Talk:General semantics

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Criticisms?[edit]

As of this date, September 4, 2016, the article begins this way, "General semantics is a self improvement and therapy program begun in the 1920s that seeks to regulate human mental habits and behaviors."

In my 57-year study and use of general semantics, I can't recall where the author of the system ever described it as a "program" of any sort. He described it as "a new extensional discipline which explains and trains us how to use our nervous systems most efficiently." And that's how I believe it should be reported in an encyclopedia: "General semantics was said by its author to be a general system of evaluation, and an extensional discipline which 'explains and trains us how to use our nervous systems most efficiently.' It is based on the theory that there are 'factors of sanity' to be found in the methods of modern science. However, since no one has ever determined what it means to be 'trained in general semantics,' or how to measure the level of it to whatever degree, rigorous testing of Korzybski's system by his proponents or critics which would be generally convincing either way for both sides, has never been done; and thus his 'theory of sanity' remains largely undetermined. This does not mean that certain individuals (including some psychiatrists with regard to their patients) have not attested to the use and efficacy of general semantics, or that the evidence has been necessarily slim, just that the evidence has been almost entirely anecdotal." - JDF, 04 September 2016.

        — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:306:CF98:5110:CABC:C8FF:FE8E:263E (talk) 01:29, 5 September 2016 (UTC) 

Unlike most articles on Philosophy and Semantics, this one neither cites common objections nor provides links to off-site argumentations. I haven't been able to find any reliable sources, probably due to the relationship with scientology and Ron L. Hubbard, so, does any know or could provide some of those? --TheOtherStephan 00:33, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

Hmm, that seems like a reasonable request. But I don't know if I could fairly describe the opposing views. The article contains a link to "Contra Max Black", a response by GS writer Bruce Kodish to the one scholarly critique of GS that I've managed to find. Kodish's account of that critique seems accurate and fair to me, but you may want to see if you can locate Black's original essay yourself. I found the book (Max Black's Language and Philosophy) through inter-library loan. Kodish also addresses some of Gardner's criticisms, but the warning about hearsay may apply more strongly here. Sadly, in order to give a fair account of Gardner's best argument I would have to put words in his mouth, because IIRC he did not even attempt to put that argument in strict logical form. Dan 08:08, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
I'll give you an example of the problem. Gardner (I think) wrote that even if we use many-valued logic in some cases, we would have to use 2-valued logic when evaluating math. Since many-valued logics count as math, 'we would actually be using 2-valued logic on a deeper level'. Gardner sees this as a refutation of Korzybski's (perceived) attack on traditional logic. Now, since Korzybski described two-valued logic as a special case of the many-valued version (namely, a case where we can safely ignore the other values) and since he urged the use of two-valued logic in certain cases, Gardner seems to refute a strawman. This illustrates a general problem: while general semantics may well suffer from flaws, none of its famous critics seem to grasp it well enough to find those flaws! (Addendum: Lotfi Zadeh...showed that fuzzy logic was a generalisation of classical logic.) Dan 08:42, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

I moved some criticism here from another article. I also added the one anti-gs argument, in my judgement, that doesn't beg the question or confuse the issue. We can't settle the question of empirical evidence with words. You'd have to decide for yourself if the evidence justifies using any given practice from general semantics. Dan 23:59, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

I changed "His E-Prime response to them was: 'I said what I said. I did not say what I did not say,' to "His response to them was: 'I said what I said. I did not say what I did not say.'" The former might imply that Korzybski consciously used E-Prime to make that statement, when actually E-Prime did not exist then (it was formulated some years after Korzybski's death by David Bourland). -JDF, 19 January 2007.

See comment in Talk:General semantics#Criticism section

Hpvpp (talk) 11:37, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

I don't understand the Criticism section in this article. There is Criticism on GS and the criticism on that given criticism. Which is ok with me. But that whole ELL part makes no sense to me, because it uses some academese and it seems as if the ELL people got confused and actually thought General Semantics were some pure semantic teachings, whereas the whole article states in the beginning that GS is distinct from semantics (and therefor linguistics). The point "general semantics has little or nothing to say about semantic relations within a language." sounds to me like stating that "PONG has little to do with the interaction of two tabletennis players". Honestly, I am not a fanboy of GS, but from what I gather, all criticism I read so far (and especially Gardner) merely touch the surface of GS and misread (probably on purpose), as it seems to me. Maybe that article by Max Black might be relevant. Martin Gardner as criticist is overhyped in my eyes and I am yet to find some valuable psychological or pure philosophical criticism which focuses on the content, not on the form (Gardners list and his "Neologisms are a clear hint towards a pseudoscience" is so utter crap to me, I can't find reasonable words to refute it. As if "Entropie" was no neologism at its time [and it is an ill-composed one, Utropy would have been proper greek]). Cited criticism is as valuable as stating "The catholic church says it is against Gods will and therefore bad". Can somebody please fix this and cite criticism which doesnt rely on wrong understandings or authoritative arguments? Gardner might be included as a historical sidenote, but not as some scientifical source. Thanks --A not logged in user —Preceding unsigned comment added by 89.183.86.188 (talk) 15:55, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

The reality is that your average academic is not going to touch general semantics with a ten-foot pole, but see if you like the changes. Hpvpp (talk) 09:16, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
Thats much better, thanks for the quick reaction. Although it is nice to have the conclusions of both Gardner and Black there, I'd quote some less ad hominem part of Gardner's text in favour for facts. (Till yesterday, I only knew that Gardner did write a text against GS. Reading that text left me with very mixed feelings about people who refer to Gardner's criticism of what he calls pseudosciences in general. It's a funny text for some magazine, but it I can't really take it seriously because of its many flaws). Black's book is on its way to me via mail, I hope his criticism is of much better quality. I'll be back in a few days after I had time to read Black, hopefully with my account reactivated. --89.183.73.239 (talk) 01:52, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
I suggest you take some account of the fact that Gardner is highly respected. Hpvpp (talk) 08:26, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

Old talk[edit]

The article says: "One of the few other prescriptions that can be found in the book is to end every sentence with two periods, the extra one to remind one that things were left out." Now, I may have forgotten large chunks of the book, but I know it didn't end every sentence with two periods. What did the author actually say about this? I seem to recall he wrote a comma and period at the end of lists, as a way of writing "etc.", like so: ",." I suspect he recommended thinking "etc." whenever one sees a period. But if he literally wanted people to use double periods constantly, seems like he would have led by example, as he did with other abbreviations and neologisms.

