SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search




140 IV. STRUCTURAL FACTORS IN A LANGUAGES
seems that this might involve us in complex difficulties. But, no matter how simple or how complex the means we devise, the details are immaterial, and, therefore, we can accept the roughest and simplest; let us say, the year, and usually no spatial co-ordinates. The invaluable semantic effect of such an innovation is structural, one-, versus oo-valued, psycho-logical and methodological, and affects deeply our s.r.
From time immemorial, some men were supposed to deal in one-valued 'eternal verities'. We called such men 'philosophers' or 'metaphysicians'. But they seldom realized that all their 'eternal verities' consisted only of words, and words which, for the most part, belonged to a primitive language, reflecting in its structure the assumed structure of the world of remote antiquity. Besides, they did not realize that these 'eternal verities' last only so long as the human nervous system is not altered. Under the influence of these 'philosophers', two-valued 'logic', and confusion of orders of abstractions, nearly all of us contracted a firmly rooted predilection for 'general' statements - 'universals', as they were called - which, in most cases, inherently involved the semantic one-valued conviction of validity for all 'time' to come.
If we use our statements with a date, let us say 'science 1933', such statements have a profoundly modified structural and psycho-logical character, different from the old general legislative semantic mood. A statement concerning 'science 1933', whether correct or not, has no element of semantic conviction concerning 1934.
We see, further, that a statement about 'science 1933' might be quite a definite statement, and that if the person is properly informed, it probably would be true. Here we come in contact with the structure of one of those human semantic impasses which we have pointed out. We humans, through old habits, and because of the inherent structure of human knowledge, have a tendency to make static, definite, and, in a way, absolutistic one-valued statements. But when we fight absolutism, we quite often establish, instead, some other dogma equally silly and harmful. For instance, an active atheist is psycho-logically as unsound as a rabid theist.
A similar remark applies to practically all these opposites we are constantly establishing or fighting for or against. The present structure of human knowledge is such, as will be shown later, that we tend to make definite statements, static and one-valued in character, which, when we take into account the present pre-, and A one-, two-, three-valued affective components, inevitably become absolutistic and dogmatic and extremely harmful.