SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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To-day there are not a few physicists who, like Kirchhoff and Mach, regard the task of physical theory as being merely a mathematical description (as economical as possible) of the empirical connections between observable quantities, i. e. a description which reproduces the connection, as far as possible, without the intervention of unobservable elements.
(466)                                                                                                           E. SCHRODINGER
But in the prevalent discussion of classes, there are illegitimate transitions to the notions of a 'nexus' and of a 'proposition.' The appeal to a class to perform the services of a proper entity is exactly analogous to an appeal to an imaginary terrier to kill a real rat. (578)         a. n. whitehead
Roughly it amounts to this: mathematical analysis as it works today must make use of irrational numbers (suchas the square root of two); the sense if any in which such numbers exist is hazy. Their reputed mathematical existence implies the disputed theories of the infinite. The paradoxes remain. Without a satisfactory theory of irrational numbers, among other things, Achilles does not catch up with the tortoise, and the earth cannot turn on its axis. But, as Galileo remarked, it does. It would seem to follow that something is wrong with our attempts to compass the infinite. (22)                                                                                    E. T. BELL
The map is not the thing mapped. When the map is identified with the thing mapped we have one of the vast melting pots of numerology. («H) e. t. bell
The theory of numbers is the last great uncivilized continent of mathematics. It is split up into innumerable countries, fertile enough in themselves, but all more or less indifferent to one another's welfare and without a vestige of a central, intelligent government. If any young Alexander is weeping for a new world to conquer, it lies before him. (23)          e. t. bell
The present work - namely, the building of a non-aristotelian system, and an introduction to a theory of sanity and general semantics - depends, fundamentally, for its success on the recognition of mathematics as a language similar in structure to the world in which we live.
The maze of often unconnected knowledge we have gathered in the fields with which this part is dealing is so tremendous that it would require several volumes to cover the field even partially. Under such conditions, it is impossible to deal with the subject in any other way than by very careful selection, and so I shall, therefore, say only as much as is necessary for my present semantic purpose.
It is a common experience of our race that with a happy generalization many unconnected parts of our knowledge become connected; many 'mysteries' of science become simply a linguistic issue, and then the mysteries vanish. New generalizations introduce new attitudes (evaluation) which, as usual, seriously simplify the problems for a new generation. In the present work, we are treating problems from the point of view of such a generalization, of wide application; namely, structure, which is forced upon us by the denial of the 'is' of identity.; so that structure becomes the only link between the objective and verbal levels. The next consequence is that structure alone is the only possible content of knowledge.