SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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356
VI. ON 1'SYCHOPHYSIOLOGY
and justify their introduction and use. This accounts for the fact that what was evaluated as tragic or painful, or joyful, or shameful., to one generation or culture, does not seem so to another. Our personal difficulty usually is that, at present, we copy animals in the relative un-conditionality of our responses, because we are not acquainted with this semantic mechanism. We are not prepared to change in one single generation the sign from a minus to a plus, or vice versa, without a great amount of struggle and semantic discomfort.
Now, such discomforts are usually harmful to the human nervous system, but the structural understanding of this mechanism helps us to eliminate these semantic pains, and so leads toward nervous balance and sanity.
It seems that the neurological mechanism operating in this connection is similar to the one formulated by Pavlov, thus: 'Two facts relating to the central nervous activities stand out clearly. The first is that the extraneous stimulus acting on the positive phase of the reflex inhibits, and acting on the negative phase dis-inhibits, in either case, therefore, reversing, the nervous process prevailing at the time. The second is that the inhibitory process is more labile and more easily affected than the excitatory process, being influenced by stimuli of much weaker physiological strength.'1*
Negative reactions or 'inhibition' must be interpreted as the neurological foundation of 'human mentality', and the result of external and internal stimulations. Because of structural interrelations, the main factor of building human 'mentality' and developing internal 'inhibition' must be more labile and must be influenced by stimuli of much weaker physiological strength.
This explains also why the solution of our problems in education, social life., must be not the animalistic external 'inhibition' alone, but must become, in the main, special internal 'inhibition', effective and yet harmless to the individual nervous system. All of us possess this most general nervous mechanism. The problem is to discover the means to operate it. We shall see later that in consciousness of abstracting we find a workable semantic solution, allowing an automatic change of sign of the reaction. It should be recalled here that all stimuli and all responses are complex, the word 'simple' being structurally false to facts. On the human, and particularly on the linguistic level, it is practically never possible to ascertain an 'absolute' order of abstraction, or the degree or order of an excitation. These are often the results of racial time-binding, and extremely complex, nervous processes, and every superimposition of a new neurological process (not addition) may fun-