The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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KORZYBSKI
115
28. The etc. to avoid allNess
If you will refer again to my pattern of the abstracting process, you will note that we live on what Korzybski calls the silent objective level of abstraction. This is the sensory level of firsthand experience within the world of people and things. From this, we move to the verbal levelto the descriptive level of abstraction. But the verbal world is not the actual world. And we can never reach the actual world by words alone. This, we must experience on what Korzybski refers to as the un-speakable level. Words can never bridge the gap between these two levels of abstraction.
The etc. is the signal to others that we know that our words cannot tell all:
(1)  We cannot define a word in its totality
(2)  We cannot describe a thing in its totality
(3)  We cannot characterize a person in his totality
(1) We are inclined to say Define your terms as if a definition could circumscribe the meaning of a word absolutely. The student of General Semantics knows that we cannot define a word in its totality, no matter how many other words we use. There are two insurmountable obstacles;
The first obstacle is that we must use other words to define a word. Words cannot define another word in its totality because every word is an abstractiona taking away from the whole. We know that every word is a class word that picks up only the similarities of the class to which we have assigned the object, and leaves out all of the differences. Regardless of the number of words I use to define another word, I can never get to those differences left out. For this reason, I use as many words as suit my