X-Message-Number: 10067
Date: Thu, 16 Jul 1998 11:57:50 EDT
Subject: Bridgman, language

Percy Bridgman was not just a philosopher of science. He was a working
physicist, with hundreds of published technical papers, the most important
ones relating to hyperbaric systems. If I remember correctly, he was also a

I have quoted Bridgman (approximately) as saying that "Science is just doing
your utmost with your mind, no holds barred." I like to say, "The scientific
attitude is characterized primarily by HONESTY and RESOURCEFULNESS." I also
insist that the scientific attitude--and only that--is appropriate for ALL
areas of life and thought.

We are not just quibbling about words. There are profound consequences. Those
who claim, for example, that science and art, or science and religion, or
science and politics have different realms and are incommensurate, or
necessarily have different universes of discourse, are merely dodging
responsibility and giving themselves leave to be as wrong-headed as they
please. ("I'm entitled to my opinion.") If you stray from the scientific
attitude, society may forgive you, but Nature will not.

I also stand by my statement the the contemporary Romance languages are mostly
degenerate corruptions of Latin. Of course it is true that these languages
develop, and manage to do their jobs, after a fashion; but there are objective
tests that clearly show their inferiority. The most obvious is terseness, or
lack of it. If you compare tracts in Latin, French, German, and English you
will find that almost always the French takes the most words. Or if you look
at signs in airports, the French and Spanish versions are almost always

There are also other tests, e.g. logical consistency. In French the double
negative equates to a single negative. "He doesn't know nothing." You don't
find that in Latin, as far as I can recall.

Eventually, all languages will be rationalized and otherwise improved. See
e.g. Chapter Six of MAN INTO SUPERMAN, now on our web site.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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