S. I. Hayakawa, fully Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa

S. I.
Hayakawa, fully Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa

Canadian-born American Academic and Political Figure of Japanese Ancestry, English Professor, President of San Francisco State University, Senator for California

Author Quotes

But what such a philosophy overlooks is that, despite all the competition at the surface, there is a huge substratum of cooperation taken for granted that keeps the world going... We may indeed as individuals compete for jobs, but our function in the job, once we get it, is to contribute at the right time and place to that innumerable series of cooperative acts that eventually result in automobiles being manufactured, in cakes appearing in pastry shops, in department stores being able to serve their customers, in the trains and airlines running as scheduled. And what is important for our purposes here is that all this coordination of effort necessary for the functioning of society is of necessity achieved by language or else it is not achieved at all.

People who think of themselves as tough-minded and realistic, among them influential political leaders and businessmen as well as go-getters and hustlers of smaller caliber, tend to take it for granted that human nature is selfish and that life is a struggle in which only the fittest may survive. According to this philosophy, the basic law by which man must live, in spite of his surface veneer of civilization, is the law of the jungle. The "fittest" are those who can bring to the struggle superior force, superior cunning, and superior ruthlessness.

Citizens of a modern society need ... more than that ordinary "common sense" which was defined by Stuart Chase as that which tells you that the world is flat. They need to be systematically aware of the powers and limitations of symbols, especially words, if they are to guard against being driven into complete bewilderment by the complexity of their semantic environment. The first of the principles governing symbols is this: The symbol is NOT the thing symbolized; the word is NOT the thing; the map is NOT the territory it stands for.

Such complicated and apparently unnecessary behavior leads philosophers, both amateur and professional, to ask over and over again, "Why can't human beings live simply and naturally?" Often the complexity of human life makes us look enviously at the relative simplicity of such lives as dogs and cats lead. But the symbolic process, which makes possible the absurdities of human conduct, also makes possible language and therefore all the human achievements dependent upon language. The fact that more things can go wrong with motorcars than with wheelbarrows is no reason for going back to wheelbarrows. Similarly, the fact that the symbolic process makes complicated follies possible is no reason for wanting to return to a cat-and-dog existence. A better solution is to understand the symbolic process so that instead of being its victims we become, to some degree at least, its masters.

Definitions, contrary to popular opinion, tell us nothing about things. They only describe people's linguistic habits; that is, they tell us what noises people make under what conditions.

From the moment he switches on an early-morning news broadcast until he falls asleep at night over a novel or a magazine, he is, like all other people living in modern civilized conditions, swimming in words. Newspaper editors, politicians, salesmen, disc jockeys, columnists, luncheon club speakers, and clergymen; colleagues at work, friends, relatives, wife and children; market reports, direct-mail advertising, books, and billboards -- all are assailing him with words all day long.

I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.

In the age of television, image becomes more important than substance.

It is not true that 'we have only one life to live'; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.

Notice the difference between what happens when a man says to himself, I have failed three times, and what happens when he says, I'm a failure.

Patriotic societies seem to think that the way to educate school children in a democracy is to stage bigger and better flag-saluting.

So I will say it with relish. Give me a hamburger but hold the lawsuit.

To perceive how language works, what pitfalls it conceals, what its possibilities are, is to comprehend a crucial aspect of the complicated business of living the life of a human being.

You guys are both saying the same thing. The only reason you're arguing is because you're using different words.

Advertising is a symbol-manipulating occupation.

By the definition accepted in the United States, any person with even a small amount of Negro Blood... is a Negro. Logically, it would be exactly as justifiable to say that any person with even a small amount of white blood is white. Why do they say one rather than the other? Because the former classification suits the convenience of those making the classification. Society, in short, regards as true those systems that produce the desired results. Science seeks only the most generally useful systems of classification; these it regards for the time being, until more useful classifications are invented, as true.

Ever since man began to till the soil and learned not to eat the seed grain but to plant it and wait for the harvest, the postponement of gratification has been the basis of a higher standard of living and civilization.

Exactitude is the lowest form of pictorial gratification.

Few people...have had much training in listening. The training of most over-verbalized professional intellectuals is in the opposite direction. Living in a competitive culture, most of us are most of the time chiefly concerned with getting our own views across, and we tend to find other people's speeches a tedious interruption of the flow of our own ideas.

How anybody dresses is indicative of his self-concept. If students are dirty and ragged, it indicates they are not interested in tidying up their intellects either.

It is the individual who knows how little he knows about himself who stands a chance of finding something about himself before he dies.

If you see in any given situation only what everybody else can see, you can be said to be so much a representative of your culture than you are a victim of it.

Author Picture
First Name
S. I.
Last Name
Hayakawa, fully Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa
Birth Date
Death Date

Canadian-born American Academic and Political Figure of Japanese Ancestry, English Professor, President of San Francisco State University, Senator for California