I see someone has changed this, but I still don't see a page number. Nor a direct quote. 172.131.184.81 17:08, 14 May 2005 (UTC)
JDF: On page 16, Korzybski listed the punctuation that he would use throughout the book for abbreviating et cetera, e.g., he would write ".," for "etc.,"; he would write ",." for ",etc."; and so on. He never recommended ending every sentence with et cetera, abbreviated or not, or with double periods. He simply indicated that every sentence could theoretically have an 'et cetera' at the end because there is always more that can be said about anything.


The role of magic in popular culture[edit]

The article says: "One novel idea from General Semantics concerns the role of magic in popular culture, especially notable in the use of such incantations as political and advertising slogans."

What exactly is "the role of magic in popular culture" supposed to mean here? Can somebody who understands this please clarify?

That struck me as a little odd, too, and a little like something Theodor Adorno might say, though as far as I know he didn't have much if anything to do with general semantics. Certainly without explanation it probably shouldn't be in the article, which suggests to me that maybe I should take it out until someone wants to expand it. --Seth Mahoney 18:07, Jun 30, 2004 (UTC)

Moved from main page by Seth Mahoney until expanded to clear up just what exactly is meant:

One novel idea from General Semantics concerns the role of magic in popular culture, especially notable in the use of such incantations as political and advertising slogans.

JDF: There is no "idea from general semantics" concerning "the role of magic in popular culture." Korzybski simply said that a scientific study of magic with its "methods of psycho-logical deception" is "most revealing, as it shows the mechanisms by which we are continually and unknowingly being deceived in science and daily life." He said,"These general, and so common, psycho-logical mechanisms [resulting in deceptions, especially self-deceptions] are very deep, and to a large extent are connected with the aristotelian type of intensional, subject-predicate orientations, which ultimately may become harmful."


Cleanup request[edit]

This article has unusual capitalizations in headers and some unnecessarily complicated writing (e.g., first bullet in other aspects...).

I am also dubious about the overall positive evaluation of General Semantics. Seems to me to be a discredited theory, but I will defer this opinion to other neutral commentators.

I did remove "philosophical logic" from the categories, since this topic has nothing at all to do with that category. I added "pseudoscience", due to the discussion in Gardner's book, but if others think that category is unfair, I'll accept it. Nonetheless, this sure as heck shouldn't be in philosophical logic (and on that point I am very confident). --Phiwum 18:07, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

Phiwum, you were right to remove "philosophical logic", but wrong to add "pseudoscience". Even Homer nods, and in this instance Martin Gardner was simply wrong. It is difficult to blame him; like many others, he appears to have been taken in by L. Ron Hubbard's attempt to co-opt GS for Dianetics into believing the former is just as bogus as the latter. It isn't. Sorry, I've mislaid my login, but this is Eric Steven Raymond (yes, "ESR", and a GS student for more than thirty years) writing. I'm going to go remove the pseudoscience tag now.
I will defer to your opinion, Eric. Although I found Gardner's description a pretty plausible argument for the "pseudoscience" tag, I admit that I don't know anything about General Semantics aside from that description and Wikipedia. Phiwum 15:43, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
But this entry is still in the category of "human communication", which it shares with smoke signals, cheering, human-computer interaction and (inexplicably) "charisma". Surely, whatever the heck GS is, it is not a form of human communication. (Neither is neuro-linguistic programming, of course.)
It is also doubtful that GS counts as a study of human communication. It's closer to psychology than linguistics. Shouldn't we remove that category, too? --Phiwum 18:52, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
ESR again...Hmmm...I'm kind of on the fence about the "Human Communications" category. There is, actually, a significant tie to linguistics, especially psycholinguistics. On the other hand, this category sounds vague enough not to be very useful. I won't remove it myself, but I won't object if someone else does.


Response to Cleanup request[edit]

As I wrote a lot of the current entry, I would like to work with you to change the article to meet valid objections where possible or appropriate. I made some changes to the "Other aspects of the system" section, and other changes elsewhere, and would like your response. --JDF Oct 6, 2005.

The main changes I requested seem to have been made. I'll remove the tag. Thanks. --Phiwum 07:23, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
OK, thanks. --JDF Oct 8, 2005.


Self-reflexive?[edit]

Would someone be willing to add some text to the entry, describing what is meant by "self-reflexive" in axiom 3? I know it means "reflecting the self," but I'm having difficulty figuring out what that means in context. --Jay (Histrion) 18:17, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

I think that explaining 'self-reflexive' might take up too much space and perhaps clutter the entry, as it might involve a long explanation to do it properly. It involves Josiah Royce's discovery that an ideal map would include a map of the map. In terms of reactions, one can react to something that happens, e.g., become angry, and then react to one's reaction (perhaps becoming even more angry). The latter reaction would be self-reflexive, no longer reacting to the actual situation, but reacting to one's reaction. Self-reflection occurs constantly in language, as we can make a statement, and then make a statement about the statement, and so on. Also, on higher orders of abstraction, we can doubt our doubt, or believe in belief, etc. Fear of fear is second-order fear. Self-reflexiveness in logic and other places can lead to paradoxes, and so on. Politics, war, etc., just about anything you can imagine may have self-reflexiveness as a component. Most people are totally oblivious to self-reflexiveness, confusing it with other relations that are different, e.g., in the example of the angry person, not knowing that he or she is no longer reacting to the situation, but reacting angrily to the anger reaction. I've described this mostly in negative terms, but self-reflection is a fact of life and has many positive elements as well. There are many examples in the physical universe, bilological functions, and so on. As a GS formulation, it's neutral in value, like a variable that can represent many things, depending on the context. The important thing is to be aware of it. --JDF, 31 October 2005
JDF, I think the fact that "self-reflexive" is left dangling in this entry is a symptom of a larger problem. Namely, your opening summary is trying to do too much. I may take a crack at trying to write a better one. ESR, 2 December 2005.
OK, I ended up revising this entry pretty massively. What's there wasn't wrong, but it was poorly written and indifferently organized. I think I've fixed that. --ESSR, 2 December 2005.

