About General Semantics

individual being supportedThisIsNotThat is based on the principles of General Semantics (GS). GS can be considered an inter-disciplinary discipline for evaluating and adjusting to what happens in your life. General Semantics deals with the processes involved as we perceive, construct, evaluate, and respond to our life experiences. Our language-behaviors represent one aspect of these responses.

Generalizing What We’ve Learned

What if we could generalize the “best practices” to be learned from what the most effective:
conference meeting

  • doctors do when they diagnose a patient’s symptoms?
  • attorneys do when they cross-examine a witness to uncover the facts?
  • scientists do in their laboratories when they experiment?
  • police detectives do when they gather evidence at a crime scene?
  • engineers do when they must design solutions to new problems?
  • journalists do when they report a story?
  • artists, writers, and composers do when they express their creativity?

balancing

    1. We would increase our understanding and awareness of the role of language and symbols play in our verbal and non-verbal behaviors.
    2. We would limit the undesirable behaviors we are prone to exhibit, such as:
      • jumping to conclusions
      • holding unrealistic expectations
      • not recognizing the hidden assumptions and premises upon which we unknowingly act
      • making broad generalizations and promoting stereotypes
      • confusing our own inferences, opinions and beliefs as facts or ‘truths’
      • resisting change or failing to adapt to change
      • engaging in and perpetuating language habits that are more medieval than modern
      • responding to labels and categories rather than specific individuals and events
      • feeling ‘victimized’ by those who push our buttons, condition our wants, and propagandize our political sensibilities

juggling

  • We would increase those productive behaviors such as:
    • thinking-feeling-acting in the here-and-now, moment-to-moments of daily living rather than re-living the past or dreading the future
    • appreciating and promoting individuality and diversity
    • thinking, speaking, and listening more deliberately, critically, and productively
    • more effectively solving problems, resolving conflicts, and maintaining relationships
    • integrating and building upon all our sources of knowledge, and sharing that knowledge (in other words, “time-binding”)

 

The self explorer, whether he wants to or not, becomes an explorer of everything else. — Elias Canetti

Worlds of Differences

General Semantics helps you differentiate, and integrate, what we might think of as four different ‘worlds’:

  • the world ‘out there’, beyond your skin, that’s always changing, in perpetual process
  • the world ‘in here’, inside your skin, your nervous system and senses, through which you (only partially) experience the world ‘out there’
  • the world that’s not words, the sensory or non-verbal world that you see, hear, taste, smell and touch
  • the world of words, your verbal world of names, symbols, labels, opinions, assumptions, categories, values, beliefs, etc.

In our verbal world of words, we integrate what we ‘know’ about the world ‘out there’, the world ‘in here’ and the world that’s not words. This is not that.

All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions. — Leonardo da Vinci

Alfred Korzybski and Science and Sanity

Alfred Korzybski

General semantics, formulated by Alfred Korzybski in his 1933 book, Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems, is based on underlying premises, some of which include:

  • We live in a continually-changing, process-oriented world, much of which we have no means of directly observing or experiencing.
  • What we do experience is therefore partial and incomplete; we abstract only a small portion of what’s there – and there is always more.
  • Different people abstract differently from their own individual experiences, based on their backgrounds, capabilities, interests, biases, etc.
  • As we become more conscious of this abstracting process, we learn how to become more tolerant and accepting of our own – and others – limitations and potentialities.
  • We recognize the distinctions between the sensory or non-verbal world in which we sense and experience, and our verbal world in which we use symbols and language to talk about our experiences.
  • The methods of a scientific approach provide us with a basis for evaluating and modifying our attitudes, behaviors and beliefs.

If you deliberately apply these principles, the potential consequences include:

  • More effective, discriminating communications with others, and with yourself
  • More appropriate, and desirable, reactions, responses and adjustments to the inevitable “accidents waiting to happen” in your four ‘worlds’
  • A more tolerant, inquisitive, open-minded, “matter-of-fact” outlook that is less prone to prejudice, stereotyping, and dogmatic generalizations
  • A greater degree of moment-to-moment awareness of your own, and others’, different perspectives.

