Alfred Korzybski

Brief Biography

  What Korzybski, a Polish count and mathematician, accomplished is similar to what Aristotle did around 500 BC, and what Francis Bacon did in the 17th century. They summarised and compiled the methods of thinking up to their times. Korzybski did the same for the 20th century in the 1930's. He wrote only two books. The first, 'The Manhood of Humanity' (1921) proposed seeing humans as time-binders, while plants were chemical binders and animals space binders. But it was his next book in 1933 that was most influential, 'Science and Sanity: An Introduction to non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics'. S&S; was listed as one of the most influential books of the 20th century by a survey of most of the prominent scientists around 1950. Gaston Bachelard, the great French scientist, philosopher and poet wrote in The Philosophy of No: '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. This volume of almost 800 pages is the prelude to an encyclopaedia whose plan aims at the reform, in a non-Aristotelian direction, of a great many sciences. It proposes this reform as a plan of sanity, as an education of energy and as the integration of active thought into life-progress.'

  Much of 'Science and Sanity ' has been incorporated into our culture without any direct reference to it. Most people remember Korzybski's phrase 'The map is not the territory; the map doesn't cover all of the territory; and the map is self-reflexive (it becomes part of the territory)'. David Bohm acknowledged Korzybski's importance in his views.

  The Institute of General Semantics founded by Alfred Korzybski in 1938 has a web site devoted to the philosopher and to general semantics at Institute of General Semantics.

  It advances the work begun by Korzybski, which he termed 'general semantics', a non-Aristotelian system. It conducts seminars, sponsors programs, publishes books and periodicals, and serves 'as a clearinghouse for those seeking information and training in the discipline'. Its web site expresses the hope that there will be 'greater world-wide access to Korzybski's work - - -, thereby accelerating the time-binding process.' The institute can also be reached at institute@general-semantics.org

The books:
Science and Sanity
Manhood of Humanity

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