Just a note: "Self-reflexive" and "self-reflection" aren't interchangeable. The former is a property, the latter is an action. Namely, the former is a property of maps-in-a-particular-territory that depict themselves. The latter is an action someone does when he looks back at something. Language, or maybe more specifically linguistics, is called "self-reflexive"--you can have language2 about language1. If I have a reaction2 to a reaction1 I had, reactions can be called "self-reflexive" as I can have a reaction2 about a reaction1. That second reaction may be said to come by means of *the act of* "self-reflection"--from looking back at a reaction I had had before (where one's reaction1 is considered one's "self"). But that's distinctly different from "self-reflexive." A great example as I see it of self-reflexiveness is "this phrase," where the phrase is pointing to itself. Self-reflection is more something-you-do, a behavior. - BH, 11/22/2006

Gotlob Frege's "Self-reflexive" was show to be inconsistent by Bertrand Russell. Bertrand Russell constructed his theory of types as a way around the problem. And ZF set theory devised a new axiom that prohibited both self-reference and infinite regress in order to restore consistency. As general semantics adopted Russell's theory of types as "levels of abstraction". My discussion at http://xenodochy.org/gs/mapmaker.html apparently is ineligible for inclusion because it is self published on the internet. Moreover, my attempts at including appropriate commentary has been systematically expunged in the past. - diogenes 2017-03-24. [1] — Preceding unsigned comment added by Xenodochy (talkcontribs) 20:48, 24 March 2017 (UTC)

Move to lowercase[edit]

Any reason why this is at General Semantics instead of general semantics? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 17:56, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

Because it is a movement and not a field or discipline? --maru (talk) contribs 17:48, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Would you capitalize "antinomianism" in the middle of a sentence? What about "conceptualism"? (See article.) --Dan 23:55, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
Depends on the context. --maru (talk) contribs 03:09, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
Considering that a simple Google search shows that outside wikimirrors lower case is the preffered usage, I'll move this article soon unless there are any objections.--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 02:43, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

They mean different things. "General Semantics" is meant as a simple (inseparable) grammatical unit and refers to a very specific thing, namely a particular intellectual movement. Its meaning is not derived from consideration of the two constituent words; these are arbitrary. Had its founders called it "Gungly Frobozz" it would be used in the same sense, so long as they were consistent. Whereas "general semantics" is two separate words appearing together. The reader interprets it as a noun qualified by an adjective; it refers to semantics having the property of generality, whatever that means to the reader. We use capitals to disambiguate, to tell the reader this is to be parsed as one single unit with a fixed meaning rather than to make of its constituents what you will... hence General Motors, the Declaration of Independence and the Beat Generation are marked as context-independent terms, rather than "motors considered generally, an instance in which someone declared their independence, and a generation that was beat". To summarize: "General Semantics" and "general semantics" have different meanings.

To answer a point made above, antinomianism and conceptualism are difficult (impossible?) to parse in any other sense than their (narrow) technical meaning - "ism" implies a movement, and so you are forced to look for its historical definition rather than try an interpretation. The term Pre-Raphaelite is capitalised for this very reason (they came hundreds of years AFTER Raphael!)

Sounds pedantic, I know, but in this case there is quite a practical use: someone unfamiliar with the technical meaning (i.e. most people looking up a definition here) will try to make sense of the phrase in terms of its constituent words, and will get themselves in a horrible mess. GS is not a subfield of semantics, and we capitalize to drop the reader a clue ("there's a more specific meaning to this term, so stay alert..."). Moving to lower-case would be a cruel and unusual punishment. I believe there are international treaties against this.

It appears those treaties have been broken.... I'm curious why this article isn't at the uppercase "General Semantics", since that capitalization is dominant throughout the article. -Phoenixrod (talk) 03:51, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

The IGS decided to make "general semantic" lower case as explained in the IGS forum. The decision is a subtle distinction between a title, which is capitalized, and the word semantics modified to be so general as to be unlike any other semantics. If a thorn can be evil, then semantics in the most general sense is the meaning (semantics) of life. Rather than always say "human life" when we mean life, or always prepend "in my opinion" to opinions we keep these things in mind ourself, and hope others understand. Thus we can say, with this in mind, general semantics is the essence of life for humans because self awareness is, and that self is plastic and can self-modify, and that the way it does this is usually by words, not just words but semantics. And it is this order or level of application of the word semantics that makes it generally understood to be general semantics. The essence of this is in the IGS bulletin 38, in the article by Allen Flagg. Apparently it's more correct to to say "general semantics" than say "metasemantics". What else can be kept in mind every moment but something sort of subtle and ephemeral, as if'twer some secret safety in numbers. Finally, we are forced to think (in addition to the two words together that way), what is "mulit-ordinal" about semantics as opposed to "multi-meaning", and the ride begins from the first moment you had to ask. — CpiralCpiral 02:18, 3 September 2012 (UTC)

Misstatement - anon's 'plaint[edit]

"Popular acceptance has likewise been very limited. As of 2005, the reputation of General Semantics has yet to recover from the damage Martin Gardner and L. Ron Hubbard did to it. Matters have not been helped by the fact that most General Semantics advocates, like Korzybski himself, have never learned how to write both precisely and clearly. Thus, the value in General Semantics tends to be obscured beneath clouds of jargon-filled pedantry."

(Comment: This statement is highly debatable. With the exception of Korzybski -- for whom English was not his first language -- the major popularizers of General Semantics -- e.g. Stuart Chase, S.I. Hayakawa, Irving Lee, Wendell Johnson, Anatol Rapoport, Neil Postman, Edward MacNeal -- are all clear and straightforward writers. Indeed, it is part of the intrinsic discipline of General Semantics that they should strive to be clear and straightforward; again, Korzybski is the exception, as even his admirers admit (see Neil Postman's essay on Korzybski in his collection Conscientious Objections (1988) and Rapoport's view of the history of General Semantics in his autobiography Certainties and Doubts (2000)) -- although Korzybski also can be reasonably clear for a few pages at a time in Science and Sanity.) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 137.82.188.68 (talkcontribs)

I'm the author of the above comment. (Posting from public terminals at the University of British Columbia, hence the different addresses.) I'd also add that I have read (or browsed) my way through a complete UBC library collection of ETC. (the quarterly journal of General Semantics founded by Hayakawa) from 1943 on and it had good articles in every issue from 1943 up to about 1992 (Neil Postman was editor from 1976 to 1986) or so, when I noticed a big fall-off in quality. (Did all the old, good guys die off?) I think a critic would justifiably have a markedly different opinion of the quality of General Semantics writing based on the last fifteen years of ETC. (e.g. fetishizing of EPRIME) rather than (roughly) the first fifty years. If I was going to introduce someone to General Semantics I'd hand them a copy of Neil Postman's Crazy Talk, Stupid Talk (1976) which, to my mind, is -- as all of Postman's writing is -- as clear and straightforward as writing gets. 142.103.168.16 05:54, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