How we use language determines the way we evaluate our relationship with ourselves, others, and our world. Many human problems can be traced to our ignorance of the ways we use language and the ways language influences us. — Alfred Korzybski

Language Matters

Logo
untangle the tangled webs you verbally weave

With language we can …

  • speak, write, read, and listen
  • think and express our feelings
  • analyze and solve problems
  • establish rules, regulations, laws, policies, procedures, ordinances, and standards
  • reach compromises, agreements, settlements, resolutions and contracts
  • understand, to be understood, and to pass on our understandings to others
  • dream, imagine, contemplate, cogitate, deliberate, create, innovate and ponder

and … with language we can also …

  • mislead, misinform, and misunderstand
  • deny, suppress, inhibit, prohibit and limit what others do and say
  • rule, dictate, terrorize, intimidate, indoctrinate and alienate
  • generalize, categorize, stereotype, pigeonhole and profile
  • lie, cheat, steal, quibble, libel, slander, sue and defraud
  • perpetuate myths, superstitions, prejudices, feuds, and atavistic traditions
  • create and exacerbate fear, anxiety, regret, guilt, jealousy, paranoia, suspicion, and hate.

“Language plays a tremendous role in human affairs. It serves as a means of cooperation and as a weapon of conflict. With it, men can solve problems, erect the towering structures of science and poetry— and talk themselves into insanity and social confusion.” — Irving J. Lee

Some Assumptions

  • Our language ought to reflect what we collectively know and understand about our common world.
  • A ‘scientific attitude’ is required for effective and productive thinking, communicating, and relating:Observe – Assume – Test – Revise (repeat)
  • We each experience our common world uniquely, partially, and with limitations. We each see the world with a sense of “to-me-ness.” There’s always more to observe, more to say, more to understand.
  • It’s important that we look for similarities among differences, and that we look for differences among apparent similarities.
  • Who rules our symbols, rules us. – Alfred Korzybski

Potential Benefits of Application

  1. Greater awareness of what goes on in your life.
  2. More appropriate responses, evaluations and adjustments to what goes on in your life.
  3. More effective, discriminating communications with others, and with yourself.
  4. A more tolerant, inquisitive and “matter-of-fact” outlook that’s less prone to prejudices, stereotypes and dogmatic generalizations.
  5. A sharpened ability to differentiate facts from non-facts, and to avoid misunderstanding and confusion.
  6. The ability to look at situations and problems from different perspectives.
  7. More realistic expectations, fewer unexpected surprises.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. — Marcel Proust

Review

Listen to this interview for American Airlines SkyRadio inflight entertainment:

American Airlines SkyRadio
 

Watch this 7-minute overview from a lecture given at University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2004.

“If your language is confused, your intellect, if not your whole character, will almost certainly correspond.” — Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch

Here’s Something About General Semantics

Cover TitleHere’s Something About General Semantics:
A Primer for Making Sense of Your World

by Steve Stockdale

Available in eBook format (PDF) for immediate FREE download. ISBN 978-0-9824645-0-2; 290 pages.

Accessible, well-written introduction to GS principles, plus more! Written from 13 years teaching experience. Filled with examples, demonstrations, and explanations; over 50 illustrations.
Includes articles from the GS journal (ETC) and newspaper columns. Thirteen pages of Notes and Sources; Index of 270 names. Links to over 150 online video clips. Appropriate for all learners and teachers, middle grades through university. Learn how language and other symbols influence how you perceive your world,
how you respond to your perceptions, and how you think-and-talk about your responses.

The world in which we live is a world of differences. When we disregard differences, we generalize. When we generalize inappropriately, we stereotype, forming biases and prejudices. Troubles inevitably follow. We need to learn how to more critically differentiate, or discern, between what happens in our lives, how we respond, and how we think-and-talk. This book explains and applies the principles of General Semantics to promote an ongoing awareness of differences that make a difference. The book advocates an informed, open, and tolerant world view, deliberately derived from what we currently know from integrating the sciences, arts, and humanities … without deference to dogmas, traditions, or what passes for culturally-dependent “common sense.”

The book consists of a 4 MB PDF file. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software. You cannot edit or copy the file other than for your own personal use. You can print the file or selected pages from the file.

