SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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'MATTER SPACE TIME1                          235
stance', 'space', and 'time' should be completely eliminated from science, because of their extremely wide-spread and vicious structural and so semantic implications, and that the terms 'events', 'space-time', 'material', 'plenum', 'fulness', 'spreads', 'time/., be used instead. These terms not only do not have the old structural and semantic implications, but, on the contrary, they convey the modern structural notions and involve new s.r. The use of the old terms drags in, unconsciously and automatically, the old primitive metaphysical structure and s.r which are entirely contradicted by experience and modern science. I venture to suggest that such a change in terminology would do more to render the newer works intelligible than scores of volumes of explanations using the old terminology.
Before summarizing in Parts IX and X what modern science has to tell about the structure of the world around us, it will be profitable to enquire what are the means by which we can recognize this structure.
Section B. The neurological function of abstracting.
Protoplasm, even in its simplest form, is sensitive to different mechanical and chemical stimulations; and, indeed, undifferentiated protoplasm has already all the potentialities of the future nervous system. If we take an undifferentiated bit of protoplasm, and some stimulation is applied to some point, the stimulus does not spread somehow 'all over at once', with some mysterious 'infinite' velocity, but propagates itself with finite velocity and a diminishing gradient from one end of our bit of protoplasm to the opposite end.
Because of the finite velocity of propagation and the fact that the action is by contact in a plenum, the impulse has a definite direction and diminishing intensity, or, as we say, the bit of protoplasm acquires a temporal polarity (head-end). Such polarity conditions produce a directed wave of excitement of diminishing intensity, which Child calls a dynamic gradient. If such a stimulation were applied to one spot for a considerable length of 'time', some kind of polarization may become lasting. In some such way those dynamic gradients have become structural-ized in the forms of our nervous system, which represent the preferred paths by which the nervous impulses travel.
The bodies of most organisms are protected from outside stimulation by some kind of membrane or cuticle and the parts of the surface have developed so as to be sensitive to one form of stimulation and not to others. For instance, the eye registers the stimulations of light waves, while it is insensitive to sound., and, even if hit, it gives only the feeling of light. Each 'sense-organ' has also the nervous means of concentrating