Talk:Map–territory relation

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The article says that "the map is not the territory" was coined by Eric Temple Bell, but there is no reference. E. T. Bell was a supporter of Alfred Korzybski (AK), who used the expression, and may have been influenced by Lewis Carroll, as AK quotes Carroll's writings from Alice in Wonderland. The reference lacks support in the article. I'd like a specific reference to where and particularly when E. T. Bell said or wrote that. - JDF, August 10, 2005

I says it's been variously attributed. I didn't see references for AK either. Dawhitfield 01:10, 13 August 2005 (UTC)

Yes, I changed it to variously attributed. 'The map is not the territory' appears in Korzybski's book, Science and Sanity, published in 1933, but I may be able to find earlier references. E. T. Bell is quoted in the back of the book praising Science and Sanity, and he had been a student of Cassius Jackson Keyser, who played a major role in editing Korzybski's tome, but nothing is said about Bell coining the phrase, and Korzybski was generous in acknowledging his sources. Also, one wonders how Bell could praise a book that quotes him, "the map is not the territory," but doesn't have the grace to acknowledge from where the quote came. - JDF, 16:36, 16 August 2005

OK, Bruce Kodish, who is writing a biography of Korzybski, found the correct reference, and I have read the original source and changed the entry. If anyone claims that E. T. Bell first coined the phrase, he or she will have to provide an earlier reference. - JDF, 14:10, 21 August 2005

I would suggest that the 'map-territory relation' is the subject of reflection in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Logic, discussed in Part Two, Chapter One.: "....The mere wish of relieving the subject might be a sufficient apology if from the crowd that present themselves to the mind I select a trivial and ridiculous instance in preference, but in truth I have other and more serious purposes in view, and such preference forms part of my plan, for reasons which I shall hereafter explain. To the instance, however. A country squire, one of the reverend vegetables so exquisitely portrayed in the 86(th) No. of the Tatler, having for the first time left his home, far inland, for Ramsgate, had been further tempted to join a sailing party in a trip to Calais. From the state of the weather the opposite coast was invisible till within a league of Calais. Our worthy voyager still keeping his face toward old England, when all at once the mists dissolved and the French cliffs bursting on the view, the master of the boat turned him suddenly round, exclaiming: "There Sir! that's France!" "You don't say so", quoth the Squire, "That's France! and pray, which is Spain?" (...)[DM, 29 November 2005]

The originators of NLP have been explicit about their debt to Korzybski. Thus, the mention in connection with NLP should point out that tie. I think I'll go fix that... [ESR, 2 December 2005]

Carl von Clausewitz, the nineteenth century Prussian military theorist, is often attributed with originating the map/territory notion, however, I have failed to find a clean reference. Referring to either his contribution or our mistaken belief in his contribution would be worthwhile. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Srschwartz (talkcontribs) 15:06, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

Is there an online reference/URL available for the Bateson "The Theology of Alcoholics Anonymous" article? Nessman (talk) 18:38, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

Content issues[edit]

This article needs some serious work - I'm going to add the cleanup tag in a second. The original (before the merge) content appears to be about 50% quotes from other sources, not original work. -Seth Mahoney 23:01, 30 October 2005 (UTC)

I propose removal of the sentence about NLP ("The originators of NLP have been explicit that they owe this insight to general semantics."), firstly because it just seems gratuitous in the general article content, secondly because, if even Wikipedia reports that NLP is a discredited science ("Norcross et al. (2010) list NLP in the top ten most discredited interventions[26] and Glasner-Edwards and Rawson (2010) list NLP therapy as "certainly discredited".[27]"), why is NLP mentioned at all as using this concept as inspiration?--David Be (talk) 09:53, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

Another proposal: in the 'Relationship' section, there are 3 paragraphs about someone called Bateson. He seems to have nothing to add to deepen or explain, so chop these out? Cheers. Cheesusfreak (talk) 11:03, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

Fair Use Image[edit]

I'm copying bit of this discussion from Sean Blacks talk page, having notified him of my intent a few days ago:

MB: Hi Sean. Regarding your edit here: Could you please let me know what part of WP:FUC you were thinking of when you removed the image? My understanding is that if it is out of context we cannot use the image. But is it really out of context? Doesn't it qualify as critical commentary on the work in question since the article is called The map is not the territory and the work is illustrating the same thing?

