SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search




INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND EDITION lxvii
daily life which are the cause of endless verbal bickering and confusion, because of our lack of realization of theirdenned character, depending uniquely on our attitudes. Terms such as variation in biology and anthropology, learning, frustration, education, needs, intelligence, instincts, genius, teacher, leadership, love, hate, fear, sex, man, woman, infantilism, maladjustment, dementia praecox, personality, democracy, totalitarianism, dollar, god, gold, war, peace, aggression, neutral, jew, number, velocity, etc., etc., can serve as illustrations.
One psychoanalyst suggests ego and super-ego; another writes: 'I could quote you a considerable part of psychoanalytic terms'. An epis-tomologist says, 'Meaning is a forbidden term in my courses. ... In linguistics the terms phoneme, word, sentence are mazes of confusion. . . . Philosophy is in as bad a situation. Metaphysics is even worse.' To quote a prominent anthropologist: definition is notably com-
mon in the field of so-called social anthropology in which students attempt to disregard the human organism and deal with human affairs as discrete phenomena'. For example, 'culture may be technology, morals, philosophy, or a wooden leg - all most vaguely formulated. . . . When some change in the anatomy and physiology of the organism is attributed to environment, the latter term is not broken down into climate, rainfall, food supply, etc. Social environment may be arts, industries, law, morals, religion, familial institutions, tradition, etc'
The following comment by a mathematician shows the generality of this problem: 'A term would seem to be extensionally under-defined so long as we cannot in practice exhaust its instances by enumeration. But this much is true of just about every term of the kind traditionally known as "general concrete"; e.g. house, dime, star, neurone.'
A journalist suggests: 'As an example recently come to our attention I would mention those magic words Monroe Doctrine. Even when Mr. Hull discusses it, as he does as nearly correctly as anyone "in the know", he omits some real facts, such as the economic implications of overturning the international status quo in this hemisphere. But when Japan and/or Germany (high order abstractions as used here) refer to Asiatic and/or European Monroe Doctrines, the meaning of the original words has been completely metamorphosed throughdefinition. The American accepted meaning includes no actual control of those falling within the doctrine's sphere, whereas Japan and Germany mean an actual hegemony in their respective spheres. The relationship between ours and theirs is therefore a vast confusion of terms.
'Then consider the incidents growing out of insults in the interna-