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An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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CONSCIOUSNESS OF ABSTRACTING                419
only the only statement possible, but he actually attributes some cosmic objective evaluation to it.
The above description is unsatisfactory, but cannot be much improved upon, since the situation involves unspeakable affective components which are not words. We must simply try to put ourselves in his place, and to live through his experiences when he identifies and Ix'lieves without question that his words 'are' the things they only stand for. To give the full consequences of such identification resulting in wrong evaluation, I might add most tedious descriptions of the interplay of situations, evaluations., in quarrels, unhappinesses, disagreements., leading to dramas and tragedies, as well as to many forms of 'mental' illness effectively described only in the belles-lettres. Thus, Smith, who is not conscious of abstracting, makes the statement, 'A circle is not square'. Let us suppose that Brown1 contradicts him. Smith is angered; for his s.r, his statement 'is' the 'plain truth', and Browni must be a fool. I le objectifies it, ascribes to it undue value. For him, it 'is' 'experience', a 'fact'., and he bursts into speech, denouncing Browni and showing how wrong he 'is'. From this semantic attitude, many difficulties and tragedies arise.
But if Smith2 (conscious of abstracting) makes the statement, 'A circle is not square', and Brown2 contradicts him, what would Smith2 do? He would smile, would not burst into speech to defend his statement, hut would ask Brown2, 'What do you mean ? I do not quite understand you'. After receiving some answer, Smith2 would explain to Brown2 that I lis statement is not anything to quarrel about, as it is verbal and is true only by definition. He would also grant the right of Brown2 not to accept his definition, but to use another one to satisfy himself. The problem would then, naturally, arise as to what definition both could accept, or which would be generally acceptable. And the problem would then be solved by purely pragmatic considerations. Words appear as creatures of definitions, and optional; but this attitude involves important and new s.r.
This fact seems of tremendous semantic importance, as it provides the working foundation for a theory of 'universal agreement'. In the first part of the above example, Smith, according to the accepted standards, was 'right' ('a circle is not square'). Is he 'more right' than Browni, for whom the 'circle is square'? Not at all. Both statements belong to the verbal level, and represent only forms of representation for s.r inside their skin. Either may be 'right' by some explicit or implicit 'definitions'. Are the two statements equally valid ? This we do not know a priori; we must investigate to find out if the noises uttered have