SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search

280                V. MATHEMATICS A A LANGUAGE
lead to absolutism, dogmatism, finalism, and similar states, which are semantic factors out of which states of un-sanity are built.
We know that we must start with undefined terms, which may be defined at some other date in other undefined terms. At a given date, our undefined terms must be treated as postulates. If we prefer, we may call them structural assumptions or hypotheses. From a theoretical point of view, these undefined terms represent not only postulates but also variables, and so generate propositional functions and not propositions. In mathematics, these issues are clear and simple. Every theory is ultimately based on postulates which consist of propositional functions containing variables, and which express relations, indicating the structure of the scheme.
It appears that the main importance of the linguistic higher order abstractions is in their public character, for they are capable of being transmitted in neural and extra-neural forms. But our private lives are influenced also very much by the lower order abstractions, 'feelings', 'intuitions',. These can be, should be, but seldom are, properly influenced by the higher order abstractions. These 'feelings'., are personal, unspeakable, and so are non-transmittable. For instance, we cannot transmit the actual feeling of pain when we burn ourselves; but we can transmit the invariant relation of the extremely complex fire-flesh-nerve-pain manifold. A relation is present empirically, but also can be expressed by words. It seems important to have means to translate these higher order abstractions into lower, and this will be the subject of Part VII.
Section C. The psycho-logical importance of the theory of aggregates and the theory of groups.
Starting with the A denial of identity, we were compelled to consider structure as the only possible link between the empirical and the verbal worlds. The analysis of structure involved relations and m.o and multi-dimensional order, and, ultimately, has led us to a semantic definition of mathematics and numbers. These definitions make it obvious that all mathematics expresses general processes of mentation par excellence. We could thus review all mathematics from this psycho-logical point of view, but this would not be profitable for our purpose; so we will limit ourselves to a brief sketch connected with the theory of aggregates and the theory of groups, because these two fundamental and most general theories formulate in a crisp form the general psycho-logical process, and also show the mechanism by which all languages (not only mathematics) have been built. Besides, with the exception of a few specialists, the general public is not even aware of the existence of such