SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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From the non-el point of view every obstacle and difficulty involves semantic evaluation. Any and all reactions to lower order abstractions involve the cyclic chain of higher order abstractions, no matter how imperfectly. In ordinary language, a physical occurrence with which we become acquainted through lower nerve centres involves our 'mental' attitudes, doctrines., in general, s.r influenced by the activities of the higher centres. From this non-el point of view, surprise, fear, fright., enter, and usually do the harm. Physical pain seldom, if ever, leads to semantic disturbances, but fear, fright., and surprise usually do. Anticipation of danger, or proper evaluation of a situation, has a protective effect, as it usually tends to diminish or abolish the fear, fright., or surprise. The outside world is full of devastating energies, and an organism may only be called adapted to life when it not only receives stimuli but also has protective means against stimuli. Now such anticipation or expectation makes an organism prepared, and the difference between a prepared and an unprepared organism in the face of danger or pain may turn the scale of the outcome.
Section B. Consciousness of abstracting.
It is obvious that in the human organism the field for stimulations is vastly greater than in animals. We are subjected not only to all external stimuli but also to a large number of permanently operating internal semantic stimuli, against which we have had, as yet, very little protective psychophysiological means. Such structurally powerful semantic stimuli are found in our doctrines, metaphysics, language, attitudes,. These do not belong to the objective external world, and so the animals do not have them in a like degree. As our enquiry has shown, in practically all 'mental' ills, a confusion of orders of abstractions appears as a factor. When we confuse the orders of abstractions and ascribe objective reality to terms and symbols, or confuse conclusions and inferences with descriptions., a great deal of semantic suffering is produced.
Obviously, in such a delusional world, different from the actualities, we are not prepared for actualities, and then always something unexpected or 'frightful' may happen. The organism cannot adjust itself to such fictions; it is not prepared to face oo-valued m.o realities and must suffer from constant surprises and painful semantic shocks, which do the harm.
As we have already seen, the general preventive psychophysiological discipline in all such cases of confusion of orders of abstractions is found in 'consciousness of abstracting'. When conscious of abstracting we cannot identify the symbol with the thing,. In the case just described,