SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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the average Smiths, Browns., but we should have to study the mentations of Joneses and Whites when they use their 'mind' at its best; namely, when they mathematize, scientize., and we should also have to study the mentations of those whom we call 'insane', when they use their 'mind' at its worst. It is not our aim to give a detailed list of these forms of human behaviour which we should study, since all should be studied. It is enough for our purpose to emphasize the two main omissions; namely, the study of mathematics and the study of 'insanity'.
As a similar reasoning applies to 'psychology', we must sadly admit that we have as yet no general theory which deserves the name of 'logic' or psycho-logics. What has passed under the name of 'logic', for instance, is not 'logic' according to its own definition, but represents a philosophical grammar of a primitive-made language, of a structure different from the structure of the world, unfit for serious use. If we try to apply the rules of the old 'logic', we find ourselves blocked by ridiculous impasses. So, naturally, we discover that we have no use for such a 'logic'.
It follows also that any one who has any serious intention of becoming a 'logician' or a psycho-logician must, first of all, be a thorough mathematician and must also study 'insanity'. Only with such preparation is there any possibility of becoming a psycho-logician or semantician. Sometimes it is useful to stop deceiving ourselves; and it is deceiving ourselves if we claim to be studying human psycho-logics, or human 'logic', when we are generalizing only from those forms of human behaviour which we have in common with the animals and neglect other forms, especially the most characteristic forms of human behaviour, such as mathematics, science, and 'insanity'. If, as psycho-logicians, we want to be 'behaviourists', it is clear that we must study all known forms of human behaviour. But it seems never to have occurred to the 'behaviourists' that mathematics and 'insanity' are very characteristic forms of human behaviour.
Some readers may be puzzled by my calling the daily forms of representation we use 'primitive-made'. Let me illustrate what I mean by a classical example. For more than two thousand years the famous paradox of Zeno has puzzled 'philosophers', without any solution, and only in our own day has it been solved by mathematicians. The paradox reads: Achilles was supposed to be a very swift runner, and in a race with a tortoise, which was given the benefit of starting first, Achilles could never overtake his slow competitor, because, the argument runs, before he could overtake the tortoise he would have to halve the distance between them, and again halve the remaining half, and so on. No matter how long this might last, there still would be some distance to halve, and so