I think we want to edit the paragraph that you responded to. The comment you added to the article makes a good point, but does not fit the format of Wikipedia (or indeed any encyclopedia). We could either delete the debatable statement on the grounds that nobody's supplied a source for its claim, or modify that paragraph to describe the dispute from a neutral point of view. Incidentally, can you give an example of "fetishizing of E-Prime" from that magazine? I don't know it as well as you do. Dan 22:37, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

E-Prime was an enthusiasm of D. David Bourland, Jr. (I think now deceased), which is English without any form of the verb to be. (See "To be or not to be: E-Prime as a tool for critical thinking" by D. David Bourland in the December 2004 issue of ETC: A Review of General Semantics -- this article is a reprint from an earlier ETC.) I say "fetishizing" -- perhaps unfairly -- because in his articles on E-Prime Bourland seemed to hold the idea that with a few constraints on common English usage one could avoid the major map/territory pitfalls identified by General Semantics, which to my mind is a symptom of the very disease it purports to cure.

Korzybski *did* have elements of the crackpot and authoritarian cult leader (see Anatol Rapoport's autobiography) in his work and personality and this casts a certain shadow, but in my considered opinion it is not the lack of good writing on General Semantics post-Korzybski that has hindered its acceptance; rather (following Postman) it cuts too deep in many sensitive areas relating to the social construction of social reality. E.g. see the Postman quote (which I entered) relating to the Rosenhan experiment. 142.103.168.16 06:32, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

I removed those last two sentences. Let's give them citations and counterarguments if someone wants to include them in the article. Dan 23:57, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

Asimov[edit]

Ok guys, what about Asimov's books ? They are quite funny and quite related to this. Shall I ? --DLL 21:29, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Go ahead. I can't think what you mean at the moment. Dan 08:13, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
Oops, t'was Van Vogt. Nevermind. --DLL 20:50, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

time-binding[edit]

Why does the article give "time-binding" as an alternative name? Someone may use it that way, but it originally had a more general meaning. Dan 00:21, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

I think I added it some time ago due to a redirect, but it may be confusing considering that time bind is a sociological concept introduced by Arlie Russell Hochschild. We could use an article on that subject, and perhaps disambig at time binding?--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 02:39, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
Yes, that sounds good. You seem to know more about it than I do. Dan 19:28, 21 April 2006 (UTC)
Done.--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 01:09, 22 April 2006 (UTC)
It seems we misunderstood each other. While someone, somewhere might use "time-binding" to mean general-semantics, Korzybski used it to mean something much more general. The article itself explains this fairly well. I will therefore change the first sentence of the article. Dan 04:46, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Addition of Chomsky's criticism[edit]

I don't like to just delete someone's addition -- I get enraged when someone does this to me -- but I think these Chomsky quotes are completely off the point and don't have any substantive content either. It is a pure argument from authority -- "some big name doesn't like Korzybski." ("I wrote an undergrad paper sixty years ago."!!) Note that Chomsky's professional expertise is in syntactic transformations which is not what general semantics is about at all. What do others think? 142.103.168.24 04:44, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

I see content that seems false, unless someone knows where Korzybski endorsed E-Prime. I also see a sentence I don't follow at all, about "being swayed by someone's opinion", so in theory he could have a substantive argument there. If so, I wish someone would spell it out. On the face of it, he seems to ignore a claim from general semantics that I consider demonstrably true, namely that we can change our thinking by changing our speech. (This of course does not prove Korzybski's specific claims about the benefits of certain specific changes.) Dan 04:54, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Yes, agreed. I should have said either does not have substantive content or when substantive, is false. To my mind, if someone wants to create a separate Criticisms of General Semantics page (as they have with Criticisms of Noam Chomsky) then they can pile on all the criticism there, but I'm loathe to let them do it on the General Semantics page itself because it gives the naive reader the deeply false idea that there is no wisdom to be gained from this subject. The real issue in criticism here, to my mind, is this: 1) Korzybski should be given the appropriate historical credit for focussing attention on important epistemological issues and inspiring others (some, like Anatol Rapoport, more scientifically competent than Korzybski himself) to examine the same issues, but 2) Yes, he was a bit of a crackpot/authoritarian cult leader and 3) I wouldn't recommend Science and Sanity as the first book (or even the fifth!) to a GS newcomer. 142.103.168.16 06:31, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Apparently someone with an AOL ip address has added this and even less relevant-looking statements to various articles. Part of it attacks behaviorism, which Korzybski also criticized for different reasons. Part of it invokes unnamed critics to accuse Korzybski of a "disguised aristotelian approach". Now, maybe someone, somewhere has foolishly published this argument. I know some people confuse "non-Aristotelian" with "anti" Aristotelian (as if Einstein attacked everything Newton wrote when he gave us the start of non-Newtonian physics). But unless someone supplies a citation, this goes. I don't know what to do about the earlier Chomsky edits. Enough people know of him that I'd want to include his arguments, but they seem to give Korzybski and Bourland views which those people did not in fact hold. Dan 02:11, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

Anonymous poster using an oft-banned address, why did you revert the passage I deleted? On the face of it, the quote seems to refer to behaviorism. You don't explain just what behaviorist doctrine Chomsky discredited, or how he did so, or whether anyone disputes this, or how the doctrine in question relates to general semantics. (Or NLP, for that matter.) On the face of it, the passage seems vague, question-begging and irrelevant. If you want it to stay, either spell out what it logically implies about general semantics, or cite Chomsky saying that it relates to GS and NLP. And whichever course you take, I'd appreciate it if you would either spell out what the passage actually means or link to some source explaining this. Dan 17:43, 3 May 2006 (UTC) (On a sidenote, maru, why did you edit direct quotes?)

