SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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of an extremely fine structure, which neither light, nor the nerve centres affected by light, can register.
What we see is structurally only a specific statistical mass-effect of happenings on a much finer grained level. We see what we see because we miss all the finer details. For our purpose, it is usually enough to deal only with sight; this simplifies writing, and the comments made apply to all other 'senses', though perhaps in different degrees.
In 1933, in our human economy, we have to take into account at least three levels. The one is the sub-microscopic level of science, what science 'knows' about 'it'. The second is the gross macroscopic, daily experience level of rough objects. The third is the verbal level.
We must also evaluate an important semantic issue; namely, the relative importance of these three levels. We know already that to become acquainted with an object, we must not only explore it from all possible points of view and put it in contact with as many nerve centres as we can, as this is an essential condition of 'knowing', but we must also not forget that our nerve centres must summarize the different partial, abstracted, specific pictures. In the human class of life, we find a new factor, non-existent in any other form of life; namely, that we have a capacity to collect all known experiences of different individuals. Such a capacity increases enormously the number of observations a single individual can handle, and so our acquaintance with the world around, and in, us becomes much more refined and exact. This capacity, which I call the time-binding capacity, is only possible because, in distinction from the animals, we have evolved, or perfected, extra-neural means by which, without altering our nervous system, we can refine its operation and expand its scope. Our scientific instruments record what ordinarily we cannot see, hear,. Our neural verbal centres allow us to exchange and accumulate experiences, although no one could live through all of them; and they would be soon forgotten if we had no neural and extra-neural means to record them.
Again the organism works as-a-whole. All forms of human activities are interconnected. It is impossible to select a special characteristic and treat it in a delusional el 'isolation' as the most important. Science becomes an extra-neural extension of the human nervous system. We might expect the structure of the nervous system to throw some light on the structure of science; and, vice versa, the structure of science might elucidate the working of the human nervous system.
This fact is very important, semantically, and usually is not sufficiently emphasized or analysed enough. When we take these undeniable facts into account, we find the results already reached to be quite natural