Being considered a professional is important. But most of us are 'old' professionals, not old in age, but old in thinking style and approach to living. Old professionals separate science and spirit and think in terms of either/or - 'you're either for me, or against me.' New professionals connect science and spirit and think in both/and terms. Please read: The New Professionalism: Connecting Science and Spirit, available at www.WisdomAtWorkUSA.com.
Monday, March 4, 2013
The Map is Not the Territory
We believe that what we say about things is the Truth about
them. That is, that there is a one to one relationship between the words and
the phenomena—that a ‘tree’ = a tree. Yet no two trees, even those of the same
species, are the same. We know this yet we act as if what we say about things
is the Truth about them. Words are symbols of symbols twice removed from
reality. Words are maps and the map is not the territory. Again, we know this,
but think and act as if our maps DO represent the territory – that Republican
is this and Democrat is that. Words are a fine starting place, the ball park if
you will. But then if we really want to communicate and get things done we’ve
got to know the section, row and seat number.
Today I’m beginning a series on words and language inspired
by the science of General Semantics, a science that sounds more academic and
useless than it is. Here is an example General Semantics debunking a cherished
American myth written by Martin H. Levinson: The Map: The Pilgrims Landed on
Plymouth Rock. A Review of the Territory: On December 16, 1620, the Pilgrims on
the Mayflower reached their new home in America. Nearly all scholars put
the Pilgrims’ landing about 10 miles north of the lumpy scrap of stone known as
Plymouth Rock. There is no mention in any historical account of that rock, a
large boulder located in PlymouthMA, into which, in 1880, the
Pilgrim Society carved the year 1620.
The legend of Plymouth Rock was started in 1741 by 95 year
old man who said his father told him about it. Twenty-eight years later,
celebrating the Pilgrims’ landing a Plymouth Rock became an annual event in New England. By 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville reported
pieces of the rock were being venerated in different American cities, and it
was established as an American icon.
Offers for chunks of Plymouth Rock have occasionally popped
up on eBay, where asking prices have been as much as $900. However, while it is
true that lots of souvenir hunters did carve off parts of the Rock during the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there is no way to differentiate a real
hunk of Plymouth Rock from a fake one. For those interested in seeing what is
left of Plymouth Rock (it is estimated to be only about one-third to one-half
of its original size), it is preserved today in a state park near the mouth of Plymouth harbor.