SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search

716            X. ON THE STRUCTURE OF 'MATTER'
This theory appears frankly statistical and introduces fundamental probability assumptions. The moment we realize that the human organism is essentially an abstracting affair and that the abstracting is performed on different levels, or in different orders, it becomes obvious that statistical methods and probability notions become fundamental.
In the earlier days we used to assume that statistical laws were laws with exceptions. Such an outlook was conditioned by our dealings with macroscopic events. Now, we analyse such macroscopic events in terms of microscopic and sub-microscopic events, the statistical laws become accurate laws, not for individuals but for groups of individuals. Because we abstract in different orders, we deal only with statistical data, mass effects of different 'packets' of nervous excitement, as is best illustrated by different thresholds in different nervous tissues.
The processes in the higher centres, more remote from the external world, deal with a special material, no more with statistical data of 'packets' and averages, but with what we used to call 'inferences', 'inductions'. , which give only the probability of happenings. But as we have already seen, probability has become a well-developed structural mathematical discipline, which has not yet made much effect upon our primitive-made macroscopic metaphysics and language. It should be noticed that the highest activities of the nervous centres are based on statistical data furnished by the lower centres. So we see that, to the best of our knowledge about ourselves and the world around us, a modern structural and semantic outlook, in science or in life, must be based on statistical and probability methods.
In space-time every point has a date, and therefore in the language of space-time all points are different and do not repeat themselves. Such structural outlook is, of course, again conditioned, and leads toward the statistical and probability methods. The main psycho-logical importance of the new methods is to diminish affective tension, which is always wasteful and harmful. Inferences may involve belief. When belief is too strong, although this is never justified according to the best modern knowledge, we very easily fall into identification, delusions, illusions, and the like. It should be emphasized that the last-mentioned pathological states are always compound. They involve at least two components. One of these consists of some ignorance somewhere; the other of strong affective belief in the 'truth' of our mistaken notions. The stronger the affective tension is, the more dangerous the semantic disturbance becomes.
The Heisenberg theory has succeeded in formulating (verbal) structural methods which are best suited to represent the experimental facts which underlie physics, as well as being structurally in accord with the working of the human nervous system. That is why I venture to assert that this theory will never be abandoned as a checking and research instrument.
In an hypothetical experiment in the quantum field, we may assume what may be called a gamma-ray microscope. If we were to illuminate an 'electron'