The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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106                THE HUMANITY OF WORDS
all. Only man can pyramid one idea upon another, thus to expand knowledge. Only man can move from abstraction to abstraction, and never reach the top. For to reach the top would mean, as Carnap points out, that we should have only one facta highly abstract fact that would include all knowledge about everything in the universe. We move from particular incidents to generalizations, to theories, higher and higher orders of abstractionbut we must validate our increasing knowledge always in particular incidents.
We use the vertical index to differentiate levels of abstraction, but we must be aware of what Korzybski calls "the inherent circularity in the structure o human knowledge" (page 220)
26. The hyphen to show relatedness
The relatedness of all things in nature is another basic assumption of modern science. Nothing is isolated. Nothing stands alone.
Words have a way of separating things that are not separated in nature. Space and time, physicists tell us, cannot be separated. For this reason, the hyphen is used to unite these two aspects of the physical world. "Space-time" they tell us, more accurately describes the actual state of affairs.
All of us use separators. We speak of the "mind" as if it were something completely separated from the "body"; we speak of the "intellect" as if it were altogether "uncomplicated" by the "emotions"; we speak of "thoughts" as if they were simon-pure and cut off entirely from "feelings." Korzybski calls such terms elementalistic because they ex-