SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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It is easy to conclude that mistakes and deliberate falsehoods have a different mechanism. A mistake, which leads to a subjectively true but objectively false statement, has no nervously disturbing factors. Deliberate false statements about facts involve semantic conflicts and disturbances in the functioning of the nervous system. Similarly, with 'repressed' material, permanently conflicting nervous currents are present. The nervous energy is spent on conflicts and struggles, while all of it is needed for constructive purposes.
In scientific work we have similar problems. We gather different abstractions of lower orders and then make higher abstractions about them. When these two different orders of abstractions fit nicely structurally, we are satisfied and enjoy the resultant harmony. If they conflict we feel restless. Often scientists spend years, or even a lifetime, formulating higher order abstractions which do not conflict structurally with the lower abstractions. Then they feel satisfied. Scientists know well the feelings of 'mental' pain and discomfort. Creative work is carried out because of such discomfort. Those who are not creative do not experience this, but they also do not produce important work.
The problems of structure, of correct symbolism, of evaluation, of the production of higher order abstractions which are structurally similar to the lower order abstractions., must have a neurological significance, and should be investigated from this point of view. Scientists should try to eliminate these unnecessary conflicts. Those who feel no conflicts may, nevertheless, be so involved in it that they have no free nervous energy left to overcome it. Some such attempt is being made empirically in semantic therapy. The psychiatrist tries to discover and eliminate the semantic conflict, thus freeing nervous energy which may then be spent on useful work.
In racial and national levels, systems of politics, economics., which are based on falsehoods and repression of truth, must unbalance the working of the nervous systems of the people. Since they are the result of the infantile s.r of the race, they propagate the arrested or regressive development in the part of the race whose s.r they influence. As usual, the vicious circle is working here also. A-system throws an entirely new light on the significance of science in human life. Radios, with their attendant possibilities of hearing jazz or a delusional 'revivalist', and the invention of bigger and better means for killing people, do not represent the main practical importance of science. Generalized science means scientific method and the discovery of the structure of events, to which the structure of our language must be adjusted if this daily tool of everybody is not to play dangerous semantic tricks.