Designs in General Semantics. New York: Gordon and Breach Science Publications, 1974. * A compilation of papers delivered at the Conference on Research Designs in General Semantics held at Pennsylvania State University in 1969. Dr. Walter E. Weese noted in his review (General Semantics Bulletin, Nos. 38-39-40, 1972, pp. 121-122), “As Mr. Johnson acknowledges in his introduction, few research designs per se are described and/or discussed.” What the reader gets is suggestions about and discussions of various approaches which might be taken in initiating research in general semantics or research based on a general semantics methodology.
———- , compiler, Graduate Research in General Semantics. Englewood, NJ: International Non-Aristotelian Library/ Institute of General Semantics, 1992. * A goodly number (over 200) of advanced university-level projects, including doctoral dissertations, are represented here. A good place to start for those contemplating an advanced degree related to general semantics. This book available from the IGS.
Johnson, Wendell, People in Quandaries: The Semantics of Personal Adjustment. (1946) San Francisco (Concord, CA): International Society for General Semantics, n.d. * One of the classics of ‘first generation’ popularizations of and applications of Korzybski’s work, focused on adequate personal formulating. Use of the term ‘popularization’ may be misleading; this is a sturdily written book, very sound, which can serve as an introduction to the discipline for those who feel shy about starting off with Science and Sanity. The Institute’s current booklist characterizes Johnson’s book as … “one of the finest and most accurate books yet written on the system of general semantics.” This book available from the IGS.
———- , Verbal Man: The Enchantment of Words. New York: Collier Books, 1965. * Originally titled Your Most Enchanted Listener(1956), Johnson presents here an insightful discussion of humans as languaging creatures and the implications thereof.
Jordan, Z. (Zbigniew) A., Philosophy and Ideology. Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel Publishing Company, 1963. In this book, which deals primarily with post-World War II developments under the imposed Marxist regime, Jordan provides (Part I, Chapters 1 through 5) a monograph-length dissertation on pre-World War I and interwar philosophers found referenced in Science and Sanity: Chwistek, Lesniewski, Lukasiewicz, Sierpinski, Skarzenski, Tarski and Zaremba.
Kodish, Susan Presby and Bruce Kodish, Drive Yourself Sane! Using the Uncommon Sense of General Semantics. Foreword by Albert Ellis, Ph.D. Englewood, NJ: Institute of General Semantics, 1993. * Alfred Ellis, founder of the Institute for Rational-Emotive Therapy, wrote in his Foreword: “… it applies Alfred Korzybski’s brilliant general semantics philosophy to its reader’s everyday lives and shows them how to live more sanely in a still highly irrational and partially insane world.” If you have a friend who you evaluate would benefit from reading some general semantics, give them this book. Very user-friendly. This book available from the IGS.
Korzybski, Alfred, Manhood of Humanity.(1921) 2nd Edition. Lakeville, CT (now Englewood, NJ): International Non-Aristotelian Library/ Institute of General Semantics, 1950. * The beginning work in general semantics which culminated in Science and Sanity and Korzybski’s later writings; the origin of the definition of humans as time-binders, with implications related thereto. This book available from the IGS.
———- , Time-Binding: The General Theory. Two Papers, 1924, 1926. Lakeville, CT (Englewood, NJ): Institute of General Semantics, 1949. * The bridging works between Manhood of Humanity and Science and Sanity, relatively brief statements of much of what would be spelled out in 1933 (S&S). Paper I begins with the remarkable statement: “All human knowledge is conditioned and limited, at present, by the properties of light and human symbolism.” Included in the Collected Writings, below.
———- , Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics (1933). 5th Edition, 1993. With a New Preface by Robert P. Pula. Englewood, NJ: International Non-Aristotelian Library/ Institute of General Semantics, 1994. * The major statement of and explication of Korzybski’s system, the cumulatively founding work of general semantics. Required reading and study for those who would understand Korzybski’s system, as opposed to presentations by later writers who selected aspects to popularize and, in some cases, develop — and, in some cases, distort. Would-be teachers of general semantics who apply for certification by the Institute of General Semantics are required to attend a week-long seminar devoted to a guided reading of Science and Sanity. This book available from the IGS.
———- , General Semantics Seminar. Transcription of notes from lectures given at Olivet College, 1937. 2nd Edition. International Non-Artistotelian Library/Institute of General Semantics, 1964. * Korzybski’s ‘voice’ in print. An engaging record of how he presented his views, with vigor, rigor, anecdotal examples, humor, etc. This book available from the IGS.
———- , Foreword, with M. Kendig, to T.C. Pollock and J.G.Spaulding, A Theory of Meaning Analyzed. General Semantics Monograph III. (1942) Englewood, NJ: International Non-Aristotelian Library / Institute of General Semantics. * Korzybski’s anticipation of Kuhn’s “paradigm shifts” which caused much discussion in the sixties and since (see Kuhn below). See also the note on the Cover Design in issues of the General Semantics Bulletin since 1982. This book available from the IGS.