SB: Perhaps. But it's a borderline case, so it's probably best to just keep it as a link.

MB: Perhaps it's best to achieve consensus on this. I think it isn't borderline and it's almost a textbook example of when a fair use claim is appropriate. But then again I'm no lawyer. I'd like to copy our discussion to the talk page and ask for a 3rd opinion (or 4th and so on) on the matter.

AR: IMHO, there shouldn't be any deleting of images from templates in respect of the "fair use" issue without there being prior consensus on the interpretation and application of the fair use rules to the particular instance. --Aquarius Rising 03:49, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

I've reinstated the image temporarily. But I'd appreciate some more input from other editors. What are your thoughts? Can the image stay as fair use? ॐ Metta Bubble puff 06:31, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

Try to comment about the image more, or send it to René Magritte. User:Zscout370 (Return Fire) Fair use policy 06:56, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Tempshill 22:48, 26 Mar 2004 (UTC) says for this to be acceptable under fair use, "2. Its inclusion in the article adds significantly to the article because it shows the most famous work by this artist, illustrates his technical work, and gives probably the most famous example of representational surrealism."
  • IMO, the image illustrates an important point in a way that seems to satisfy fair use. Its probably best to get another opinion. --'c' 12:53, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
I really don't see what the image has to do with the article. --Phroziac ♥♥♥♥ 13:46, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
It is quite common for Korzybski "the map is not the territory" and Rene Magritte's surrealism to be to illustrate the same point that, "perception always interceeds between reality and ourselves". See for example, p.15-16 Visual Intelligence: Perception, Image, and Manipulation in Visual Communication by Ann Marie Barry(bio) --'c' 23:55, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
Could you include this reference in the bottom section as per Zscout370's suggestion, if you have time. ॐ Metta Bubble puff 19:38, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

Yes, that's it! That about wraps this up then. Thanks. ॐ Metta Bubble puff 11:08, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

Simulacra Argument[edit]

About "map within a map": what's wrong with the idea? Consider fractals like the Mandelbrot set.


"Today abstraction is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror, or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: A hyperreal."

The argument reflects a misunderstanding of the map-territory-scheme. The source(territory) of the simulation(map) is in the consciousness of the creator. If for example i create a videogame, then i first will have an idea about it(the source/territory) and then program the videogame(the map). But the videogame will not be exactly the same as my original idea of it. Creation allows us to "inject" maps into reality. The source of this reality-manipulation is our consciousness. Thus, creation is a map-territory relationship with exchanged roles(the source is "I" and the target is "reality"). Map and territory are *relative*! I am surprised that the author of simulcra did not understand this, since relativism is what the map-territory-scheme tried to describe in the first place. Then again, misunderstandings were to be expected, because the map-territory-scheme is incomplete: It does not account for perception AND projection, but instead only one of the two at a time - it does not allow to visualize an entire projection->reality->perception scenario - because its "scope" only reaches half of the way. - by Lyx - -- 23:03, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Hyphen, dash, or slash?[edit]

Should this not, in fact, more properly be written as the “map/territory relation”? Binary opposition (/distinction). That postmodern slash and all. I'll change it in a few days if no one has any objection. Anonymous 57 19:30, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

Fallacy of misplaced concreteness[edit]

Added this link to the see also section, as it appears to be the basis for this concept. And yet, the article says nothing about Whitehead. Viriditas (talk) 09:17, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

teachers of "map not territory"[edit]

