SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search

peculiarities of the special receptors. Our primitive picture 'stone* is a summary, an integration, of all these separate 'sense' abstractions. It is :m abstraction from many abstractions, or an abstraction of a higher order.
Theories are relational or structural verbal schemes, built by a process of high abstractions from many lower abstractions, which are produced not only by ourselves but by others (time-binding). Theories, therefore, represent the shortest, simplest structural summaries and generalizations, or the highest abstractions from individual experience and through symbolism of racial past experiences. Theories are mostly not an individual, but a collective, product. They follow a more subtle but inevitable semantic survival trend, like all life. Human races and epochs which have not revised or advanced their theories have either perished, or are perishing.
The process of abstracting in different orders being inherent in the human nervous system, it can neither be stopped nor abolished; but it can be deviated, vitiated, and forced into harmful channels contrary to the survival trend, particularly in connection with pathological s.r. No one of us, even when profoundly 'mentally' ill, is free from theories. The only selection we can make is between antiquated, often primitive-made, theories, and modern theories, which always involve important semantic factors.
The understanding of the above is of serious importance, as, by proper selection of theories, all wasteful semantic disturbances, which lead even to crimes, and such historical examples of human un-sanity as the 'holy inquisition', burning at the stake, religious wars, persecution of science, the Tennessee trial., could have been avoided.
Whenever any one says anything, he is indulging in theories. A similar statement is true of writing or 'thinking'. We must use terms, and the very selection of our terms and the structure of the language selected reflect their structure on the subject under discussion. Besides, words are not the events. Even simple 'descriptions', since they involve terms, and ultimately undefined terms, involve structural assumptions, postulates, and theories, conscious or unconscious - at present, mostly the latter.
It is very harmful to sanity to teach a disregard for theories or doctrines and theoretical work, as we can never get away from them as long as we are humans. If we disregard them, we only build for ourselves semantic disturbances. The difference between morbid and not so obviously morbid confusions of orders of abstractions is not very clear. The strong affective components of such semantic disturbances must