SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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'What is an object?', 'What is life?', 'What is hell?', 'What is heaven?', 'What is space?' 'What is time?', and an endless array of such irritants. The answer, based on the human discrimination of orders of abstractions and so proper human evaluation, is definite, undeniable, simple, and unique: 'Whatever one might say something "is", it is not.' Whatever we might say belongs to the verbal level and not to the un-speakable, objective levels.
Let me repeat once more that the 'is' of identity forces us into semantic disturbances of wrong evaluation. We establish, for instance, the identity of the un-speakable objective level with words, which, once stated, becomes obviously false to facts. The 'is' of identity, if used as indicating 'identity' (structurally impossible on the objective levels), says nothing. Thus, the question, 'What is an object ?', may be answered, 'An object is an object' - a statement which says nothing. If used in definitions or classifications, such as 'Smith is a man', a type of statement used even in the Principia Mathematica, or 'A is B or not B', as in the formulation of the law of 'excluded third' in the two-valued A 'logic', it always establishes an identity, false to facts. The first statement expresses the identity of a proper name with a class name which must lead to the confusion of classes (higher order abstractions) with individuals (lower order abstractions). This confusion leads automatically to disturbed evaluation in life, because the characteristics of a class are not the 'same' as, nor identical with, the characteristics of the individual. I shall not analyse in detail the 'A is B', because, obviously, it is not.
How about Fido? Fido has no science and, therefore, no 'event'. For him, the object is not an abstraction of some order, but 'is all' he 'knows' and cares about. Smith not only abstracts in indefinite numbers of different orders, and does it automatically and habitually, but if he enquires he may also become conscious of abstracting - 'is not all', and 'this is not this'. Now, Fido can never be conscious of abstracting, as his nervous system is incapable of being extended by extra-neural means, and this extension appears to be a necessary condition for the acquiring of consciousness of abstracting.
Although for Smith, 'This is not this', as illustrated on the Structural Differential, for Fido, that diagram would eventually mean 'this is this', the structure of his world being represented by the single disk (0). Fido cannot be conscious of abstracting, he must identify, because he 'knows' nothing of this process, and there is no means of informing him of these relations and structure.