... please acquaint yourselves with principles of GeneralSemantics
N U L L A B S T R A C T S
A normal human nervous system is potentially superior
to that of any animal's. For the sake of sanity and
balanced development, each individual must learn to
orientate himself to the real world around him. There
are methods of training by which this can be done.
General Semantics enables the individual to make the
following adjustments to life:
(1) He can logically anticipate the future.
(2) He can achieve according to his capabilities.
(3) His behaviour is suited to his environment.
In order to be sane and adjusted as a human being, an
individual must realize that he cannot know all there
is to know. It is not enough to understand this
limitation intellectually; the understanding must be
an orderly and conditioned process, 'unconscious' as
well as 'conscious'. Such a conditioning is essential
to the balanced pursuit of knowledge of the nature of
matter and life.
A child's mind, lacking a developed cortex, is virtually
incapable of discrimination. The child inevitably makes
many false evaluations of the world. Many of these
false-to-facts judgements are conditioned into the
nervous system on the 'unconscious' level, and can be
carried over to adulthood. Hence, we have a
'well educated' man or woman who reacts in an infantile
Because children -and childlike grownups- are incapable
of refined discrimination, many experiences shock their
nervous systems so violently that psychiatrists have
evolved a special word for the result: 'trauma'.
Carried over into the later years, these traumas can so
tangle an individual that unsanity -that is, neurosis-
or even insanity (psychosis) can result. Almost everyone
has had several traumatic experiences. It is possible to
alleviate the effect of many shocks with psychotherapy.
Children, immature adults and animals 'identify'.
Whenever a person reacts to a new or changing situation
as if it were an old and unchanging one, he or she is
said to be identifying. Such an approach to life is
In making a statement about an object or event, an
individual 'abstracts' only a few of its characteristics.
If he says, 'That chair is brown!' he should mean that
browness is one of its qualities, and he should be
aware, as he speaks, that it has many other qualities.
'Consciousness of abstracting' constitutes one of the
main differences between a person who is semantically
trained and one who is not.
Aristotle's formulations of the science of his time were
probably the most accurate available during his lifetime.
His followers for two thousand years subscribed to the
identification that they were true for all time. In more
recent years, new systems of measurement disproved many
of these 'truths', but they continue to be the basis of
the opinions and beliefs of most people.
The two valued logic on which such folk-thought is founded
has accordingly been given the designation aristotelian
-abbreviation: A- and the many valued logic of modern
science has been given the name non-aristotelian
Semantics has to do with the meaning of meaning, or the
meaning of words.
General Semantics has to do with the relationship of
the human nervous system to the world around it, and
therefore it includes semantics. It provides an
integrating system for all human thought and experience.
For the sake of sanity, DATE:
Do not say 'scientists believe ...'
Say 'scientists believed in 1956 ...',
'John Smith (1956) is an isolationist...'
All things, including John Smith's political opinions,
are subject to change and can therefore only be referred
to in terms of the moment.
For the sake of sanity, INDEX:
Do not say 'Two little girls ...' unless you mean,
'Mary and Jane, two little girls different from each
other and all the other people in the world...'
For the sake of sanity, use ET CETERA:
When you say 'Mary is a good girl!' be aware that Mary
is much more than 'good'.
Mary is 'good', nice, kind, et cetera, meaning she also
has other characteristics. It is worth remembering that
also that modern psychology -1956- does not consider
the placidly 'good' individual a healthy personality.
For the sake of sanity, be careful not to LABEL.
Words like fascist, communist, democrat, republican,
catholic, jew refer to human beings who never quite
fit any label.
For the sake of sanity, use QUOTATIONS:
For instance 'conscious' and 'unconscious' mind are
useful descriptive terms, but it has yet to be proved
that the terms themselves accurately reflect the
'process' level of events. They are maps of a territory
about which we can possibly never have exact information.
Since Null-A training is for the individuals, the
important thing is to be conscious of the 'multiordinal'
-that is the many valued- meaning of the words one
hears or speaks.
A few of the operational principles of general semantics
are as follows:
(1) Human nervous systems are structurally similar
one to the other, but are never exactly the same.
(2) Any human nervous system is affected by events
-verbal or nonverbal-
(3) An event -that is a happening- affects the
body-and-mind as a whole.
For the sake of sanity, learn to evaluate an event in
terms of total response.
Total response includes visceral and nervous changes,
and emotional reaction, the thought about the event,
the spoken statement, the action repressed, the action
taken, et cetera.
For the sake of sanity, be aware of SELF-REFLEXIVENESS.
A statement can be about reality or it can be about a
statement about reality.
For the sake of sanity, remember: 'The map is not the
territory, the word is not the thing it describes.'
Wherever the map is confused with the territory, a
'semantic disturbance' is set up in the organism. The
disturbance continues until the limitation of the map
For the sake of sanity, remember: First is the event,
the initial stimulus; second is the nervous impact of
the event, via the senses; third is the emotional
reaction based on the past experience of the indidual;
fourth comes the verbal reaction.
Most individual identify the first and fourth steps,
and are not aware that the second and third exist.
For the sake of sanity, each individual should break
down the blockages in his own nervous system.
A blockage is a semantic disturbance in which adequate
response is inhibited. Blockages can often be eliminated
by the proper use of the thalamo-cortical 'delayed
reaction', by self analysis or by hetero analysis.
It is not enough to know about Null-A training techniques.
They must be learned on the automatic, that is, the
'unconscious' level. The 'talking about' stage must give
way to the 'doing' stage. The goal is flexibilty of
approach below the verbal level to any event.
General Semantics is designed to give the individual a
sense of direction, not a new set of inflexibilities.
General Semantics is a discipline, and not a philosophy.
Any number of new Null-A oriented philosophies are
possible, just as any number of geometrical systems can
be developed. Possibly, the most important requirement
of our civilization is the development of a Null-A
oriented political economy. It can be stated
categorically that no such system has yet been developed.
The field is wide open for bold and imaginative people
to create a system that will free mankind of war, poverty
and tension. To do this it will be necessary to take
control of the world from people who identify.
The pawns of Null-A
Sphere SF, 1970