SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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'universe of discourse' is strictly connected with the terms of 'matter', 'space', and 'time', structure, and our semantic attitude toward these terms.
Let us return to the analysis of our object which we call the 'pencil'. We have seen that the object pencil is not 'matter', nor 'space', nor 'time'. A question arises, which has been asked very often and has never, to my knowledge, been answered satisfactorily: what 'is' the object pencil, and what 'are' the terms 'matter', 'space', and 'time' ? Here and there some one has given fragments of answers or some satisfactory detached statements. But in every case I know, the semantic disturbance called identification appears, and so even the casual correct answer is not applied but remains enmeshed in some other identifications. I have spent much 'time' and labour in overcoming my own identifications, and now confront the situation that nearly every work I read from this point of view cannot be criticized, but requires rewriting. This task is impossible for me, technically and otherwise. So, finally, I decided to formulate the present -system, and then see what kind of reconstruction can be accomplished with the new evaluation.
The answer to the questions set above is childishly simple, yet I will carry it all through and let the semantic consequences speak for themselves. The chunk of nature, the specially shaped accumulation of materials., which we call a pencil, 'is' fundamentally and absolutely unspeakable, simply because whatever we may say about it, is not it. We may write with this something, but we cannot write with its name or the descriptions of this something. So the object is not words. It is important that the reader be entirely convinced at this point, and it requires some training, performed repeatedly, before we get our s.r adjusted to this simple fact. Our statement had two parts. One was rather unpromising; namely, that the object was absolutely un-speakable, because no amount of words will make the object. The other was more promising, for we learned an extremely important, perhaps crucial, semantic fact; namely, what the object pencil is not; namely, that the object is not words. We must face here an important semantic fact. If we are told that we cannot get the moon, we stop worrying about it, and we regard any dream about getting the moon as an infantile phantasy. In this example, we could not even say that such news as the impossibility of getting the moon was sad, or unpleasant, news. We might say so, jokingly, to an infant, but the majority of the grown-ups would not have their s.r perturbed by it. A similar situation arises with the object called pencil. The object is not words. There is nothing sad or depressing about this fact. We accept it as a fact and stop worrying about it, as