As my recent edits suggest, I've just gone through an online version of Science and Sanity. My browser reported no instance of the phrase any proposition containing the word "is" in any part of the book. Indeed, if that quote came from Korzybski, I'd expect Bourland and other promoters of E-Prime to mention it frequently. Google says they do not. Dan 20:36, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Someone supplied a link to wikiquote. Astonishingly, that Wikiquote page does not contain a single sourced quote from Korzybski! It labels all the quotes "Attributed", and gives no references. In many cases we could supply references (maybe when I have time), but as I said, I couldn't find the disputed quote anywhere despite searching an online version of Science and Sanity. Nor does the literal reading of the quote seem compatible with the verifiable, expressed views of Korzybski, Bourland and pretty much every other proponent of general semantics. I will thus remove it, along with Chomsky's alleged response to this seeming strawman. Please do not add the disputed Korzybski quote again without a verifiable citation. Dan 16:35, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

I want to register my continued protest against the Chomsky quotes. In his linguistic work Chomsky has never had much (if anything) to say about the whole language-as-a-map-of-reality issue that is at the core of general semantics. In fact, on many occasions (e.g. his interviews with David Barsamian) Chomsky has explicitly disavowed that his technical knowledge in linguistics is of any relevance in his analysis of political propaganda -- as opposed, for example, to George Lakoff who does use his knowledge of metaphorical thinking to analyze the metaphors behind the rhetoric of political propaganda -- as Lakoff did quite brilliantly in his net-circulated essay "Metaphor and War" before Gulf War I. I'd delete the Chomsky quotes on the best Chomskyan principles -- that they are an ignorant appeal to authority. 137.82.188.68 06:05, 5 May 2006 (UTC)


I have remove the following section about Chomsky since I can find no evidence that he said it.

Noam Chomsky, an expert in linguistics, has said that "little can be resurrected" from Korzybski's work because it was "based on serious confusion":
"We don't need Korzybski to tell us that [what people say alters our perception]. And it's not 'confusion of [linguistic] representation with reality,' rather, being swayed by someones opinion, which is often quite reasonable."
Chomsky also said:
"Sometimes what we say can be misleading, sometimes not, depending on whether we are careful. If there's anything else [in Korzybski's work], I don't see it. That was the conclusion of my undergrad papers 60 years ago. Reading Korzybski extensively, I couldn't find anything that was not either trivial or false. As for neurolinguistic effects on the brain, nothing was known when he wrote and very little of that is relevant now."
Chomsky, an anarchist maintains that the greatest distorters of our perception are concentrations of power,(e.g. states, corporations) because they have the means to propagate their point of view and influence our perception of reality, much more than use of the verb "to be" or other elements Korzybski pointed to.

--AlmostC 18:05, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

"Weasel words"[edit]

I don't remember if Gardner made that criticism explicitly. Frankly, I don't know if he understood GS well enough to see the importance of the criticism. But he accuses Korzybski of "confused ideas, unconscious metaphysics, and highly dubious speculations", while calling GS a cult, all in his book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. I think that strongly implies the charge of unscientific behavior. (The first section of this talk page gives my reasons for including it.) The other quotes give K's own explanation for his terms. Gutenberg gives us reason to think that he quoted Whitehead accurately and fairly. Please justify the inclusion of the template. Dan 17:50, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

See comment in Talk:General semantics#Criticism section

Hpvpp (talk) 11:38, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

"Criticism" Section[edit]

This seems way unbalanced -- the section seems to be about 75% given over to the defense. The ideas of critics such as Martin Gardner are not quoted or sourced, while "rebuttal" material (from 20 years earlier!) is quoted repeatedly and at length. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Patzer42 (talkcontribs) 18:15, 14 December 2006 (UTC).

Well, again, I had to paraphrase Gardner to present what I saw as the best argument for his side. I also included his line about Aristotle, although this critique seems much weaker, because for some reason people use the argument so often that we have to include it. We also have to include a general-semantics view of the criticism. And since my (unposted) attempt at a summary read something like, 'Gardner willfully ignores the fact that Korzybski addressed this issue at length many years before,' I just presented the quotes from K. and Whitehead without comment. I want to let the evidence speak for itself.
If you know a good anti-GS argument that you want to add, please do. The section looks the way it does because basically nobody else added any critiques. Except for the one alleged Chomsky quote -- which I think would warrant inclusion despite seeming logically dubious, if we could prove that Chomsky said it.
There is an "exposé of the cult" at [1] that quotes Gardner from a chapter of Fad and Fallacies in the Name of Science. There is also a quote there from a negative review in the Journal of Philosophy. DLeonard 14:20, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
Do you want to include more of Gardner's essay? He seems to me more interested in mockery than logical critique. Again, I tried to present the best arguments I could draw out of his words. Dan 08:48, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
I cite Dleonard: "There is an "exposé of the cult" at [2]" That page seem highly unprofessional, not least because the page says, "here are some excerpts from a 1999 article which amounts to no more than a religious sermon". The page does not give any references to this 'article'. And this so called 'article' says (among other things), "...With time-binding we can also improve the efficiency of nuclear devices. We can make more effective land mines...". That is preposterous. Korzybski would never have supported any General semanticist with that attitude and I will have none of it. --DukeTwicep 18:56, 29 January 2009 (UTC+1)
I don't know much about editing WP but shouldn't someone cite evidence for this statement: "General semantics is generally assumed to have been adequately criticized..." Who is it that generally assumes this, scientists or laymen, and what evidence do we have? Otherwise we should simply say the truth.24.67.198.2 (talk) 10:52, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

See comment in Talk:General semantics#Criticism section

Hpvpp (talk) 11:40, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

"Other Aspects of the System" Section[edit]

Deleted the "Word Magic" comments because what they discuss seems like an idea or definition external to general semantics specifically, rather than an element of general-semantics proper. "Word magic" is mentioned by Korzybski as an example of primitive evaluation, but what the writer says is too far removed from Korzybski's comments about it to be recognizable. JDF, March 2, 2007 —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 128.32.2.75 (talk) 01:36, 3 March 2007 (UTC).

