SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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self, through the old semantic habits which have been produced by the lack of scientific psycho-logics and training.
The term 'correct symbolism' has already been used. In this world of structurally absolute individuals, the minimum of structurally desirable correct symbolism must provide for the possibility of labelling these absolute individuals by separate names. For scientific purposes, we must use terms built on the pattern of mathematical symbolism; i.e., according to the extensional methods. We must adopt a behaviouristic attitude and habits in our term-making. As we proceed, we must emphasize order, considering what comes first and what next. This is semantically important, for the usual procedure is entirely different: first, we have our structurally 'preconceived' doctrines and languages; next, we observe the structure of the world; and then we try to force the observed facts into the linguistic structural patterns. But, in the new way, we start with silent observations, and search empirically for structure; next, we invent verbal structures similar to them; and, finally, we see what can be said about the situation, and so test the language. Experience shows that the old habits of labels first, objects next, instead of the structurally natural order of objects first, labels next, is semantically pernicious and harmful. In Part VII, it is shown that the semantic structural reversal of the unnatural reversed order is crucial for sanity.
From the days of the Greeks an acute difficulty has made itself felt; namely, how to reconcile the world of physics with the world of mathematics. For mathematics, we need 'extensionless' points; for physics, we need finite-sized elements. Whitehead and Russell have suggested different structures by which this may be accomplished. It seems possible to demand that none of the material dealt with shall be smaller than an assigned finite size. That this condition can be reconciled with mathematical continuity seems to be novel. Whether this device is valid or not, it is yet too early to decide. This problem of reconciliation will become important further on when we come to speak of events as made up from point-events.*