SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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In several chapters, Pavlov discusses a large number of experiments dealing with functionally induced pathological states of the nervous system, and suggests, also, some therapeutic measures. He concludes: 'This . . . and other observations suggest that a gradual development of internal inhibition in the cortex should be used for re-establishment of the balance of normal conditions in cases of an unbalanced nervous system ... I do not know whether similar therapeutic measures . . . are applied in human neurotherapy.'4
The above remark is vitally important; it is not only a result of a lifetime of scientific work, but it expresses a principle which is used, without being formulated explicitly, all through psychotherapy. In the present volume, this principle is not only formulated in physiological terms, but is also made the foundation of a physiological method for its semantic application. This method is found in the training and development of the consciousness of abstracting (see Part VII), which, when applied, not only restores nervous balance as empirically shown, but also gives powerful preventive semantic means if used in early education.
Further consequences and conclusions are given in Part VII. At this point, we shall merely state that the above explanations also show why a theory of universal agreement, in the broadest sense; namely, agreement with one's self, eliminating internal 'conflict', and with others, eliminating family, social, and international conflicts., is neurologically not only possible, but also a necessary semantic consequence of using the human nervous system in its structurally appropriate way.
It is well known that the use of the terms 'positive' and 'negative' is optional; but the opposing character of the issues involved is not optional, because these are experimental and structural. In former days, we not only made our selection, and called some issues positive and some negative, but we naturally had and have some semantic responses connected with them. Thus something 'positive' implied certainty, 'reality', 'truth', 'absolute'.; something 'negative' implied the negation of these.
In 1933, it appears likely that we shall have to revise in toto these semantic orientations, which obviously we have been practicing since the days of savagery.
What are the facts ? Curiously enough:
1)   The electricity which lights our lamps or runs our dynamos, we call, in the old language, 'negative' electricity.
2)   The numbers which are the foundation of the most important complex numbers in mathematics are formally based on negative numbers.