Ideational trap[edit]

The link to ideation does not help explain what the ideational trap is. I think most readers would need help with this. (I do.) --Ettrig (talk) 17:00, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

Links[edit]

There seems to be some brokens links in References. Would be helpful if someone could clean that up and/or provide new links --DukeTwicep 19:02, 29 January 2009 (UTC+1)

should include a note about "Generative Semantics"[edit]

I think there should be a brief note, somewhere near the top---perhaps either right before, right after, or alongside of the italicized note: "For semantics in general, see Semantics.", which says something to the effect "Not to be confused with Generative Semantics (Chomsky)", because many readers might not realize the distinction between the two, especially if skimming. I'd do it now but I'm not sure how and I don't want to screw it up.--Shanoman (talk) 22:36, 17 April 2009 (UTC)

A convenient distinction of two kinds of meaning[edit]

Link...-->      --Faustnh (talk) 19:47, 27 April 2009 (UTC)




Criticism section[edit]

The criticism section seems to have been written by a proponent of General Semantics. Compare the very brief summary of, say, Gardner's criticism to the space given to five long quotes apparently intended to address Gardner's comments. In fact, because these quotations were not in response to Gardner's comments, their inclusion represents illegitimate WP:OR (notably, synthesis).

If Korzybski or some other author responded to Gardner, then a short comment to that effect is in order. The current lengthy and original refutation is not. I've removed it. Phiwum (talk) 02:30, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

The argument -- now that I've added two post-Gardner sources (one from an opponent of GS) summarizing Korzybski on this point -- seems to consist of the claim that we need a specific reference to Gardner. I say that we don't. If published secondary-source author A takes a stand, and published secondary-source author B contradicts it, then we don't need A and B to mention each others' names before we can include them in the article. Phiwum, you assert that we need a source saying that the facts refute Gardner. But the article does not say they do. Instead it gives the quotes at issue (along with those secondary sources pointing out their importance) and lets the reader judge.
Now, I think that beyond question we can include those secondary sources. It seems bizarre to claim that we cannot also give the evidence under discussion, and I do not believe any Wikipedia guideline says to remove it. But if you think otherwise, please make the argument here. (Note that since published authors have deemed the issue notable regardless of the connection to Gardner, we could easily justify putting the quotes elsewhere in the article, as I suggested earlier. I just feel I have no time to reorganize the page right now.) Dan (talk) 02:23, 23 March 2010 (UTC)
The sole reason for placing this material in the criticism section is to rebut Gardner's claims. Either you say, "Gardner is wrong and here is why" (in which case it's a violation of WP:SYN) or you simply give some quotations without any clear reason why these quotations are included here. Why should they be in the criticism section? Only because you think that they stand as rebuttal to Gardner.
I'm removing the over-quoted material again, now on the grounds that there is no clear reason given for its inclusion in the criticism section. Again, if you want to include this as rebuttal, then find a source that does so. Phiwum (talk) 19:41, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
In the spirit of compromise, I left the two citations and the basic claim. In any case, it was far too much quotation for the criticisms section, in mine humble opinion. Phiwum (talk) 19:52, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
Re: deleting the other bit about Gardner - you don't think this goes too far in the other direction? From where I stand, the paraphrase you removed seems like the only relevant criticism with any truth to it. Dan (talk) 22:58, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
I have no opinion at all whether the bit deleted is true or not, but it was left uncited for three years. If you know the citation (perhaps "Fads & Fallacies"?), then revert and add the citation, by all means! (Though, perhaps the weasel wording "seems to suggest" should be replaced by "suggests", if appropriate.) Phiwum (talk) 01:47, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
Well, as I said earlier on the page, Gardner doesn't spell it out clearly. And it turns out I don't care if someone else cripples the criticism. But as the section no longer makes sense, I may try to fix it at some point. Dan (talk) 01:33, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

I replaced the Criticism section because (i) I think it was be sub-standard and (ii) the rebuttals did not belong there. If you disagree with any of the points then improve the article to forestall the criticism or else discuss it here, on the Talk:page.

Hpvpp (talk) 11:41, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

Can't we just rename the whole section to say : Differences with other theories/peopleVinay84 (talk) 05:07, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

Your proposed heading would downplay the serious criticisms leveled against General semantics. Anyway, we need to comply with WP:CRIT. -- Hpvpp (talk) 06:57, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

Null-XYZ[edit]

Korzybski does not use the term null-A; he uses the notation as a shorthand for the word non-aristotelian. So when he writes, for example, "the denial of identity", this should be read as "the non-aristotelian denial of identity". I don't know who came up with the idea to render this as null-A and to treat it as a noun phrase, but I suspect is was A. E. Van Vogt, not an encyclopedically reliable source when it comes to the terminology and content of Korzybskian general semantics. A logician would not pronounce in a formula as null-A, but probably say not-A when focussing on the meaning, and A-bar when focussing on the presentation. Is anyone aware of a serious scholarly source using the term null-A the way it is done in the article, or is this someone's original research? We should not use pop-science terminology in our articles.  --Lambiam 19:41, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

I will mirror Lambiam's sentiments. At that, I've studied GS for about 15 years and today was the first time I recall seeing the term "Null-I." "Null-A" is not a term really used in GS; it's pulled from the science fiction of A. E. van Vogt, who drew inspiration from general semantics. The symbol merely is shorthand used in Alfred Korzybski's book Science and Sanity for the term "non-aristotelian," a term he uses often in the work (and hence the efficacy of the shorthand). You read it just like that: "non-aristotelian." By reading it "A-bar" or anything else, you're probably making things sound needlessly complex of highfalutin. :)
In my opinion, the list of "Nulls" should be stricken. It is original and, at that, not recognized. Benhauck (talk) 04:12, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
Well, why don't you just edit the article? Hpvpp (talk) 00:50, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
I'm new. Don't want to just, poof, exist, and chop up others' work without discussion. Benhauck (talk) 23:33, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
Having studied GS for 15 years should make you an expert and qualified to comment. Given that nobody reacted to your post I would guess that either they are not watching the page or they don't care or they are just waiting to see what happens. (Check out WP:Be bold). Hpvpp (talk) 06:03, 25 February 2011 (UTC)

"Basic Assumptions"[edit]

The article leads off with Arika Okrent's claim from In the land of invented languages that the basic assumption of general semantics is that “language ‘enslaves’ us by conditioning our brains to perceive a false reality.” General semantics is not as heavily language-focused as this quotation makes the "basic assumptions" seem.

Instead, "general semantics" is the name for a field covering non-aristotelian thinking (korzybskian). In layman's terms, it is modern scientific thinking, brought into the sphere of everyday thinking--especially in place of primitive scientific thinking, pseudoscientific thinking, religious or faith-based thinking, dogma, etc. So where you have people thinking or speaking in non-scientific ways, general semantics provides lessons and information to help people to update their thinking, speaking, etc. (The eventual result or aim, GS claims, is sanity.)

