CMN105GeneralSemanticsThem-1 - 1 General Semantics General...

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1 General Semantics General Semantics is NOT concerned with grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. but is concerned with truth, adequacy, and trustworthiness in language . The questions GS addresses are as follows: When does language become reliable? Why do people so often misunderstand each other? How can language be made true to fact? What about prophecies, prejudice, and propaganda? What characterizes the speaking of people who appear cynical, cocksure, and overly certain? Is it possible to speak without bias and partiality? Under what conditions does language make for survival, and when does it make for maladjustment? Alfred Korzybski, one of the pioneers in semantics , makes the point that the structure of the language we habitually use does not always correspond so the structure of the world out there beyond our heads . The goal of communication study is to bring these two into closer alliance , to have our words better reflect our environment . When words and things don’t correspond—misunderstandings and chaos can occur. When they do: we achieve our highest capabilities . Ultimately, this system of attitudes is about survival. Ideally, it would be about growth, improvement, and living up to our true potential as creatures blessed with symbol using abilities. But in light of when the authors lived (during and after WWII) and the horrors of that war and Hitler’s rule (the power of propaganda) to lead huge populations of people to do things that in their right minds they would never do—there is a survival focus. In Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler Guided by his dominant purpose—to get his notions across—he urges these simple rules: 1) Arguments must be directed to the least intelligent of the people. 2) Avoid “scientific ballast” as much as possible. 3) Give the simple points “thousandfold repetition” 4) Seek ever to hold of the attention of the great masses 5) Seek not “the many sidedness of scientific teaching” 6) Restate the main few points as slogans. 7) Never try to become versatile, altering the methods, for the masses will not retain the idea, 8) Never permit the faintest suggestion that there is “right on the other side”
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2 9) No halfway urgings will do; things are either “positive or negative, love or hate, right or wrong, truth or lie” 10) Regardless of all else, keep focused on the fundamental principle, limit the program, and repeat it eternally. The important questions to ask: 1. What is the relationship of what he says to what happens, to the observable life facts which his talk is supposed to represent? 2. How verifiable are his claims? 3. To what extent are his judgments and conclusions manifested as statements of fact? 4. To what degree do his assertions properly evaluate the world situations
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CMN105GeneralSemanticsThem-1 - 1 General Semantics General...

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