SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search

278                V. MATHEMATICS A A LANGUAGE
on the un-speakable levels, and which is not a theory. Theories are the rational means for a rational being to be as rational as he possibly can. As a fact of experience, the working of the human nervous system is such that we have theories. Such was the survival trend; and we must not only reconcile ourselves with this fact, but must also investigate the structure of theories.
Theories are the result of extremely complex cyclic chains of nerve currents of the human nervous system. Any semantic disturbance, be it a confusion of orders of abstractions, or identification, or any of their progeny, called 'elementalism', 'absolutism', 'dogmatism', 'finalism'., introduces some deviations or resistances, or semantic blockages of the normal survival cycles, and the organism is at once on the abnormal non-adjustment path.
The structure of protoplasm of the simplest kind, or of the most elaborate nervous system, is such that it abstracts and reacts in its own specific way to different external and internal stimuli.
Our 'experience' is based normally on abstractions and integrations of different stimuli by different receptors, with different and specific reactions. The eye produces its share, and we may see a stone; but the eye does not convey to us the feel of weight of the stone, or its temperature, or its hardness,. To get this new wisdom, we need other receptors of an entirely different kind from those the eye can supply. If the eye plays some role in establishing the weight, for instance, without ever giving the actual feel of weight, it is usually misleading. If we would try to lift a pound of lead and a pound of feathers, which the balance would register as of equal weight, the pound of lead would feel heavier to us than the pound of feathers. The eye saw that the pound of lead is smaller in bulk, and so the doctrinal, semantic, and muscular expectation was for a smaller weight, and so, by contrast, the pound of lead would appear unexpectedly heavy.
As the eye is one of the most subtle organs, in fact, a part of the brain, science is devising methods to bring all other characteristics of the external world to direct or indirect inspection of the eye. We build balances, thermometers, microscopes, telescopes, and other instruments, but the character and feel of weight, or warmth., must be supplied directly by the special receptors, which uniquely can produce the special 'sensations'. The swinging of the balance, or the rise of the column of the thermometer, establishes most important relations, but does not give the immediate specific and un-speakable feel of 'weight' or of 'warmth'. Our first and most primitive contact with a stone, its feel., is a personal abstraction from the object, full of characteristics supplied by the