Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

The Brotherhood of Doctrines

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

The Brotherhood of Doctrines

Article excerpt

Every now and then there appear in the history of humanity gigantic thinkers who shape and mold our mental processes for centuries to come. In our own time, we are witnessing the turning of a page in human history. The birth of a new era is in the air; a host of men in all walks of life feel it unconsciously and work in the same direction. A few leading mathematicians have made these unconscious strivings of mankind conscious without them we would feel our way but in the darkness, which is a slow--very slow--process of guesswork, whereas with their work our path is clear.

I hope the reader will understand the inherent difficulties, which beset any attempt to give a general summary of a new epoch, which is still in the making of its own foundations.

In the space allotted for this writing only a very few of the most momentous points can be sketched, and I make no pretense to finality. The aim is to draw the attention of scientists, and thinkers, to the fact that something of grave importance for all our human future is going on; to encourage inquiry and collaboration, and thus to accelerate the inevitable.

What I here call the inevitable is the coming of the empire of sound logic--a logic demanding scientific knowledge of human nature, adjusting human beliefs, institutions, doctrines, and conduct to the essential facts and laws of human nature, and converting the pseudo-sciences of ethics, economics and government into genuine sciences for promoting human welfare.

The 'Brotherhood of Man', of which we all dream, can be accomplished only and exclusively by the 'Brotherhood of Doctrines.'

It will be found that, when what Keyser calls the 'Great Stupidity' has been eliminated by sound logic; all that is dismal, destructive, woeful and despairing will become constructive, hopeful, and favorable to human wealth.

Such inquiry will show that many doctrines, first established by myth and magic, still persist; and although, at the first glance they seem harmless, their sinister effect retards human progress, knowledge and happiness.

The history of human thought may be roughly divided into three periods, each period having gradually evolved into its successor. The beginning of one period overlaps years of the other. As a base for my classification I will take the relationship between the observer and the observed. In speaking about these periods I will not take into account individual thinkers, because in many instances it may be found that certain thinkers (Plato, Lucretius, Leibnitz, etc.) in a given period were far ahead of their contemporaries, and that their theories or discoveries which had no great influence in their own time were prophetic expressions of the latest developments of science. Thus I will only speak summarily about those currents of thought which immediately affected the fate of 'Common Humanity.' The germ of protest and criticism was indeed present in man since man began and this element was always, as it is now, responsible for all human progress.

The first period may be called the Greek, or Metaphysical, or Pre-Scientific Period. In this period the observer was everything, the observed did not matter.

The second period may be called the Classical or Semi-scientific--still reigning in most fields--where the observer was almost nothing and the only thing that mattered was the observed. This tendency gave rise to that which we may call gross empiricism and gross materialism.

The third period may be called the Mathematical or Scientific Period, which began in 1854 with the work of Geese Boole's The Laws of Thought. This work started an internal revolution in logic and also in mathematics, which ultimately resulted in the last few years in the merging of both into one-the discovery that logic and mathematics are one. In this period mankind will understand (some understand it already) that all man can know is a joint phenomenon of the observer and the observed. …

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