Qualitative Quotes (14 quotes)
A poet is, after all, a sort of scientist, but engaged in a qualitative science in which nothing is measurable. He lives with data that cannot be numbered, and his experiments can be done only once. The information in a poem is, by definition, not reproducible. ... He becomes an equivalent of scientist, in the act of examining and sorting the things popping in [to his head], finding the marks of remote similarity, points of distant relationship, tiny irregularities that indicate that this one is really the same as that one over there only more important. Gauging the fit, he can meticulously place pieces of the universe together, in geometric configurations that are as beautiful and balanced as crystals.
Almost all the greatest discoveries in astronomy have resulted from what we have elsewhere termed Residual Phenomena, of a qualitative or numerical kind, of such portions of the numerical or quantitative results of observation as remain outstanding and unaccounted for, after subducting and allowing for all that would result from the strict application of known principles.
Formal symbolic representation of qualitative entities is doomed to its rightful place of minor significance in a world where flowers and beautiful women abound.
I definitely deny that any pathological process, i.e. any life-process taking place under unfavourable circumstances, is able to call forth qualitatively new formations lying beyond the customary range of forms characteristic of the species. All pathological formations are either degenerations, transformations, or repetitions of typical physiological structures.
I found out that the main ability to have was a visual, and also an almost tactile, way to imagine the physical situations, rather than a merely logical picture of the problems. Very soon I discovered that if one gets a feeling for no more than a dozen radiation and nuclear constants, one can imagine the subatomic world almost tangibly, and manipulate the picture dimensionally and qualitatively, before calculating more precise relationships.
It seems to me that the view toward which we are tending is that the specificity in gene action is always a chemical specificity, probably the production of enzymes which guide metabolic processes along particular channels. A given array of genes thus determines the production of a particular kind of protoplasm with particular propertiessuch, for example, as that of responding to surface forces by the formation of a special sort of semipermeable membrane, and that of responding to trivial asymmetries in the play of external stimuli by polarization, with consequent orderly quantitative gradients in all physiologic processes. Different genes may now be called into play at different points in this simple pattern, either through the local formation of their specific substrates for action, or by activation of a mutational nature. In either case the pattern becomes more complex and qualitatively differentiated. Successive interactions of differentiated regions and the calling into play of additional genes may lead to any degree of complexity of pattern in the organism as a largely self-contained system. The array of genes, assembled in the course of evolution, must of course be one which determines a highly selfregulatory system of reactions. On this view the genes are highly specific chemically, and thus called into play only under very specific conditions; but their morphological effects, if any, rest on quantitative influences of immediate or remote products on growth gradients, which are resultants of all that has gone on before in the organism.
John [H.] Van Vleck, who was a leading young theoretical physicist when I was also a leading young theoretical physicist, said to me one day, I never have made a contribution to physics that I didnt get by fiddling with the equations, and I said, Ive never made a contribution that I didnt get by just having a new idea. Then I would fiddle with the equations to help support the new idea. Van Vleck was essentially a mathematical physicist, you might say, and I was essentially a person of ideas. I dont think Im primarily mathematical. I have a great curiosity about the nature of the world as a whole, and most of my ideas are qualitative rather than quantitative.
Mathematics, or the science of magnitudes, is that system which studies the quantitative relations between things; logic, or the science of concepts, is that system which studies the qualitative (categorical) relations between things.
Not a single visible phenomenon of celldivision gives even a remote suggestion of qualitative division. All the facts, on the contrary, indicate that the division of the chromatin is carried out with the most exact equality.
So when light generates itself in one direction drawing matter with it, it produces local motion; and when the light within matter is sent out and what is outside is sent in, it produces qualitative change. From this it is clear that corporeal motion is a multiplicative power of light, and this is a corporeal and natural appetite.
The Darwinian process of continued interplay of a random and a selective process is not intermediate between pure chance and pure determinism, but qualitatively utterly different from either in its consequences.
The phenomenon of emergence takes place at critical points of instability that arise from fluctuations in the environment, amplified by feedback loops. Emergence results in the creation of novelty, and this novelty is often qualitatively different from the phenomenon out of which it emerged.
To us the only acceptable point of view appears to be the one that recognizes both sides of realitythe quantitative and the qualitative, the physical and the psychicalas compatible with each other, and can embrace them simultaneously It would be most satisfactory of all if physis and psyche (i.e., matter and mind) could be seen as complementary aspects of the same reality.
While it is never safe to affirm that the future of Physical Science has no marvels in store even more astonishing than those of the past, it seems probable that most of the grand underlying principles have been firmly established, and that further advances are to be sought chiefly in the rigorous applications of these principles to all the phenomena which come under our notice. It is here that the science of measurement shows its importancewhere the quantitative results are more to be desired than qualitative work. An eminent physicist has remarked that the future truths of Physical Science are to be looked for in the sixth place of decimals.