SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search




MATHEMATICS AND THE NERVOUS SYSTEMS 281
disciplines which depart widely from traditional notions about mathematics. They represent most successful and powerful attempts at building exact relational languages in subjects which are on the border-line between psycho-logics and the traditional mathematics. Because they are exact, they have been embodied in mathematics, although they belong just as well to a general science of relations, or general semantics, or 'psychology', or 'logic', or scientific linguistics and psychophysiology. There are other mathematical disciplines, as, for instance, analysis situs, or the 'algebra of logic'., to which the above statements apply; but, for our present purposes, we shall limit ourselves to the former two.
Dealing with the theory of aggregates, I will give only a few definitions taken from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, with the purpose of drawing the attention of the 'psychologists', and others, to those psychological data.
The theory of aggregates underlies the theory of function. An aggregate, or manifold, or set, is a system such that: (1) It includes all entities to which a certain characteristic belongs; and (2) no entity without this characteristic belongs to the system; (3) any entity of the system is permanently recognizable as distinct from other entities.
The separate entities which belong to such a collection, system, aggregate, manifold, or set are called elements. We assume the possibility of selecting at pleasure, by a definite process or law, one or more elements of any aggregate A, which would form another aggregate B,.
The above few lines express how the human 'thought' processes work and how languages were built up. It is true that the exactness imposes limitations, and so the mathematical theories are not expressed in the usual antiquated 'psychological' terms, although they describe one of the most important psycho-logical processes.
Lately, the theory of aggregates has led to a weighty question: Does one of the fundamental laws of old 'logic'; namely, the two-valued law of the 'excluded third' (A is either B or not B), apply in all instances ? Or is it valid in some instances and invalid in others ?
This problem is the psycho-logical kernel of the new revision of the foundation of mathematics, which has lately been considerably advanced by Professor Lukasiewicz and Tarski with their many-valued 'logic', which merges ultimately with the mathematical theory of probability ; and on different grounds has perhaps been solved in the present non-el,-system.
The notion of a group is psycho-lbgically still more important. It is connected with the notions of transformation and invariance. Without giving formal definitions unnecessary for our purpose, we may say that