Author: Hubbard, L. R.
Document date: 1952, 10 November
Document title: Logics 1-7
Document type: lecture transcript
Event: Logics and Axioms
Location: London, England
Document ID: 5211C10B
Description: Hubbard discusses Korzybski, General Semantics, Science and Sanity; mentions when he thought he was introduced to the subject and criticizes Korzybski's "process." Later in the lecture Hubbard mentions that general semantics is taught in universities and discusses communication and the use of precise terms. Hubbard says the Japanese "identify."
The Logics are as follows: The Logics are a method of thinking. They apply to any universe or any thinking process. They do not have to apply. You can get the doggonedest combinations simply by disobeying a Logic. Some data which you should have in advance of the actual Logic, and one is the defmitions of logic. So let’s take three levels here. Let’s take differentiation and let’s take similarities. Now, in the general course of human events, these data have many times been covered in various ways. You will find a terrific rundown on this in Count Alfred Korzybski’s work Science and Sanity, in a field that is called General Semantics. The late Count Korzybski did a very splendid piece of work on this. And he analyzes identities of space and identities of time and identities of this and that. And his basic analysis of all this material is unparalleled. I give that to you without reservation; I have never read his work.
That’s not said to be clever. The work was described to me in about 1945, I think.1 His basic tenets must have some degree of truth, because one day I was working out what general semantics should consist of and someone says, “Well, now, I see you’ve been taking notes out of Science and Sanity.” I didn’t have a copy of it, I’ve never had a copy of it. And here you have one of the tests of data: Can two people take the same basic data and by working with it, extrapolating, so to speak …
That word simply means getting some more and some more and some more and some more application out of the same datum; you say extrapolating, that’s just theoretical adding up of data, if you want to use that word. It’s a good word. I don’t happen to know of one that means, really, more precisely what we’re doing, in the English language. But you get two people and they’re extrapolating from more or less the same data and they get the same answers, you have a little better guarantee of the validity of the data. And if you get several people who do the same thing and arrive at the same point, it’s starting to look pretty good. It’s starting to look pretty good. Or if you get just one fellow who is extrapolating from data and he’s just putting data together and he’s going on and on and on putting data together and just keeps working, keeps working, keeps working, you know he’s on a right track. But then go over this and take a look and see how you can apply it and whether or not you agree that it’s on the right track. And if you see that it is on the right track, why, then you go ahead and use it. Or if you just use some of the processes that have come out of this, and you find they work, then you accept the body of data as a whole. I used to do quite a bit of this. Now, just working out, how do you think?
Differentiation. The ultimate in sanity is differentiation; this is rivaled in insanity by disassociation. But disassociation is actually complete identification, and that’s quite different from differentiation. A person can tell the difference between a cigarette and a cigarette. He can tell the difference between a cigarette and a cigarette. There are two cigarettes, and the person who tells you that they’re the same is being sloppy.
Now, Alfred Korzybski, in working with this data, gave you some extras that you really don’t need, and that is a process. Because his process is based on trying to train people to differentiate instead of identify, and the reason they identify instead of differentiating is electronic. And the person who is thus trained becomes slower in thinking, not faster. His IQ drops; it does not rise. That is on test. So it’s a mechanical proposition. It’s very mechanical. Differentiation.
They teach general semantics in universities in the States, sometimes, and this is the general moral, is that “nobody can understand anybody and you’re all out of communication anyhow, you little boob, and boy, are we fixing you up!” No other intention, really. The funny part of it is that the terms are terribly precise, and the oddity is, is that when we have lived through a certain similar strata of existence, our terminology becomes very exactly other people’s terminology. You have no real trouble understanding it. But people in the teaching profession often wish to excuse their own lack of communication by saying nobody can understand anybody and they mean different things by all these different terms. No, they don’t. The English language is the English language. If you met up with Shakespeare, you’d have to say, “Hm-hm.”
And he’d say, ”And I mean that by that.”
And you’d say, “Oh, is that what you’re talking about?”
Well, just straighten out the code book. Because all you’re doing is flying signals. Look at a naval code. Naval code says “This flag, which is yellow and blue, means turn. If it flies below the numeral, it means turn left; if it flies above the numeral, it means turn right.” You see that naval signal-you know whether it says turn right or turn left. Bing-bing, there isn’t any question about it. Because words are symbols of action in the MEST universe. And it’s only when we get sloppy, sloppy signals …
Supposing we had a signal: the TURN pennant over NINE meant ”turn right ninety degrees.” But the TURN pennant over NINE also meant “eat chow.” But the TURN pennant over NINE also meant “retreat.” Gee, it would start to get important all of a sudden, wouldn’t it? So the enemy is over there and you have to TURN NINE to get over there-or NINE TURN to get over there-and somebody flies NINE TURN and half the ships retreat. It’s just that it isn’t a good code book, it isn’t a good signal book. And so does language fall down in this classification. And language will very often interfere.