Directions:

  • Right-click the link here to save the file on your computer, or left-click to open the file within your browser and then save to your computer.
  • A convenient hyperlinked version of the Contents for this eBook can be accessed using the Acrobat Reader’s Bookmarks feature, located in the left panel in most Reader configurations.
  • The “Find” search feature within the Acrobat Reader (or equivalent) performs a text-searchable function for the book.

What’s in the Book?

Preface: Something About This Book

  • How I Learned About General Semantics
  • Why GS is “quest-worthy”
  • How GS is consistent with current neuroscience understanding
  • Benefits of GS as reported by university students

Part 1 Introductions to General Semantics

  • Introduction
  • A Structured System of Formulations
  • Some Questions and Answers About GS
  • A Tutorial
  • Two Video Reviews
  • Seven Stories to Illustrate Some GS Principles

Part 2 Explanations and Descriptions

  • Report from an 8-Day Seminar-Workshop
  • My ME Model
  • Report from a Weekend Seminar
  • About “Mindfulness” and GS
  • The Girl and the Match
  • Other Descriptions of General Semantics
  • An Explanation of the Structural Differential
  • 13 Symptoms of Language Misbehaviors
  • A GS Perspective

Part 3 Extensions and Applications

  • Toward an Informed World View
  • Eating Menus
  • Calling Out the Symbol Rulers
  • Words by Other Names
  • Response Side Semantics
  • Semantic Pollution Fouling the Airwaves
  • How Do You Play the Game?
  • But What If …?
  • A Fence Sieve Language
  • Why Make a Federal Case Out of Bad Words?
  • How to Size Your (Thinking) Box
  • The Bridge at Neverwas

Part 4 Some History

  • General Semantics Across the Curriculum
  • Snooping Around the Time-Binding Attic
  • Heinlein and Ellis: Converging Competencies

SUPPLEMENTARIES

  • Full Transcript, “Lay Off of My PERSUADE Shoes”
  • Bib-Vid-liography: Some Resources
  • An Essay on Levels of Abstractions

NOTES AND SOURCES

INDEX OF NAMES

Student Reactions

Following are end-of-semester comments written by students in my General Semantics for Mass Communications Practitioners class, 2005-2008.

General semantics is by far the most relevant class I have taken toward my B.S. in Communication Studies. No other class has provoked the amount of interest and relevancy in the scope of human interaction, both interpersonally and worldly. Understanding abstraction and evaluation has been far more beneficial in comprehending human interaction than studying Maslow or Skinner.


In a way, GS is a way of life. I realize now that there are so many things in general semantics that I can use on a daily basis. The presentations in class also proved that GS can relate to so many things that only a fool could argue that it is not applicable to us.


So far in my college years I have had three classes that have molded the future me. My world religion class influenced the way I perceive religion, my communication graphics class influenced the way I perceive my visual surroundings, my general semantics class influenced me in my understanding all these and realizing there is always more that meets the eye.


I still plan to work in the communications field one day, and what I will take from this discipline into that career is, most basically, a heightened sense of awareness of both the words I choose to use and the words used by those with whom I am assigned to communicate. An awareness that the same word can mean different things to those two parties. An awareness that I can never know all about anything — and neither can anyone else. An awareness that each issue has more than one side and more than one possible solution, that no issue is black and white. An awareness that true objectivity is unattainable and that bias must therefore be examined in all communication.


I wish I had been taught earlier about some of the general semantics principles, such as to recognize that the word is not the thing and that what we see is only a fraction of what is happening “out there” (and that what other people — namely parents, teachers, news anchors, reporters, movie directors, politicians, ministers, anyone who seems to be “all-knowing” or speak about “irrefutable truths” — see and share is only a fraction of all that occurs).


This course has given me a new lens to view life through, and has expanded what, in sociology, is called my cultural capital. Just as I have been able to relate what I learned in sociology to just about every course I have taken since then, I know that I will be able to apply general semantics principles to courses I have yet to take. I feel that I will be less susceptible to misinformation and miscommunication because I often ask myself questions such as “So what?” and challenge myself to look more skeptically at what is presented as fact.


This class was so much different from any class I’ve taken in college thus far. In my opinion, it was a class teaching us HOW to think, rather than WHAT to think.


