The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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KORZYBSKI                                      95
words take in more territory than others. If, for instance, I am talking about reading in Wendy's fifth-grade room, it may be very confusing to others to discuss this under the class word "education." "Education" stands for so much more than the reading in Wendy's fifth-grade room that I am likely to disperse the responses of my listeneror reader. If we keep our words broad enough to cover the similarities we have in mind but not so broad as to go beyond the scope of those similarities, we are choosing our words precisely for their utility in transmitting our ideas.
2. Our perceptions and conceptions of differences in similar persons, things, incidents, situations, etc., should also be sharpened. As a result of this, we should have a more sophisticated understanding of the limitations of words. Here the index (used silently or actually) will help us choose our auxiliary words with attention to the differences left out.
Korzybski says, index everything to point to uniqueness.
A word is an abstraction. It abstracts (takes away) from the whole object only the similarities of the class to which the object has been ascribed.
The word points to the similarities; the index to the differences left out.
When we talk about things, the differences left out may or may not be important. When we talk about people, the differences left out should never be forgotten.
Thus a basic assumption of modern science leads, again, to a semantic device that will remind the human being to ask the question What's different about this member of his class And this is another step toward a more intelligent use of language for human ends.