- Hardcover: 927 pages
- Publisher: Institute of General Semantics; 5th edition (April 1, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0937298018
- ISBN-13: 978-0937298015
- Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #236,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics Hardcover – April 1, 1995
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Top Customer Reviews
Specialists in the above mentioned disciplines may be disappointed or even insulted at Korzybski's general, integrative style. However, Korzybski was mainly concerned about extracting the aspects of the above mentioned disciplines that have the most human value.
Korzybski's attitude was definitely NOT "science for science's sake." Instead, he sought to integrate diverse branches of knowledge into a system that would be simple enough to teach to young children, so that each young child would begin life with the knowledge and wisdom that took the human race centuries of labor to achieve. Of course, if this goal could actually be achieved, the progression and survival of the human race would be greatly enhanced!
Although Science and Sanity is certainly a difficult book to read and understand, Korzybski's system can be easily taught to young children. The reason for this is that Korzybski summarized his system as a non-verbal diagram. Probably, the wisdom of thousands of books are represented non-verbally on that diagram!
It's true that one must know what the different parts of the diagram represent in order to appreciate or understand it; however, Korzybski's system is certainly unique in that one can explain the system to another while referring (pointing) to a diagram. This visual aid, called the Structural Differential, could be used in the education of young children as a way of simply and easily imparting "the wisdom of the ages."
Note: Science and Sanity uses some abbreviations throughout the book. There are charts on pages 15 and 16 that explain these. Don't miss those charts, or you'll miss the whole book!
I have read the book, having come to it from a number of popular treatments of Korzybski's work. These at least provided a framework for understanding what otherwise might have been lost to me in the author's stiff prose. The book's most basic message, that 'the map is not the territory' (the Word is not the Thing it represents), can seem trivial when stated simply. However, only a little analysis will suffice to show how easily even very bright people fall into the trap of the 'Is of identity' - the semantic error that is inherent in the syllogistic form of reasoning that makes use of statements of the form 'All A are B, C is A, therefore C is B'. Note that 'is' suggests, and indeed often is taken to be, a statement of identity - that category A is identical in some ways, to category B. This is false. As words, these simply stand for, or 'point to' certain things, which themselves are identical only on the verbal level - the level of conceptual thought - not on the non-verbal level of external reality.Read more ›
One of the fundamental notions presented in Science and Sanity is that we always see the world through the altering prism of our nervous system; that is, we never experience the world directly, but only through the lense of our 'abstractions' (our individual nervous system's responses to the world). When we talk or think, the world is further altered (abstracted) by the language or words we use in dealing with our nervous system's responses. And because in words we can talk or think about the words and thoughts we have used previously, our abstractions can build on previous abstractions, and extend into many orders or iterations. Therefore, because our thoughts and our words are abstractions from what we are thinking or talking about, and because we don't experience the world directly (but only through the prism of our individual nervous systems), there exists an unavoidable element of uncertainty in even our best statements. They are "from our point of view" so to speak, not "the way it is."
I think you can see from this discussion that Korzybski was trying to generalize Einstein's and Heisenberg's notions of relativity and uncertainty (in science) to the whole of life in its myriad aspects (and create a system to train us in that attitude). Not only is "beauty in the eye of the beholder," everything is in the eye of the beholder.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read this book over 50 years ago, from cover to cover - with difficulty. Before reading it, I was undecided about religion that was taught in Sunday school. Read morePublished 16 days ago by Zoey L
Not a fast read. Wish our politicians embraced it's tenetsPublished 6 months ago by Allan B. Campbell
A classic! One of the foundations of Neuro Linguistic Programming. Leads to very clear thinking. A heavy read.Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
Fantastic, highly influential book. You will need your dictionary and time to think.Published 11 months ago by Kevin Brady
As a tormented teenager who totally did not understand the world, this book literally saved my life. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Rich
This tome is amazing, everyone should read about general semantics as it is a key method for understanding things as they are and not how we want them to be.Published 14 months ago by Ron
The reviewer (A Customer on November 25, 2002) petty much said it all, and eloquently. I just want to add that people often, correctly, make a connection of this book with Buddhism... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Amazon Customer
you would think a book stressing about looking at things objectively and for how they are would make their concepts simple and able to understand, not so much... Read morePublished 17 months ago by bp