There is one aspect of GS that discourages me. It seems as though GS could benefit society, or even the world. Now I know that we have only discussed the tip of the iceberg, but wouldn’t we be better off if our schools actively taught this subject? Why is this a secret? Just look at the greatest problem in our world to-day, Iraq. If either side employed some of the approaches of GS, perhaps there would be a possibility of resolution. It would be naive, in my opinion, to think that GS could create a society without problems, but it could help.

TCU, Fall 2008

Teaching

GS for Mass Communications Practitioners

Catalog Description: The application of the principles of General Semantics — how language affects the communication process — to the practice of journalism, advertising, and public relations.

Syllabus

Overview

General Semantics (GS) deals with how we perceive, construct, evaluate and then express  our life experiences through our language-behaviors. This course provides an introduction to the discipline, focusing on practical applications for mass communications professionals.

Course Objectives

Students will:

  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of the basic terms, formulations, and system of General Semantics.
  • Relate the principles of GS to their chosen professional fields.
  • Apply the methods of GS to their own individual evaluating, behavior, and self-awareness.
  • Critically evaluate various aspects of the mass communications processes and outputs.
  • Practice and demonstrate the skills and knowledge associated with their chosen professional fields (journalism, advertising, public relations, etc.).
  • Research and report on topics of interest using the analytical and communication techniques of General Semantics.

eCollege and Email

The resources and capabilities of eCollege will be used for important class communications, announcements, assignments, and posting grades. Critical functions and capabilities of the eCollege class shell will be covered in class, but you are expected to be proficient in using eCollege capabilities. For help with eCollege, please see: www.elearning.tcu.edu/helpdesk/default.asp and http://www.elearning.tcu.edu/resources/.   Email will also be an important communication means for this course.  Your official TCU student email address will be used for all course notifications.

Fall 2008 Schedule

The content for this course is somewhat fluid and may be determined based on current events, student interests, etc. Therefore I reserve the right to adjust the sequencing of the material based on the needs of the class. It is not anticipated that the dates for quizzes, projects, reports, and presentations will change. However, should they become necessary or desirable, changes to the Course Outline, or any other part of this syllabus, will be communicated to the class as soon as possible via eCollege Announcement.

Grades and Assignments

The grading philosophy for this course is that you earn points for completing assignments. Except as noted, the assignments are not “graded” other than to make sure the stated requirements are satisfied. The intent is to reward accomplishment of assigned tasks; in other words, you will determine your grade based on how much you choose to accomplish.

You will participate in two different Groups throughout the semester. You will be expected to participate in and contribute to each Group activity. You may lose points if, in my judgment, you fail to appropriately participate and contribute.

This course is worth a total of 1,000 points:

  • 930 points are required for an A
  • 840 points are required for a B
  • 750 points are required for a C
  • 660 points are required for a D

Assignments are divided into four types:

  1. Individual Assignments (625 points)
  2. Group 1 Assignments (125 points)
  3. Group 2 Assignments (150 points)
  4. Quizzes (100 points)

1)  Individual Assignments (625 points)

Attendance — 232 points. There is no primary textbook for this course. Some supplementary articles will be assigned throughout the course to reinforce material covered in class, but the primary source for course content will be class presentations, lectures, and discussion. Therefore attendance in this course is very important. Each class is worth 8 points. If you attend the class, you earn the points; if you don’t attend the class, you don’t earn the points. If you miss class due to an official university absence or if you have an extenuating circumstance as determined by the instructor, you may complete make-up assignments for no more than two absences.

 Journals — 168 points. You are expected to complete one journal entry after each class (except the final class, 28 total) throughout the semester using the eCollege Journal tool. An  entry for each class is required, regardless of attendance. Your class notes may be included in your journal, but the intent of the assignment is to write about more than just your class notes. Each journal entry should be at least 300 words and provide a summary of what you felt were the most important points covered in that class, or how something from the class applies to something that happens outside of class. This is an opportunity for you to reinforce what you are learning in class and relate class material to your own ‘real world.’ Each of the 28 entries is worth 6 points. Entries for each Tuesday/Thursday class must be completed by the following Monday to earn maximum points. Journal entries will not be scored qualitatively, but entries shorter than 300 words or entries submitted after the Monday they are due will receive only 3 points each.

