Forum Message

Topic: Copy of Mr. Hall's response article included here
Posted by: nj
Date/Time: 04/08/2002 19:03:39

Hello.  I copied Mr. Hall's article into this post.  I reproduced his diagram as faithfully as I could.  See the results of my work below.  I am not a student of Mr. Hall's.  But now forum guests have a post to quote content from.  -nj

Riotously Proliferating Higher Level Meta-States

L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.

An Answer to John Grinder #1

"A special flexibility challenge to M. Hall ─ write an article (even a paragraph that does not use the term meta ─ smile, Michael." (Whispering, p. 309)

"We invite M. Hall to make explicit the answer
to the simple meta model challenge, Meta states are states about other states... about, how specifically?"
(p. 288)

In his recent book, Whispering in the Wind, Dr. Grinder offered several challenges and invitations for me to respond to. One was to write a paragraph without using the term "meta," another was to justify expanding the Meta-Model. He also invited me to explain how a higher logical level can be more "psychologically encompassing and impactful" and then to offer an understanding of how riotously proliferating meta-states can be useful. Since I didn't find any indication that John has read Meta-States, Secrets of Personal Mastery, Communication Magic or any of my other books that detailed answers to these questions, I thought I would use the medium of a NLP journal to answer. There are numerous paragraphs in this article where I do not use the term "meta," so as you notice that ... smile, John.

In terms of having honest debate and discussion (dialogue) in the NLP community, I welcome these challenges from John and will be interested in his responses. These are important questions that need to be addressed. After all, NLP itself is just a map and therefore also subject to needing revision and updating from time to time as we move into the 21st century.

Misunderstanding Korzybski

In Whispering in the Wind, John repeatedly offers a refrain about Korzybski that accuses him of not really understanding the map/territory distinction and of misidentifying the "territory." Having extensively studied Korzybski's Science and Sanity seven times, I know that this misrepresents what Korzybski actually said. Before I provide quotes from Science and Sanity, here is what John wrote:

"We are proposing that Korzybski was far too conservative when he said the map is not the territory. Indeed, we propose that his territory isn't even the territory." (p. 25)

"There is no isomorphic mapping between the representations called FA [First Access] and the linguistic coding of these."

"In what Korzybski called the territory─ the neurologically transformed representations to which we first have access─ there are no artificial sets ... FA has no such groupings." (p. 30)

FA is John's new terminology. It stands for First Access and refers to how we first access the outside world, not through our language or even representation systems, but prior to that, through the sense receptors of our eyes, ears skin, and other end receptors.

"There is an ambiguity in Korzybski's writing as to whether the territory he referred to is what we call here FA or the actual world itself. The more general point─ the distinction between neurological transforms and linguistic transforms─ we are making is independent of which way you read Korzybski" (p. 46)

This significantly broadens and deepens the representation of "Korzybski's territory" (actually NOT the territory but rather the already transformed representations at First Access) from which you will ultimately map onto an explicitly model (post FA) once you reach criteria." (131-132)

I'm in good company when I say that I have no problem with John's description of "first access" because neither would Korzybski. This was, in fact, one of the revolutionary things Korzybski pioneered in neuro-linguistics back in 1933. He created a model called The Structural Differential that is comprised of his "levels of abstraction" that moves from those "first access" channels of information that strike our neurology and the non-conscious facets of our embodied existence and through several levels of "access" before that information reaches even our sensory representational encoding and then on to conscious awareness of the sensory representations systems (the VAK in NLP).

Actually, if you want pages upon pages of detailed description of all the levels of first, second, third, etc. access from the process world of events "out there" prior to becoming encoded as our sensory awareness and before our Representational Encoding of that─ read Science and Sanity (pp. 327, 328, 329). No NLP book has yet been published that goes into such detail.

As an engineer who used more mathematics than any NLP book has ever used, Korzybski recognized that the only "content of knowledge is structure" and that this makes correspondence between the structure of the world and the structure we encode in our mapping important. Yes, John, there is "no necessary correspondence between the way we divide up our perceived appearance (FA) and the actual structure of the world" (25). Yet, it is structure that gives us our most important information. That was Korzybski's point.