———- , Selections from Science and Sanity. Introductory note by author. International Non-Aristotelian Library/ Institute of General Semantics, 1948. Selected and arranged by Guthrie E. Janssen. 7th Printing with additional materials, 1972. * Designed for those for whom the size and apparent complexity of the whole book proved daunting, this reduction and reordering of Korzybski’s text, minus the technically scientific Book III, was accomplished by Guthrie Janssen as an experimental teaching text. Apparently, the experiment was successful, since it’s in its 7th printing. Nevertheless, I consider study of Book III necessary for a solid grounding in general semantics, especially for teachers. This book available from the IGS.
———- , Collected Writings: 1920-1950. Collected and arranged by M. Kendig. Final editing and preparation for printing by Charlotte Schuchardt Read, with the assistance of Robert Pula. Englewood, NJ: International Non-Aristotelian Library/ Institute of General Semantics, 1990. * Probably the most important publication in general semantics since Science and Sanity. Not only required reading for study purposes, but fascinating as history. Includes Korzybski’s last, great, paper, “The Role of Language in the Perceptual Processes,” many items not seen since their first publication, and some not previously published. Their gathering here gives the reader an unprecedented opportunity to ‘witness’ the development of general semantics up to Korzybski’s death in 1950. This book available from the IGS.
Kraft, Victor, The Vienna Circle. Translated by Arthur Pap. New York: Philosophical Library, 1953. The author (Kraft) describes the work of the school which, ignored in “the German cultural domain,” influenced Russell, Wittgenstein and Korzybski. Had close connections with the Lwow-Warsaw School, sometimes called the Warsaw Circle, some of whose members are also included within studies of ‘Austrian’ philosophy. Compare with Barry Smith’s Austrian Philosophy listed below.
Kuhn, Thomas, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962). Second Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970. The author of The Copernican Revolution presents his, for many, revolutionary notion of shifting paradigms as the engine which drives science as a cultural stop-and-start progression. Compare with Korzybski’s earlier (1942) Foreword (with M. Kendig) to A Theory of Meaning Analyzed, listed above.
Kuratowski, Kazimierz, Fifty Years of Polish Mathematics: Remembrances and Reflections. New York … Warszawa: Pergamon Press/ Polish Scientific Publishers, 1980. Kuratowski, himself one of the group he tells about, gives an eyewitness account of the very human side of the mathematical school which influenced Korzybski’s formulations.
Laszlo, Ervin, Introduction to Systems Theory: Toward a New Paradigm of Contemporary Thought. With a Forward by Ludwig von Bertalanffy. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1972. In what might be called the Hungarian contribution to our discussion, Dr. Laszlo presents an excellent survey-in-depth of what I see as still current formulating in his subject(s). He appends a paper by Jere W. Clark which concludes with this passage — “… we would like to draw on the words of Sir Julian Huxley: ‘we need a science of human possibilities, with professorships in the exploration of the future … [to integrate] science with all other branches of knowledge, ideas and values relevant to man’s destiny.’” Indeed. Both Laszlo and Clark participated in the general semantics/general systems theory conference at Denver in 1970. (See Washburn and Smith, below.)
Lee, Irving J., Language Habits in Human Affairs: An Introduction to General Semantics. With a Foreword by Alfred Korzybski. (1941) 2nd Edition, Edited by Sanford Berman, 1994. Concord, CA: International Society for General Semantics. * Republished in conjunction with the Institute of General Semantics, Lee’s book was probably Korzybski’s favorite among the explications of his work (although he also thought highly of the work of Harry Weinberg, listed below). Irving Lee was an excellent writer and had a special gift for explaining general semantics derived from and applied to ‘real’ (extensional), non-trivial events and situations. His discussion of “The Four ‘Is’es’” seems particularly apt, perhaps to be read before and after you read Bourland’s approach. Particularly recommended. This book available from the IGS.
———- , How to Talk With People. (1952) San Francisco (Concord, CA): International Society for General Semantics, n.d.* An excellent handbook for improving communication in small groups. I used it, and the title listed below, in committee process workshops I gave for staff at a major psychiatric hospital in Baltimore in the late 1970’s. This book available from the IGS.
———- , and Laura Lee, Handling Barriers in Communication:Lecture-Discussions and Conferee’s Handbook. (1957). * San Francisco (Concord, CA): International Society for General Semantics, 1968. Based on The Lee Experiment conducted at Illinois Bell Telephone Company in 1955, the book addresses what its title promises in industrial/business environments.
———- , Compiler and Editor. The Language of Wisdom and Folly: Background Readings in Semantics. (1949) San Francisco (Concord, CA): International Society for General Semantics, 1967. * Contains important background essays by world figures in the study of and speculation about the role of language in human living. Korzybski’s 1923 “Fate and Freedom” is included. This book available from the IGS.
Lindley, David, The End of Physics: The Myth of a Unified Theory. New York: Basic Books, 1993. Addresses the quest for the absolute and the threatened collapse into mysticism of some recent physics (i.e., physicists) — purveyors of anti-extensionalism. Compare with Steven Weinberg listed below.
