SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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From our structural point of view there is no retreat; the Einstein work is irreversible. In the younger scientists of today the non-objectified attitude toward terms of 'space' and 'time' is already an accomplished semantic fact, entirely independent of what future experiments may show. For experiments can never justify identification, and so can have no detrimental effect upon this fundamental and most beneficial structural, linguistic, and semantic revolution. Our task was to formulate these issues in general so as to make us conscious of them; and I assume that it is at this semantic point that the tremendous value of Einstein's work will manifest itself in life. Indeed we shall see later on in this volume that the newer quantum mechanics, which have begun to spring up rather rapidly, is made possible only by the semantic background imparted unconsciously (as yet) to younger physicists by the Einstein theory. It is my hope that the present work may make the above issues conscious, and so enable us not only to impart this semantic attitude more easily and with less labour but also to benefit by them more universally in our daily life. The problems of science and life do not differ in this respect. In both we are equally hampered by semantic disturbances, 'emotional stupors', identification, and similar difficulties, the elimination of which means better adjustment for all of us, as well as swifter progress in science.
A study of the history of science shows how slow and painful scientific progress has been. Now we begin to see why. 'Geniuses', as history shows, are men who at least in some fields are freer from identification and false evaluation than others. They are not hampered to a similar extent by 'emotional stupor' j hence they can evaluate the old anew. Lorentz, for instance, produced the formulae, but his objectifications prevented him from evaluating properly the new formulae. As a fact of history the formulae of Lorentz were discovered by Voigt a number of years before, but identification made impossible the evaluation of these formulae, and so delayed the discovery of the Einstein theory. This factor of identification can be found all through recorded history as a retarding semantic blockage.
If we could find methods of eliminating these semantic disturbances, an extremely hampering, paralysing psycho-logical factor would be eliminated, and 'geniuses' could be made the rule rather than the exception. Let me say again: in the old days morons were made and geniuses were born; in the new days, perhaps, this can be reversed, and morons will be bom but geniuses made. We witness something of this kind among the younger post-einsteinian physicists, where the number of 'geniuses' is growing rapidly, in spite of the fact that the above structural issues are not as yet consciously applied in general education. The secret of creative work is freedom from structural bondage, and particularly the structural semantic bondage of words.
The reader should not assume that the few simple structural explanations given in this book exhaust the Einstein theory. I have not even attempted to summarize the theory; I have only given a few semantic facts, which belong to general semantics and to the theory of knowledge. The Einstein theory is