Friday, December 26, 2014

Doing away with the is word

Now I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, reading and writing about the quantum. More and more I’ve been searching for  connections that seem to bind elements of the quantum with  consciousness and our perceptions of reality. At the same time, I am a huge fan of Albert Ellis and his work in rational emotive behavior therapy. Of course we shouldn’t expect to be loved just because we love.

Albert Ellis also advocated the use of E-Prime, especially in writing, as a way to avoid muddled and blame-based thinking that distresses psychotherapy patients. According to Ellis, rational emotive behavior therapy "has favored E-Prime more than any other form of psychotherapy and I think it is still the only form of therapy that has some of its main books written in E-Prime."

E-prime you ask?

Alfred Korzybski, in 1933 proposed that we should abolish the "is of identity" from the English language. And, in 1949, D. David Bourland Jr. went further and proposed the abolition of all forms of the words "is" or "to be.” An English without "isness" now known as E-Prime, or English-Prime.
By and large, however, E-Prime has not yet caught on either in learned circles or in popular speech.
Oddly, most physicists write in E-Prime a large part of the time, due to the influence of Operationalism -- the philosophy that tells us to define things by operations performed -- but few have any awareness of E-prime as a discipline and most of them lapse into "isness" statements all too frequently

1. The photon is a wave can be re-written to read - The photon behaves as a   wave when constrained by certain instruments

2. The photon is a particle can be written such as:  The photon appears as a particle when constrained by other instruments.

3. John is unhappy and grouchy can be re-written to read John appears unhappy and grouchy in the office.

Sure, the first example becomes an operational formulation when rewritten in English Prime and may appear of interest to philosophers and scientists of an operationalist bias, but consider what happens when we move to the second example.
Clearly, written in Standard English, "The photon is a wave," and "The photon is a particle" contradict each other, just like the sentences "Robin is a boy" and "Robin is a girl." Nonetheless, all through the nineteenth century physicists found themselves debating about this and, by the early 1920s, it became obvious that the experimental evidence depended on the instruments or the instrumental set-up (design) of the total experiment. One type of experiment always showed light traveling in waves, and another type always showed light traveling as discrete particles.

3.         To be or not to be,
            That is the question. Hamlet


To live or to die,
I ask myself this.

While teaching at the University of Florida, Korzybski counseled his students to eliminate the infinitive and verb forms of "to be" from their vocabulary, whereas a second group continued to use "I am," "You are," "They are" statements as usual. For example, instead of saying, "I am depressed," a student was asked to eliminate that emotionally primed verb and to say something else, such as, "I feel depressed when ..." or "I tend to make myself depressed about … demonstrating the application of general semantics to psychotherapy.

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