SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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576 VIII. ON THE STRUCTURE OF MATHEMATICS
thing', a plenum. Naturally coherent speech, like universal algebra, must be coherent speech about something. 'Generalized space' becomes generalized plenum, and so it belongs to two realms. One is contentless and formal, hence generalized algebra; the other, in that it refers to a generalized plenum, becomes generalized geometry, or generalized physics.
The main importance, perhaps, of geometry is in the fact that it can be interpreted both ways. One way appears as pure mathematics, and therefore as the study of sets of numbers representing co-ordinates. The other takes the form of an interpretation, in which its terms imply a connection with the empirical entities of our world. Obviously if speech is not the things spoken about, we must have a special discipline which will translate the coherent language of pure mathematics, which is contentless by definition, into another way of speaking which uses a different vocabulary capable of both interpretations.
Again, the different orders of abstractions, which our nervous structure produces, are perfectly reflected in the very structure and methods of mathematics. The possibility of the use of the 'intuitions' of lower order abstractions, is extremely useful in pure mathematics. This fact makes geometry also unique. It allows us to apply to the development of geometry both orders of abstractions - the 'intuitions', 'feelings', of the lower order of abstractions, and the static, 'quantum' jump methods of pure analysis. This is also why the einsteinian physics becomes four-dimensional geometry; which, because it can be treated on both levels of abstraction, gives tremendously powerful and important psycho-logical means for sanity and nervous co-ordination of the individual. Since Einstein, many far-sighted scientists have said that although they do not know in what respect the Einstein theory will affect our lives, yet they feel that it will have a tremendous influence. I venture to suggest that the bearing of the Einstein theory and its development on the problems of sanity, as explained in this work, is a new and unexpected semantic result of the application of modern science to our lives. As the Einstein theory could have been formulated more than two hundred years ago when the finite velocity of light was discovered, so the present theory is also several hundred years overdue. The only consolation we have left is that it is better late than never.
The scope of this work allows us to go but a little beyond these simple remarks, and permits only a very brief explanation of the most fundamental and elementary beginnings of the calculus. In this presentation I shall appeal very often to intuition (lower order abstractions), as this will help the reader.
The notion of differentiation of a continuous function is the process for measuring the rate of growth; that is to say, the evaluation of the increment of the function as compared with the growth or increment of the variable. We may describe this process as follows: If y is a function of x, it is helpful not to consider x as having one or another special value but as flowing or growing, just as we feel 'time' or follow the ripples made by a stone thrown into a pond.
The function y varies with x, sometimes increasing, sometimes decreasing. We have already defined the variable as any value selected from a given range. Let us consider our x as given in the interval between 1 and 5. We are now