SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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produce similar effects. In different people, through experience, associations, relations, meanings, and s.r are built around some symbol. Obviously, in grown-up humans the identification of the symbol with the thing must be pathological. But in infancy the confusion of orders of abstractions must be considered as an entirely natural semantic period. The infant 'knows' nothing about science and events. Objects and 'sense perceptions' 'are' the only 'reality' he knows and cares about; so he does not and cannot discriminate between events and objects. By necessity, he identifies unknowingly two entirely different levels. As his symbol usually means a satisfaction of his wants, naturally he identifies the symbols with the objects and events. At this stage, also, he cannot know that the orders of his abstractions can be extended indefinitely, or that his most important terms have the multiordinal character. It is important to notice that objedification, and, in general, identification or confusion of orders of abstractions, are semantically natural for the infant. The more the child comes in touch with 'reality', the more he learns, and in a 'normal' child the 'pleasure principle', which was established as a method of adjustment on the infantile level, is slowly displaced by the 'reality principle', which thus becomes the semantic method of adjustment of the complete adult. Science alone gives us full knowledge of current 'reality'. But science represents a social achievement, and, therefore, a complete adult, in growing up to the social level, must become aware of the latest stages of m.o reality. These are given by the current scientific methods and structural notions about this world, and gradually become incorporated in the structure of the language we use, always deeply affecting our s.r.
It is important that in the twentieth century we should realize that the work of Einstein and the four-dimensional space-time continuum establishes a language of different structure, closer to the facts we know in 1933, and that it gives us a new semantic method of adjustment to a new 'reality' (see Part IX).
The semantic stages of the development of the child must naturally pass through the stages outlined above. When he begins to differentiate himself from the environment, he is self-centred and concentrated on his 'sensations' (autoerotic). Later he projects his own sensations on the outside events; he personifies. This semantic trait is often found in incomplete adults, when in anger they break dishes or furniture.
The child is interested, first, in himself (autoerotic) ; then in children like himself (homosexual). Slowly his interests turn away to persons less similar to himself, to the opposite sex, and so he enters the semantic period of the race development.