19. Korzybsky, Space and Time

Thanks to Einstein and other physicists and mathematicians at the beginning of the 1900s, we know as a fact about our universe that the concepts of space and time are unified as spacetime. It’s only an illusion and a trick of language and our perspective that we can conceptualize of spacetime as two separate bits.

Korzybsky seizes upon this in in his research on General Semantics to urge us to not make this distinction in language, because the trick played serves not much purpose other than to confuse and blind us.

In other words, Korzybsky wants us to refer to time whenever we refer to space, and vice versa. He calls this “non-elementalism” or “non-additivity”: the refusal to separate verbally what cannot be separated empirically.

This is a pretty cool operationalization of the Dunning Kruger hypothesis, that the language we use affects the way we think. If Dunning-Kruger is true, then we ought to train ourselves towards more correct language. Even if it’s a little awkward at first.

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