SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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THE OLDER 'MATTER'
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newtonian mechanics were not entirely applicable to these new and smaller scale phenomena. Finally Maxwell (1831-1879) produced his famous theory of electrortiagnetism. This theory appears structurally at variance with the classical mechanics. Attempts were made to reconcile both kinds of phenomena in one theory. The problems of macroscopic, microscopic, and sub-microscopic structure and levels came to the foreground.
With the advent of the quantum theory further difficulties made their appearance. It became quite obvious that neither the classical 'continuous' mechanics, nor the classical electromagnetic theory could fully account for the 'discontinuous' quantum facts. The situation became acute and bewildering. The Einstein theory with its profound structural semantic and methodological revolution liberated us from our semantic delusions of the uniqueness, absoluteness, and 'objectivity' of 'matter', 'space', and 'time'. It built up a new semantic attitude in the younger generation of scientists already educated on this new structure, and therefore unhampered by the old prejudices. New theories are now being formulated along increasingly more constructive and creative lines.
It is true that as yet neither 'psychologists' nor 'philosophers' have paid enough attention to the subjects discussed here, and so have not made us conscious of the structural and semantic problems involved. However, the Einstein theory has had a profound structural influence on the semantic attitudes of the younger scientists, though in the main they are unconscious of this fact.
The main issues at hand are twofold. One is semantic; namely, to inculcate the permanent structural feeling that words are not the things they stand for. If applied habitually, this leads to the rejection of the term 'is' of identity. The other is to replace old languages and methods by structurally new languages and new methods, in which when we describe ordered happenings, we describe the functioning, the behaviour . , by speaking more in a language of what something 'does' than in the old language of what something 'is', which as we have seen must be always structurally fallacious and semantically dangerous.
The reader should not take lightly these most general structural and semantic issues. They are unusually important for sanity. When they are formulated we can pass them on, and train children in the new s.r quite easily. It is much more difficult, after training a child thoroughly in the old vicious structural semantic habits of identification, eventually to have to appoint a guardian angel to watch him day and night to remind him that a word is not an object, . Such a procedure would lay a terrific strain on us and on the guardian angel. It would probably be also very expensive, judging by our present earthly substitutes for the 'heavenly powers'.
Once this is realized and applied, the second issue becomes a purely structural linguistic one. There is no a priori reason why a language which applies to one level should apply to another.
With these two main issues in view, it is readily understood why modern science tries so hard to develop functional languages and methods in order to be able to describe in terms of order happenings and processes which are ob-