Saturday, September 09, 2006

NYC Speech: "General Semantics, Terrorism and War"

Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the publication of Wendell Johnson's People in Quandaries, and the creation of the New York Society for General Semantics, Nicholas Johnson was asked to keynote a conference at Fordham University, New York City, September 8, 2006.

"General semantics" was born out of reflection before, during and after World War II regarding the failures of communication, the inability to think rationally about the role of language in affecting human behavior, the role of propaganda, and a rational fear about the potential destruction that would result from an all-out atomic war -- especially one that could have been prevented.

As one general semanticist once put it, the human species is the only species able to talk itself into difficulties that would not otherwise exist.

So it seemed appropriate, for a keynote at a 60th anniversary celebration, to link those beginnings to the way the U.S. administration, military, and others talk about "war" and "terrorism" today.

The lecture is Nicholas Johnson, "General Semantics, Terrorism and War," Fordham University, New York City, September 8, 2006.

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