SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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We see, thus, that any statement referring to anything objective in this world can always be analysed into terms of relations and structure, and that it involves also definite structural assumptions. More than that, as the only possible content of knowledge and science is structural, whether we like it or not, to know anything we must search for structure, or posit some structure. Every statement can also be analysed until we come to definite structural issues. This applies, however, with certainty only to significant statements, and, perhaps, not to the various noises which we can make with our mouth with the semblance of words, but which are meaningless, as they are not symbols for anything. It must be added that in the older systems we did not discriminate between
^-system such a dis-
words (symbols) and noises (not symbols). In a
crimination is essential.
The structure of the world is, in principle, unknown; and the only aim of knowledge and science is to discover this structure. The structure of languages is potentially known, if we pay attention to it. Our only possible procedure in advancing our knowledge is to match our verbal structures, often called theories, with empirical structures, and see if our verbal predictions are fulfilled empirically or not, thus indicating that the two structures are either similar or dissimilar.
We see, thus, that in the. investigation of structure we find not only means for rationality and for adjustment, and so sanity, but also a most important tool for exploring this world and scientific advance.
From the educational point of view, also, the results of such an investigation seem to be unusually important, because they are extremely simple, automatic in their working, and can be applied universally in elementary education. As the issue is merely one of linguistic structure, it is enough to train children to abandon the 'is' of identity, in the habitual use of a few new terms, and to warn them repeatedly against the use of some terms of antiquated structure. We shall thus eliminate the pre-human and primitive semantic factors included in the structure of a primitive language. The moralizing and combating of primitive-made metaphysics is not effectual; but the habitual use of a language of modern structure, free from identity, produces semantic results where the old failed. Let us repeat again, a most important point, that the new desirable semantic results follow as automatically as the old undesirable ones followed.
It should be noticed that terms such as 'collection', 'fact', 'reality', 'function', 'relation', 'order', 'structure', 'characteristics', 'problem'., must be considered as multiordinal terms (see Part VII), and so, in general oo-valued and ambiguous. They become specific and one-valued