The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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KORZYBSKI                                    10g
3.  There is another kind of confusion on the verbal level that should be avoided by every user of words. This semantic error occurs whenever we treat a verbal statement about another statement as if both statements were abstractions of the same order.
I am recalling now the fact that one author made a minor error in one of his books. But because the author was well known and highly respected, this error found its way into many other publications, but always with a little different emphasis, a little change of one kind or another. The final account was so garbled that the original author was moved to trace the history of the transformation of his original insignificant error to its final nonsensical form.
We read and we listen. We talk about what we read and what we hear. Someone else listensand talks to someone else. Etc. We can talk about talk about talk, etc. This, Korzybski calls self-reflexiveness. The important thing to be remembered in this connection is that statements about statements are probably less reliable than the original statements.
A statement about another statement (perhaps a description, perhaps a statement about a description, etc.) should not be considered to be of the same level (or order) of abstraction as the original statement. These are two levels of abstraction which must be differentiated.
4.  A fourth semantic error that can be avoided by attention to the vertical index is concerned with the use of the same word on different levels of abstraction.
We know, of course, that many words may be used with different meanings, depending on grammatical usage, context, etc., but the vertical index is concerned not with differences in grammar or context but with different levels