SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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The best we know in 1933 is that the general structure of the world was not different in prehistoric times from what we find it today. We have no doubt that the materials in great antiquity consisted of molecules, molecules of atoms, and atoms of electrons and protons., or whatever else we shall be able to discover some day. We have no doubt that blood was circulating in the higher animals' and humans, that vitamins exhibited very similar characteristics as today, that different forms of radiant energy influenced colloidal behaviour., ., regardless of whether or not the given animal, primitive man or infant 'knew' or 'knows' about them.
How about the primitive physical needs and wants of an animal, a primitive man, and an infant? Besides all mystical and mythological reasons for identification, the structural facts of life necessitated identification on this level of development. Without modern knowledge, what a hungry animal, primitive man, or an infant 'wants' 'is' an 'object', say, called an 'apple'. He would 'define' his 'apple' the best he could as to shape, colour, smell, taste,. Was this what his organism needed ? Obviously not. We could, at present, produce an undigestible synthetic apple which would satisfy his eventual objective definitions; he might eat it, many such 'apples', and eventually die of hunger. Is an abundant and pleasant diet free from unsuspected and unseen 'vitamins' satisfactory for survival ? Again, no! Thus, we see clearly that what the organism needed for survival were the physico-chemical processes, not found in the 'ordinary object', but exclusively in the 'scientific object', or the event. Here we find the age old and necessary, on this early level, identification of the ordinary object with the scientific object. This form of identification is extremely common even in 1933, and, to a large extent, responsible for our low development, because, no matter what we 'think' or feel about an object, an object represents only an abstraction of low order, only a general symbol for the scientific object, which remains the only possible survival concern of the organism. But, obviously, such identification, being false to facts, can never be entirely reliable. If any one fancies that he deals with 'ultimate reality', yet that m.o reality represents only a shadow cast by the scientific object; he begins, with experience, to distrust the object and populates his world with delusional mysticism and mythologies to account for the mysteries of the shadow.
As any organism represents an abstracting in different orders process, which, again, the animal, the primitive man, and the infant cannot know, they, by necessity, identify different orders of abstractions. Thus, names are identified with the un-speakable objects, names for action with the un-speakable action itself, names for a feeling with the un-