SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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mechanisms for helping the proper evaluation and so preventing or eliminating semantic disturbances.
So we now have before us a unique object which we call by a unique name 'pencili'. If we enquire what science 1933 has to say about this object, we find that this object represents structurally an extremely complex, dynamic process. For our purpose, which is intuitive, it is of little importance whether we accept the object as made up of atoms and the atom as made up of whirling electrons., or whether we accept the newer quantum theory, as given in Part X, according to which the atom is formulated in terms of 'electrons' but the 'electron' is the region where some waves reinforce each other, instead of being a 'bit' of something. It is of no importance from our point of view whether the atoms are of a finite size or whether they extend indefinitely and are noticeable to us only in the regions of reinforcement of the waves. Naturally, this last hypothesis has a strong semantic appeal, since it would account, when worked out, for many other facts, such as 'fulness', in a non-el language; but probably it would necessitate a postulation of some sub-electronic structures.
What is important for our s.r is that we realize the fact that the gross macroscopic materials with which we are familiar are not simply what we see, feel., but consist of dynamic processes of some extremely fine structure; and that we realize further that our 'senses' are not adapted to register these processes without the help of extra-neural means and higher order abstractions.
Let us recall, in this connection, the familiar example of a rotary fan, which is made up of separate radial blades, but which, when rotating with a certain velocity, gives the impression of a solid disk. In this
case the 'disk' is not 'reality', but a nervous integration, or abstraction from the rotating blades. We not only see the 'disk' (b) where there is no disk, but, if the blades rotate fast enough, we could not throw sand through them, as the sand would be too slow to get through before being struck by one of the blades.