SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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MATHEMATICS AND THE NERVOUS SYSTEMS 295
structure of man-made institutions, which again make adjustments more complex and often impossible. We become un-sane, 'insane', and life, whether public or private, becomes a mess. In such a vicious semantic circle, we distort our education, our systems, and institutions. Often the morbid reactions of powerful individuals are forced upon masses, who are then ruled by these morbid products, with injury to their nervous systems. Different mass hysterias, 'revivals', wars, political and religious propaganda, very often commercial advertisements, offer notable examples.
The morbid semantic influence of commercialism has not been investigated, but it does not take much imagination to see that commercial psycho-logics, as exemplified by the theories of commercial evaluation, 'wisdom', appeal to selfishness, animal cunning, concealing of true facts, appeal to 'sense' gratification., produce a verbal and semantic environment and slogans for the children which, if preserved in the grown-ups, must produce some pathological results. It is hoped that some day a psychiatrist will investigate this large, neglected, and very important semantic problem.
The lack of structural linguistic researches and investigation of our s.r, and the ignorance of those who rule, make us nearly helpless. Malaria or other germ diseases would never be eliminated were we to preserve religiously the sources of infection. The semantic sources of un-sanity are not only defended but are actively sponsored by organized ignorance and the power of merchants, state, and church.
The situation is acute. If we could entirely eliminate our cortex, it would, perhaps, not be so serious. We could, perhaps, live as complex a life as a fish and have a nervous system perfectly adjusted to such a life. But, unfortunately, with a structural change, or. according to Lashley, with the change even in the total mass of the brain, the activities and the role of the whole, including other parts, are profoundly altered.8 These become inadequate, as shown by the boy born without the cortex, already described. His nervous system was much more complex than that of fishes or of some lower animals which lead adequately a rather complex life. But the boy was less equipped for life than they. Even his 'senses', though apparently 'normal' on macroscopic levels, must have been pathological on colloidal and sub-microscopic levels and did not function properly. We know, also, that in many cases of 'mental' ills the 'sense reactions' are abnormal; sometimes the patients seem to be entirely insensitive to stimuli which would produce most acute pain to other less pathological individuals.