Human Engineering

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Mark Stahlman:

"In 1921, Alfred Zorzybski (1879-1950) published his inaugural volume, Manhood of Humanity: The Science and Art of Human Engineering. A Polish aristocrat who had studied engineering at Warsaw University of Technology, Korzybski served as an intelligence officer in the Russian army in WWI, later moving to Canada and settling in the U.S. Eventually he dropped the potentially offensive label “human engineering” and transformed it into what he termed “general semantics.” Based on his notion that humans cannot “directly” experience reality, he proposed that we needed to train our awareness of the “abstracting” process through which we understand the world. He linked this to the structure of language and traced the origins of our linguistic debilitation to Aristotle. His followers included S.I. Hayakawa (1906-1992) and Neil Postman (1931-2003)."