SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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284                V. MATHEMATICS A A LANGUAGE
of any type and in particular the theory of groups of operators. The structure of such groups is evidently a study of form. It may often be exemplified in some concrete manner. Thus the groups of geometric crystals exemplify the structure of thirty-two groups of a discontinuous character, and the 230 space-groups of the composition of crystals exemplify the corresponding infinite discontinuous groups. The study of the composition series of groups, the subgroups and their relations, whether in the case of substitution groups, linear groups, geometric groups, or continuous groups, is a study of form. Also, the study of the construction of groups, whether by generators, or by the combination of groups, or in other ways, is also a study of structure or form. The calculus of operations in general, with such particular forms as differential operators, integral operators, difference operators, distributive operations in general, is for the most part a study of structure. In so far as any of these is concerned with the synthesis of compound forms from simple elements, it is to be classed as a study of form, as the term is here used.'3                                                                                        ,
In the notion of a group, we have become acquainted with two terms; namely, transformation and invariance. The first implies 'change'; the other, a lack of 'change' or 'permanence'. Both of these characteristics are semantically fundamental, but involve serious complexities.
The world, ourselves included, can be considered as processes which can be analysed in terms of transformed stages with all their derivative notions. In the objective world, 'change' is ever present and is, perhaps, the most important structural characteristic of our experience. But when a highly developed nervous system, a process itself, is acted upon by other processes, such nervous system discovers, at some stage of its development, a certain relative permanence, which, at a still later stage, is formulated as invariance of function and relations. The latter formulation is non-el because it can be discovered empirically, which means by the lower nerve centres, but also is the main necessity and means of operating of the higher nerve centres, so-called 'thought'. All that we usually call a process of 'association' is nothing else than a process of relating, a direct consequence of the structure of the nervous system, where stimuli are registered in a certain four-dimensional order, which, on the psycho-logical level, take the form of relations. From this point of view, it is natural that the higher nerve centres, as a limit of integrating processes, should produce and discover invariance of relations, which appears then as the supreme product and so, ultimately, a necessity of the activity of the higher centres. Obviously, if the invariance of relations has any objective counterpart whatsoever in the external world,