THE MAP IS NOT THE TERRITORY
Polish American Philosopher and Scientist [1879-1950]
When we confuse words with the things they represent, we engage in a process called reification, which simply means that we treat something we have created verbally as if it had real substance.
The father of General Sematics Alfred Korzbyski (1973: 38) originated the phrase, “the map is not the territory”:
Two important characteristics of maps should be noticed. A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness. If the map could be ideally correct, it would include, in a reduced scale, the map of the map; the map of the map of the map; and so on, endlessly...
Korzybski, Alfred (1973) Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics. Institute of General Semantics. Connecticut.
Magritte, René (1929) La Trahison des images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe) The Treachery of Images (This is not a pipe) Oil on canvas. Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Profesor of English at Rutgers University
“Naming things is a human act, it is not an act of nature. We are the ones who through language create things out of the phenomena around us. Yet we forget that we control this process and let the process control us. Naming thing— using language—is a very high level abstraction, and when we name something we ‘freeze’ it by placing it in a category and making a ‘thing’ out of it. Language is a map but three important things to remember about maps are: the map is not the territory; no map can represent all aspects of the territory; and every map reflects the mapmaker’s point of view.”
Lutz, Wiliam (1996) The New Doublespeak: Why No One Knows What Anyone is Saying Anymore . HarperCollins, New York, NY.
The London tube map was designed by Harry Beck in 1933. It is a simplified model of reality. The map informs the traveller how to navigate precisely between stations. It offers nothing more, nothing less, and ignores all extraneous information. The layout, which resembles a circuit diagram, corresponds only loosely to the physical locations of the stations.