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An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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238 IV. STRUCTURAL FACTORS IN A LANGUAGES
As a further illustration of the mechanism of abstracting, we may suggest the observation of Weber that if, for instance, a room is lighted with 100 candles, and if one more candle is brought in, the increased illumination will be appreciated very slightly. But not so if we had a room illuminated with 1000 candles. In this case, we should not appreciate the addition of one candle at all. Ten candles should be introduced to make an appreciable difference in our perceptions. The Weber law, as it is called, stated that in the above case 1/100 of the original strength of the stimulus is needed to make a change appreciable. For light, the fraction is about 1/100; for noise, about 1/3; for pressure, it varies between 1/30 and 1/10; for weight, between 1/70 and 1/40 in various parts of the body.
If we use compasses and experiment with pricks, we find that in different parts of the body the limit of the distance apart of the points when we feel one prick and yet have two, is different,
On the tip of the tongue this limit is......................... 1 mm.
On the palmar surface of third phalanx of forefinger.......... 2 mm.
On the palmar surface of second phalanges of fingers.......... 4 mm.
On the palm of the hand................................... 10 mm.
On the dorsal surface of first phalanges of fingers.............14 mm.
On the back of hand......................................25 mm.
On the upper and lower parts of forearm....................37 mm.
On the middle thigh and back..............................62 mm.2
A 'sensation' requires appreciable 'time' (timer by a clock) for its development. Part of the 'time' is spent at the end-organ, part in conveying the nervous impulse along the nerves to the brain and part in the brain. A 'sensation' usually outlasts the stimulus, and often a single stimulus produces a whole series of 'after-sensations'.
As compared with the 'sensations' obtained from pain spots, touch is quicker in its development and persistence. With a vibrating string, 1500 vibrations a second are recognizable by touch as vibrations. At, over 1552 vibrations a second, the vibratory character is lost, and we feel only continuous pressure. A toothed revolving wheel gives the feeling of smoothness (and 'continuity') when the teeth meet the skin at the rate of from 480 to 680 per second.3
The above given tables and facts are deeply significant. We see, first of all, that structurally we are immersed in a world full of energy manifestations, out of which we abstract directly only a very small portion, these abstractions being already coloured by the specific functioning and structure of the nervous system - the abstractors. Very probably, there are many more energy manifestations which, as yet, we have not