"A map is not the territory it represents, but if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness." - Alfred Korzybski
The model is not the reality! A model is only useful insofar as it is isomorphic to reality. See also: epistemology.
The doctrine from General Semantics and subjective theory, later picked up by Neurolinguistic Programming, and in part supported by Neuroscientific Research and Quantum Theory, that humans in particular operate through a map of the world, rather than as the world really is. Physics makes generalizations about the world and models of the world, but physics is not the world. Psychology notes this difference between the map and the territory as the difference between perception (map) and sensation (territory). One of the goals of Zen Buddhism is to recognize this difference. The use of E-Prime by many writers attempts to more closely approximate the territory by avoiding the "is" of identity and adopting operational language. This doctrin was also hinted at by Freud with his concept of projection.
Confusion between map and territory often results in paradox.
The Map Is Not The Territory
by Rex Steven Sikes
The father of general semantics, Alford Korzybski stated, "A map is not the territory it represents, but if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness". What this means is that our perception of reality is not reality itself but our own version of it, or our "map".
No two people can have exactly the same map. While we all have similar neurological structure, it functions differently in all of us. This is the basis for our problems in communication when we try to impose our map upon another person. Learning to recognize the structure of another person's map allows us to "see the world though their eyes" and therefor understand and relate to others respectfully and accurately.
Our maps are created through gathering data through the five senses. Our senses bring certain aspects of the world to our attention, which go through neurological processes or filters, forming our values, beliefs, criteria (rules), and capabilities. These are often expressed consciously, yet most of the time they operate outside of our awareness and we don't realize that they can be changed to serve us in better ways.