SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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system of his own. As a rule, personal systems are a part of, and influenced by, larger systems, which in turn are influenced by still more general systems. Such problems can be handled at present only by the methods of general semantics and by topological methods.*
'Mental' illness and every form of maladjustment are to be considered as mis-evaluations, involving some 'philosophies', public or individual, one within the other, as usual. 'Philosophers', etc., who wish to become aware of such dangers, would do well to study the verbalizations and mis-evaluations of the 'mentally' ill in hospitals.
There is a fundamental confusion between the notion of the older 'semantics' as connected with a theory of verbal 'meaning' and words defined by words, and the present theory of 'general semantics' where we deal only with neuro-semantic and neuro-linguistic living reactions of Smith, Smith2, etc., as their reactions to neuro-semantic and neuro-lin-guistic environments as environment.
The present day theories of 'meaning' are extremely confused and difficult, ultimately hopeless, and probably harmful to the sanity of the human race. Of late in the United States some members of the progressive education movement have written much on 'referents' and 'operational* methods, in the abstract, based on verbalism. Let us consider some facts, and how the theories of referents and operational methods fit human evaluations. Here is, for instance, Smith! who, through family, social, economic, political, etc., conditions has become 'insane'. Smith finally, in ordinary parlance, kills Smith2. From a human point of view it is a very complex and tragic situation. Let us account for it in terms of referents and operations. The body and the heart of Smith2, the hand of Smithx, the knife, etc., are perfectly good referents. The grabbing of the knife by Smith and plunging it in the heart of Smith2, the falling down on the ground by Smith2 and the kicking of his legs are perfectly good operations. However, where is human evaluation? Where is concern with 'sanity' and 'insanity'? Here we deal with some of the deepest human and social tragedies which, in this case, involve not only the killing of Smith2 by Smith, but the sick, unhappy, twisted life of Smith, affecting all his life connections, and with which we must be concerned if we are to be human beings and different from apes.
* Lewin, Kurt. Principles of Topological Psychology. McGraw-Hill, New York, 1936.