SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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mentioned, become paramount. The newer theories brilliantly satisfy this requirement.
As an example, we may perhaps mention an aspect of the wave mechanics theory which is not at present settled, but which remains just as interesting.
Schrodinger shows that in highly excited states a suitably chosen group of waves represents a 'wave packet', which behaves like a point-mass of the ordinary mechanics. It oscillates with frequency vq in a rectilinear path. The number and breadth of the waves which form the packet vary with the 'time', but the width of the packet remains constant. The remarkable part about the shape of the curve is that it represents the Gauss error curve.
Heisenberg has shown
that this result is only accidentally true, but for our purpose of illustration this is quite enough.
The newer quantum mechanics has shown once more the necessity for a re-analysis of our fundamental notions. From a space-time point of view, which seems to be a permanent acquisition of science, since it is a language and method of structure closer related to the external world than the older languages and methods, it seems beyond dispute that even macroscopic phenomena are the results of repeated observation. Now, such a point of view, although it is extremely plausible, and close to neurological and physical data, necessitates a complete reconstruction of our describing apparatus, which is not adapted to such an outlook.
The problem of 'observation' enters. Bohr suggests, and rightly, that this vocabularly is strictly connected with the older 'causal' vocabulary. One of the main points of the present work is to draw attention to the multiordinal mechanism and terms and to show that the analysis of these problems cannot be even attempted without first analysing the structure of our languages, of our 'knowledge', and the neurological and semantic aspects which such analysis involves.
When this analysis is carried through we see that the problems of 'continuity' and 'discontinuity' lose their absolute character. They become verbal problems, to be solved through the ingenuity of some one who will suggest the solutions.
The newer quantum mechanics give us ample material for work on these problems, but they also illustrate a much more general and important problem, which is the subject matter of the present book; namely, that all 'knowledge* is structural, strictly dependent on the nervous structure and functioning, and the language we use. 'Method' is that aspect of the search for structure which deals with the most expedient means for finding structure. Since words are not the things we speak about, the study of linguistic structure becomes a