Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Always Finish the Sentence (Tacitly)

      A few days ago during a discussion I was having with a correspondent on the internet, I got a bit dogmatic. He politely corrected me; a correction which I accepted and for which I apologized. Then I wrote, “In my belief system one should always tacitly add ‘in my opinion’ to any sentence I utter.”
      He answered, “In my belief system one should always add rolleye smileys to any statement I make.”
      Alfred Korzybski (1879 – 1950), a Polish-American philosopher and scientist, founded the study of general semantics. If you have come across the statement, “The word is not the thing,” or, “The map is not the territory,” you are familiar with two of his favorite sayings.
      It was Korzybski’s contention that no matter what or how much one may say about any thing or event, something will be left out of the description. For example, you can describe the texture of a fabric all day, but it is not the same as picking up the material and holding it in your hand. Also, no matter how detailed a map you prepare, it is not the same as getting out on the highway and driving the route.
      For this reason, he advocated that one should tacitly add “etc.” to any statement, thus indicating that there is more to it than has been said.
      So please feel free to treat anything you read in this blog accordingly [etc., in my opinion, rolleye smileys].

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