Language revision is a natural consequence of moving from old scientific thinking to new scientific thinking. (For example, we don't talk in terms of "ether" anymore, so we should update our language to remove that word from our discussions about empirical reality.) Rather than "language enslaving us," a more appropriate assumption in general semantics is that old thinking (old metaphysics, aristotelian thinking, etc.) "enslaves us," and that thinking "conditions our brains" to "perceive a false reality." My use of quotes is to reflect that I generally have a negative perception of these word choices, because it makes general semantics out to sound like some weird ideology. "Enslave"? Not an appropriate word to start off an article on the topic, in a quotation or no. (I believe Arika Okrent is outside of the field, though I'm uncertain. Why not use a quotation from someone within the field?)

But basic assumptions for general semantics are about thinking and the inadequateness of old metaphysics and pseudoscientific thinking in the navigation of life, be that in scientific life or in everyday life. Talk of language in general semantics is but corollary discussion, secondary to the primary focus in GS: non-aristotelian thinking. I would recommend de-emphasizing language in this article, at least in the opening paragraph, and if a quotation is needed, pull from someone's writings within the field. Benhauck (talk) 04:39, 22 February 2011 (UTC)

Using "a quotation from someone within the field" would violate WP:INDEPENDENT. Hpvpp (talk) 05:49, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for making that point. a) Still seems strange to me to rely on a quotation in the opening paragraph to sum up the field. b) WP:INDEPENDENT also says, "... from multiple third-party reliable sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy." Okrent's quotation that summarizes general semantics strikes me as inaccurate. I realize that WP:INDEPENDENT is talking about the source's reputation rather than the source's claim, but still: Reputable people still make inaccurate statements. General semantics talks about einsteinian, non-newtonian, non-euclidean, etc., thinking in addition to non-aristotelian thinking, encouraging their adoption in crucial places, and those ways of thinking wouldn't be considered in general semantics as "enslaving us to a false reality." Quite the opposite: They would point to a more accurate understanding of reality relative to more antiquated ways of thinking about reality, and would probably "liberate sanity" (to snarkily refer to Okrent's slave metaphor). Hpvpp, thanks for following up. Benhauck (talk) 20:21, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
I found the lead too complicated and, having Okrent's book at hand, used that to replace it with something more succinct. Feel free to improve it. Hpvpp (talk) 01:08, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

Major Edit Intended / Installed[edit]

Hello. I believe I'm starting at the right place, addressing the "Talk" page. I wish to undertake a major edit of the General Semantics article. I believe I understand the Neutral Point of View and Verification requirements for this and all articles. I intend to retain almost all the current content, either within this article or moved to the Alfred Korzybski article. My current outline for the revised article structure is:

   * 1 Overview
         o Human-centered perspective
         o Science or Pseudoscience
         o Consciousness of Abstracting
         o Extensional Devices
   * 2 History
         o Science and Sanity
         o Confusion with "Semantics"
         o Institute of General Semantics
         o International Society for General Semantics
         o Post-Korzybskian General Semantics
         o Rejection by Academia
         o Accomplishments To Date
   * 3 Connections to other disciplines
         o Psychiatry/Psychology
         o Communication/Media 
   * 4 Critiques of General Semantics
         o Reach Exceeds Its Grasp
         o Mastering Its Techniques Does Not Lead to Human Agreement

I wish to approach the edit in a manner that respects others' investments in the article. Before proceeding, I hope you might react to this proposal. Should I tell you about myself? Do you prefer that I develop everything first in my user space, so that others can view it there prior to seeing a work-in-progress take shape in the article itself? Like the rest of you, I have lots of passions and interests -- more than I have time -- and although I commit to making this edit a sincerely strong effort, the best I'm capable of, I wish to avoid spending serious hours on a doomed project. Canhelp (talk) 03:02, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

Four weeks after writing the above, I have attracted no attention with the 25 August 2011 post. Perhaps I erred by not inserting a section heading above that post, and so I now have inserted one. Canhelp (talk) 00:59, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

The draft page I wish to install is viewable in my user space: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Canhelp/General_semantics Intended installation date is 18 October 2011. During these next 6 or 7 days, I'll gratefully receive any comments, corrections, etc. that other editors deem desirable. I still expect to do minor wordsmithing and to add the missing inline references, but I don't anticipate section changes from what you can see now in the draft. Canhelp (talk) 02:05, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

Major edit is now installed. The proposed "Critiques" section is not included in the installed edit. Canhelp (talk) 00:28, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

Relevance[edit]

The scientific relevance of his teachings are not clear to me. --Rebestein (talk) 14:11, 16 October 2011 (UTC) Hi. I recommend Jeff Hawkins's 2004 book On Intelligence. We're finally getting some physiological evidence to support at least one claim of general semantics. Canhelp (talk) 00:31, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

NPOV Dispute January 2012[edit]

I agree with Volunteer Marek's decision (24 January 2012) to dispute NPOV for this article, subsequent to Kikoman77's article edits of the same date. I do not know the process for resolving the dispute, but I would like to help resolve, and I hope to get that opportunity. Canhelp (talk) 15:56, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

Posting in January 2012 to Kikoman77's user talk page did not produce a response. Perhaps Volunteer Marek was correct in his surmise that Kikoman77 is an SPA. I briefly interacted with Volunteer Marek one week ago, notifying V.M. of my intention to try to independently re-edit the article to "undo" the January edits that led to V.M.'s judgment of violation of NPOV. V.M. did not object to my proposed action. So...others' comments are invited now. If they are not forthcoming, or if they raise no red flags, then I will make changes to the article within the next 5-7 days. Canhelp (talk) 18:15, 20 March 2012 (UTC)

Regret July 18 2012 Edits to Introductory Lead Section[edit]

User Evaluational has no talk page and no user page; otherwise I would address this privately to Evaluational. General semantics doctrine includes many insider terms, and the article in its form prior to Evaluational's edit of the introductory lead section on July 18, 2012 sought to use those terms sparingly, and, when using them, to provide context sufficient to help the lay reader who is not a general semantics insider. Evaluational has undermined that objective by her/his edits, especially by the rewrite of the lead sentence, which now reads as follows: "General semantics names a discipline begun in the 1920s that seeks to eliminate identification in human evaluational reactions, resulting in consciousness of abstracting." My regret in seeing Evaluational's changes tells me that I'm over-invested in this one article. I ought to move on, and I am doing so now. Canhelp (talk) 00:35, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

