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1940s[edit | edit source]

1940 Huxley[edit | edit source]

A great deal of attention has been paid . . . to the technical languages in which men of science do their specialized thinking … But the colloquial usages of everyday speech, the literary and philosophical dialects in which men do their thinking about the problems of morals, politics, religion and psychology -- these have been strangely neglected. We talk about "mere matters of words" in a tone which implies that we regard words as things beneath the notice of a serious-minded person.

This is a most unfortunate attitude. For the fact is that words play an enormous part in our lives and are therefore deserving of the closest study. The old idea that words possess magical powers is false; but its falsity is the distortion of a very important truth. Words do have a magical effect -- but not in the way that magicians supposed, and not on the objects they were trying to influence. Words are magical in the way they affect the minds of those who use them. "A mere matter of words," we say contemptuously, forgetting that words have power to mould men's thinking, to canalize their feeling, to direct their willing and acting. Conduct and character are largely determined by the nature of the words we currently use to discuss ourselves and the world around us.

This is quoted in opening "Book One: The Functions of Language" in: Hayakawa, S. I. (1949). Language in Thought and Action. Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1949. [^] See #1949 Hayakawa.

1941 Burke[edit | edit source]

1942 Langer[edit | edit source]

1943 Craik[edit | edit source]

1944 Cassirer[edit | edit source]

1945 Bush[edit | edit source]

As We May Think
A Machine That Thinks

Modern machines can already see, hear, smell and calculate -- and one day they may begin to think. Dr. Vannevar Bush, head of Office of Scientific Research and Development, believes that a "thinking" machine (of limited intellectual capabilities) can be built. In the July Atlantic Monthly, he predicts a brain robot that will relieve man of much of the routine spadework of thinking. The machine he envisages is an electronic and photographic contraption which would store facts for ready recall, sort a man's ideas, even organize them logically.

Dr. Bush, the inventor of a better-than-human calculator, M.I.T.'s famed differential analyzer, was impressed by the...

From "Science: A Machine that Thinks," [1]
Time Magazine, Monday, July 23, 1945.

See also

1946 Morris[edit | edit source]

1947 Northrop[edit | edit source]

1948 Skinner[edit | edit source]

1948 Wiener[edit | edit source]

  • Wiener, Norbert (1948). Cybernetics: or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. 2nd ed., The MIT Press, 1965. [^]

The mechanical brain does not secrete thought "as the liver does bile," as the earlier materialists claimed, nor does it put it out in the form of energy, as the muscle puts out its activity. Information is information, not matter or energy. No materialism which does not admit this can survive at the present day.

From Computing Machines and the Nervous System (p. 132)

As in the case of the individual, not all the information which is available to the race at one time is accessible without special effort. There is a well-known tendency of libraries to become clogged by their own volume; of the sciences to develop such a degree of specialization that the expert is often illiterate outside his own minute specialty. Dr. Vannevar Bush has suggested the use of mechanical aids for the searching through vast bodies of material. These probably have their uses, but they are limited by the impossibility of classifying a book under an unfamiliar heading unless some particular person has already recognized the relevance of that heading for that particular book. In the case where two subjects have the same technique and intellectual content but belong to widely separated fields, this still requires some individual with an almost Leibnizian catholicity of interest.

From Information, Language, and Society (p. 158) (wiki links)

1949 Hayakawa[edit | edit source]

Citizens of a modern society need [...] more than that ordinary "common sense" which was defined by Stuart Chase as that which tells you that the world is flat. They need to be systematically aware of the powers and limitations of symbols, especially words, if they are to guard against being driven into complete bewilderment by the complexity of their semantic environment. The first of the principles governing symbols is this: The symbol is NOT the thing symbolized; the word is NOT the thing; the map is NOT the territory it stands for. (p.29-30) (editor's link)

From The Word is Not the Thing

"The symbol is NOT the thing symbolized," for one. How many parodies there appear as if each varied!

Now, to use the famous metaphor by Alfred Korzybski in his Science and Sanity (1933), this verbal world ought to stand in relation to the extensional world as a map does to the territory it is supposed to represent. If a child grows to adulthood with a verbal world in his head which corresponds fairly closely to the extensional world that he finds around him in his widening experience, he is in relatively small danger of being shocked or hurt by what he finds, because his verbal world has told him what, more or less, to expect. He is prepared for life. If, however, he grows up with a false map in his head [...] he will constantly be running into trouble, wasting his efforts, and acting like a fool. He will not be adjusted to the world as it is: he may, if the lack of adjustment is serious, end up in a mental hospital. (p.31) (editor's link)

From Maps and Territories

We all inherit a great deal of useless knowledge, and a great deal of misinformation and error (maps that were formerly thought to be accurate), so that there is always a portion of what we have been told that must be discarded. But the cultural heritage of our civilization that is transmitted to us -- our socially pooled knowledge, both scientific and humane -- has been valued principally because we have believed that it gives us accurate maps of experience. The analogy of verbal words to maps is an important one [...]. It should be noticed at this point, however, that there are two ways of getting false maps of the world into our heads: first, by having them given to us; second, by creating them ourselves when we misread the true maps given to us. (p.32)

From Maps and Territories

See also

1949 Orwell[edit | edit source]

1949 Ryle[edit | edit source]

1949 Shannon[edit | edit source]

1949 Shaw[edit | edit source]

  • Shaw, Ralph R. (1949). "Machines and the Bibliographical Problems of the Twentieth Century." (pp. 37-71) In: L. N. Ridenour, et al. Bibliography in an Age of Science. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. [^]

Notes[edit | edit source]