SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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UN-SANITY VERSUS SANITY
519
Many children and feeble-minded show distinct acquisitiveness. Like some animals, they show a tendency for collection of objects, and value their collections highly. It is a well-known childish game to claim the best morsel of some food because one has put one's hand on it first. Acquisitiveness is made a national slogan and proclaimed a highest aim, which, of course, becomes a semantic source of endless wars and miseries. Infantile legalistic 'putting hands first', on a piece of paper as a title to land, or some such similar form of a 'claim', becomes a source of ridiculous fortunes for the few and of unbearable life-conditions for the many.
Children are gregarious and afraid to be alone. Similar tendencies are carried on by Rotary and other clubs and lodges. Infantile grownups are too empty in their heads to desire to be alone. Children seldom stick to anything for long. They hunt for new excitements, and the old toys are often soon forgotten. Similarly, grown-up infants hunt for new excitements, for new toys, whether they be a house or an automobile, a wife or a lover.
In children and the feeble-minded, we seldom find such feelings as shame, aesthetic sentiments, or appreciation of beauty. They like things bizarre, grotesque, glittering, and enormous, things which attract and hold their attention. Similar characteristics are found in incomplete adults. Children and the feeble-minded are usually untidy and noisy. Visiting a public park, or witnessing a 'celebration', will show an observer clearly how infantile grown-ups behave.
Children like to domineer over their younger brothers and sisters and to play the leading part in a game. Similar semantic characteristics are carried into adult life, sometimes taking the form of sadism. We often see infantile docility or resentment, as expressed in sentimental approval or bitter disillusionment, both generally unjustified.
Self-respect is little developed in the idiot, but plays an important semantic role in the life of imbeciles and children. The infantile adult also shows an exaggerated self-respect. Bus conductors and university professors label themselves with a title - even if it is only 'Mr.' John Smith, as if being called simply 'John Smith' would be offensive to him. An adult evaluates a man by what he has in his head or character, but the infantile type largely judges him by the symbols (money) which he has, or the kind of hat or clothes he wears. Since commercialism cannot sell brains, but can sell trousers or a dress, it establishes semantic standards whereby a man is evaluated by his clothes and hats.
In speaking of exaggerated self-regard based on improper self-evaluation, we touch the problems of infantile self-love and self-impor-