16 Facts About Alfred Korzybski


Alfred Habdank Skarbek Korzybski was a Polish-American independent scholar who developed a field called general semantics, which he viewed as both distinct from, and more encompassing than, the field of semantics.


Alfred Korzybski argued that human knowledge of the world is limited both by the human nervous system and the languages humans have developed, and thus no one can have direct access to reality, given that the most we can know is that which is filtered through the brain's responses to reality.


Alfred Korzybski's best known dictum is "The map is not the territory".


Alfred Korzybski learned the Polish language at home and the Russian language in schools, and having a French and German governess, he became fluent in four languages as a child.


Alfred Korzybski lectured to Polish-American audiences about the conflict, promoting the sale of war bonds.


Alfred Korzybski met Mira Edgerly, a painter of portraits on ivory, shortly after the 1918 Armistice; They married in January 1919; the marriage lasted until his death.


Alfred Korzybski's work culminated in the initiation of a discipline that he named general semantics.

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In 1938, Alfred Korzybski founded the Institute of General Semantics in Chicago.


Alfred Korzybski maintained that humans are limited in what they know by the structure of their nervous systems, and the structure of their languages.


Alfred Korzybski sought to train our awareness of abstracting, using techniques he had derived from his study of mathematics and science.


Alfred Korzybski called this awareness, this goal of his system, "consciousness of abstracting".


Alfred Korzybski's remedy was to deny identity; in this example, to be aware continually that "Elizabeth" is not what we call her.


One day, Alfred Korzybski was giving a lecture to a group of students, and he interrupted the lesson suddenly in order to retrieve a packet of biscuits, wrapped in white paper, from his briefcase.


Alfred Korzybski muttered that he just had to eat something, and he asked the students on the seats in the front row if they would like a biscuit.


Alfred Korzybski was well received in numerous disciplines, as evidenced by the positive reactions from leading figures in the sciences and humanities in the 1940s and 1950s.


Alfred Korzybski's ideas influenced philosopher Alan Watts who used his phrase "the map is not the territory" in lectures.