The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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Murphy states that the boundary between self and world "is often vague or non-existent" (page 5)
Murphy's conception of the self in cross organization with the environment is basic to a field theory of communication. We have accepted the assumption that the human being is an organized wholea composite of integrations and conflictsin the process of continuous reorganization. We accept, also, the assumption of order, and disorder, in the environment.
Environment is one of the big words. World defines "environment" as "all the conditions, circumstances, and influences surrounding and affecting the development of an organism or a group of organisms." This definition suits our purpose exactly. The environment pole is part of the field as a whole and is, therefore, part of the communication process. That aspect of the environment that is pertinent to a communicators' goal-seeking behavior is relatively narrow, but narrow though it is, the individual is aware of only a part of it. He can perceive consciously only that portion of the environment which his nervous system is "willing" and able to entertain at any moment in time.
The chief problem which faces any intelligent human being is that of discovering order in the moving, changing, interdependent social and physical environment. How in the network of an infinity of interconnected details can we discover order? How can we2*3 findNB 38 a pattern in the
88 This is one of the devices suggested by I. A. Richards. ? ? and ! ! are two other attention provoking devices, and, as Richards suggests, a writer (or a speaker) could invent others that would be more effective in a context than the usual quotes. For me, "NB" means here, of course, Take notice. I mean to alert you to the fact that this word "find"" carries with it a signification beyond the ordinary. It designates a method for "finding'; but, more especially, for "understanding" through discovery of pattern. See I. A. Richards* "Communication Between Men: The Meaning of Language," Cybernetics (March 15-16 1951), 52 *