Does Quantity Give Significance?
On my trip to Egypt, I saw an abundance of ancient ruins, some that were close to 5,000 years old.
Of course, the initial reaction so seeing such monumental constructions is awe, and quite rightly so, because it is all impressive.
However, several thoughts came to my mind, and I want to explore two of them.
- Were all these huge constructions in ancient Egypt a complete waste of time?
- Does quantity give significance?
I’ll explore point one in another essay, as it is not so relevant to the point at hand, and so let’s focus on the second point.
What I am essentially asking is: does a quantitive change of enough magnitude give rise to a qualitative change?
If I go to the desert and use my hands to create a small pile of rocks, nobody gives a shit. If I somehow manage to get enough resources together to place two and a half million blocks of stone, each weighing around two and a half tonnes, into a shape and size that resembles a mountain, it becomes a world wonder.
If I have a small business with a handful of employees, nobody takes me seriously. If I have a cutting-edge technology company with tens or hundreds of thousands of employees, my word may sometimes be mistaken as gospel.
In our modern-day age, we may not be building pyramids, but we are engaged in a constant arms race to consume more and more resources, amass more and more wealth, and create ever-larger businesses.
And the question still stands: does quantity give rise to significance?
Yes, I believe that it does. In our society, we often equate success with productivity and size. The larger something is, the more successful it is assumed to be. This is why big businesses are often seen as more reputable than small ones and why wealthy people are often given more respect than those who are not as well-off. There is a certain power that comes with having a lot of money or a lot of
Why is that?
My gut feeling is that because we are seeing the end result of a long and difficult struggle, it is not within the scope of human imagination to understand fully how something so large (the Pyramids, Google) can be built, especially as they require tens of thousands of people working in a coordinated manner.
Interestingly enough, most of us do not tend to give the same significance to natural phenomena. After all, nature has created mountains that make the Pyramids look insignificant by comparison, and with regards to corporations, the entire planet is an ecosystem that works harmoniously together, which makes the complexity of a modern large conglomerate seem like mere child’s play.
So it is about how much human effort was involved in creating the thing in question; that is why we give significance to larger things. Or, perhaps this leads us to the conclusion that it is not the size that matters but the overall skill required?
Not everyone can build a Pyramid, create Google, or paint the Mona Lisa, so perhaps we value these things because they require an incredible amount of vision and skill and so are naturally rare and valuable.
What do you think?
Does a quantitive change of enough magnitude give rise to a qualitative change?
This is a difficult question to answer, as it really depends on the context. In some cases, yes, a quantitive change can lead to a qualitative change. For example, if someone doubles their money, they may suddenly have more choices and opportunities available to them. However, in other cases, the answer may be no. For example, if someone has 100 friends and gains 10 more, their social life may not change all that much. Ultimately, it really depends on the situation.
Strange beasts we are! So much of what we do and value is based on perception rather than objective reality.