SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search




xc
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION
C, in 1930. Other aspects were discussed before the American Mathematical Society, October 25, 1930, and the Mathematical Section of The American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1931. The latter paper is printed as Supplement III in this volume,
The general character of the present work is perhaps best indicated by the two following analogies. It is well known that for the working of any machine some lubricant is needed. Without expressing any judgement about the present 'machine age', we have to admit that technically it is very advanced, and that without this advancement many scientific investigations necessitating very refined instruments would be impossible. Let us assume that mankind never had at its disposal a clean lubricant, but that existing lubricants always contained emery sand, the presence of which escaped our notice. Under such conditions, existing technical developments, with all their consequences, would be impossible. Any machine would last only a few weeks or months instead of many years, making the prices of machines and the cost of their utilization entirely prohibitive. Technical development would thus be retarded for many centuries. Let us now assume that somebody were to discover a simple means for the elimination of emery from the lubricants; at once the present technical developments would become possible, and be gradually accomplished.
Something similar has occurred in our human affairs. Technically we are very advanced, but the elementalistic premises underlying our human relations, practically since Aristotle, have not changed at all. The present investigation reveals that in the functioning of our nervous systems a special harmful factor is involved, a 'lubricant with emery' so to speak, which retards the development of sane human relations and prevents general sanity. It turns out that in the structure of our languages, methods, 'habits of thought', orientations, etc., we preserve delusional, psychopathological factors. These are in no way inevitable, as will be shown, but can be easily eliminated by special training, therapeutic in effect, and consequently of educational preventive value. This 'emery' in the nervous system I call identification. It involves deeply rooted 'principles' which are invariably false to facts and so our orientations based on them cannot lead to adjustment and sanity.
A medical analogy here suggests itself. We find a peculiar parallel between identification and infectious diseases. History proves that under primitive conditions infectious diseases cannot be controlled. They spread rapidly, sometimes killing off more than half of the affected population. The infectious agent may be transmitted either