SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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from food, and die. We see that the external environmental conditions determine which characteristics survive, and so we reach the notion of adjustment.
The practical result of these conditions is that the indefinite number of individual variations, although they undoubtedly exist, seldom come to our attention, as those variations which do not fit their environmental conditions become extinct; their variations do not become hereditary, and consequently we can seldom find them outside of a laboratory.
This shows, also, the permanent connection and interdependence of the facts of nature. The structural fact that our trees grow with their roots in the ground and their leaves upward is not an independent fact; it has something to do with the structure of the world and the position and the effect of the sun,. So the fact that we have positively heliotropic caterpillars of a special kind, and not negatively heliotropic ones, has something to do with the structure of the rest of the world.
To illustrate this interconnection and interdependence of nature still more clearly, let me suggest an hypothetical question. How would conditions, as they are on this earth, compare with those which would obtain, if it were, let us say, one mile greater in diameter ? Some try to guess the answer; yet this question cannot be answered at all. The diameter of this earth is strictly dependent on all the structural conditions which prevail in this world. Since it is impossible to know what kind of a universe it would be, in which this earth could be different from what we know, it is, of course, equally impossible to foresee whether on such a fictitious earth, in such a fictitious universe, there would even be life at all. Because the structure of the world is such as we know it, our sun, our earth, out trees, our caterpillars, and, finally, ourselves have their structure and characteristics. We do not need to enter here into the problems of determinism versus indeterminism, as these problems are purely verbal, depending on our orders of abstractions, the 'logic' we accept, and so, finally, on our pleasure, as is explained more in detail later on, and could not be solved satisfactorily in an A, el system, with its two-valued 'logic'.
According to the evidence at hand in 1933, 'Smith,,' appears among the latest inhabitants of this earth, and subject to the general test of survival, as already explained. The few thousand years during which there had been any 'Smith,,' are too short a period to test, with any certitude, his capacity for survival. We know of many species of animals, and also races of man, of which very little trace has been left. What we know about their history is mostly through a few fossils, which are kept in museums.