SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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scnted by . What such a number is like is hardly possible
to imagine. For comparison, it may be said that probably the whole visible sidereal universe does not contain more than 1066 atoms!z
Our present knowledge of the nervous system is limited as regards its complexities and possibilities, but we know many structural facts which seem to be well established. One of these is that the human nervous system is more complex than that of any animal. Another is that the human cortex is of later origin than, and in a way an outgrowth from, the more central parts of the brain (which establishes a structure of levels). A third is that the interconnection of the parts of the nervous system is cyclic. A fourth is that the velocity of nerve currents is finite. The last fact is of serious structural importance, and, as a rule, disregarded.
Section C. Structure, relations, and multi-dimensional order.
In such an ordered cyclic chain, the nerve impulses reach and traverse the different levels with finite velocity and so, in each case, in a definite order. 'Intelligence' becomes a manifestation of life of the organism-as-a-whole, structurally impossible in some fictitious 'isolation'. To 'be' means to be related. To be related involves multi-dimensional order and results in structure.
'Survival', 'adaptation', 'response', 'habit formation', 'orientation', 'learning', 'selection', 'evaluation', 'intelligence', 'semantic reactions', and all similar terms involve structurally an ordered, interrelated structural complex in which and by which we live and function. To 'comprehend', to 'understand', to 'know', to be 'intelligent'., in the pre-human as well as the human way, means the most useful survival adjustment to such an ordered, interrelated structure as the world and ourselves.
In this vocabulary, 'structure' is the highest abstraction, as it involves a whole, taken as-a-whole, made up of interrelated parts, the relations of which can be defined in still simpler terms of order. 'Knowing', in its broadest as well as in its narrow human sense, is conditioned by structure, and so consists of structural knowings. All empirical structures involve relations, and the last depend on multi-dimensional order. A language of order, therefore, is the simplest form of language, yet in structure it is similar to the structure of the world and ourselves. Such a language is bound to be useful for adaptation and, therefore, sanity; it results in the understanding of the structural, relational, multi-dimensional order in the environment on all levels.
We must stress the structural fact that the introduction of order as a fundamental term abolishes some fanciful and semantically very harm-