Journal Philosophy Podcasts Psyber World

The Map is not the Territory

Structural Differential — Alfred Korzybski.



#278: Tim O’Reilly – The Trend Spotter The Tim Ferriss Show podcast


Tim O’Reilly: Let me go back to George Simon because a lot of what he taught was a kind of mental discipline that was rooted in a model of how consciousness happens. It was framed somewhat in the language of Alfred Korzybski’s general semantics. Korzybski drew this wonderful diagram – it was actually a tool he used to train people – that he called the structural differential.

Korzybski’s fundamental idea was that people are stuck in language, but language is about something. And so, he represented what he called the process of abstraction so that people could ask themselves, “Where am I in that process?” So, the first part of the structural differential was a parabola, and the reason why it was a parabola is because reality is infinite, but we can’t take in all of reality.

And so, hanging from the parabola was a circle, and the circle was our experience, which is our first abstraction from reality. And then, hanging from the circle are a bunch of label-shaped tags – multiple strings of them – and these are the words that we use to describe our experience.

Korzybski’s training was for people to recognize when they were in the words, when they were in the experience, and when they were open to the reality. George mixed that in with this work of Sri Aurobindo, who was an Indian sage, and had come up with a model that integrated a spiritual view of this, and a practice which was just listening and being open to the unknown.

Philosophy psychotherapy

General Semantics resources

I collected thes files in 2009 while researching General Semantics. I’m linking files as I put them online

ALFRED KORZYBSKI MEMORIAL LECTURE 1991 General Semantics and Rational-Emotive Therapy by Albert Ellis

Robert Anton Wilson – Quantum Psychology.pdf
GENERAL SEMANTICS: An Outline Survey by Kenneth G. Johnson

Nominalism (defined on the web)

Philosophy Psyche psychotherapy

Abraham Maslow’s 1957 Alfred Korzybski Lecture

I have just read this lecture, and it is really nice.

Maslow (W)

The Conclusion to Abraham Maslow’s 1957 Alfred Korzybski Lecture follows:


Supreme fiction

I listened to a podcast today from the ABC on Claude Levi Strauss (W) and made connections with what I think of as Korzybski’s somewhat phenomenological ideas, so I searched for the connection and found one, guess who?:

(Quote follows & some references to books I’d like to follow up on here too)

Books Philosophy

Alfred Korzybski: Writing

This book, Alfred Korzybski: Collected Writings, 1920-1950, from 1990 is only available second-hand – too expensive. I then found the Google edition below.


This book and all of Korzybski’s books are for sale cheaply at General Semantics Institute online

I a Bought Science & Sanity from GSI – arrived in days! It is also online here.

Alfred Korzybski: Collected Writings, 1920-1950 follows (embedded)

Books Philosophy Psyber Psychodrama

A generally semantic journey

I have enjoyed some of the writing and audio from Al Turtle a relationship therapist. I get an RSS feed of his updates and today found a link to his favourite books. Great idea!

I found an ebook of A. E. Van Vogt’s The World of Null-A, non-Aristotelian logic in SF form. I see that this is not a one-off in Al’s list! He is into General Semantics – intrigued I went off on a search trail.