General Semantics (GS)

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  • A popular movement (or cult) in the 1940s and 1950s that was largely responsible for making the term semantics widely known among the general public. (The linguistic term semantics comes from the Greek and refers to the study of meaning [seemasia (n) = meaning, sense, importance, gravity, significance; seemeno (v) = to mean or to signify].) Although not an academic discipline then, it was often confused with “linguistic semantics.”

    GS is based on the philosophy of the Polish engineer Alfred Korzybski (1879–1950), whose main ideas were drawn from the work of Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein. Korzybski wanted to use the scientific method to understand how language shapes thought. His basic idea, which was presented in his 1933 book Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian ...

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