Implicational Psycho-Logics


Don’t let the title daunt you.  It should make sense in a bit.

Yesterday I wrote how typing up a passage by Edward MacNeal about “mathsemantics” led to the revelation that the name for my discipline, “general semantics,” is a generic term, one needing clarification.  I proposed that maybe the name should be “general semantics of non-aristotelian thinking,” and I explained that that phrase meant “general implications of non-aristotelian thinking.”  Calling my field “General Semantics” is a lot like calling it “General Implications.”  It makes you go, “Of what?”  Well, “general implications (semantics) of non-aristotelian thinking.”

That is, the field I’m in is really just the elaboration for the reader and practitioner what constitutes non-aristotelian thinking, what consistutes aristotelian thinking, and what is implied about the world we live in if we think more as a non-aristotelian (“more like a scientist”) than as an aristotelian (“more like what we commonly do”).

Now, I do a lot of my thinking in the shower (or rather, thoughts come to me then), and I was just in the shower when it came to me a new potential, imformative name of the field known by the name “general semantics.”  That name gelled with my exposition yesterday on what the word “semantics” denotes (“the study of what something means”), as well as the role the behavior of implication has in the field, especially considering Cassius Keyser’s friendship with general-semantics founder Alfred Korzybski, and considering Keyser’s own exposition of implication found in his breathtaking book, Mathematical Philosophy.  That name?

“Implicational psychology.”

That is, general semantics might better be named “implicational psychology.”  Well, what would that name mean?  It would mean, “the study of what things mean to us.”  The word “psychology” suggests the field pays special attention to thinking and thought processes of people, and the word “implicational” suggests the field pays especial attention on what things mean to people.  “What does 9/11 mean to you?”  “What does it mean to you when your husband forgets your anniversary?”  “What does it mean if the world is actually round?”  “What does it mean if the world is actually flat?”  “What does it mean if light speed is not infinite?”  And then: “What does the rest of things mean given those meanings to you?”

Now, to take Korzybski’s advice, I wouldn’t name the field with the word “psychology” but instead something more like “psycho-logics.”  For Korzybski, this word is better at denoting the empirically indivisible interrelation in the human body of emotion and thought.  Roughly speaking, the word “psychology” seems to imply “thinking” a bit more than it implies “emotion,” but “psycho-logics” (with its decided hyphen) seems to imply “emotion” (“psycho”) and “thinking” (“logics”) and their interrelationship much more clearly.  I might have Korzybski a bit wrong there, or I might misunderstand his exact reasoning for including the hyphen and making the word an “-ics,” but I think it’s something like that.  “Implicational psycho-logics,” at least as a name, better denotes the study of both what things mean emotionally to people, as well as what things mean intellectually to people.

I’ll say: “Take your pick.”  The term “implicational psychology” will probably mean more to a random person than “implicational psycho-logics.”  That is, from the perspective of implicational psychology, which studies things like “what things mean to people” (!), the field might recommend the former name over the latter.

I smile when I say that.

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