Sunday, October 10, 2010

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Change

The Buddha in the Robot

People do not find life worth living unless they experience change, but change in the form of quantitative growth is limited by the fact that resources are finite. Excessive quantitative growth is self-defeating and self-destructive.

...we must realize that if we attempt to satisfy our human desire for change with nothing more than quantitative improvement, we shall be moving in the direction of suffering, because there is a point beyond which quantitative growth is impossible. What we must aim at is qualitative change, which can continue forever.

... If it is simply a matter of producing more of the same product - a quantitative change - you can do that without thinking. But if you are seeking a qualitative change, you must use your head. This is what is called creating. Merely repeating the same process leads to unspeakable sorrow, but creating something new leads to indescribable joy.

- The Buddha in the Robot


Anonymous said...

I'd say that your heavy emphasis on practice inadvertently argues against this.

Sometimes, beyond a certain point, quantitative change becomes qualitative change.

The idea comes from Hegel. Some examples: add heat to ice and some point it becomes water then ice; as the sun goes down there's less and lees light until it's dark, etc.

Or in our game - after enough practice a 'squat' becomes a squat.

Boris said...

Thanks Anonymous. I was viewing "quantitative change" as ever increasing volume and intensity, but you're right about it not being a strict dichotomy.