|A Map is Not the Territory|
In this Science and Sanity excerpt, Korzybski clearly articulates that as the map is not the territory, words are not the things they represent. Added emphasis appears in red, and my reactions are enclosed in a box: (Note 31)
The scientific problems involved are very extensive and can be dealt with only in a large volume. Here I am able to give only a very sketchy summary without empirical data, omitting niceties and technicalities.
If we consider an actual territory (a) say, Paris, Dresden, Warsaw, and build up a map (b) in which the order of these cities would be represented as Dresden, Paris, Warsaw; to travel by such a map would be misguiding, wasteful of effort. In case of emergencies, it might be seriously harmful. We could say that such a map was 'not true,' or that the map had a structure not similar to the territory, structure to be defined in terms of relations and multi-dimensional order. We should notice that:
A) A map may have a structure similar or dissimilar to the structure of the territory. (1)
B) Two similar structures have similar 'logical' characteristics. Thus, if in a correct map, Dresden is given as between Paris and Warsaw, a similar relation is found in the actual territory. (2)
C) A map is not the territory. (3)
D) An ideal map would contain the map of the map, the map of the map of the map, endlessly. This characteristic was first discovered by Royce. We may call it self-reflexiveness. (4)
Languages share with the map the above four characteristics.
A) Languages have structure, thus we have languages of elementalistic structure such as 'space' and 'time', 'observer' and 'observed', . . . which allow verbal division or separation. Or we have languages of non-elementalistic structure such as, 'space-time', the new quantum languages, . . . which do not involve verbal division or separation; also mathematical languages of 'order', relation', . . . which apply to 'senses' and 'mind', that is, can be 'seen' and 'thought of'. (5)
B) If we use languages of a structure non-similar to the world and our nervous system, our verbal predictions are not verified empirically, we cannot be 'rational' or adjusted. We would have to copy the animals in their wasteful and painful 'trial and error' performances, as we have done all through human history. In science we would be handicapped by semantic blockages, lack of creativeness, lack of understanding, lack of vision, disturbed by inconsistencies, paradoxes. (6)
C) Words are not the things they represent. (7)
D) Language also has self-reflexive characteristics. We use language to speak about language, which fact introduces serious verbal and semantic difficulties, solved by the theory of multiordinality. (8)