Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Alfred Korzybski

Alfred Korzybski (1879-1950), born in in Warsaw, Poland, (then controlled by Russia), came from a family which had worked as mathematicians, scientists, and engineers for generations, and himself trained as an engineer.

During the First World War he served as an intelligence officer in the Russian Army. Following the war he co-operated with the American and Canadian militaries. After the publication of his first book, Manhood of Humanity in 1921, he decided to remain in the United States and further develop his ideas. His work culminated in the founding of General Semantics, the basic ideas of which are outlined in Science and Sanity which was published in 1933. In 1938 he founded the Institute of General Semantics; he directed the Institute until his death in 1950.

To express it simply, and thus inadequately, the essence of his work was the insight that the structure of language distorts our perception of reality, a failing that could be remedied by insight into that process and also by the creation of language that is structured in the same way reality is.

The most famous quote from Korzybski is: The map is not the territory.

Korzybski's ideas have found their way into Neuro-Linguistic Programming, especially the metamodel.

Dr. David Bourland, a student of Korzybski's, invented and promoted E-Prime, the use of the English language without any form of the verb "to be".

See also

Further Reading