Korzybski described the world "out there" as the process world that's always changing, the "mad dance of electrons," that for him was "the territory," the territory that we do not have access to directly. When we begin our neurological mapping, that is the "unspeakable level" of abstraction, a level that we do not have conscious access to.

"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 we reflect upon our languages, we find that at best they must be considered only as maps. A word is not the object it represents; and languages exhibit also this peculiar self-reflexiveness, that we can analyze languages by linguistic means." (p. 58).

"As words are not the objects which they represent, structure, and structure alone, becomes the only link which connects our verbal processes with the empirical data." (p. 59)

"The structure of the actual world is such that it is impossible entirely to isolate an object. An Aristotelian subject-predicate language, with its tendency to treat objects as in isolation and to have no place for relations, obviously has a structure not similar to the structure of the world, in which we deal only with collections, of which the members are related." (57)

"If we take something, let us say the object ... called 'pencil,' and enquire what it represents ... we find that the 'scientific object' represents an 'event,' a mad dance of 'electrons,' which is different every instant, which never repeats itself, which is known to consist of extremely complex dynamic processes of very fine structure, acted upon by, and reacting upon, the rest of the universe, inextricably connected with everything else and dependent on everything else." (387)

Korzybski's Levels of Abstraction

Etc.                                 -Beyond Words
Evaluative Words
↑↓                            Linguistic Maps of ↓
Evaluative Words
Evaluative Words                     Intensional
Sensory Based Words(Ad)
↑↓                          Neurological Maps of ↓
Sensory Representation
(V.A.K.O.G.)                         Extensional
Sense Receptors
_________________________Before Words
Reality the territory beyond        

"Reality" beyond the nervous system

Korzybski's Structural Differential identifies and separates numerous levels. The "territory" out there are the "events" or the mad dance of electrons "out there" that we never have contact with. Then there is "the object" or the objective level. This is Grinder's First Access (FA) and Korzybski's description of the same many years ago.

"We see that the object is not the event but an abstraction from it, and that the label is not the object nor the event, but a still further abstraction." (p. 389)

"We have already spoken of the event in terms of recognition; namely, that we can never recognize an event, as it changes continually." (390)

Expanding the Meta-Model

With regard to expanding the Meta-Model distinctions, John writes this:

"We find it peculiar that there are people (Michael Hall, for example) proposing to add to the meta model additional patterns without justifying them. It seems to us that the entire point of modeling is exactly a movement in the opposite direction. Rather than expand a model already proven effective in securing some outcome, X, the task of a modeler is to attempt to reduce the model consistent with achieving X─ that is, to demonstrate that X can be achieved with fewer distinctions or more efficiently... (p. 186)

This is really interesting given what he wrote in The Structure of Magic, Volume I. Apparently John has not read Communication Magic (2001), revised from The Secrets of Magic, 1997) where I "justified" expanding the Meta-Model by quoting him! Here I quote me quoting him.

"The 13 distinctions of that we have detailed in the Meta-Model offer linguistic distinctions about modeling, mapmaking, and well-formed structures. Yet they do not express the last word about such. John and Richard noted this at the beginning of their work in The Structure of Magic,

"... our Meta-Model covers only a portion of the verbal communication which is possible..." (p. 107)

"... we suspect that some of the research currently being conducted in Generative Semantics ... will be particularly useful in expanding the Meta-Model further." (p. 109)

Hmmmm, "useful in expanding the Meta-Model further" was Grinder1975 and Hall1997, a point that Grinder2001 now has problems with and argues conflicts against. Now he wants to reduce the model rather than expand it. Of course it is perfectly fine to change one's mind. I have no problem with that. But how fine is it to encourage "expanding the Meta-Model further," provide the justification for it, and then demand that I have to justify it now without reading my justifications for it or remembering that he himself began NLP on the note of expanding it?