How can you leave out Marshall McLuhan. See "Understanding Media." Wilhkar (talk) 15:17, 21 March 2010 (UTC)Wilhkar

What about the famous Eschaton scene in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest? -JMP — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:38, 14 August 2012 (UTC)

Worth referencing Plato’s Allegory of the Cave as possibly the earliest elucidation of this principle?Luan Hanratty (talk) 07:34, 12 October 2015 (UTC)

Borges' Apocryphal Quote[edit]

Is "apocryphal" the correct word. In Royce's The World and the Individual, available on, he begins a discussion (in the Supplemental Essay) as follows: "let us suppose, if you please, that a portion of the surface of England is very perfectly levelled and smoothed, and is then devoted to the production of our precise map of England. That in general, then, should be found upon the surface of England, map constructions which more or less roughly represent the whole of England, — all this has nothing puzzling about it. Any ordinary map of England spread out upon English ground would illustrate, in a way, such possession, by a part of the surface of England, of a resemblance to the whole. But now suppose that this our resemblance is to be made absolutely exact, in the sense previously defined." Royce goes on for awhile.

Borges may have massaged, and shortened considerably, the quote, but the idea is still Royce's (it is also discussed in Russell's Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy). (talk) 02:00, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

I agree, it's more of a paraphrase than an apocryphal quote. Phette23 (talk) 02:43, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

snipped this chunk out of the lede - it seems like OR[edit]

For example, the pain from a stone falling on one's foot is not the actual stone, it's one's perception of the stone; one's opinion of a politician, favorable or unfavorable, is not that person; and so on. A specific abstraction or reaction does not capture all facets of its source — e.g. the pain in one's foot does not convey the internal structure of the stone, you don't know everything that is going on in the life of a politician, etc. — and thus may limit an individual's understanding and cognitive abilities unless the two are distinguished.

— Preceding unsigned comment added by EdwardLane (talkcontribs) 05:18, October 1, 2011‎

indirect / potential resource ?[edit]

From Talk:Cognition # Science News regarding the Lateral occipital cortex ... Science News resource, regarding the Lateral occipital cortex (see related Occipital lobe and Lateral occipital sulcus)

An excerpt ...

In mental terms, certain scenes are sums of their objects, researchers report online September 4 in Nature Neuroscience. The results help explain how people quickly and accurately recognize complicated scenes such as playgrounds, kitchens and traffic intersections. Much of what scientists know about vision comes from studies of how people see simple objects in isolation, such as a line floating on a white screen, says cognitive neuroscientist Dirk Bernhardt-Walther of Ohio State University. The new work, in contrast, deals with messy, real-world scenes. “It’s an awesome study,” he says.

Maybe more general associations and language \ vision relationships ... also related Knowledge. (talk) 00:40, 4 November 2011 (UTC)

Doesn't seem relevant. That quote doesn't even seem related. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 03:55, 4 November 2011 (UTC)


After a few years sporadically reading and writing Wikipedia, I stumbled across this article. It's by far the one I've been happiest to find. --Northernhenge (talk) 14:24, 20 January 2013 (UTC)

Section Ordering[edit]

It seems a bit odd to me that this article begins with criticism of the original statement (e.g. Bateson saying essentially "the territory is a map") rather than an explanation of its history. Would it make sense to swap the two sections, putting "The map is not the territory" before Relationship? The former discusses the actual history of the quote and seems to be a better starting point. The latter is mostly texts that problematize the original statement. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Phette23 (talkcontribs) 04:10, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

Bullet Points[edit]

What is the purpose of the two bullet points:

   [*]A) A map may have a structure similar or dissimilar to the structure of the territory...
   [*]B) A map is not the territory.

The bullet points seem disjointed and out of place. I don't know enough about the content here to edit this. My particular comment may seem a quibble considering the massive changes this page needs in order to make it more coherent. There is a lot of good information, but, man, it's all pretty incoherent and unconnected. Mvblair (talk) 12:27, 14 March 2014 (UTC)