Alfred Korzybski

Alfred Habdank Skarbek Korzybski (July 3, 1879 – March 1, 1950) was a Polish-American philosopher and scientist. He is remembered for developing the theory of general semantics and founding the Institute of General Semantics.

Korzybski’s work argued that human knowledge of the world is limited both by the human nervous system and by the structure of language.

How is it that humans have progressed so rapidly in science, mathematics, and engineering, yet we continue to exhibit behaviors that result in misunderstanding, suspicion, bigotry,hatred, and even violence in our dealings with other people and with other cultures?

Korzybski thought that people do not have access to direct knowledge of reality; rather they have access to perceptions and to a set of beliefs which human society has confused with direct knowledge of reality. Korzybski is remembered as the author of the dictum: “The map is not the territory”.