Online Discussion — 40 points. You have the opportunity to participate in a general online threaded discussion forum in eCollege. A maximum of eight (8) points may be earned for each three-week period in which you materially contribute to the general discussion. In this context, “materially contribute” means that you, during each three-week period, offer at least four comments that begin or propel a threaded discussion by expressing a well-stated opinion, observation, insight, or respectful argument.

Definition Task — 40 points (*a, *m). Two 20-point tasks related to definitions will be assigned. Details will be provided in class.

Current Event Task — 25 points (*f). You will be required to complete one assignment regarding a current event. Details will be provided in class.

Book Report — 75 points (*h). Select a book from the list of approved books, read it, and submit a 2,000-word book report that relates the contents of the book to material covered in the course.

Individual Report/Evaluation for Group 2 Project — 45 points (*l). Details will be provided in class.

2)  Group 1 Assignments (125 points)

Time-binding Timeline Task — 25 points (*b). Details will be provided in class.

Process Diagram Task — 25 points (*c). Details will be provided in class.

“100 Greatest Discoveries” Project — 75 points (*d). Each group will be assigned one of the eight subject areas for the Discovery Channel’s series featuring Bill Nye. Each group will be tasked to study the content of its respective video (approximately 45 minutes) and prepare a report to the class, according to the requirements to be provided in class. Depending on performance, your Group may receive 75, 68, or 60 points.

3)  Group 2 Assignments (150 points)

Project Plan — 25 points (*g). Details will be provided in class.

Dialogue Presentations (pairs) — 25 points (*i). Details will be provided in class.

Video Series Project — 100 points (*k). Each group will be assigned a major topic that includes a series of videos. Each group will be tasked to study the content of its respective video topic and prepare a report to the class, according to the requirements to be provided in class. Depending on performance, your Group may receive 100, 90, or 80 points.

4)  Quizzes (100 points)

Two Quizzes (50 points each, *e, *j) will be given and may consist of multiple choice, true/false, short answer/essay questions, or other activities to be graded individually.

Attendance

  • In-class lectures, presentations, and discussion will constitute the major source of learning opportunities. These learning opportunities simply cannot be made up. Therefore class attendance is extremely important. Attendance will be taken.
  • Late work due to unofficial absences will be accepted within one week of the assigned date and automatically penalized by a 20% reduction in possible points earned.
  • Graded work missed due to an official university absence may be made up with no penalty provided the make-up work is completed within one week of your return. It is your responsibility to notify me immediately of an official absence and to initiate any make-up work.

Reading List

Select a book from the list of approved books, read it, and submit a 2,000-word book report that relates the contents of the book to material covered in the course. The report is due October 28 and is worth 75 points. *These titles may have limited availability; see me if the library doesn’t have it.

  • Asim, Jbari —  The N Word
  • Basevich, Andrew — The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism
  • Carneiro, Robert L. —  Evolution in Cultural Anthropology *
  • Carneiro, Robert L. —  The Muse of History and the Science of Culture *
  • Chase, Stuart —  The Tyranny of Words *
  • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly —  Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
  • Draper, Robert — Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush
  • Fessler, Ann —  The Girls Who Went Away
  • Frank, Thomas —  What’s the Matter with Kansas?
  • Gelb, Michael J. —  How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci
  • Gilbert, Daniel —  Stumbling On Happiness
  • Gladwell, Malcolm —  Blink!
  • Gladwell, Malcolm —  The Tipping Point
  • Groopman, Jerome, Dr. —  How Doctors Think
  • Hawkins, Jeff, with Sandra Blakeslee — On Intelligence
  • Hayakawa, S.I. —  Symbol, Status, and Personality *
  • Hayakawa, S.I. — Language in Thought and Action *
  • Jacoby, Susan — The Age of American Unreason
  • Johnson, Wendell —  Your Most Enchanted Listener *
  • Kurtz, Howard — Reality Show: Inside the Last Great Television News War  
  • Lakoff, George —  Don’t Think of an Elephant
  • Lakoff, George —  Metaphors We Live By
  • Langer, Ellen —  Mindfulness
  • Lee, Irving J. —  Language Habits in Human Affairs *
  • Lee, Irving J. —  The Language of Wisdom and Folly *
  • Luntz, Frank — Words That Work
  • Mann, Thomas E. and Ornstein, Norman J. —  The Broken Branch
  • Maslow, Abraham —  Motivation and Personality
  • Maslow, Abraham —  Toward a Psychology of Being
  • Medina, John — brain rules
  • Meredith, Robyn — The Elephant and the Dragon
  • Nunberg, Geoffrey —  Going Nucular
  • Nunberg, Geoffrey —  Talking Right
  • Postman, Neil — Amusing Ourselves to Death
  • Robinson, James Harvey —  The Mind in the Making: The Relation of Intelligence to Social Reform *
  • Saunders, George—  The Braindead Megaphone
  • Selver, Charlotte and Brooks, Charles V.W. —  reclaiming vitality and presence *
  • Weinberg, Harry L. —  Levels of Knowing and Existence *
  • Whorf, Benjamin Lee —  Language, Thought, and Reality *

