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An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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nervous system has abstracted, from the infinite numbers of sub-microscopic characteristics of the event, a large but finite number of macn> scopic characteristics. In purchasing a 'pencil* we usually are not interested in its smell or taste. But if we were interested in these abstractions, we would have to find the smell and the taste of our object by experiment.
But this is not all. The object represents in this language a gross macroscopic abstraction, for our nervous system is not adapted for abstracting directly the infinite numbers of characteristics which the endlessly complex dynamic fine structure of the event represents. We must consider the object as a 'first abstraction' (with a finite number of characteristics) from the infinite numbers of characteristics an event has. The above considerations are in perfect accord not only with the functioning of the nervous system but also with its structure. Our nervous system registers objects with its lower centres first, and each of these lower specific abstractions we call an object. If we were to define an object, we should have to say that an object represents a first abstraction with a finite number of m.o characteristics from the infinite numbers of m.o characteristics an event has.
Obviously, if our inspection of the object is through the lower nervous centres, the number of characteristics which the object has is larger (taste, smell., of our pencili) than the number of characteristics which we need to ascribe to the label. The label, the importance of which lies in its meanings to us, represents a still higher abstraction from the event, and usually labels, also, a semantic reaction.
We have come to some quite obvious and most important structural conclusions of evaluation of the non-el type. We see that the object is not the event but an abstraction from it, and that the label is not the object nor the event, but a still further abstraction. The nervous process of abstracting we represent by the lines (N), (N'). The characteristics left out, or not abstracted, are indicated by the lines (B')( (B").
For our semantic purpose, the distinction between lower and higher abstractions seems fundamental; but, of course, we could call the object simply the first order abstraction, and the label, with its meanings, the second order abstraction, as indicated in the diagram.
If we were to enquire how this problem of abstracting in different orders appears as a limiting case among animals, we should select a definite individual with which to carry on the analysis. For our analysis, which is deliberately of an extensional character, we select an animal with a definite, proper name, corresponding to 'Smith' among us. Such an animal suggests itself at once on purely verbal grounds.