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An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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674 IX. ON EMPIRICAL AND VERBAL STRUCTURES
term 'is' of 'identity', and so to objectify his terms, which refusal in picturesque language he expressed as a refusal to legislate about 'essences'.
The old E and N language of 'absolute space' and 'absolute emptiness' were for a long while structurally unsatisfactory. Physicists felt that somehow they could not deal with it, but it never occurred to them that this 'absolute nothingness' is objectively meaningless, and that therefore no one can possibly deal with it. Not knowing that, they politely called this non-sense a 'metaphysical question' and evaded issues by leaving the solution in the hands of 'philosophers', never to be solved.
By now I hope that the reader is quite aware that meaningless problems cannot be solved by any one, and that there are no such things as weto-physical questions. There may, however, be a question about enlarging the domain of physics.
Being forced to abandon this 'absolute emptiness', physicists went to the other extreme and postulated some kind of 'material' ether. Let us note that such a postulate involves structurally the 'is' of identity and objectification. Lorentz in opposition to Hertz postulated an 'ether' which was 'motionless' in 'absolute space'. Note that here we have a perfect example of structural objectification of terms. 'Absolute space' is for him semantically some kind of 'absolute emptiness', which, not being satisfactory for the physicist, is filled with some 'material', 'motionless' ether. 'Motionless' is itself an objectification of language, as such a term has here no physical or objective meanings at all.
In pursuing the speculations on objectified terms (semantic disturbances) it was natural to expect, as the earth is not at rest with respect to the sun, the other planets . , that some 'ether wind' or 'ether drift' should appear which would make the constant velocity of light impossible for observers moving with different relative velocities. But these structural expectations were not fulfilled. The velocity of light, as shown by many experiments, was a constant for all observers. The 'motionless material ether' also became structurally impossible, as might be expected, if we stop objectifying terms.
In 1892 FitzGerald suggested an objectified theory, assuming 'absolute' 'length' and 'time' superior to measurement, which involve identification and do not allow the use of the actional, behaviouristic, operational, functional attitudes, language, and methods. FitzGerald assumed that every body 'moving' with the velocity v in the 'ether' is shortened in the direction of motion. It should be noted that every mention of 'shortening' or 'contraction', presupposes some 'absolute' standards of 'rest' or 'motion' or 'length', which do not, and cannot, exist outside of our skin, but are only semantic disturbances, inside our skin, which occur when we identify and ascribe objective existence and value to terms.
How deeply and completely these objectifications permeate our daily and scientific lives is best shown again in the case of Lorentz. Even in 1917, in his Haarlem lectures, he expressed structural hopes that a 'material', 'substantial' ether can be preserved, that 'space' and 'time' can be sharply separated, and that 'simultaneity' can have an absolute meaning.