CONSCIOUSNESS OF ABSTRACTING 417
usually do, we find ourselves obviously on the verbal levels indicated by the labels L, L1, L2, . . . Ln, but never on the objective level (0n). ()n this last level, we can look, handle., but must be silent. The reason that we nearly all identify the two levels is that it is impossible to train an individual in this semantic difference by verbal means alone, as all verbal means belong to the levels of labels and never to the objective unspeakable levels. With a visual and tactile actual object and labels on the Structural Differential, to point our finger at, handle., we now have simple means to convey the tremendously important semantic difference and train in non-identity.
We should notice that the consciousness of abstracting, or the remembering that we abstract in different orders with omission of characteristics, depends on the denial of the 'is' of identity and is connected with limitations or 'non-allness', so characteristic of the new non-systems.
The consciousness of abstracting eliminates automatically identification or 'confusion of the orders of abstractions', both applying to the semantic confusion on all levels. If we are not conscious of abstracting, we are bound to identify or confuse the object with its finite number of characteristics, with the event, with its infinite numbers of different characteristics. Confusion of these levels may misguide us into semantic situations ending in unpleasant shocks. If we acquire the consciousness of abstracting, and remember that the object is not the event and that we have abstracted characteristics fewer than, and different from, those the event has, we should expect many unforeseen happenings to occur. Consequently, when the unexpected happens, we are saved from painful and harmful semantic shocks.
If, through lack of consciousness of abstracting, we identify or confuse words with objects and feelings, or memories and 'ideas' with experiences which belong to the un-speakable objective level, we identify higher order abstractions with lower. Since this special type of semantic identification or confusion is extremely general, it deserves a special name. I call it objectification, because it is generally the confusion of words or verbal issues (memories, 'ideas'.,) with objective, un-speakable levels, such as objects, or experiences, or feelings,. If we objectify, we forget, or we do not remember that words are not the objects or feelings themselves, that the verbal levels are always different from the objective levels. When we identify them, we disregard the inherent differences, and so proper evaluation and full adjustment become impossible.
Similar semantic difficulties arise from the confusion of higher order abstractions; for instance, the identification of inferences with