SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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the individual trees. If an event of interest had happened in a place where there were a hundred trees, it would take a long while to observe fairly well the individual trees and still longer to give an approximate description of them. Such a method is non-expedient, fundamentally endless; the mechanism is cumbersome, involves many irrelevant characteristics ; and it is impossible to express in a few words much that might be important. Progress must be slow; the general level of development of a given race or individual must be low. It should be noticed that the problem of evaluation enters, at once implying many most important psycho-logical and semantic processes. Similar remarks apply to the abstracting of infants, 'mentally' deficient grown-ups, and some 'mentally' ill.
Indeed, as the readers of my Manhood of Humanity already know, the 'human class of life' is chiefly differentiated from 'animals' by its rapid rate of progress through the rapid rate of accumulation of past experiences. This is possible only when expedient means of communication are established; that is, when higher and higher orders of abstractions are worked out.
All scientific 'laws', and other generalizations of higher order (even single words), are precisely such methods of expediency, and represent abstractions of very high order. They are uniquely important because they accelerate progress and help the further summarizing and abstracting of results achieved by others. Naturally, this process of abstracting has also unique practical consequences. When chemical 'elements' were 'permanent' and 'immutable', our physics and chemistry were much undeveloped. With the advent of higher abstractions, such as the monistic and general dynamic theories of all 'matter' and 'electricity', unitary field theories., the creative freedom of science and the control over 'nature' have increased enormously and will increase still more.
Psychiatry also seems to give data indicating that 'mental' illnesses are connected either with arrested development or with regression to phylogenetically older and more primitive levels, all of which, of course, involves lower order abstractions. From the point of view of a theory of sanity, a sharp differentiation between 'man' and 'animal' becomes imperative. For with 'man', the lack of knowledge of this difference may lead to the copying of animals, which would involve semantic regression and ultimately become a 'mental' illness.
Although organisms have had acquaintance with objects for many hundreds or thousands of millions of years, the higher abstractions which characterize 'man' are only a few hundreds of thousands of years old. As a result, the nervous currents have a natural tendency to select