Lukasiewicz, Jan, Selected Works. Edited by L. Borkowski. Amsterdam: North Holland Publishing Company and Warszawa: Polish Scientific Publishers, 1970. One of the seminal sources of both general semantics and the Fuzzy Logic of Lotfi Zadeh; studying Lukasiewicz and his fellows, even in translation, can sharpen a general semanticist’s formulating. Non-Aristotelian does not equate with sloppiness.
Luria, A.R. Higher Cortical Functions in Man. London: Tavistock, 1966. An early confirmation of the neurophysiological basis for what Korzybski called levels/orders of abstracting, and his descriptions of the mechanisms of abstracting, by the famed Russian neuroscientist who was at the leading edge of research when he wrote this book.
Mayper, Stuart A., “Non-Aristotelian Foundations: Solid or Fluid?” ETC: A Review of General Semantics. Vol. XVIII, No. 4, Feb., 1962, pp. 427-443. * Dr. Mayper’s first published paper in the field, it still holds up as a response to some of philosopher Max Black’s early objections to Korzybski’s “non-Aristotelianism.”
———- , “Tarskian Metalanguages and Korzybskian Abstracting.” Methodology and Science, Special Korzybski Issue, Vol. 10, No. 2. Haarlem, Netherlands: June, 1977. Reprinted in General Semantics Bulletin, No. 46, 1979, pp. 26-53. * A major logico-epistemological paper, able to make its way through any series of conferences on the world mathematico-logical scene. Not for the faint-hearted — but then what is?
———- , “The Place of Aristotelian Logic in Non-Aristotelian Evaluating: Einstein, Korzybski and Popper.” General Semantics Bulletin, Special Commemorative Issue (100th Anniversary of Korzybski’s Birth), No. 47, 1980, pp. 106-111. * Reflect on this: most of you reading this (and surely I who wrote this) won’t be around for the 100th anniversary of Korzybski’s death in 2050. Get serious! Distinguishing a two-valued logic from a two-valued orientation, Mayper places Korzybski in some fine company, concluding that he remains “the greatest system-builder of the century.”
———- , “Korzybski’s Science and Today’s Science,” General Semantics Bulletin, No. 51, 1984, pp. 61-67. * Operating from our commitment to keep up with evolving science as a way of checking our on-going scientific underpinnings, Dr. Mayper (Emeritus Professor, Chemistry, University of Bridgeport and former student of Sir Karl Popper in London) concludes: “Science and Sanity was a book ahead of its time, and, fifty years later, it still is.” He would probably still say that’s so in 1995.
———- , “Wu Li Thinking About Physics,” General Semantics Bulletin, No. 51, 1984, pp. 68-82.* In this essay-review, Mayper (no mean punster) does a sharp delineation of the degrees of wooliness he sees in three popular (and actually popular) books about ‘physics’ by Pagels, Capra and Zukav. Mayper begins: “I can characterize them bluntly by saying that Pagels’ is a very good book with careless spots, Capra is a careless book with good spots, and Zukav [The Dancing Wu Li Masters] is an infuriating book: so promising in prospect and so bad in execution.” And you thought general semanticists were supposed to be a bunch of warm-fuzzyists!
———- , and Robert P. Pula, “Four Kinds of ‘Science’,” General Semantics Bulletin, No. 51, 1984,p. 112. * A seminar worksheet used by Mayper and Pula in a co-presentation dealing with “Accepted Science,” “Erroneous Science,” “Pseudoscience,” and “Fringe Science.”
———- , “Critical Thinking vis-a-vis general semantics,” General Semantics Bulletin, No. 59, 1994, pp. 30-34. * Reprinted from Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines. Mayper responds here to some of the misevaluations in Dr. Richard Paul’s 1987 Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture, “Critical Thinking and the Way We Construct the Meanings of Things,” published in General Semantics Bulletin No. 55, 1990, pp. 24-37. See also James D. French’s “General Semantics and Science: A Response to Richard W. Paul” in the same issue, pp.38-42. This packet of papers seems very important reading for general semantics students who have already absorbed the major formulations of the system and want to consider the relationship of general semantics to Critical Thinking qua ‘movement’.
Dr. Mayper’s less-formal, ruminative editorials in the Bulletin can also be read for profit.
McCall, Storrs, editor, Polish Logic: 1920-1939. With an Introduction by Tadeusz Kotarbinski. Various Translators. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1967. Sample papers from and historical data about the school that is proving on-goingly seminal for worldwide developments in philosophy, methodology of science, computer technology, etc. Those who survived World War II have continued the work and trained an international body of student-colleagues who work all over the world.
Mendelsohn, Kurt, The Quest for Absolute Zero: The Meaning of Low Temperature Physics. NewYork: World University Library, 1966. An excellent interpretive description of this subset of modern physics, in which the author lets us know that the ‘absolute’ he refers to is relative; a measurement not yet achieved.