I agree thaty definition is a non-definition because it requires that one already know the jargon of General semantics to understand it. I will revert to a previous version.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 14:56, 3 October 2012 (UTC)

Is there a useful metaphor ?[edit]

I'm struggling to make head-or-tail out of this. I've occasionally been stumped when asked "What are you thinking?", to find that I had clear thoughts that I could not begin to express in words. So I certainly accept there are levels below the verbal (and that seems quite different than the conscious/unconscious). In Computing Science terms, I guess you're trying to re-code some routines from a 'high-level programming language' into 'machine code' ... Is that a useful analogy ? Of course it is inaccurate and incomplete, but it might give me a toe-hold to begin to grasp the subject, or even help others ... --195.137.93.171 (talk) 09:26, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

So why'd he call it General Semantics[edit]

I'm new here. I freely admit I don't understand GS. But if Korzybski was such a genius when it came to the art of communication, why on earth did he call it GENERAL semantics when he knew that it wasn't the same thing as semantics? Surely common sense would have told him that people would assume it was the same as semantics and confuse the two... — Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.20.171.127 (talk) 23:17, 6 July 2014 (UTC)

Answer: Koryzbski had no training in the art of communication as such; "communication" is not even in the index of Science And Sanity. His training was more in the mathematical and engineering areas. However, he was fluent in four languages as a youngster, and learned a fifth (English) as an adult. He saw a natural progression from semantics (the study of meaning) to the significs of Lady Welby (a less elementalistic consideration of meaning), to general semantics (a GENERAL theory of non-elementalistic evaluation). He was quite keen on getting his discipline accepted in academia, and that may have influenced his choice. He regretted this mistake keenly in his later years. --- JDF. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:306:CF98:5110:CABC:C8FF:FE8E:263E (talk) 06:52, 18 January 2016 (UTC)

how was it actually practiced under Korzybski?[edit]

you could say that karate is all about defeating opponent via agility and powerful kicks... or you could say that it involves people practicing techniques so-and-so under such-and-such conditions. Both statements are right, but the second one is very important for getting the gist of it. So IMHO it is unfortunate that this and many other articles focus on ideas of GS but don't explain how exactly were they put into practice by the guy who presumably knew best. I mean, did he teach students to rewrite texts in some quasi legalese terminology according to his notion of "right thinking"? Or was it mostly oral practice, like being taught debate? Or what? 76.119.30.87 (talk) 00:38, 30 November 2014 (UTC)

My experience that I draw upon, trying to answer your questions: I have listened multiple times to the tape recording of the GS "Intensive Seminar" led by Korzybski in the winter of 1948-49. I have read Science and Sanity. In 1974 I participated in a week-long GS seminar-workshop, one of whose sessions was led by Korzybski co-worker Charlotte Schuchardt Read. All three exposures emphasized visual and kinesthetic techniques to help students put GS into practice. Non-verbal instruction was/is needed because, as Korzybski wrote in Chapter 29 of Science and Sanity (title: "Non-Aristotelian Training"), "…to live we must deal with the objective level; yet this level cannot be reached by words alone…. [W]e stress the fact that we must handle, look, and listen, etc., never speak, but remain silent, outwardly as well as inwardly, in order to find ourselves on the objective level. Here we come to one of the most difficult steps in the whole training. This 'silence on the objective level' involves checking upon neutral grounds of a great many 'emotions,' 'preconceived ideas,' etc. This step, in the meantime, appears as the first, the simplest, most obvious and most effective psychophysiological 'reality-factor' in eliminating the delusional identifications." Chapter 29 details the techniques Korzybski used to try to enable students to reach and maintain "silence on the objective level." His techniques included demonstrations with ordinary objects (biting into an apple, for example) and formal drills with an apparatus – the structural differential – that he invented and patented for use as a GS instructional device. Canhelp (talk) 03:03, 12 March 2016 (UTC)

Nonsense opening sentence[edit]

"General semantics is a program begun in the 1920s that seeks to regulate the evaluative operations performed in the human brain" -- even assuming that some complex series of redefinitions of familiar terms can turn this into something not ridiculous, to the layman (for whom these articles are supposed to be written) this sounds like complete nonsense. "A program to regulate the operations in the brain" -- huh??? What could this possibly mean? EEng 13:18, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

Yeah it makes it sound as if it was somekind of computer virus that people downloaded into their brains to improve the processor performance.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 02:37, 3 February 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for bringing some readability to the article. EEng 09:28, 3 February 2016 (UTC)

why italicized s?[edit]

I noticed that the s in intensionally is italicized. Is this to distinguish the word from intentionally? (i.e., that the s was itself intentionally put there?) - Paul2520 (talk) 23:47, 22 July 2016 (UTC)

Nice catch! Though not the author, I'm 99.9% certain that the author's use of italics here is intentional. I followed the link the author provided to intensionally and found this sentence: "Note: Intension and intensionality (the state of having intension) should not be confused with intention and intentionality, which are pronounced the same and occasionally arise in the same philosophical context. Where this happens, the letter s or t is sometimes italicized to emphasize the distinction." In general semantics, "intension" (with an "s") is contrasted with "extension." This Wikipedia reference explicates in more detail. Canhelp (talk) 17:43, 26 July 2016 (UTC)

Is that actually a common practice, though? -165.234.252.11 (talk) 16:01, 2 August 2016 (UTC)
(I'm the author.) General semantics is rooted in a study of non-aristotelian systems, such as non-Newtonian physics. In the Minkowski space-time, an immediate consequence of Einstein's special relativity, each event has a unique space-time coordinate. This is the basis in general semantics for rejecting Aristotle's law of identity ("something is identical with itself"), and instead making differences fundamental, followed in importance by similarities. I've italicised the letter "s" in order to differentiate the word from something which looks and sounds extremely similar, but means something completely different. It prevents confusion (e.g if read too quickly) and has the added benefit of providing the lay person with a simplified and intuitive insight into general semantics. Sadly, someone is currently trying to revert the entire paragraphs I've written, but I will try to deal with it now. Aris.olt (talk) 17:29, 2 August 2016 (UTC)
Please address the concerns raised by the people who reverted your new intro paragraph before putting it back. -165.234.252.11 (talk) 18:55, 2 August 2016 (UTC)

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