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Letter from the editor.

One way of thinking of general semantics is as a "systems" approach for the understanding of the construction of meaning through symbolic interaction. So it is, that among the many fine articles contained in this issue of ETC, we are pleased to present the second half of Robert Logan's The Terrance Deacon's Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged From Matter. The Teleodynamics of Culture, Language, Organization, Science, Economics and Technology (CLOSET), with the subtitle for Part II: Are Culture, Language, Organization, Science, Economics and Technology (CLOSET) Teleodynamic Phenomena? As far as titles go, this is quite a mouthful--but the complexities contained in the subject matter require this type of detailed description, and certainly the question posited by the subtitle is immediately recognized as being an important contemporary issue.

Teleodynamics is a term that Terrance Deacon (the central figure in Logan's essay) uses to define the dynamical organization and relationship of consciousness to the origin of life. His claim is that much in the same way as the concept of zero revolutionized mathematics, thinking about life, mind, and other ententional phenomena can similarly help us overcome the artificial dichotomy of "mind" and "body" in terms of "constraints" --here defined as "what is absent." One example he uses is the hole that defines the hub of a wagon wheel, in which the hole itself contains no physicality, yet constrains or restricts the interrelationships of the wheel's other components.

Such "systems thinking" is not unique per se, and, in fact, lies at the heart of much of Korzybski's foundational work; and what is now known as "systems theory" is recognized as a foundational cornerstone of much of the theoretical work done in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries in terms of complex interactions. No doubt due to the depth and breadth of complexity imbedded within systems theory, there is no one definition that summarizes all of its various components, but it is generally acknowledged that Ludwig von Bertalanffy is the founding father of the discipline which has subsequently been extended to cybernetics, history, politics, sociology, psychology, and other social scientific and scientific pursuits. At the heart of this framework of understanding for Bertalanffy is the notion that self-regulating phenomena (think of weather or human learning) behave differently in open systems versus closed systems. And in recent years, biological anthropologists such as Deacon have used systems theory as the framework for understanding human consciousness.

A systems approach to understanding the relational elements of existence has been an epistemic pursuit of many thinkers throughout the ages including the ancients on up to Ervin Lazio, Brian Wilson, Fritjof Capra, Jean Piaget, Anatol Rapoport, Kenneth Boulding, Alvin Toffler, Margaret Mead, and Gregory Bateson among many others. Deacon is one of the most recent entries into the conversation. I will let Logan's writing speak for itself in terms of how he uses Deacon's ideas to explore biological systems as they relates to semantical abstraction, but to provide some historical context, three reprints from two other systems thinkers have been culled from earlier pages of ETC. From Alvin Toffler, we provide a short address he made at Yale University in 1989 on the significance of general semantics. We also have two reprints from Gregory Bateson--the first from an article he published on metalanguage in a 1953 issue of ETC, and the second his keynote address at the 1970 Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture.

Several other new articles also grace the pages of this issue including works from Milton Dawes, Michael Moore, Gary Mayer, and Krishna Daiya; along with poems, book reviews, and an interview with Prof. Peter Zhang from Grand Valley State University, a frequent contributor to the pages of ETC. And speaking of Prof. Zhang, the cover of this issue features another beautiful photograph titled Haecceity "ltk"'|4 by photographer Wei-Shyuan (Stone) Peng that was part of a textual and photographic essay called Zen Musings written by Peter and featured in issue 71-4.

So let me end this brief introduction to this issue with a small morsel from Logan to wet your whistle for what is to come: "Language and culture enable science and technology; whereas science and technology in turn enrich language and culture. Science and technology cross-fertilize each other. Technology and science benefit and enrich economic systems, which in turn support science and technology either directly or through the state. Organization and governance are essential for economics both internally with economic organizations and externally in the regulation of commerce." Enjoy!

Ed Tywoniak

Saint Mary's College of California

January 2015
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Title Annotation:general semantics
Author:Tywoniak, Ed
Publication:ETC.: A Review of General Semantics
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jan 1, 2015
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