Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Quotations from the World of Null-A

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Quotations from the World of Null-A

Article excerpt

After reading Science and Sanity, A.E. Van Vogt decided to write a work of science fiction titled The World of Null-A, which was published in book form 1948. The volume has since gone on to become an important part of the science fiction literary canon and it has attracted many people to general semantics. The following are some quotations that are used at the beginning of the book's chapters. (FYI Null-A Continuum by John C. Wright, which is a sequel to The World of Null-A, is reviewed in this edition of ETC.)

Common sense, do what it will, cannot avoid being surprised occasionally. The object of science is to spare this emotion and create mental habits which shall be in such close accord with the habits of the world as to secure that nothing shall be unexpected.


The gifted ... Aristotle ... affected perhaps the largest number of people ever influenced by a single man. ... Our tragedies began when the "intensional" biologist Aristotle took the lead over the "extensional" mathematical philosopher Plato, and formulated all the primitive identifications, subject-predicativism ... into an imposing system, which for more than two thousand years we were not allowed to revise under penalty of prosecution. ... Because of this, his name has been used for two-valued doctrines of Aristotelianism, and, conversely, the many-valued realities of modern science are given the name non-Aristotelianism. ...


To be is to be related.


To be acceptable as scientific knowledge, a truth must be a deduction from other truths.


The human nervous system is structurally of inconceivable complexity. It is estimated that there are in the human brain about twelve thousand millions of nerve cells or neurons, and more than half of these are in the cerebral cortex. Were we to consider a million cortical nerve cells connected with one another in groups of only two neurons each and compute the possible combinations, we would find the number of possible interneuronic connection-patterns to be represented by ten to the power of two million, seven hundred, and eighty-three thousand. …

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