A book written by Alfred Korzybski
, published in 1933.
This is Korzybski's attempt at describing his own theory of sanity; a Non-Aristotelian system of thought and language called General Semantics. The basic idea is that ordinary language is flawed in that it doesn't have the appropriate structure to describe the world. The author spends considerable effort to get across how important this is, and since language has a huge impact on communication and thought, this is an important observation (if it's correct.) Then he goes on to explain what he thinks should be done about it.
It's as much about psychology and linguistics as it's about
philosophy and science. The author spent about ten years preparing this book and it shows; he draws from countless examples in almost any discipline to explain his thinking. The main problem for me is knowing how much of what is presented as current scientific knowledge has changed since 1933... and what it means for this work. But much of it is based on mathematics, and math doesn't really change.
This is a brilliant book. It's extremely well thought out and there are insights to be found almost on every page. It is also very convincing, although it's probably going to take me a while to grasp the whole idea. Korzybski also states already at the beginning that he thinks it's a complete waste of time to read it unless you're prepared to really study it. And until I have, I think it's too early to form an opinion of its validity as a theory (or a method), but it's very interesting, I can say that much.
K. also says that it probably pointless to read it if you're already a happy and carefree individual. And perhaps he's right, it might be complicating something which is already working as it should. But complexity can be fun!