Meyers, Russell, M.D., “Semantic Dilemmas in Neurology, Psychology and General Semantics.” With commentary by Douglas Kelley, M.D., D. Med. Sc., and Hervey Cleckley, M.D. General Semantics Bulletin, Nos. 10-11, 1953, pp. 35-54. * Russell Meyers’ first paper for the Bulletin (therefore, of historic moment) introduces his concerns for “Aristotelian Dichotomies in the Neurologic Sciences” which are with us still.
———- , “Potentials of General Semantics in the Age of Space.” Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture, 1958. General Semantics Bulletin, 1958, No. 22, pp. 3-12. * From the author’s concluding paragraphs:
Man is as ‘natural’ as anything in the universe and his role in the evolutionary process is in principle no different from that of the other ‘natural’ materials involved in the vast drama of ‘Nature’.
It now appears that the issue confronting us is … arriving at some sort of agreement … that our goals should include maximal, self-actualizing health for every person on earth. … it would appear in order that one of our goals is to emerge from a prescientific to a scientific culture.
The prescription for this was published 25 years ago by Alfred Korzybski.
And, in 1995, the Institute and others are still issuing that prescription.
———- , “On the Dichotomy of ‘Organic’ and ‘Functional’ Diseases,” General Semantics Bulletin, Nos. 32-33, 1966, pp. 21-37. Presented as the Presidential Address before the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy in 1963 and first published in Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, London, Vol. 6, No. 6, December 1964, pp. 565-572. * Dr. Meyers, the dean of general semantics oriented neuroscientists, who has had a distinguished career as an innovatiove neurosurgeon, here takes on one of the deeply embedded elementalistic usages in medicine and science.
———- , “The Proprioceptive Matrix of Abstractions Called Mass, Energy, Space and Time,” ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, Vol. 33, No. 4, December, 1976. *Another focus on persisting elementalistic misevaluations in science.
———- , “On the Demons in Twentieth Century Neurology, Psychology and Psychiatry,” Haarlem, The Netherlands, Methodology and Science, Special Korzybski Issue, Vol. 10, No. 2, 1977, pp. 130-139. * This condensation of a chapter from Dr. Meyers’ still (1995) forthcoming book presents the history and present status (still in 1995) of structural neurolinguistic problems in science and everyday usage.
——– , “The Potentials of Neurosemantics for Modern Neuropsychology.” Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture, 1985. General Semantics Bulletin, No. 54, 1989, pp. 13-59. * A summary updating of much of what Dr. Meyers has written about throughout his long career (he is now  a sparkling 91!), he declares on p. 15: “I regard Korzybski’s Science and Sanity as the most important book I have thus far read.” And “With few exceptions, such modest contributions to science as it has been my lot to make during the past 53 years have been mere applications of Korzybski’s broadly generalizable non-Aristotelian formulations …” He then brilliantly details those applications within the context of twentieth century neuropsychology. If you’re studying general semantics, you need to do yourself the favor of reading this.
Minteer, Catherine, Words and What They Do to You (1965). 5th Printing. San Francisco (Concord, CA): International Society for General Semantics, 1971. * The Institute’s booklist rates the late Catherine Minteer’s little book as “The most widely used of all teaching manuals for introducing general semantics at the junior and senior high school levels.” When I introduced it to several hundred junior and senior high school English teachers in Baltimore County (the large county that wraps around Baltimore on the west, north and east, reaching to the Pennsylvania border) in 1969, Minteer’s book was well received and absorbed into the county’s curriculum. This book available from the IGS.
Morain, Mary, Teaching General Semantics: A Collection of Lesson Plans for College and Adult Classes, 1969; Classroom Exercises in General Semantics (1980); Bridging Worlds Through General Semantics, 1984. San Francisco (Concord, CA): International Society for General Semantics. * All three books contain materials (lesson plans, lectures, outlines, applications to many fields) from the pages of ETC.: A Review of General Semantics. Grist for the mills of teachers, students, lecturers, writers, etc. This book available from the IGS,
Mordkowitz, Jeffrey, “Korzybski, Colloids and Molecular Biology,” General Semantics Bulletin, No. 55, 1990, pp. 86-89. Jeff Mordkowitz, now President of the Board of the Institute, checks to see if Korzybski knew what he was talking about in the 1920’s and 1930’s and how that stacks up with current knowledge and usage.
Paulos, John Allen, Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences. New York: Vintage, 1990. The best-selling book which convinced many that they need not fear mathematics. Korzybski did not expect, and did not suggest, that everyone who studies general semantics needs to become a mathematician; he did strongly urge that emerging non-Aristotelians develop a ‘feel’ for the mathematical way of looking at things; the recognition of mathematics as a specifically relational (structural) language, and its great value for structuring our personal way of evaluating. Paulos’ engagingly written book is the best I know for helping in accomplishing that. Highly recommended.
———- , Beyond Numeracy: Ruminations of a Numbers Man. In a manner similar to Quine’s in Quiddities (see below), Paulos “ruminates” on many issues in philosophy, neurology, notions in mathematics, etc., all from a firmly mathematical orientation. In that regard, quite korzybskian. A more sophisticated follow-up to Innumeracy, but still not requiring expertise in math manipulating.
