SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search

world! Such delusions must ultimately be destructive to human culture, and responsible for the tragic 'cultural lag', stressed so much today by social anthropologists.
Existing theories of 'meaning' of any school do not take into consideration that any definition of words by words must be based ultimately on undefined terms. To the best of my knowledge this problem is not considered at all in present day educational systems, outside of some sciences, and so the existing theories run in a vicious circle, just like a dog chasing his tail, and are bound to be ineffective, if not harmful.
As Professor Keyser aptly formulates the problem: 'If he contend, as sometimes he will contend, that he has defined all his terms and proved all his propositions, then either he is a performer of logical miracles or he is an ass; and, as you know, logical miracles are impossible.'*
Similarly the theorists in the 'theory of meaning' as described above disregard the inadequacy for human orientation of the subject-predicate form of representation. I must refer the reader to my chapter on relations, page 188 ff., for further information.
In principle, a type of orientation which restricts formally everything to subject-predicate forms of representation can account only for symmetrical relations, and we may beat in the bush about 'meaning'; in principle, however, a theory of evaluation is then impossible. Evaluation must be based on asymmetrical relations such as 'more' or 'less', etc., which cannot be dealt with at all adequately if restricted formally to subject-predicate forms of representation, that harmfully affect our orientations.
What I have said here is correct in principle; however, in practice, in the neuro-semantic and neuro-linguistic development of the white race we had to invent, by living necessity, some asymmetrical relations such as 'more' or 'less', etc. The difficulty lies in the fact that these methods of escape from a subject-predicate grammatical structure of language were used only haphazardly, and not formulated generally into a workable system based on asymmetrical relations, which would be teachable.
Similarly with the problem of intensional orientation by verbal definitions and extensional orientation by facts (see p. 173) ; there is also confusion about it. 'Pure' extension is humanly impossible; 'pure' intension is possible, and is often found in hospitals for 'mentally' ill, and in some chairs of 'philosophy'. These issues and problems are seriously confusing to the average person because they have not been formulated before in a methodological system.
* Keyser, Cassius J. Mathematical Philosophy. E. P. Dutton, New York, 1922, p. 152.