SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search




xlvi INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND EDITION
that 'every language has ... a structure concerning which, in the language, nothing can be said, but that there may be another language dealing with the structure of the first language, and having itself a new structure'.* What Russell calls a 'possibility' becomes a fact once a system of different structure is built. Then the issues become clear.
Russell limits himself to the structure of a language, and disregards the fact that this limitation is artificial, and that any language involves structural assumptions which build up a system oj orientations that may be racial, national, personal, etc.
4. IDENTIFICATIONS AND MIS-EVALUATIONS
The problem of general identification is a major problem which does not seem to be understood at all even by specialists. Psychiatrists know professionally the tragic consequences of identifications in their patients. But what even psychiatrists do not realize is that identifications in daily life are extremely frequent and bring about every kind of difficulties.
As a matter of fact we live in a world in which non-identity is as entirely general as gravitation, and so every identification is bound to be in some degree a mis-evaluation. In a four-dimensional world where 'every geometrical point has a date', even an 'electron' at different dates is not identical with itself, because the sub-microscopic processes actually going on in this world cannot empirically be stopped but only transformed. We can, however, through extensional and four-dimensional methods translate the dynamic into the static and the static into the dynamic, and so establish a similarity of structure between language and facts, which was impossible by aristotelian methods. Unfortunately even some modern physicists are unable to understand these simple facts.
To communicate to my classes what I want to convey to my readers here, the following procedure has been useful. In my seminars I pick a young woman student and pre-arrange with her a demonstration about which the class knows nothing. During the lecture she is called to the platform and I hand her a box of matches which she takes carelessly and drops on the desk. That is the only 'crime' she has committed. Then I begin to call her names, etc., with a display of anger, waving my fists in front of her face, and finally with a big gesture, I slap her face gently. Seeing this 'slap', as a rule ninety per cent of the students recoil and shiver; ten per cent show no overt reactions. The latter have seen what they have seen, but they delayed their evaluations. Then I explain to the students that their recoil and shiver was an organismal evaluation very
* Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, with an introduction by Bertraiul Russell. Harcourt, Brace, New York, 1922, p. 23.