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An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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650 IX. ON EMPIRICAL AND VERBAL STRUCTURES
language of order the happenings recorded by an instrument or by our lower nerve centres.
Without going into details we may summarize the results as achieved by the physicists. Experiments by the physicists, as indicated by the coincidences of pointers on different instruments, have seemingly established the fact that the 'velocity' of light, as defined by behaviouristic, operational instrumental means, is a constant,, independent of the relative velocity of
the observers. By the 'observers' we mean again the readings on the instruments which the observer carries with him. Now this result contradicts flatly the established verbal expectations which we reached on verbal levels through the elementalistic structure of language and the semantic disturbance, of ascribing 'objective' existence, to the terms 'space* and 'time'.
The situation is acute. Shall we follow our semantic disturbances and reject hard empirical structural facts, or shall we accept the experimental facts and eliminate semantic disturbances?
As usual, the answer is implied by the method of putting the question. We accept the experimental facts and revise our semantic disturbances. In this case a psychiatrist might be a useful co-worker with the physicist.
The einsteinian revolution is structurally and semantically so fundamental, that every intelligent person should be acquainted with it. It will therefore be as well to consider some of its details.
In classical mechanics we had the classical mechanical principle of relativity; namely, that all mechanical equations have one form for two co-ordinate systems moving uniformly with respect to each other. The above has a very simple empirical meaning. If we travel in a train, let us say at a velocity of 50 miles an hour, all our activities in the train have one familiar relative velocity as if the train were at rest. If we throw a ball with a velocity of 20 miles an hour to another passenger on the train in the direction of the movement of the train, the ball will not reach the other passenger with the velocity of 20 miles an hour plus the additional 50 miles an hour velocity of the train but will reach him with the velocity as if the train were standing still. Not so, however, if the ball were thrown to an observer, standing on the tracks. The ball might hurt him, because it would have, relative to him, the velocity of 20 miles an hour of the ball, plus the velocity of 50 miles an hour of the train, or in all, a velocity of 70 miles an hour.
Quite probably, even our remote ancestors who used artificial means of transportation on land or water did not overlook the structural fact that mechanical events happen in just one way, whether the system is at rest or in relative motion. With the advent of verbal formulations of physics and mechanics, such happenings were formulated verbally; and so, slowly, the language of old structure with its consequent objectifications was built.
Now on verbal grounds, which seemed to be justified by experimental, macro-mechanical facts, we concluded that one law should prove valid in the case of electrodynamic and optical events.