SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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semantic characteristics change in a similar way. The abuse of symbolism is like the abuse of food or drink: it makes people ill, and so their reactions become deranged.
But, besides the moral and ethical gains to be obtained from the use of correct symbolism, our economic system, which is based on symbolism and which, with ignorant commercialism ruling, has mostly degenerated into an abuse of symbolism (secrecy, conspiracy, advertisements, bluff, 'live-wire agents'.,), would also gain enormously and become stable. Such an application of correct symbolism would conserve a tremendous amount of nervous energy now wasted in worries, uncertainties., which we are all the time piling upon ourselves, as if bent upon testing our endurance. We ought not to wonder that we break down individually and socially. Indeed, if we do not become more intelligent in this field, we shall inevitably break down racially.
The semantic problems of correct symbolism underlie all human life. Incorrect symbolism, similarly, has also tremendous semantic ramifications and is bound to undermine any possibility of our building a structurally human civilization. Bridges cannot be built and be expected to endure if the cubic masses of their anchorages and abutments are built according to formulae applying to surfaces. These formulae are structurally different, and their confusion with the formulae of volumes must lead to disasters. Similarly, we cannot apply generalizations taken from cows, dogs, and other animals to man, and expect the resultant social structures to endure.
Of late, the problems of meaninglessness are beginning to intrigue a number of writers, who, however, treat the subject without the realization of the multiordinal, oo-valued, and non-el character of meanings. They assume that 'meaningless' has or may have a definite general content or unique, one-valued 'meaning'. What has been already said on non-el meanings, and the example of the unicorn given above, establish a most important semantic issue; namely, that what is 'meaningless' in a given context on one level of analysis, may become full of sinister meanings on another level when it becomes a symbol for a semantic disturbance. This realization, in itself, is a most fundamental semantic factor of our reactions, without which the solution of the problems of sanity becomes extremely difficult, if at all possible.