———- , A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. This lively, clear-eyed examination could well be subtitled “And the TV, and the radio, and public/private speech of all sorts.” Presents an array of examples of misleading and just plain wrong use of mathematics (statistics, probabilities, counting, averaging, percentaging, etc.) in most areas of public life, from the policy level through legislation to often disastrous implementation. Economics, science-as-practiced, eating hysteria, sports, pseudoscience in support of ‘alien abductions’, etc., are also stared at. An excellent multifaceted example of how mathematical evaluating can help create a saner world.
Paulson, Ross Evans, Language, Science and Action: Korzybski’s General Semantics — A Comparative Study in Comparative Intellectual History. Westport, CT and London: Greenwood Press, 1983. Paulson’s is the first book I know of to so thoroughly place Korzybski within and beyond his sources. He devotes chapters to asking such questions as “What was the influence of Korzybski’s European, and specifically Polish, background on the initial formulation of his philosophical and semantic theories?”; “What was the influence of the American context …?”; “What was the impact of renewed contact with the Polish logical school [in Warsaw in 1929] … ?”; and (you`ll love this one) “What happened to general semantic ideas and those who advocated them in the United States … ?” Compare with Allen Walker Read, “Formative Influences on Korzybski’s General Semantics,” listed below, and Robert Pula’s “Korzybski’s Polish Matrix,”.
Potter, Robert R., Making Sense: Exploring Semantics and Critical Thinking. (1974) 2nd Edition. New York: Globe Book Company, 1978. * Despite its subtitle, this is a high school and college freshperson (!) text in general semantics, suitable for the general reader. Perhaps alone among texts at this level, it introduces such fundamental general semantics formulations as “non-Aristotelian system,” “elementalism,” “extensional/intensional orientations,” the Structural Differential, etc. Some adults have reported it useful to them in sorting out some korzybskian notions not previously clear to them.
Presby Kodish, Susan, “Reflections on Levels of Knowing and Existence by Harry L. Weinberg,” General Semantics Bulletin, No 60, 1994, pp. 57-67. Dr. Presby Kodish wrote this piece in partial fulfillment of the requirements for certification by the Institute of General Semantics for teachers in general semantics. She begins with a valuable discussion of the vexed question of “how to evaluate popularizations and explications of general semantics.” She presents some of Korzybski’s stated requirements, lists six suggestions of her own, then applies those to Weinberg’s book: “I found infrequent violations of the system and much to commend.” (See below for the listing of Weinberg’s book.)
Pula, Robert P. The numerous general semantics writings of this author are listed in the separate Pula bibliography.
Quine, Willard van Orman, From a Logical Point of View: Logico-Philosophical Essays. Second Edition, revised. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1963. ‘Surely’, it must interest a general semantics reader to see that the title of Quine’s first chapter is “On What There Is.” Much, much clarifying stuff here for someone who plans “to read a book sometime” (Korzybski to Charlotte Schuchardt [Read], c. 1938).
———- , Quiddities: An Intermittently Philosophical Dictionary. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1987. An entertaining (in a ‘brainy’ way) set of brief essays that addresses many of the themes of twentieth century science, philosophy, mathematical logic, aesthetics, etc. — and quite a few issues that have been around for three thousand years (that’s an approximation). Quine has been a major player in the games he describes. Here’s an example of the kind of play he allows himself during a serious exposition (he has been discussing truth and beauty as polarities): The alethic [truth] and aesthetic poles need a third, the ethical, to round out the immemorial TRINITY: the true, the good, and the beautiful. Still further ones clamor at the gates. (Block that metaphor. These are poles, not Poles.).” Quine thus illustrates one of my ideals: Let’s be serious but not somber.
Rapoport, Anatol, Operational Philosophy. (1953) New York: Academic Press/Science Editions, 1965. Russian-born Anatol Rapoport, (who is also a brilliant pianist) was a close associate of Hayakawa. He had connections with European (primarily Austrian) logico-philosophical practitioners and seemed to approach Korzybski from their less ‘engaged’ (but not dis-engaged) perspective. Operational philosophy can be seen as cognate with the extensional orientation.
Read, Allen Walker, “Formative Influences on Korzybski’s General Semantics,” General Semantics Bulletin, No. 47, 1980, pp. 55-62.* The famed linguist and general semanticist (see his “Profile” in The New Yorker, September 4, 1989, pp. 51 … 74) provides essential reading for ‘placing’ general semantics and understanding its formulational ties with other systems and points of view, especially in America. Can be read as a companion piece to Robert Pula’s “Korzybski’s Polish Matrix” in this same Korzybski Centennial issue of the Bulletin, listed in the separate Pula bibliography.