Quiz 1:

Referring to the assigned readings:

  1. About General Semantics
  2. Alfred Korzybski and General Semantics
  3. Language Matters
  4. Principles and Benefits of General Semantics
  5. Overviews by Wendell Johnson, Francis P. Chisholm, Dr. Russell Meyers
  6. An Explanation of the Structural Differential
  7. Interview with Charlotte Read on Sensory Awareness
  8. 17-screen Tutorial on my website

1. Explain or describe something significant that you took away from Reading e).

2. In Reading f) I described a hypothetical situation in which a driver was “cut off” by another driver. What’s the point of that story?

3. In Reading g), Charlotte Read talks about a cartoon (which is shown in the article) and a Zen story. Each illustrates a different principle. Give a short explanation of either the cartoon or the Zen story and the principle it illustrates.

4. From Reading f), what does “Differential” refer to; what is being differentiated?

5. Briefly explain two principles or examples you found significant from Reading h).

Quiz 2:

1.  How do you reconcile these two seemingly contradictory statements:

“I know I’m wasting half of my ad dollars. I just don’t know which half.”

“Good marketing research works.”

2.  Based on what you saw of the consultant Frank Luntz, would you say that his work has primarily “clarified” or “obfuscated” the issues he has been hired to advocate? Support your answer using a GS principle(s) or example(s).

3.     From what you’ve learned this semester about GS and what you’ve observed in “The Persuaders,” which ONE of the following groups do you think would most benefit from applying GS in their own  domains? Give at least one example from the documentary that supports your answer.

Advertisers                  Consultants                 Consumers                  Politicians                    Filmmakers

4.  John Sparks demonstrated a principle of GS. Describe or explain his demonstration.

5.  Korzybski warned that “who rules the symbols, rules us.” From what you just saw in the documentary, would you say this warning was appropriate? Why or why not?

6.  John Sparks admitted to feeling  defensive about something; what was it?

7.  What did Olive Talley say about objectivity as it relates to journalists?

8.   Olive Talley named two attributes in response to my question about what kind of person she would be looking for if she had budget to hire someone right out of college. Name one of the two attributes.

9.  Dr. Clotaire Rapaille, the French market research guru, said, “The reptilian always wins.” What was he talking about and how does it relate to what we’ve talked about in class?

10.  What is one of the reasons why people join cults, according to consultant Douglas Adkin?

11.  Advertising CEO Kevin Roberts said his objective was “loyalty beyond reason.” What does this mean to you as a consumer?

12.  Who or what initiated the story line for the “Absolut Hunk” episode of “Sex and the City”?

13.  What problem does the Acxiom company in Little Rock, AR, promise to solve?

14.   According to one of the people in the documentary, what threat does the micro-segmenting of demographic groups pose to our democracy?