Here are more of my "justifications" for it from Communication Magic:

"I began my own search for missing Meta-Model distinctions in 1990 as I engaged in an indepth exploration of the foundational work of neuro-linguistics in the classic work of Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics (1933/ 1994). After having presented the Meta-Model as part of the NLP training, and researched into Korzybski, I published a series of articles in Anchor Point (an International NLP popular magazine) on the missing Meta-Model distinctions (1992). These were later published in German (Multimind─ NLP aktuell magazine) and were also translated in other languages, Russian, Spanish, etc. That work ultimately culminated in my doctoral studies and dissertation and a book, Languaging (1996). I have replicated some of that work here, as I have updated and expanded the Meta-Model."

Riotously Proliferating Meta-States

While John recognizes that his third perceptual position is a meta-state, he seems to think that to create many of these is a naughty thing to do.

"One explicit use of a meta state is 3rd position as it occurs in Triple Description. This is a state in which the person involved positions herself perceptually such that she is entertaining representations of herself as an actress/player in the scene that represents the situation she wishes to influence. This is variously referred to as the coach, the observer, the consultant, the director, the 3rd position or the meta position. In this particular use, the meta position or 3rd is a perceptual position that includes or covers in its scope a representation of the representing party. The ordering principle that generates the difference in levels is ... contains/covers a representation of ... (downwards) or is included in/covered by a representation of ... (upwards)." (288).

Here is a meta-state that operates at a higher logical level and that has a psychologically (mentally, emotionally, and somatically encompassing impact throughout a person's neuro-semantics). Apparently this one is okay and valid. But apparently, he senses that there is no use or value from doing very much of this.

"Meta states: literally states about states, states within the coverage of other states or states within the scope of another state. In its actual usage, it is sometimes very difficult to understand what the author who is proposing the about relationship intends. For example, M. Hall's gives the impression that he finds great value in a riotous proliferation of every "higher" states of meta states although we find it difficult to imagine what advantages might accrue from such activities. We invite M. Hall to make explicit the answer to the simple meta model challenge,

"Meta states are states about other states... about, how specifically?" (p. 288)

My explanations for this are in numerous books, several of which I have sent to John since he apparently has not been keeping up with the field. In Meta-States: Managing the higher Levels of the Mind (2000), I offer a more academic presentation of the model, tying it into Bateson's work, Korzybski, to the field of Meta-Cognition and the researchers there, to Logo-therapy, Cognitive Linguistics, etc. In Dragon Slaying: From Dragons to Princes (2000) I show how that meta-states can be sick, morbid, and toxic and the very structure of self-sabotage. In that same work, we use meta-states to build up numerous genius states, self-esteeming, proactivity, forgiveness, etc. We used the higher meta-states to establish an executive state of mind that can govern and manage the genius states. John called the higher state, the Controller state, and posited it as a way to manage the demon in Turtles all the Way Down (1987). He said that the way to manage the first-level attention was through the use of logical levels. That's what I mapped out using meta-states.

What has the proliferation of meta-states led to that has been useful? Models for selling and influence, a model for wealth building, a model for being fit and slim, a model for all kinds of higher states (resilience, forgiveness, proactivity, uninsultability, etc.), a model for remodeling NLP and Meta-States (Frame Games) which in turn has led to many more patterns, books, trainings, etc. It has led to 110 Neuro-Semantic patterns. Perhaps this riotous proliferation of higher states is the magic and dynamic of what's emerging in Neuro-Semantics.

Through the proliferation of meta-states, we have identified numerous meta-level alignment patterns that leads to greater congruency─ a state that John argues for. In Neuro-Semantics we specified the Mind-to-Muscle Pattern three years ago and have used that for closing the knowing-doing gap that prevents so many people from "applying to self." Of course, the self-reflexivity that is built into the very heart of the Meta-States model has "apply to self" as an essential facet of every meta-stating process. Some great reasons to riotously proliferate more and more higher states of mind is for greater congruence, personal power, and creativity.

About "Logical Levels"

John admits in Whisperings that he departs from historical usage of "logical levels" and does not follow Bateson, Russell and Whitehead, Dilts or myself. In the typical definition of "logical levels" we say that a "Logical Level" refers to an internal hierarchy in which each level is progressively more psychologically encompassing and impactful. John finds this confusing and thinks that the language prevents the rest of the NLP community to participate in the discussion.

