SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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'allness'. In life, we deal structurally only with 'non-allness'; and so the term, 'abstracting in different orders', seems to be structurally and uniquely appropriate for describing the effects of external stimuli on living protoplasm. 'Intelligence' of any kind is connected with the abstracting (non-allness) which is characteristic of all protoplasmic response. Similarities are perceived only as differences become blurred, and, therefore, the process is one of abstracting.
The important novelty in my treatment is in the structural fact that I treat the term 'abstracting' in the non-el way. We find that all living prdtoplasm 'abstracts'. So I make the term abstracting fundamental, and I give it a wide range of meanings to correspond to the facts of life by introducing abstractions of different orders. Such a treatment has great structural advantages, which will be explained in Part VII.
As our main interest is in 'Smith', we will speak mostly of him, although the language we use is structurally appropriate for characterizing all life. 'Abstracting' becomes now a physiological term with structural, actional, physico-chemical, and non-el implications.
Accidentally, some light is thus thrown on the problem of 'evolution'. In actual objective life, each new cell is different from its parent cell, and each offspring is different from its parents. Similarities appear only as a result of the action of our nervous system, which does not register absolute differences. Therefore, we register similarities, which evaporate when our means of investigation become more subtle. Similarities are read into nature by our nervous system, and so are structurally less fundamental than differences. Less fundamental, but no less important, as life and 'intelligence' would be totally impossible without abstracting. It becomes clear that the problem which has so excited the s.r of the people of the United States of America and added so much to the merriment of mankind, 'Is evolution a "fact" or a "theory" ?', is simply silly. Father and son are never identical - that surely is a structural 'fact' - so there is no need to worry about still higher abstractions, like 'man' and 'monkey'. That the fanatical and ignorant attack on the theory of evolution should have occurred may be pathetic, but need concern us little, as such ignorant attacks are always liable to occur. But that biologists should offer 'defences', based on the confusion of orders of abstractions, and that 'philosophers' should have failed to see this simple dependence is rather sad. The problems of 'evolution' are verbal and have nothing to do with life as such, which is made up all through of different individuals, 'similarity' being structurally a manufactured article, produced by the nervous system of the observer.