Videos

*Some content may be considered objectionable and inappropriate for younger viewers.*

This video provides a review of class sessions 1-8 (4:11):

This video provides a review of class sessions 9-14 (4:30):

GS Videos: Topical Excerpts

These videos were created to illustrate specific topics covered in class. *Some content may be considered objectionable and inappropriate for younger viewers.*

The Power (?) of Words (6:10)

Winner or Loser? (3:30)

Language, Symbols, and Meanings (10:30)

Perspectives about Race (2:57)

The Tyranny of Categories (5:34)

Perspectives from Herbie Hancock’s “Possibilities” (10:41)

Prejudice & Obscenity (13:44)

GS Videos: Class Reviews

*Some content may be considered objectionable and inappropriate for younger viewers.*

Fall 2008 Semester, Review of Classes 1-8 (4:11)

Fall 2008 Semester, Review of Classes 9-14 (4:30)

Spring 2008 Semester Review of over 70 video clips shown in class (31:00)

GS Class Presentations

This page includes seven different topics from my GS for Mass Communications Practitioners course at TCU in Fort Worth, TX, from 2005-2008:

  • Fundamental Principles of General Semantics
  • Basic Understandings
  • Does Perception = Reality?
  • PR or Propaganda?
  • Genres and Categories
  • Preparation for the F Word Film
  • Last Class Review

Fundamental Principles

Basic Understandings

Does Perception = Reality?

PR or Propaganda?

Genres and Categories

Preparation for the F Word Film

Last Class Review

GS Videos: Created

Videos Created for General Semantics Classes

Fall 2006 Semester Review, Part 1 of 3 (7:08)

Fall 2006 Semester Review, Part 2 of 3 (13:23)

Fall 2006 Semester Review, Part 1 of 3 (4:16)

Alfred Korzybski Explains the Structural Differential (2:48)

Alfred Korzybski and his Fan Disk (3:04)

A Listening Exercise (5:20)

Are Words Obscene? (4:39)

General Semantics in India – 2007

BK Parekh and Andrea Johnson Andrea Johnson and Steve Stockdale

(Published in ETC: A Review of General Semantics, Volume 65 No. 1, January 2008.)

Thanks to underwriting from Mr. Balvant K. Parekh, Chairman of Pidilite Industries Ltd, IGS Board President Andrea Johnson and I spent more than two weeks in India to introduce General Semantics. We gave seminars and workshops at seven different venues in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Anand, and Vadodara, to a total audience of about 350 individuals.

Mr. Parekh speaking at the Centre for Contemporary Theory in Baroda, November 2007

The following are some key points regarding our host in India, Mr. Parekh, and the circumstances of his invitation to us.

His motivation to organize this trip to “bring general semantics to India” came from reading the 2006 General Semantics Bulletin and noting that he was the only IGS member in India.

His initial invitation asked for one person. He agreed to our counter-proposal to send two persons, with me traveling at my own expense.

He came to general semantics about 25 years through reading ETC: A Review of General Semantics. Much of his extensive knowledge and understanding of GS, which he demonstrated privately and during his remarks at each of the venues, came from reading articles in ETC.

A native of Gujarat, Mr. Parekh has long lived according to the Gujarati tradition: “If you get what you like; do not keep it, rather share it.” So inspired, in 2003 he began compiling and publishing his own aperiodic “journal” similar to ETC in which he collected interesting articles, stories, quotations, etc. To date he’s published seven issues and sent approximately 1200 copies of each issue to a distribution list of friends, family, colleagues, and anyone who requests a copy. Every issue has a section dedicated to General Semantics in which he’s reprinted 4-5 articles from ETC. Perhaps a dozen people who attended the 3-day workshop in Baroda mentioned to us that they learned of GS for the first time through Mr. Parekh’s free journal.

The company he founded, Pidilite Industries, Ltd, is ranked by the Economic Times of India as the 131st largest public company in India, with annual sales of over $350M. Their core business is adhesives, developing the “Elmer’s glue” of India, as well as an entire line of industrial bonding materials. His daughter Kalpana proudly related that, although he didn’t have a chemical background, he mixed the first batch of Fevicol (their brand name) in their home bathtub. He then saw to it that his one younger brother and one son earned graduate degrees in Chemical Engineering (from the U. of Wisconsin in Madison). They and most of the family’s sons continue to manage and direct the affairs of the diversified company.

Mr. Parekh developed Parkinson’s seven years ago. He’s done a lot of personal research about the disease and has access to the very best medical attention, so he and his family are optimistic about his condition and prognosis. Andrea and I had little trouble understanding his bright, enthusiastic English.

