SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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294                V. MATHEMATICS A A LANGUAGE
meanings close to life. Such meanings are enlightened meanings, a survival process, and each nervous level did its work properly.
We know that a number of human races have perished without leaving many traces of their existence. This process is going on continually, even now. Some races are progressing; some are regressing; some are at a seeming standstill. It would appear that the mechanism of higher order abstractions had and has survival value, and, therefore, should not be neglected but cultivated. In this special case, cultivation is a condition inherent in the process and a necessity for time-binders.'
Serious semantic dangers are also revealed by analysis and verified by observation. These higher order abstractions, let us repeat, are static and may last indefinitely, as long as for structural reasons we do not replace the old by new ones. Even then, though rejected, they remain as a permanent fact on record. Obviously, these higher abstractions have only a 'second-hand' connection with the outside world. Even their character is changed, they are static while the world is dynamic. The lower 'sense' world has 'characteristics left out', owing to the mechanism' of abstracting of the lower centres; and the abstractions of higher orders have 'all characteristics included', because these are abstractions from abstractions, an intra-organismal process in its entirety, their starting material being already an end-product of the activities of the lower centres. This mechanism is only under full control if we are conscious of abstracting, because the higher order abstractions in the nervous chain affect, in their turn, the lower centres, and, in pathological cases, impress on them a semantic delusional or illusional evaluation as if a character of experience. In severe cases, even the lower nerve centres are stimulated to such an extent that hallucinations appear.
If we do not know how to handle different order abstractions, this results in serious semantic dangers. If the distribution of the returning nerve currents is a non-survival one, we exhibit semantic disturbances, such as identification or confusion of orders of abstractions, delusions, illusions, and hallucinations. Thus, we ascribe to the products of the lower nerve centres, the lower order abstractions, characteristics fictitious and impossible for them, such as 'immutability', 'permanence', involving disorientation about 'time'., ., which are characteristics of the higher order abstractions, but do not belong to the world as given by the lower abstractions, and result in an improper evaluation disturbing to the s.r. Such disturbances make us, naturally, absolutists and dogmatists, involve serious affective disturbances, and lead to non-adaptive behaviour and reactions, and other semantic manifestations of un-sanity. These, in their turn, make adjustment more difficult, often affecting the