SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search




MATIIKMATICS AND THE NERVOUS SYSTEMS 303
generalize in the way they have done for more than two thousand years. Naturally, there are notable exceptions; yet even these do not realize the structural linguistic and semantic issues involved.
I most emphatically do not deny that animal researches are extremely useful and necessary; but I question the right of biologists to remain innocent of the importance of linguistic and semantic issues, and to indulge in vicious, unwarranted generalizations which, although they may express their own metaphysics and s.r, should not be advanced as 'scientific' results. Biologists ought to be informed enough to understand that 'man' and 'animal' are verbal fictions, and labels for something going on inside our skins - not labels for the unique individuals with which they have to deal outside their skins.
An example may, perhaps, be useful. We know that rats, prairie dogs, and some other animals are mostly immune to scurvy, but that man, monkeys, and guinea pigs are mostly not immune. How can we generalize from a rat to a man or a guinea pig? Or how much can we learn about the behaviour of a bee from the behaviour of an oyster, to use the example of Professor Jennings ? Even in 'man', what helps one 'man', kills another.
Similar false analogies occur in the A classification of 'man' as an 'animal'. This classification disregards completely the s.r and twists the generally accepted folk-meaning of the term 'animal' into a special meaning which introduces very vicious semantic implications. If we classify 'man' as an 'animal', the structural A 'plus' elementalism is automatically introduced, since 'man', obviously, has many characteristics of behaviour not shown by the 'animal', taken in its folk-meaning. The disregard of the folk-meaning in our terminology shows clearly the complete disregard for s.r which are very strongly related to those folk-meanings-. If we are to call 'man' an 'animal', then 'man' must be an 'animal' 'plus' something. If we were to call him some sort of a junior 'god', he would be a 'god' 'minus' something. The latter structural fallacy would be just as vicious in its implications, and would again deliver our speculations into the semantic clutches of the structure of a primitive-made el language.
Similar objections could be raised to that class of 'biological psychologies' exemplified by the 'behaviourists' - (not to be confused with the illuminating and highly constructive biological psychiatry or psychobiology introduced by Professor Adolf Meyer).9 The 'behaviourists' try to be ultra-'scientific', not realizing that their knowledge of scientific method and structure belongs somewhere to the sixteenth century.