SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search

tional fields. What is an insult ? It is usually pure verbalism with great affective characteristics manipulated to sway others as the swayer directs. To bring it into the domestic field, call a Republican (what is that?) a New Dealer (again, what is that ?) and the fur begins to fly.'
A leading moving picture executive says that actors have frequent verbal arguments about what is funny. The only thing to do is to try it before an audience. 'If it makes them . . . laugh, it may be termed funny. If it fails to make them laugh, it is not funny.' In the meantime, 'your audience may tell you that the subject in dispute is neither funny nor not-funny. It is merely boring.'
There is no need to give further examples here, as practically the whole dictionary could be quoted. In my enquiry concerningdefined terms in many fields I got a number of answers which were very fundamental, which I gratefully acknowledge. Some replies were to the effect that 'I would gladly give you examples such as you ask for, but I do not think I have any that would be new to you', which shows their understanding of the problem. Yet the most extensional answer was given by that brilliant jurist, Dr. Robert M. Hutchins, who sent to me his Convocation Address of June, 1940 with a letter, which he has kindly given me permission to quote, as follows: 'I am afraid you will feel that all the words I use are examples of the errors you are attacking. Here is my last Convocation Address, with a sample in every line.' Such a judgement is profoundly justified whenever language is utilized. This address is a splendid piece of work, and it implies the intuitive recognition of the fundamental neuro-linguistic difficulties we are up against.
But an intuitive grasp by exceptional persons does not make that recognition teachable in general education. We need crisp, general methodological formulations which, will make people aware of the role the structure of language plays in affecting our types of reactions. For instance, our language may be elementalistic or non-elementalistic, inten-sional or extensional, in structure, etc. We discover also the fundamental multiordinal character of the most important terms we have, the
defined character of most of our terms, etc.
As the difficulties mentioned here are inherent in our neuro-semantic and neuro-linguistic mechanisms, which control our reactions, the only possible safe-guard against the dangers of hopeless bewilderment, fears, anxieties, etc., is the consciousness of the mechanisms. Certainly 'philosophers', 'logicians', psychiatrists, educators, etc., should be aware of these problems, and introduce this consciousness even in elementary education and in psychotherapy.