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A Primer Of Semantics

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KORZYBSKI                                    119
your kitchen and mine were made from the same specifications"identical"the event level of your kitchen and my kitchen would be differentuniquein space-time. And secondly, how can my words tell all about what I can know about my kitchen? For every word is an abstraction that leaves out differences; for our language system is circular and rests ultimately on what is known by direct experience. Surely, we cannot, we should not, be misguided by allness, by that mistaken idea that we can tell all about anything in this existential world.
The etc. indicates that we do not subscribe to allness.
(3) If our descriptions of things cannot approach allness, we may be sure that our characterizations of persons cannot approach allness.
I heard a man with a know-it-all look say to a woman:
"So you're a teacher, eh?"
"Certainly," she answered, with a Korzybskian glint in her eye, "and a wife and a mother and a grandmother and a cook and a golf addict and a cocktail hound and a student, etc., and God knows what I'll be tomorrow!"
We are so many things, and never twice the same. We do not truly know our selves. How can anyone pretend to a knowledge of the allness of another?
The characterization of a person cannot approach allness.
The etc. after the description of a human being is another semantic device that must have a place in the humanity of words.
The sophisticated student of General Semantics knows that every statement he makes is, in a sense, abridged. It cannot tell all. Every statement we make is abridged because our words are abstractions, because our language