SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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which is only auxiliary, comes next in importance. The analysis of the relative evaluation between description and inferences appears extremely complex and would require a separate volume, beyond the scope of the present work. Here we may assume the generally accepted opinion that the reliability of inferences depends on the reliability of the descriptive premises, and that description is more reliable than inference. In importance and in temporal and neurological natural order, description comes first; inferences, next. If we consider different orders of inferences, or inferential words, inferences or inferential words of lower order are more reliable and so more important than inferences of higher orders (inferences from inferences of lower orders).
As science is a racial product and so represents structural descriptions and inferences of an enormous amount of constantly revised observations and formulations of past generations, this racial product, 'science', is more reliable and important in principle, particularly in its negative results, than the individual abstractions of individuals. If some individuals happen to be 'geniuses', who upset racial scientific abstractions, they are under the scrutiny of other scientists who, no matter how biased or slow, remain judges of their products. In 1933 the opinion of scientists is the most dependable opinion we have. We must accept, at,a given date, the racial, particularly negative, abstractions as more reliable, establishing in evaluation the event (scientific object) first, and the ordinary object next. It should be stressed that the 'object' of daily experience, in human life, is by far not so reliable as that in the life of animals entirely without human interference. Thus, a high tension wire, or a third rail, or high explosives are not found in unaided nature and do not forewarn us as ordinary objects do. These 'objects' possess characteristics concealed or not obvious on the objective level of our ordinary inspection of, let us say, sight, hearing, or smell; yet these characteristics appear just as 'real' and dangerous as ever. It appears, then, that the 'scientific object', or the event, in contradistinction to the ordinary object, is more important than the daily object, no matter how important the latter might be. In fact, the only macroscopic importance of objects, outside of aesthetic and symbolic values, may be found in those not obvious physico-chemical, microscopic, and sub-microscopic characteristics. Thus the importance of food, or air, or a chair is found precisely in these physico-chemical effects which result from eating, from breathing, and from resting on a chair, and so again these hidden characteristics, revealed only by science, appear much more important than the gross characteristics manufactured by our nervous systems which we recognize as an object.