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An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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ON CONDITIONAL REFLEXES                      333
degrees of conditionality, establishing the oo-valued character of the reactions; conditional meaning non-absolute, and non-one-valued.
For these structural reasons, I shall use the terms 'inborn' and 'acquired' or else 'unconditional' and 'conditional' reactions.
Under natural conditions, an animal, to survive, must respond not only to normal stimuli, which bring immediate harm or benefit, but also to different physical and chemical stimuli, in themselves neutral, such as waves of sound or light., which are signals for animals and symbols for man. The number of inborn reactions is comparatively small, and, alone, they are not sufficient for the survival of higher animals in their more complex environment. Experiments have made this point quite obvious. A completely decorticated animal may retain his inborn reactions and become a kind of automatic mechanism; but all his subtler means of adjustment, owing to acquired reactions, disappear, and if unaided he can not survive. Thus, a decorticated dog will only eat when food is introduced into his mouth, and would otherwise die of starvation though food be placed all around him.
Experimental evidence seems to show that all higher activities of the nervous system, the whole signalizing apparatus, which underlies the formation and maintenance of the acquired conditional reactions, depend on the integrity of the cortex. Stimuli which produce conditional reactions are acting as signals of benefit or danger. These signals are sometimes nominally 'simple', sometimes very complex, and the structure of the nervous system is such that it can abstract, analyse, and synthetize the factors of importance for the organism, and integrate them into excitatory complexes. The analysing and synthetizing functions, as usual, overlap, and cannot be sharply divided, both functions being only aspects of the manifestation of the activity of the nervous system as-a-whole. In general, one of the most important functions of the cerebral cortex is that of reacting to innumerable stimuli of variable significance, which act as signals in animals and symbols in humans, and give means of very subtle adjustment of the organism to the environment. In psycho-logical terms, we speak of 'associations', 'selection', 'intelligence'.; in mathematical terms, of relations, structure, order.; in psychophysiological terms. of semantic reactions.
The language of reactions is of special interest because its structure is similar to the structure of protoplasm in general and the nervous system in particular. This language can be expanded and supplemented by the following further structural observations:
1) That reactions in animals and humans exhibit different degrees of conditionality;