SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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10
I. PRELIMINARIES
'speaking about speaking'. Now all scientific works in all fields are written or spoken, and so are ultimately verbal. In order to speak about speaking, in any satisfactory and fundamental 1933 sense, I had to become acquainted with the special languages used by scientists in all fields. I did not realize beforehand what a very serious undertaking this was. It took many years and much hard labour to accomplish it, but, once accomplished, the rest was simple. Scientists do not differ from the rest of us. They usually disregard entirely structural, linguistic, and semantic issues, simply because no one has, as yet, formulated these problems or shown their importance. The structural revision of their language led automatically to new results and new suggestions, and hence the surprising list.
The present enquiry is limited and partial, but because it deals with linguistic and semantic issues and their physiological and psycho-logical aspects, it is, as far as it goes, unusually general. I found that, in writing, it is extremely difficult and impracticable always to state explicitly the limitations of a statement. It seems most practical to say here that, in general, all statements here made are limited by further considerations of the actualities of an analysed problem.
Thus, for instance, a 'theory of sanity' deals with the most important semantic issues from limited semantic aspects, and has nothing to do with forms of 'insanity' arising from different organic, or toxic, or other disturbances, which remain as serious as ever. The statements made cover just as much as further investigations will allow them to cover - and no more.
The reader should be warned against undue generalizations, as they may be unjustified. It is impossible, at this stage, to foresee all the ramifications of the present work. The verbal issues, which correspond roughly to the older 'mental' issues, seem to pervade all human problems to some extent, and so the field of application and influence of any such enquiry must be very large. Most of the results of the present work involve factors of unusual security of conclusion, though they may violate canons of our 'philosophical' creeds.
The explanation is astonishingly simple and easily verified. The present non-aristotelian system is based on fundamental negative premises; namely, the complete denial of 'identity', which denial cannot be denied without imposing the burden of impossible proof on the person who denies the denial. If we start, for instance, with a statement that 'a word is not the object spoken about', and some one tries to deny that, he would have to produce an actual physical object which would be the word, - impossible of performance, even in asylums for the 'men-