SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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xl            INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND EDITION
working of their own nervous systems. For most of them it is only detached verbalism such as we often find in hospitals for 'mentally' ill. For instance, a very gifted, well-minded mathematician and professor of 'philosophy' wrote to me: 'I do not, however, think that neuro-psychology is relevant to the analysis of the nature of meaning. ... I do not believe in confusing logic with neuro-psychology'. These professionals would be shocked if they would study the many volumes of verbal rationalizations by patients in hospitals. They would find very quickly that the words interplay with the other words somehow, but they have very little, if any, connection with the facts, and that is one reason why the patients are confined. Why speculate on academic verbal definitions instead of investigating facts in such hospitals, where patients also pay no attention to the functioning of their own nervous systems? Even a gramophone record undergoes some physical changes before words or noises can be 'stored' and/or reproduced. Is it so very difficult to understand that the extremely sensitive and highly complex human nervous system also undergoes some electro-colloidal changes before words, evaluations, etc., are stored, produced, or reproduced? In the work of general semantics we deal with the living neuro-semantic and neuro-linguistic reactions, not mere detached verbal chatter in the abstract. In our experience we have found that even seriously maladjusted persons benefit considerably if we can succeed in making them 'think' about themselves in neurological electro-colloidal terms (see chapter IX).
Most 'philosophers' who reviewed this book made particularly shocking performances. Average intelligent readers can understand this book, as they usually have some contact with life. It is not so with those who indulge in mere verbalism. I can give here only a classical example of some 'philosophical' performances. A reviewer in the Journal of Philosophy, February 1, 1934, writes:
'Except for his stimulating discussion of the mathematical infinite (p. 206) and his hints on the nature of theory (p. 253), he contributes nothing to the clarification of meanings by definite analyses of special problems. Indeed, he only adds to the confusion when he declares that hypotheses contrary to the fact are meaningless (e.g., p. 168) ; if his views were correct, science would come to an end. His theory of meaning, like his theory of social causation, is very naive, to say the least.'
I suggest that the reader verify whether on page 168 there is such a statement, or even a hint at such a notion, which I could not possibly have. Besides, I do not give any theories of 'meaning' or of 'social causation'!
Most 'philosophers', 'logicians', and even mathematicians look at this non-aristotelian system of evaluation as some system of formal non-aris-