SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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damentally alter the whole character of the s.r and reverse the sign. In negative excitations, the passing from one degree to another changes the sign of the reaction. In practice, we are only interested in two neighbouring levels of abstractions or in two neighbouring degrees of negative excitation, simply because these involve, by necessity, a passing from an even to an uneven degree or vice versa - in both cases reversing the sign of the s.r.
The general organismal adjusting mechanism of the 'investigatory reaction' responds positively to a new stimulus, but with very important survival value acts negatively on established positive conditional reactions in animals. It is, at present, much weakened and often ineffective with man, resulting in non-survival, non-adjustment and 'mental' ills for man. It is a well-established fact that different stimuli either interfere with each other, resulting in modified behaviour, or reinforce each other and have cumulative effects. On the human level, different 'mental' factors play the role of internal positive or negative excitatory semantic complexes, which, because of verbal conditions (and all doctrines are always connected with an affective background), may reinforce a given stimulus, thus making its physiological effect variable and of different strength. Under such conditions a new stimulus does not produce the investigatory reaction with all its beneficial results. This mechanism is, perhaps, responsible for the well-known fact that primary instincts with humans are, by far, weaker and more variable than with animals; whence it comes that humans seldom know by themselves, without science, what is best for them.
We should not be surprised to find that under these more complex conditions human investigatory reactions may be of different types, culminating in the typically human investigatory reaction, which would introduce the natural, yet more important, delay in an immediate reaction to a former stimulus. We shall find, later, that consciousness of abstracting is such a distinctly human and very useful investigatory reaction that on the human complex semantic level brings relatively as much benefit to the human organism as it does on the animal level to animals.
It seems that the nervous mechanisms of both types are similar, except for the fact that on the human levels we have more factors which are external and internal stimuli than on the animal level. If we copy animals in our nervous processes, we are, in reality, worse off than the animals, because, with our more complicated nervous system, it means for us a pathological condition.