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An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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ON SYMBOLISM
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affairs which becomes pathological the moment he projects it on the outside world. If one should claim that the term 'unicorn' is a symbol, he must state what this symbol stands for. It might be said that 'unicorn', as a symbol, stands for a fanciful animal in heraldry, a statement which happens to be true. In such a sense the term 'unicorn' becomes a symbol for a fancy, and rightly belongs to psycho-logics, which deals with human fancies, but does not belong to zoology, which deals with actual animals. But if one should believe firmly and intensely that the 'unicorn' represents an actual animal which has an external existence, he would be either mistaken or ignorant, and could be convinced or enlightened; or, if not, he would be seriously ill. We see that in this case, as in many others, all depends to what 'ology' our semantic impulses assign some 'existence'. If we assign the 'unicorn' to psycho-logics, or to heraldry, such an assignment is correct, and no semantic harm is done; but if we assign a 'unicorn' to zoology; that is to say, if we believe that a 'unicorn' has an objective and not a fictitious existence, this s.r might be either a mistake, or ignorance, and, in such a case, it could be corrected; otherwise, it becomes a semantic illness. If, in spite of all contrary evidence, or of the lack of all positive evidence, we hold persistently to the belief, then the affective components of our s.r are so strong that they are beyond normal control. Usually a person holding such affective beliefs is seriously ill, and, therefore, no amount of evidence can convince him.
We see, then, that it is not a matter of indifference to what 'ology' we assign terms, and some assignments may be of a pathological character, if they identify psycho-logical entities with the outside world. Life is full of such dramatic identifications, and it would be a great step forward in semantic hygiene if some 'ologies' - e.g., demonologies of different brands, should be abolished as such, and their subject-matter transferred to another 'ology'; namely, to psycho-logics, where it belongs.
The projection mechanism is one fraught with serious dangers, and it is very dangerous to develop it. The danger is greatest in childhood, when silly teachings help to develop this semantic mechanism, and so to affect, in a pathological way, the physically undeveloped nervous system of the human child. Here we meet an important fact which will become prominent later - that ignorance, identification, and pathological delusions, illusions, and hallucinations, are dangerously akin, and differentiated only by the 'emotional' background or intensity.
An important aspect of the problem of existence can be made clear by some examples. Let us recall that a noise or written sign, to become a symbol, must stand for something. Let us imagine that you, my
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