"The map is not the territory" - Alfred Korzybski

Chemical engineer Alfred Korzybski was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1879. His parents were wealthy aristocrats, so he was able to get a good education. He eventually learned 5 languages. He served as an intelligence officer in the Russian Army during World War I, then moved to New York in 1917 to ship ammunition to Russia.

In 1919 Korzybski married painter Mira Edgerly after knowing her for only 2 months.

His war experiences led him to try to understand why people engage in warfare. These efforts eventually resulted in his 1933 book Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics (see time-binding).

Korzybski later "developed a training program to teach people how to burst through their language habits to properly evaluate the unique characteristics of their daily experiences." He believed that instead of using the word "is", we should describe what something does or how it relates to something else. This idea resulted in the formulation of E-Prime as a style of writing and communication.

In 1938 he founded the Institute of General Semantics. He died of a heart attack in 1950.

Many of his ideas have influenced the fields of linguistics, psychology, science and other fields. Korzybski's idea of "time-binding" was picked up by Timothy Leary in the Eightfold model of human consciousness theory. John Grinder and Richard Bandler utilized many of his ideas in their development of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP).

You can find out more about Alfred Korzybski and General Semantics at the Institute of General Semantics website: http://www.general-semantics.org/


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