SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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The whole subject of our human capacity for higher abstracting without discernible limits appears extremely broad, novel, and unana-lysed. It will take many years and volumes to work it out; so, of necessity, the examples given below will be only suggestive and will serve to illustrate roughly the enormous power of the A methods and structure, aiming to make them workable as an educational, powerful, semantic device.
Let us take some terms which may be considered as of a positive character and represent the structure of 'culture', science, and what is known in psychiatry as 'sublimation'; such as curiosity, attention, analysis, reasoning, choice, consideration, knowing, evaluation,. The first order effects are well known, and we do not need to analyse them. But if we transform them into second order effects, we then have curiosity of curiosity, attention of attention, analysis of analysis, reasoning about reasoning (which represents science, psycho-logics, epistemology.,) ; choice of choice (which represents freedom, lack of psycho-logical blockages, and shows, also, the semantic mechanism of eliminating those blocks) ; consideration of consideration gives an important cultural achievement; knowing of knowing involves abstracting and structure, becomes 'consciousness', at least in its limited aspect, taken as consciousness of abstracting; evaluation of evaluation becomes a theory of sanity,.
Another group represents morbid semantic reactions. Thus the first order worry, nervousness, fear, pity., may be quite legitimate and comparatively harmless. But when these are of a higher order and identified with the first order as in worry about worry, fear of fear., they become morbid. Pity of pity is dangerously near to self-pity. Second order effects, such as belief in belief, makes fanaticism. To know that we know, to have conviction of conviction, ignorance of ignorance., shows the mechanism of dogmatism; while such effects as free will of free will, or cause of cause., often become delusions and illusions.
A third group is represented by such first order effects as inhibition, hate, doubt, contempt, disgust, anger, and similar semantic states; the second order reverses and annuls the first order effects. Thus an inhibition of an inhibition becomes a positive excitation or release (see Part VI) ; hate of hate is close to 'love'; doubt of doubt becomes scientific criticism and imparts the scientific tendency; the others obviously reverse or annul the first order undesirable s.r.
In this connection the pernicious effect of identification becomes quite obvious. In the first and third cases beneficial effects were prevented, because identification of orders of abstractions, as a semantic