SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search




REFLECTIONS ON THE EINSTEIN THEORY 677
indeed such a tremendous structural linguistic achievement that quite probably its full semantic significance and meanings will not be worked out for many years to come. We have given here only the minimum of explanation necessary for our special purpose.
The historical development of a theory has usually little to do with the semantic importance of the theory or its deeper meanings. The constancy of the velocity of light for all observers, which started the ball rolling, was an historical beginning and it served its purpose well, though the objectified 'contractions' and formulae of FitzGerald and Lorentz also did their share, as they helped Einstein and Minkowski to produce their epoch-making structural challenge to old prejudices such as 'absolute space' and 'absolute time', which were semantic remains of a primitive, perhaps pre-human, remote past. Once this is accomplished, no matter how, there is no return possible. Of physical structural facts, all that we need is the finite velocity of the propagation of events,* which as we already know involves far-reaching structural and semantic issues. Of the psycho-logical issues involved, we need only to eliminate semantic disturbances which still occur when we copy animals in our nervous processes and do not discriminate between different orders of abstractions - which animals do not recognize. This elimination can be done by training in the A methods explained before, with the net result that we become 'conscious of abstracting' on different levels and so can instinctively and by feeling discriminate habitually between orders of abstractions, which structurally and semantically could not be done by the old disciplines.
The theory of Einstein has manifold applications but we need only mention a few, which we shall utilize later on.
First, and above all, there are no possible 'absolute' meanings to 'space' and 'time', beyond the relations established by measurements. The structure of our language involving 'space' and 'time' should be similar to the structure of experimental facts, which ultimately show the impossibility of sharply dividing them.
If any one challenges this statement, he could not a priori be criticized. Such criticism would be entirely against the whole tendency of the present work. But such a person might be approached with no little curiosity and expectation. He could be asked: 'You claim that you can absolutely divide
♦'But,' some reader may ask, 'though you assume a finite velocity of propagation, may it not happen that some day an "infinite" velocity will be discovered?'
Such a question would show that the reader has missed the point in the present work. We are confident in saying that an 'infinite' velocity has no meaning, and that no matter what we discover, this will never be discovered. This becomes still clearer if we use the differential definition of 'velocity'. Velocity is defined as the 'time' derivative of 'space' travelled. If 'time' is taken as zero, or if we have 'no time', there can be no 'time derivative' by our very assumption, and, therefore, no 'velocity'. There is, therefore, no danger that we shall ever discover in the actual world an 'infinite' velocity.