———- , “Is There a Place for ‘Mysticism’ and ‘Occultism’ in General Semantics?” General Semantics Bulletin, No. 49, 1982, pp. 141-142. Reprinted as “The Place of ‘Mysticism’ and ‘Occultism’ in the Scientific Orientation” in The Humanist, Vol. 43, No. 5, Sept.-Oct., 1983, pp. 12-13, 46. * As we might expect, Dr. Read’s answer is a qualified “No” — qualified by his awareness of the role that speculation, hunches, ‘intuitions’, even fantasy may play, especially at the beginning of a scientific quest. But the rigors of self-challenging scientific methology and consciousness of abstracting function as a safeguard, disallowing commitment to ‘mystical’ or ‘occult’ programs. May be read with profit in conjunction with his paper on ‘utopianism’, listed below.
———- , “Changing Attitudes Toward Korzybski’s General Semantics,” (Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture), General Semantics Bulletin, No. 51, 1983, pp. 11-25. * General semanticists are obliged to apply general semantics to their general semantics. Allen Walker Read conducts such an exercise in his historically and formulationally based ‘tour’ of “… what I have experienced in general semantics during the past five decades.” Also available as a cassette from the Institute.
———- , “Is General Semantics Compatible With Utopianism?” General Semantics Bulletin, No. 52, 1985, pp. 23-35. * A profound, wide-ranging discussion which concludes that general semantics can be applied societally for amelioration, not ‘perfection’.
———- , “How Important Is the Terminology of Korzybski’s General Semantics?” General Semantics Bulletin, No. 59, 1994, pp. 35-40. * Responding to some structurally unsound formulating by D. David Bourland, Jr., especially as he claims it to be korzybskian, Professor Read details his affirmation that “Terminology that reflects structure is important; …”
Reiser, Oliver L., The Promise of Scientific Humanism: Toward A Unification of Scientific, Religious, Social and Economic Thought. New York: Oskar Piest, 1940. Numerous early approving references to Korzybski by this now too-little known philosopher who spent almost his entire career at the University of Pittsburgh and was for a time associate editor of The Humanist. Reiser (cf. Bachelard, above) places Korzybski firmly within the formulational world of his day but well understands how he extended it. He gave one of the earliest live, public discussions of Korzybski’s methodology as presented in Science and Sanity before the A.A.A.S. in December, 1934.
———- , “From Classical Physical to Modern Scientific Assumptions,” in Papers from the Second American Conference on General Semantics. Compiled and Edited by M. [Marjorie Mercer] Kendig. Chicago: International Non-Aristotelian Library/Institute of General Semantics, 1943, pp.69-78. A concise delineation of scientific assumptions from Democritus to Korzybski, concluding that “The great merit of Korzybski’s system is that he saw the implications of what was happening in the growth of physical science and mathematics and was able to anticipate what the consequences of these developments (‘revolutions’) would be for biology, psychiatry and sound education.” This most interesting volume of 80 papers by some outstanding people (including, for example, Ora Ray Bontrager, W. Burridge, Francis P. Chisholm, Hervey Cleckley, David Fairchild [whose wife was the daughter of Alexander Graham Bell], S. I. Hayakawa, Wendell Johnson, Douglas Kelley, M. Kendig, Alfred Habdank Skarbek Korzybski, Irving J. Lee, Robert Lord [producer of such movies as The Dawn Patrol, The Prince and the Pauper, Dodge City, One Foot in Heaven, etc.], Adolf Meyer, the founder of psychobiology, Elwood Murray, Allen Walker Read, and Benjamin Lee Whorf) is out of print but may be consulted in libraries, including, by appointment, the library at the Alfred Korzybski Research and Study Center in Closter, New Jersey.
———- , The Integration of Human Knowledge: A Study of the Formal Foundations and the Social Implications of Unified Science. Boston: Extending Horizon Books/Porter Sargent, 1958. Reiser seems not to have been able to evolve to seeing ‘spiritual’ factors as human nervous system events; like Bois, there appears a residual mystical inclination, some unconscious identifying, hankering after ‘absolutes’, etc. For example, on p. 235 he affirms: “But growth and evolution (physical and biological) types of motion or change in which physics has hitherto not been interested, are not [Reiser’s italics] relative. These are forms of change (motion) to which present relativity considerations do not apply.” Despite this, when he’s being primarily descriptive of historical developments, Reiser functions as a stimulating guide to twentieth century science/philosophy. For a sympathetic discussion and evaluation of his work, see Dr. Berman’s book listed above.
Rose, Steven, The Conscious Brain. New York: Vintage Books, 1976. Rose’s first book is still useful even though it’s now almost 20 years old. (In the burgeoning neurosciences updating is more critical in the late 1900’s than, say, physics.) He is one of the leaders in well-structured talking about one’s research. See my review in General Semantics Bulletin Nos. 44-45 listed in the Pula bibliography.
———- , The Making of Memory: From Molecules to Mind. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney/Auckland: Anchor Books/Doubleday, 1993. The kind of update mentioned above, with a summary of Rose’s theories, experimental methods and results to the time when he turned off his word processor. The language seems not as sturdy as in his first book, but there is much of value here for the student of neurolinguistic systems.
