SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search

of nervous impulses, and the serial, chain structure of the nervous system, order becomes paramount. In such a serial structure, the problems of resistance, 'inhibitions', blockage, activation., become intelligible, so that some sane orientation is possible in this maze. It may be added that the intensity and the transformation of nervous impulses must somehow be connected with the paths they travel and are, therefore, problems to be spoken about in terms of order.
What has just been said may be illustrated by a rough and oversimplified hypothetical diagram. Fig. 1 shows how the normal (survival in man) impulse should travel. It should pass the thalamus, pass the sub-cortical layers, reach the cortex, and return. That the impulse is altered in passing this complicated chain is indicated in the diagram by the arbitrarily diminishing thickness of the line of the impulse.
Fig. 2 illustrates an hypothetical abnormal (non-survival in man) impulse. It emerges from the lower centres. For some reason or other, the main impulse is blocked semantically, or otherwise, and does not reach the cortex; only a weak impulse does. What should be expected in such a case ? We should expect regression to the level of activities of organisms which have no cortex, or a cortex very little developed. But this could not be entirely true, as organisms without a cortex have a nervous system adequate for their lives, activities., in their environment, with survival values. But a higher organism with a cortex, no matter how rudimentary, has the other parts of the nervous structure quite different in function, and without the cortex they are inadequate for survival, as experience shows. We see that the order in which the impulses pass, or, are deviated from their survival path, is paramount. A great many different reasons may produce such deviation, too many to list conveniently. A great many of them are known, in spite of the fact that, in general, we know very little about nerve mechanisms. Suffice to say, that we know, on colloidal grounds and from experience, that macroscopic or microscopic lesions, drugs, and false doctrines affecting