Alfred Korzybski and #change11 #OCL4Ed

Barnett Newman white fire 2

In reading Science & Sanity of Alfred Korzybski I am curious if a connection exists between his writings and connectivism.
Korzybski writes in Sanity & Science: (Chap II p. 20 digital version)
‘The explanation is quite simple. We start with the negative non-A premise that words are not the un-speakable objective level, such as the actual objects outside of our skin and our personal feelings inside ourskin. It follows that the only link between the objective and the verbal world is exclusively structural, necessitating the conclusion that the only content of all “knowledge” is structural. Now structure can be considered as a complex of relations, and ultimately as multi-dimensional order.’

‘Knowledge is literally the set of connections between entities. In humans, this knowledge consists of connections between neurons. In societies, this knowledge consists of connections between humans and their artifacts. What a network knows is not found in the content of its entities, nor in the content of messages sent from one to the other, but rather can only be found through recognition of patterns emergent in the network of connections and interactions.’ Stephen Downes in Connectivism and Connective Knowledge: Essays on meaning and learning networks (.pdf).



One thought on “Alfred Korzybski and #change11 #OCL4Ed

  1. Not sure if I understand the meaning of knowledge being structure. Words act as identifiers which are processed in our brains into representations of the things we perceive and identify in the world. Somehow socially we are able to synchronize what we mean by each word into a roughly equivalent representative of a particular entity in order to communicate with each other outside our bodies. (My idea of a bird at least roughly characteristics as a bird). I don’t think this is a result of our own brains being so similar that the joining of the thing in the world, the word, the image and the mental representation happens automatically in some strange zone of potential but rather as a form of mimicry. A side path in the mirror neuron process?

    By allowing ideas to be altered or acquired from others Connectivism stops being a mysterious force and more a phenomenon of our brain’s ability to collect vast quantities of data and filter down to what we are focusing on. Surely some things will escape the filtration dump and go into the unattended storage area in our brains (I’d vote for the unconscious)? In storage they become processed into our peculiar way of connecting neurons together and emerging later we don’t recognize them as our own (something I don’t believe but to say so spoils my theory so I’ll ignore it). Connectivism is actually a triggering mechanism that releases things we didn’t know we knew and that has the social function of preventing someone from blurting out something so novel that it scares people to death. Which is not very sociable.

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