Homonyms: “through.” There’s ”he threw” and ”through.” It can become very foggy, by the way-language can-only where it has homonyms. And a nation is found to be as aberrated as it is homonym silly. There is no more madder nation than Japan. And you walk down the street in Japan and you say to some Japanese, “Blah-d-blah, blither-blither,” something of the sort. And he says, “I withhold my foul breath from your face,” and “Yes,” and so on. And he goes on down the street. And you told him that you were on your way home and you wanted him to go on to the office. And he took it that you were on your way to the office and you wanted to go home.
It’s supposed to be a terribly hard language. It’s not a hard language. It’s as simple as baby talk, really. It’s an awfully easy language in terms of languages. Some of the Malay languages are a little bit rough. But · in katakana you have this great big character, which is a Chinese character, and then you have the little katakana stuff up at the comer of it (if I’m using the proper terms on this; it’s been years since I ran into this stuff).
Anyway, they’ve got the character and then they say how it’s pronounced in Japanese. But do you know that two Japanese can stand together and converse with each other for a little while and then all of a sudden find out they’re talking about two entirely different things, and with a great surprise find this out, and they promptly break out their pencils and pieces of paper, and they draw the Chinese character for the proper words they’re using. “Oh. Oh, I understand; that’s very good. Yeah, very good, yeah. I so solly. Yeah.” Whee! That’s a rough one.
They identify. And you will find that they’re perfectly happy to do that. It makes bad communication. And they’re perfectly happy to have bad communication. They don’t want anything better than that. If you went in there and tried to straighten their language out and give them new words to support these, why, they’d be upset with you as all could be.
Now, you take katakana is, I think, if I remember rightly, some forty-seven characters-just sort of fishing this out of the hat. It’s been ages since I ran into this. Anyway, some forty-seven characters, something like that. And when they write them all down they don’t space anything-when they’re just a stream of characters. There’s no spaces that separate any of the words they represent. And boy, that sentence can read any way. It can read “The boy milked the cow” or it can read “Dogs are forbidden here” or it can read “The steamer will sail at nine.” They don’t care. Well, you just sort of infer from the surroundings what it’s all about.
And that nation has the highest rate of suicide, has the highest rate of thick-lens glasses and did the most suicidal trick a few years ago. It’s the doggonedest country.
I can talk that way about Japan because actually I’m very, very fond of the Japanese. It almost broke my heart in the last war to be fighting the Japanese, because I consider them a very interesting and a very, very nice people, as a people. And all of a sudden I was-kaboom. That’s a silly thing about war: You find yourself shooting up your friends and trying to explain to people that . . . They say, “Well, why should you feel bad about some of these bucktooth Nips?” and “They did this and they did that.”
And you say, “Didn’t we? Didn’t we too?”
But they’re crazy, those people.
It’s fascinating; it should tell you a great deal. It should tell you that the sanity of an individual is dependent upon his ability to differentiate clearly and cleanly, particularly in the field of communication.
And what do you know? It has nothing to do with logic. In order to differentiate, you don’t have to be logical. And what does this mean? It means that an individual who can differentiate to a tremendous degree can also create to a tremendous degree, and really is living in such instantaneous time (which will be covered later) that he doesn’t have any real need to be logical.
Why does he ever have to figure anything out? He can create so much action that action always solves action: boom-boom-bing! Action, action. Or he finds out the whole universe is run wrong-boom! another universe. It does not make any difference to him. But here we have logic.
Communication in essence depends upon logic. What’s logic? It’s a shade of similarities. It is never a shade of identities. Identities are theoretical things which exist in mathematics only and do not exist in the real universe. And mathematics is not directly applicable to the real universe but is only an abstract of the real universe, which makes it easier and handier to get some sort of approximation of what’s going on in the real universe. Anybody can cast up any kind of theoretical mathematics he wants to cast up and he can get wonderful results, and he can also figure out all kinds of things that aren’t there.
Hubbard, L. R. (1952, 10 November). Logics 1-7. Logics and Axioms, (5211C10B). Lecture conducted from London, England.