Schaff, Adam, Introduction to Semantics. New York: Pergamon/Macmillan, 1962. Perhaps the first major Polish evaluation of Korzybski, by a leading scholar whose main concern is to survey the field, tell what it’s about, and consider its problems. Part One is titled “Research Problems of Semantics” and includes chapters on “Linguistics,” “Logic,” “Semantic Philosophy,” and “General Semantics.” Not surprising for a (then) official Marxist, Schaff is critical of Korzybski in the first half of his chapter, then writes (p. 100): “For all its oddity and its simply maniacal traits, Korzybski’s conception includes something which cannot be dismissed lightly.” And, loc cit, “Let me also point out to those with a liking for easy triumphs, that from the philosophical point of view Korzybski is sometimes a hard nut to crack precisely for a Marxist critic.” Interesting stuff.
Scientific American. Special issues on the human brain, September 1979 and October 1992 [check it]. Can be read to get a sturdily detailed sense of progress in the on-going investigation of the ‘organ of thought’; also inklings of how much more there seems to do. Language-brain relationships are covered.
Skolimowski, Henryk, Polish Analytical Philosophy: A Study and a Comparison with British Analytical Philosophy. International Library of Philosophy and Scientific Method. New York: The Humanities Press, 1967. A pioneering work in English which brilliantly delivers on the title’s and sub-title’s promises.
Smith, Barry, Austrian Philosophy: The Legacy of Franz Brentano. Chicago: Open Court, 1994. Recent research on the rise of scientific philosophy, the Vienna and Warsaw Circles, with major focus on Brentano, Marty, Meinong and Witasek, Twardowski, Kotarbinski, von Ehrenfels, and Menger.
Swanson, Marjorie A, Scientific Epistemological Backgrounds of General Semantics. General Semantics Monographs IV. Lakeville, CT (Englewood, NJ): International Library Publishing Company, 1959. Though using the now outmoded term ‘electro-colloidal’ (see Jeffrey Mordkowitz’s listing above), Dr. Swanson gives a thorough explication of scientific data as correlated with Korzybskian terminology. Delivered originally as lecture-demonstrations for Institute seminar-workshop participants, most of whom were not professional scientists, the written form is designed explicitly but not simplistically for any literate, adult non-scientist. Yet I have known several working scientists who have found her printed lectures clarifying and helpful for their own work and for promoting understanding in areas outside their realm of expertise. This book available from the IGS.
Taubes, Gary, Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion. New York: Random House, 1993. Another devastating study of how not to do science. Also a valuable case study for general semanticists.
Thayer, Lee, ed., Communication: General Semantics Perspectives. New York: Spartan-Macmillan, 1970. The curiously selected editor (by Elwood Murray) comes close to attacking general semantics. Based on his lack of knowledge, he says in his Editor’s Preface many curious things, e.g., “What Korzybski (and some of his followers) called for indirectly is a condition of life in which every man is perfectly adapted to his environment — and hence necessarily controlled by it. Such a science of man would be his ultimate dehumanization.” Sure might. But, as I trust you will learn in this seminar and your further studies, that represents not at all what uncertaintist general semantics is about. At the personal and social level we are about amelioration. Despite Thayer’s misevaluations, the collection of papers in this book are very worth studying, some of them particularly so. Some authors represented are (alphabetically): J. Samuel Bois, D. David Bourland, Sister Margaret Gorman, S.I. Hayakawa, Kenneth Johnson, Wendell Johnson, M. Kendig, Stanley Krippner, Harry Maynard, Elwood Murray, Neil Postman, the brothers Pula (Bob and Tad), Anatol Rapoport, Allen Walker Read and Charlotte Schuchardt Read.
Ulam, S. (Stanislaw) M., Adventures of a Mathematician. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1976. In telling the story of his life, the famed mathematician shares a world perspective on the development of mathematics from World War I through the seventies. His style is reader-friendly, even chatty, not full of formulae, since his purpose is not to teach math but to tell the human story of international mathematics via events in the lives of the mathematicians who made it.
Washburn and Smith, eds., Coping with Increasing Complexity: General Semantics and General Systems Theory. NewYork/London/Paris: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, 1974. Results of a friendly encounter between general semanticists (Institute of General Semantics) and general systems theorists (Society for General Systems Research) conducted during ‘campus unrest’ at the University of Denver in May, 1970. The papers printed here discuss how the two disciplines might correlate “in a mutually productiveway.” In 1970 the environment provided a penetrating backdrop of “ … the ecological crisis, student unrest, information overload, alienation and depersonalization,” increasing complexity — and the ongoing Vietnam War. One of the young professors at the conference, hearing the din outside our room, suggested that we suspend our deliberations, since he saw them as irrelevant given the state of the campus. I argued that precisely then was the time for us to persist in our negentropic enterprise. We continued. Among the contributors: Bela Banathy, J. Samuel Bois, D. David Bourland, Jere W. Clark, Stuart C. Dodd, Alvin A. Goldberg, C. Andrew Hilgartner, Kenneth Johnson, Ellwood Murray, Robert Pula, Charlotte Read and Lee Thayer.
