Selasa, 6 November 2012

NLP: Confusing the Map for the Territory

by Jim Walker

... The originator of general semantics, Alfred Korzybski came up with the phrase, "A map is not the territory" meaning that a map can describe a territory in some similar structure that allows us to traverse the land, which gives us a useful tool, but that our perception of the map can never equal the territory, but only our version of it, our map. 

All symbolism acts in this manner. All information comes to us as second hand. Everything we perceive from the outside world comes delayed, even if by only a few milliseconds, and processed by our brains into linguistic symbols. We may live in the present, but our thoughts reflect the past. We only have maps to refer to and nothing else. So the determination of what terrains our maps reflect to can present difficulties since any information, even if imagined or dreamt, can seem just as real to us as those that come from the outside world.

For example, you can create a mental symbol to represent a cat. If your cat walks into view, you can think about it with your internal language. (If you don't have a cat, then get one. Everyone should live with a cat, and will make the following easier to understand.) This internal representation of your cat also allows you to remember and think about it even when your cat has walked away. Marvelously, the storage system of your brain allows the idea of the cat to outlive the cat itself. With the unfortunate eventual death of your cat, you will still have the capacity to remember for the simple reason that your brain continues to hold the symbols of your cat in the matrix of your neurons. In this sense, the cat appears to exist, but only as a set of symbols.

But in another capacity, our brains can also attach emotions to the symbols themselves. Remembering your cat at different times in your past can evoke different emotions depending on how you felt the first time you remembered them. So not only do your cat symbols exist, but an emotional trigger follows them as well even after the death of your pet. These cat thoughts and feelings seem identical to the thoughts you had of your cat while it lived. In this sense, it feels as if your cat still exists. And if you mistake the symbols for the thing, you can develop an error of believing in essences, spooks and all sorts of afterlifes...