6 Matching Annotations
  1. Aug 2021
    1. Normally, thousands of rabbits and guinea pigs are used andkilled, in scientific laboratories, for experiments which yieldgreat and tangible benefits to humanity. This war butcheredmillions of people and ruined the health and lives of tens ofmillions. Is this climax of the pre-war civilization to be passedunnoticed, except for the poetry and the manuring of the battlefields, that the“poppies blow”stronger and better fed? Or is thedeath of ten men on the battle field to be of as much worth inknowledge gained as is the life of one rabbit killed for experi-ment? Is the great sacrifice worth analysing? There can be onlyone answer—yes. But, if truth be desired, the analysis must bescientific.

      Idea: Neural net parameter analysis but with society as the 'neural net' and the 'training examples' things like industrial accidents, etc. How many 'training examples' does it take to 'learn' a lesson, and what can we infer about the rate of learning from these statistics?

    2. What we call progressconsists in coordinating ideas with realities

      "The map is not the territory" is there as a basic sentiment long before General Semantics

    3. What is the defining or characteristic mark of humanity?To this question two answers and only two have been given in thecourse of the ages, and they are both of them current to-day. Oneof the answers is biological—man is an animal, a certain kind ofanimal; the other answer is a mixture partly biological and partlymythological or partly biological and partly philosophical—manis a combination orunionof animal with something supernatural.An important part of my task will be to show that both of theseanswers are radically wrong and that, beyond all things else, theyare primarily responsible for what is dismal in the life and historyof humankind. This done, the question remains: What is Man? Ihope to show clearly and convincingly that the answer is to befound in the patent fact that human beings possess in varyingdegrees a certain natural faculty or power or capacity whichserves at once to give them their appropriate dignity as humanbeings and to discriminate them, not only from the minerals andthe plants but also from the world of animals, this peculiar orcharacteristic human faculty or power or capacity I shall call[004]

      Here Korzybski defines how he thinks his thinking diverges from previous work, what in his thought is novel. It is very specifically the idea that the spirit-animal and the animal conception of man are inadequate and that the time-binding posterity man is his nature(?).

    4. “For a while he trampled with impunity on laws human anddivine but, as he was obsessed with the delusion that two andtwo makes five, he fell, at last a victim to the relentless rulesof humble Arithmetic.“Remember, O stranger, Arithmetic is the first of thesciences and the mother of safety.”BRANDEIS

      Interestingly enough this sentiment is more commonly expressed through Kipling in late modernity. At the time this book was written Kipling would have been still alive, but so was Louis Brandeis. Korzybski in any case has the sense of necessity at the heart of a strong modern materialism.

    5. It is useless to argue if electricity be“natural”or“supernatu-ral,”of“material”or of“spiritual”origin. As a matter of fact wedo not ask these questions in studying electricity; we endeavorto find out the natural laws governing it and in handling livewires we do not argue or speculate about them—we use rubber[xi]gloves, etc. It will be the same with Man and the great affairs ofMan—we have, first of all, to know what Man is.

      This basically materialist approach, believing that Man has a specific nature which can be described and planned around accords with the zeitgeist of the 1920's, and it's of course correct. Its declining popularity in the ensuing decades points more to a declining society than to any essential incorrectness.

  2. Jan 2021