The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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176                  THE HUMANITY OF WORDS
electromagnetic field? How can we discover the structure of the physical situation-as-a-whole?
A pattern is an arrangement of elements. The pattern is characterized by the order of the elements of which It Is made rather than by the intrinsic nature of those elements. The nervous system is an abstracting as well as an organizing system. To say that the nervous system abstracts is to say that it takes something away from the whole environment which It entertains purposively. When the perceived arrangement of elements Is designated by formators whose arrangement is precisely that of the arrangement of the elements of the physical situation it represents, we may say that the verbal pattern Is a linguistic model of the actual pattern. To put this Into the language of Korzybski, the "map" accurately represents the "territory."
The purpose of the individual monitors the abstracting process. If it suits the purpose of an individual to observe changes that occur chronologically, the elements he will abstract from the relevant environment will be related in time. Gregor Mendel was, for instance, interested in the characteristics of hybrid offspring in successive generations. Mendel's laws of heredity may be stated as a time pattern. (This will occur in the first generation; this will occur in the second generation; and this will occur in the third generation.) Just so, it may suit the purpose of an observer to abstract relationships in space. An interior decorator, on looking at a room, would be likely to do just this. An efficiency expert, on analyzing a production operation, may find that his purpose Is facilitated by abstracting a space arrangement. Or, if a social worker were looking for reasons for juvenile delinquency, he would be searching for a causal relationship in the revelant environment. Etc.