Watzlawick, Paul and Others, The Pragmatics of Human Communication. New York: New York: Norton, 1967. The author refers to the permeating influence of general semantics in his work but does not talk about that explicitly in his text. An excellent literary yet practical application of general semantics, general systems theory and other approaches to languaging-humans-in-action. I used it as a text for a human communications course (general semantics) at the Westinghouse School of Applied Engineering Science near Baltimore, a course which featured a student (mostly engineers!) ‘production’ of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, treated as a case study.
Weinberg, Harry, Levels of Knowing and Existence: Studies in General Semantics. Lakeville, CT (now Englewood, NJ): International Non-Aristotelian Library Publishing Company, 1973. * This reprint of Dr. Weinberg’s 1959 book keeps available what may be the best ‘middle level’ text in general semantics. After several chapters devoted to a sound summary of korzybskian general semantics, Weinberg makes some telling applications: “Seamntitherapy,” “Religion,” “Structure and Function in Cybernetics and General Semantics.” For a lucid discussion of strengths (mainly) and weaknesses in Weinberg’s book, see Susan Presby Kodish’s essay-review in the General Semantics Bulletin, listed above. This book available from the IGS.
Weinberg, Steven, Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist’s Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature. Can be read as a companion piece to Lindley’s The End of Physics (above). With perhaps more elegance and authority than Lindley, but with no less frankness, Nobel Prize winner Weinberg details the age-old quest for the ‘absolute’ and the need to face up to not having it.
Weiss, Thomas and Kenneth H. Hoover, Scientific Foundations of Education. Dubuque, IA: Wm. C. Brown Company, 1957. This qualifies as a neglected book on the general semantics shelf. Yet it may qualify as, up to its date of publication, better than any other general text used in education courses for would-be public school teachers in America. Working from a general semantics base, Weiss and Hoover address the whole range of topics, linguistic, scientific, philosophical, historical, etc., related to the educational endeavor. Recommended for general adult students of general semantics, but especially those who are working on the firing line.
Whorf, Benjamin Lee, Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected Papers of Benjamin Lee Whorf. (1956) Foreword by Stuart Chase. Edited and with an Introduction by John B. Carroll. Twenty-first printing. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993. The collected papers of Whorf wherein the ‘Whorfian hypothesis’ is frequently laid out; what the linguist Henry Lee Smith called the “Sapir-Whorf-Korzybski hypothesis.” (General Semantics Bulletin, Nos. 32/33, 1966, p. 16). See also Korzybski’s succinct statement in Science and Sanity, pp. 90-91, and my “The Nietzsche-Korzybski-Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis?” in ETC., listed in the separate Pula bibliography.
Whyte, Lancelot Law, The Next Development in Man. (1944) New York: New American Library, 1966. The famed English philosopher’s ‘blueprint’, which avoids Teilhard de Chardin’s finalism. M. Kendig wrote that it is “… a book which, though entirely independent of, remarkably parallels Korzybskian analyses, … .” “This seems a prime example of the omnipresent non-aristotelian trends in Twentieth Century thought, … .” Whyte gave the Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture in 1969 (see General Semantics Bulletin, No. 36, 1969, pp. 6-13).
Wolenski, Jan, Logic and Philosophy in the Lvov-Warsaw School. Revised and translated by the author and Olgierd Wojtasiewicz. Synthese Library / Volume 198. Dordrecht / Boston / London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1989. A recent well-written report and analysis (a philosophical bestseller in Poland; Lee Auspitz [Commentary, June 1989, p. 58] reports that in a 1988 poll, Wolenski’s book was rated by young philosophers as one of the most important books published in the 1980’s) of the work by the school which has had (and is having) such influence in the world. Again, as are the other similar entries in this bibliography, listed here because of the influence on Korzybski and because I deem their study necessary for full understanding of Korzybski (how he is similar to and different from those antecedents) and helpful for sharpening one’s non-poetic formulating.
Youngren, William H., Semantics, Linguistics, and Criticism. New York: Random House, 1972. In his Preface Dr. Youngren, who intended to write a different book, tells us why he wrote this one: “When I thought about an introduction to the anthology [his original project], it occurred to me that general semantics would be a good point of departure. For while the direct influence of Korzybski and his followers was not nearly as strong as it once had been, I was convinced that it was still to their books that most teachers of English usually turned for answers to the large theoretical questions about language that lie outside the proper subject matter of linguistics — questions about how language works and how it is related to the outside world.” “The more I read, the more I wrote, and the anthology was gradually abandoned in favor of a book which would start with an examination of general semantics and then go on to elucidate what I took to be the most important relations of linguistics and linguistic philosophy to literary criticism.” (p. ix) A useful exercise for the student-reader can be to alertly distinguish when Dr. Youngren is dealing with “Korzybski,” “ certain of his ‘followers’”, “general semantics,” and when he confuses the ‘three’. Dr. Youngren also writes reviews for the bi-monthly American Record Guide.
Well, this should be enough to keep you off the street for a while or two. When you’ve ‘finished’ with these, you can read the 619 items listed in the bibliography to Science and Sanity. Happy formulating!