SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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The external world is full of devastating energies and of stimuli too strong for some organisms to endure. We know that only those organisms have survived which could successfully either protect themselves from over-stimulations or else were under protective circumstances. If we look over the series of surviving individuals, paying special attention to the higher animals and man, we find that the nervous system has, besides the task of conducting excitation., the task of so-called 'inhibition'. Response to stimuli, by survival, proved its usefulness. But to diminish the response to some stimuli or avoid stimuli, proved also to be useful, again by survival. It is known that the upper or latest layers of the nervous system are mostly such protective layers, to prevent immediate responses to stimulation. With the development of the nervous system from the simplest to the most complex, we see an increase in behaviour of a modifiable or individually adjustable type. In terms of order, and using the old language, 'senses' came first in order and 'mind' next, in all their forms and degrees.
If we speak in neurological terms, we may say that the present nervous structure is such that the entering nerve currents have a natural direction, established by survival; namely, they traverse the brain-stem and the thalamus first, the sub-cortical layers next, then the cerebral cortex, and return, transformed, by various paths. Experience and science in 1933 are showing that this is the order established under a heavy toll of destruction and non-survival in a system of adjustment, and so should be considered the 'natural' order, because of its survival value.
We all know in practice about a 'sensation', and a 'mental picture' or 'idea'. As 'sensations' were often very deceptive and, therefore, did not always lead to survival, a nervous system which somehow retained vestiges, or 'memories', of former 'sensations' and could recombine them, shift them., proved of higher survival value, and so 'intelligence' evolved, from the lowest to the highest degrees.
Experience and experiments show that the natural order was 'sensation' first, 'idea' next; the 'sensation' being an abstraction of some order, and the 'idea' already an abstraction from an abstraction or an abstraction of higher order.
Experience shows again that among humans, this order in manifestations is sometimes reversed; namely, that some individuals have 'idea' first; namely, some vestiges of memories, and 'sensations' next, without any external reason for the 'sensations'. Such individuals are considered 'mentally' ill; in legal terms, they are called 'insane'. They 'see', where there is nothing to see; they 'hear', where there is nothing to hear; they are paralysed, where there is no reason to be paralysed; they have pains,