RE: [unrev-II] Speaking & Thinking with E-Prime

From: Jack Park (
Date: Tue Oct 23 2001 - 09:08:34 PDT

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    Take a look at
    TO BE OR NOT TO BE: E-Prime as a Tool for Critical Thinking
    E-Prime! The Fundamentals

    At 05:50 PM 10/23/2001 +0200, you wrote:
    >Another nice quote from Korzybski is:
    >There is a tremendous difference between 'thinking' in verbal terms, and
    >'contemplating', inwardly silent, on non-verbal levels, and then searching
    >for the proper structure of language to fit the supposedly discovered
    >structure of the silent processes that modern science tries to find. If we
    >'think' verbally, we act as biased observers and project onto the silent
    >levels the structure of the language we use, and so remain in our rut of
    >old orientations, making keen, unbiased, observations and creative work
    >well-nigh impossible. In contrast, when we 'think' without words, or in
    >pictures (which involve structure and therefore relations), we may
    >discover new aspects and relations on silent levels, and so may produce
    >important theoretical results in the general search for a similarity of
    >structure between the two levels, silent and verbal. Practically all
    >important advances are made that way.
    >It is quoted in Thierry Bardini's book about Doug (p. 33) and at the
    >following address: (Alfred Korzybski,
    >>-----Original Message-----
    >>From: Jack Park []
    >>Sent: mardi, 23. octobre 2001 17:20
    >>Subject: [unrev-II] Speaking & Thinking with E-Prime
    > From the creators of the statement "The Map is not the Territory"
    >Consider this excerpt:
    >"In essence, E-Prime consists of a more descriptive and extensionally
    >oriented derivative of English, that automatically tends to bring the user
    >back to the level of first person experience. For example, if you saw a
    >man, reeking of whisky, stagger down the street and then collapse, you
    >might think (in ordinary English) "He is drunk." In E-Prime one would think
    >instead "He acts drunk," or "He looks drunk," both of which statements
    >obviously coming closer to an accurate description of the actual
    >experience, and involving fewer covert assumptions than the English
    >original. After all, one might have encountered an actor (practicing the
    >part of a drunken man), a man who had spilled alcohol on himself undergoing
    >a seizure of some kind, etc., etc. The E-Prime statement still leaves these
    >possibilities open, whereas the "is" statement does not. Although E-Prime
    >usually reduces hidden assumptions, it does not exclude them (for example,
    >you may have seen a woman, or a robot, or an alien, etc. that looked like a
    >man and acted drunk). E-Prime fosters a worldview in which the user
    >perceives situations as changeable rather than static, and where verbal
    >formulations derived from experience indicate possibilities rather than
    >certainties. Subjectively, I have found my creativity greatly enhanced, as
    >many problems that "are unsolvable" in ordinary English only "seem
    >unsolvable" in E-Prime! This shift in attitude can make a great difference.
    >Thus, removing the "to be" verb from English results in a language of a
    >more phenomenological character, in that this change automatically causes a
    >reduction of the number of assumptions in even simple sentences. Statements
    >made in E-Prime almost always mirror first person experience far more
    >adequately than the "is" statements they replace. E-Prime also greatly
    >encourages one to use the active voice ("Smith-1 did it") rather than the
    >often misleading and information-poor passive voice ("it was done"). Of
    >course, as Bourland pointed out, one can continue the modification of
    >E-Prime even further, adding for example the alterations and
    >non-aristotelian tools that Korzybski recommended (dating, indexing, etc.),
    >bringing one to E-Prime-k. My own version of E-Prime (E-Prime-p) aims at a
    >phenomenological ideal, of ever more adequately representing the territory
    >of my experience while ever more clearly communicating with others."
    >I pose this excerpt, in some sense, as a follow up to my earlier posts on
    >Loglan, a language for speaking and thinking with logic.
    >I also pose this excerpt since I think it is, an some other sense, related
    >to the evolution of a Collaborative Literacy, as is being developed by Jeff
    >Conklin and his colleagues.
    >Robert Rosen took Aristotle to his limits in trying to formulate a means of
    >modeling complex systems. The folks are speaking in
    >non-aristotelian terms, and, largely, for the same purposes. Frankly, I'm
    >having some problems getting my brain around the differences in
    >approach. Perhaps, somewhere 'out there', we might have an opportunity to
    >discuss this particular line of reasoning. That, because, I think, if we
    >don't find a way to articulate what we think in terms that others will be
    >able to unambiguously understand what we are saying, then (brace
    >yourselves), all this OHS/DKR stuff will be for nought (or words to that

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