SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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694               X. ON THE STRUCTURE OF 'MATTER'
What has been said here about the structure of 'matter' is quite sufficient for our purpose. Here, as always, the negative - the 'is not' - results count. We are in a position to realize by now that the overwhelming evidence which science gives and which would be impossible to repeat here, shows us a structural picture of the world of tremendous complexity, beauty, and mystery of a structure undreamed of by our primitive ancestors who formulated the current mythological structures which moulded our older s.r and languages.
We can sum up, for our purpose, what we know about the structure of 'matter' somewhat as follows. The bits of materials visible and invisible to the unaided eye seem to be less simple than we assume them to be and to the best of our knowledge (1933) represent extremely complex processes of a dynamic structure. It appears also that our usual forms of verbal representation which were built by our primitive ancestors are not similar in structure to the world and so are not fit to represent the happenings going on on the un-speakable levels. As all our knowledge is due to the structure and function of our nervous system, which represents an abstracting mechanism, all our knowledge therefore, appears as some kind of abstractions of different orders, on different levels, of different character, and of varying precision and intensity, resulting in various definite general or individual s.r.
To bring what is said here to the lower level of abstracting; namely, to the level of structural visualization and feeling, we may use the rough analogue of an electric or mechanical fan. When such a fan rotates we see a disk, simply because our nervous system was evolved under natural conditions necessitating integration, and so does not discriminate between the rotating blades. The separate rotating blades are visually abstracted by us as a single solid disk, although there is no disk present.
To the best of our knowledge atoms represent very minute energetic configurations or dynamic structures where extremely rapid processes are going on, which our nervous system abstracts as 'solid'. Judging by our present standards in science and the amount of knowledge we have we may consider that science in the days of Newton (1643-1727) was in its infancy. During that period we knew a little about the shining specks we see in the skies, and more about the rough macroscopic facts of our daily experience. The genius of Newton not only advanced the detailed knowledge of his day in many branches of science, but also formulated two general theories. One was the differential and integral calculus, which he discovered independently of his contemporary Leibnitz, the other was what we call mechanics.
In Newton's era the problems of macroscopic, microscopic, and sub-microscopic levels of investigation had not yet arisen in the modern sense, although in formulating the differential and integral calculus a theoretical structural step was taken toward the analysis of the processes on the subtler levels. Quite naturally we applied the wisdom we derived from Newton to all phases of life and knowledge. With the advent of more detailed structural knowledge of electromagnetic phenomena which occur on sub-microscopic, as well as macroscopic levels, difficulties began to appear. It seemed as if the