"If there is some serious intention involved here, specification of the terms, psychologically encompassing and impactful is required to allow the rest of the world of NLP to participate intelligently in the discussion." (347)

Consider the states of mind that we recognize as playful and serious. Suppose we meta-state playfulness with seriousness and set the state of mind-body-emotion of being serious as the frame for playful. That would give us the more complex state of being "seriously playful." Many parents get that way watching soccer. Soccer is a game and is designed for play and fun. But then people get serious about it. And sometimes that seriousness becomes deadly.

Is that different from being "playfully serious?" What is the quality and nature of a state that's playfully earnest? It is this texturing of states that shows how the higher frame operates in a way that is psychologically (mentally, emotionally, somatically, personally, interpersonally) impactful. The higher state or frame operates in an encompassing way setting the frame. This impacts the entire mind-body-emotion system. It operates like an attractor in a self-organizing system. That's what "psychologically encompassing and impactful" refers to. On this subject of the power of meta-stating I have written numerous articles. For beginners, I would invite John to catch up with the current state-of-the-art of Meta-States by reading the following articles (see, click on the button, "Logical Types").

Texturing States

Meta-Stating Playfulness

Super-Charging Your Brain Using Meta-States

On "logical levels," we now have several articles on the web site specially dedicated to this subject:

The Fluidity of Logical Levels

Greater Flexibility Using the Other Logical Levels

Is there Any Difference between Logical Levels and Logical Types?

How Meta-States Enriches Logical Levels


Believing as I do that true dialogue around critical issues is the heart of what keeps a community alive and growing I have sought to briefly answer some of the key concerns that John has surfaced in Whispering. Nothing keeps a community and individuals more honest and authentic than honest debate about central features of a model. It is in that way that new ideas that enable a model to continue and evolve with the changing times. It enables people to congruently walk their talk and to be forthright and professional. I would have liked to have seen John put my books and articles in his bibliography so that others can look up the original sources. That only seems fair when being critiqued. Personally I make it a policy to generally first send a copy of a critique that I intend to publish to the person that it concerns and to ask, "Have I accurately represented you?"


Grinder, John; St. Clair, Carmen, Bostic. (2002). Whispering in the Wind. Scotts Valley, CA: J & C. Enterprises.

Hall, Michael L. (2000). Meta-States: Managing the higher levels of the mind. Grand Jct. CO: N.S. Publications.

Hall, Michael. (1997). NLP: Going Meta─ Advance modeling using meta-levels. Grand Jct. CO: ET Publications.

Hall, L. Michael; Bodenhamer, Bob G. (1999). The structure of excellence: Unmasking the meta-levels of 'submodalities.' Grand Junction, CO: E.T. Publications.

Hall, L. Michael; Bodenhamer, Bob. (1998). The Three NLP Meta-Domains as a Unifying Model. Paper.

Hall, L. Michael. (2001). The Secrets of Personal Mastery. UK: Wales. Crown House Publications.


L. Michael Hall, Ph.D., cognitive psychologist, international NLP trainer, entrepreneur; prolific author and international training; developer of Meta-States and co-developer of Neuro-Semantics. (P.O. Box 8, Clifton CO 81520), (970) 523-7877.


Entire Thread

TopicDate PostedPosted By
An Answer to John Grinder #104/08/2002 13:59:20Zaphod
     Copy of Mr. Hall's response article included here04/08/2002 19:03:39nj
     ReRe:An Answer to John Grinder #123/11/2002 21:07:02Zigfield Roy
          Re:ReRe:An Answer to John Grinder #125/11/2002 09:27:44Keith Fail
               Re:Re:ReRe:An Answer to John Grinder #125/11/2002 22:26:13Zigfield Roy
                    Re:Re:Re:ReRe:An Answer to John Grinder #126/11/2002 09:16:46Keith Fail
                         Re:Re:Re:Re:ReRe:An Answer to John Grinder #127/11/2002 17:29:10John Grinder
                         Re:Re:Re:Re:ReRe:An Answer to John Grinder #127/11/2002 17:41:35John Grinder
                              Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:ReRe:An Answer to John Grinder #127/11/2002 18:32:02John Schertzer
                                   Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:ReRe:An Answer to John Grinder #112/12/2002 19:15:55Zig

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