SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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since they are the most vital environmental semantic conditions regulating our lives, if they are fallacious, they make our lives unadjusted and so, ultimately, lead to non-survival.
So we see that 'human adjustment' is quite a different and much more complex affair than 'animal adjustment'. The 'world' of 'man' is also a different and much more complex 'world' than that of the animal. There seems to be no escape from this conclusion. We see, also, that what we used to call 'senses' supply us with information about the world that is very limited in quantity, specific in quality, an abstraction of low order, never being 'it'. Being often unaffected, our 'senses' are not able to abstract, obviously, some of the most fundamental manifestations of energy to be found in the external world. If we speak of the older so-called 'sense perceptions' as lower order abstractions, then we find that we learn about the other subtler manifestations of energy through science, higher neural and extra-neural means, which we may call higher order abstractions. In the older days, we called this kind of knowledge 'inferential knowledge'. The animals do not have these higher order abstractions in that sense, and so their world is for them devoid of these extra-sensible manifestations of energy.
It must be remembered that these higher order abstractions and the 'inferential knowledge' of the old theories (they are not equivalent by definition) have a very similar status. Organisms work as-a-whole, and to separate completely higher and lower order abstractions is impossible. All that is said here justifies the new terminology. Our nervous system does abstract, does summarize, does integrate on different levels and in different orders, and the result of a stimulus is not the stimulus itself. The stone is not the pain produced by the stone dropping on our foot; neither is the flame we see, nor the burn we feel. The actual process goes on outside of our skin, as represented by the 'realities' of modern science.
We have already spoken frequently of the different order abstractions, their special characteristics, dynamic versus static., and the means of translation of lower orders into higher, and vice versa. Events which are going on and for which we have no direct 'senses' of abstraction, as, for instance, electric waves, Rontgen-rays, wireless waves., we know only through extra-neural extensions of our nervous system given by science and scientific instruments. Naturally, we should expect that the structure of our abstracting mechanism would be also reflected in these higher order abstractions. Facts show this to be true; and practically all modern science proves it directly or indirectly. This is why, for instance, we have the mathematical methods for passing from dynamic