He was treated as something like a “revered godfather” everywhere we went. Several people went to lengths to explain what a wonderful, caring, and benevolent “philanthropist” he was. Among them:

  • The youngest daughter of his nephew and niece (now 10) was born deaf. Diagnosed early, she underwent a successful cochlear implant when she was 18 months old in the U.S. Mr. Narendra Parekh (and the family) not only paid for the surgery and almost a year’s stay in the U.S., but he also has funded a private hearing institute in Mumbai for research, study, and investigation into making implants more affordable for Indian citizens.
  • He donated funds to build an entire 3-4 floor academic building in Ahmedabad at the Gujurati Sahitya Parishad, and insisted that his name not be used.
  • He funded the establishment of a Center for the Popularization of Science named Indian planetary Society at Mumbai.
  • He funded the Center for Contemporary Theory in Baroda, which hosted our 3-day workshop.
  • Pidilite is one of the leading-edge companies in terms of valuing employees. It was pointed out by several people that few companies provided the benefits that Pidilite offered, including onsite swimming pool and fitness facilities for all employees.

He and his staff arranged for us to speak at seven different venues to a total audience of about 350 people. At each venue, Mr. Parekh (presumably) arranged for tea, snacks, and either lunch or dinner to be served to all attendees, including a very nice buffet dinner at a fine hotel in Baroda on the second night of the workshop. The venues included:

  • Mumbai University, faculty and students from departments of History, Political Science, Sociology, Philosophy, Literature, Linguistics.
  • Pidilite Industries, directors, mangers, employees, and family members.
  • Indian Institute of Technology (Mumbai), faculty and students.
  • Bhavans Culture Center (Mumbai), local authors, poets, artists, and cultural leaders.
  • Gujarati Sahitya Parishad (Ahmedabad), faculty and students.
  • H.M. Patel Institute of English, SardarPatelUniversity (Anand), faculty and students.
  • Center for Contemporary Theory (Baroda), Twelfth National Workshop (3 days); 68 registered, 59 attended from as far away as New Delhi, Chennai, and Kashmir (over a 20-hour train ride) with participants paying their own expenses.

Mr. Parekh, with my permission, arranged to make copies of Ken Johnson’s General Semantics: An Outline Survey and provided a copy to everyone at each of the venues. Additionally, for the Baroda workshop, Prof. Prafulla Kar (workshop organizer) published bound volumes of the eleven articles I suggested as pre-reading for the participants and distributed it to all registrants about six weeks before the workshop.

One young philosophy student at the Baroda workshop cornered me at the first break, almost breathless with questions. He brought his copy of the Outline Survey and showed me page after page of highlighted text, pencil markings in the margins. He had clearly studied it extensively, and he ‘got it.’ On the third day, he gave a 15-20 minute presentation that’s probably the best explication I’ve ever heard (including from Pula, et al) regarding the implications and consequences of AK’s non-A orientation from a logical and philosophical standpoint.

Through the Pidilite Marketing/Communications manager, Mr. Parekh arranged extended interviews for us with reporters from four newspapers: The Hindustan Times (me, Andrea was sick); the local Gujarati-language newspaper (Andrea and me); The Times of India (Andrea, I was sick); and The Economic Times of India (Andrea, I was sick). The reporter for the Hindustan Times attended the entire presentation I gave at the Bhavans Culture Center and even asked questions before the group.

Mr. Parekh is obviously passionate about a lot of things, and general semantics is just one. He is also quite familiar with Dr. Albert Ellis and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and was very pleased to receive the October issue of ETC while we were there. At each of the venues we spoke (for either 2- or 4-hour programs), we found the audiences prepared, engaged, genuinely interested, and in some cases almost ‘absorbent’ like sponges. Those who confessed knowing something about GS knew so only through the efforts of Mr. Parekh. They obviously put a lot of credence in the fact that this was something that he thought was important.

Mr. Parekh has a broader vision for general semantics in India. I committed to him that I would do everything I can to assist him, and to the limited degree I could speak on behalf of the Institute, that the Institute would support him. He and Professor Kar have already held follow-up meetings to plan the next steps for GS in India. Professor Kar and his Centre for Contemporary Theory will serve as the focal point for coordinating general semantics activities with universities throughout India and the U.S.