SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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It is necessary here to give a short account of the great scientific revolution which started some years ago, but which is still going on with very beneficial results. This scientific revolution started in geometry, and, in a deeper sense, is carried on by geometry. Until the work of Gauss, Lobatchevski, Bolyai, Riemann., the E geometry, being unique, was believed to be the geometry of the 'space'. The moment a second geometry was produced, just as good, self-consistent, yet contradictory to the old one, the geometry became a geometry. None was unique. One absolute was dead. Until Einstein (roughly), the universe of Newton was, for us, the universe. With Einstein, it became a universe. Something similar happened to man.* A new 'man' was produced, just as good, certainly contradictory to the old one. The man became a man, otherwise a 'conceptual construction', one among the infinity of possible ones.
It is not difficult to see that in all these advances there is a common characteristic, which can be put simply in that it consists in a little change from a 'the' into an 'a'. Some people insist upon sentences in one-syllable words; here we could indeed satisfy them! The change, no doubt, can be expressed by the exchange of one syllable for another. But the problems, in spite of this apparent simplicity, are quite important; and the rest of this volume will be devoted to the examination of this change and of what it structurally involves.
In mentioning the above names, a very important one was omitted, that of Aristotle. I merely mentioned these names as representative of certain trends. Otherwise, of course, it would have been necessary to mention additional names, including sometimes those of their predecessors and the followers who have carried their work further. It would have been particularly necessary in the case of Aristotle, who was not only a most gifted man, but who, also, because of the character of his work, has semantically affected perhaps the largest number of people ever influenced by a single man; and so his work has undergone a most marked elaboration. Because of this, his name, in this book, will usually stand for the body of doctrines known as aristotelianism. It is important to keep this in consideration, because it is becoming more and more evident that the work of Aristotle and his followers has had an unprecedented influence upon the development of the Aryan race, and so the study of aristotelianism may help us to understand ourselves. In using the name of the founder of the school as a synonym for the school itself,
♦See my Manhood of Humanity, The Science and Art of Human Engineering.