Can We Trust Our TRADITIONAL Language?


C. A. Hilgartner
Director, Hilgartner & Associates
2413 North East Street
Kirksville  Missouri  63501  USA


In this paper, I compare and contrast two different groupings of fundamental premises, one traditional and largely concealed, and the other explicit and entirely non-traditional.  

As their point of departure, the non-aristotelian premises set forth in 1941 by Alfred Korzybski reject the logical construct of identity as not-valid. Although unprecedented—new to the human race, when proposed—these non-traditional premises have enabled me to account for how living organisms survive in the biosphere. I designate this protocol for surviving as self-correcting. Non-human organisms occupy only non-verbal environments. Humans, who inhabit both non-verbal and verbal environments, can show both self-correcting behaving-and-experiencing and its antithesis, which I designate as self-defending.

In 1950, already dissatisfied with the available theories of human behavior, I adopted Korzybski’s premises as my own. On them, I built up an alternative frame of reference. This developing framework has become a two-prong inquiry.

As one aspect, this approach has become a novel basis for conducting inquiries. It has already yielded at least the beginnings of its own versions of logic, mathematics, physics, biology and the human psycho-social sciences.

As its other main aspect, this approach has enabled me to disclose some of the hidden presuppositions encoded in the WIE grammar. These serve as unacknowledged premises of the traditional “disciplines”—the WIE logics, mathematics, sciences, philosophies, jurisprudences, religions, etc. Among these premises, I find at least one which appears untenable (a restricted and restrictive presupposition so restrictive as to apply under no circumstances whatsoever). When I posit that a human relies on this hidden untenable assumption, I can account for the ways s/he finds her/himself at least tempted to pretend to “absolute certainty” and other god-like powers. Behaving-and-experiencing based on this untenable assumption turns out self-defending—anti-survival in its consequences.