Essentiality - "quantity-limit" (spareness) LO20346

AM de Lange (
Mon, 11 Jan 1999 12:56:01 +0200

Dear Organlearners,

It is time to continue with the series on the seven essentialities of
creativity. The last contribution was on the essentiality -
"connect-beget" (fruitfulness) LO18750 with URL
In it you will find all the URLs related to the series developed so
far. Glancing to the list below, we still have to work through the
last three essentialities.

"becoming-being" (liveness)
"identity-categoricity" (sureness)
"associativity-monadicity" (wholeness)
"connect-beget" (fruitfulness)
"quantity-limit" (spareness)
"quality-variety" (otherness)
"open-paradigm" (openness)

I wrote the following in:
Essentiality - "identity-categoricity" (sureness) LO17823

Why does a speaker often use a joke to tune the minds of his audience?
The body of the joke leads us away from a facet of creativity. The
punch line of the joke confronts us with our tacit knowledge on that

Here is a joke (Another Beer) concerning the essentiality
"quantity-limit" (spareness).

The man named Koos figures in many South African jokes. Koos loved to
buy in second hand shops presents for his wife. His wife hated them.
One day he bought a copper lamp. As usual he thought that his wife
would not know the difference. It needed only a bit of rubbing to make
it shine.

He began with the task. A genie appeared. Koos knew nothing of genies.
The genie asked him to make his first wish. Koos did not trust the
genie. As a test he wished for a beer. The genie gave him a glass
filled with beer. It tasted tops. Then the genie asked him to make his
second wish. Suddenly Koos realised that he must take this genie
serious. So he wished for another beer, but one which never gets
depleted. The genie gave him an empty glass and a bottle of beer. Koos
filled the glass, drank it empty, filled it again, emptied again, etc.
The bottle stayed full.

The genie became impatient while Koos intoxicated himself. "Make your
third wish", he demanded. Koos, now quite happy with affairs, trusting
that he was in full control, replied: "Gimme anoder one of dose beers
whidge never stops."

Since times immemorial, humankind had to collect fuel like dry wood to
make a fire. It took many centuries for a tree to grow and eventually
die off. Thus the source of firewood was limited. It took a day's toll
to collect enough dry wood to last for a few days. But by inventing
tools like axes and saws, it became possible to cut up enough green
wood to last several months. The wood only needed a couple of weeks to
dry out. By building up a stock pile of dead wood, it became possible
to act as if there was no limit on the stock of living trees. It made
new technologies like steam engines and blast furnaces practical.

Soon these technologies required sources of fuel with a much higher
heat content than wood. Coal began to replace wood. Hence new
technologies had to be invented to mine and deliver coal fast enough
in large quantities. The steam engine became replaced by the internal
combustion engine running on refined fossil oil. A vicious circle
ensued -- the harnessing of fossil fuel (coal and oil) as the foremost
energy source became itself technology dependent. Although new
dimensions (hydroelectric and nuclear power generators) were added to
the energy web, the web kept on getting thirstier. It consumed in one
year what took nature tens of thousands of years to build up through
its life cycles.

Like the first wish of Koos, the first wish of the technocrats had
been granted. But the sources of fossil fuel are fast becoming
depleted. Unlike the second wish of Koos, the wish for an unlimited
source of fuel cannot be granted. There are two patterns limiting
these sources -- the Law of Energy Conservation (LEC) and the Law of
Entropy Production.(LEP). LEC entails that energy cannot be created or
destroyed, but only converted from one form to another. LEP entails
that only those conversions are possible for which the total entropy
will increase. Or in other words, by taking energy and entropy
together as "free energy", only sources high in "free energy" can be
tapped to supply in the need of our thirsty technologies. We can burn
coal in our furnaces, but not rocks.

Most people who depend on these thirsty technologies believe that
scientists and engineers will be creative enough to pull out a hat
trick by granting them an unlimited supply of "free energy" like the
second wish of Koos. Maybe someone will succeed and open up a new
source of "free energy". But that will be an unprecedented innovation.
It will require powers of observation not exhibited before by any

However, two things we can know for sure in terms of the LEC and LEP.
Firstly, should such a new source of "free energy" be discovered, it
will be limited just as all other sources of "free energy" are
limited. Secondly, should such a source not be discovered, we will
have to adjust our creativity in such a manner that we bear in mind
that the present sources are indeed limited. We have less than thirty
years to do so. But even worse, such an adjustment will have to be
more than cosmetic -- it will require a grand paradigm shift.

Under the previous essentiality "connect-beget" (fruitfulness) it was
mentioned that most people recognise that essentiality not as an
essentiality, but as the definition for creativity. In other words,
creativity is for them the ability to connect two seemingly unrelated
things effectively so that something new emerges from it.

It is possible to use each of the essentialities as a definition for
creativity rather than recognising it as an essentiality. But far less
people will do so because most of them have fixed their definition on
the essentiality fruitfulness. Thus few people will define creativity
as the ability to overcome premature limitations and to push the
imposed frontiers to the very edge.

This latter "definition" may seem to be trivial. But when browsing
through a book like the Guinness Book of Records, this definition
suddenly seems to spring alive. There are records for almost every
measurable thing like the fastest jet plane, the smallest robot and
the heaviest element. The richness of the topics on which records are
based, is astounding. Even more astounding is the innovation often
needed to set a new record.

In the harsh world of profit making businesses, many of these Guinness
record efforts seem to be a waste of good resources. But maximising
profits in business itself is another way of expressing sensitivity to
the essentiality spareness. For many businesses this essentiality
(maximising profit) is the very paradigm of business. However, some
businesses are shifting to a new paradigm, namely innovation. In other
words, they switch from spareness to fruitfulness as the definition of
business. Total Quality Management which involve the essentiality
otherness ("quality-variety") is a similar shift.

Business do gain from such shifts from one to another essentiality
because in each case a second essentiality and its improvement become
involved. But these gains are restricted because only a few and not
all the essentialities are involved. This does not mean that when all
the restrictions are lifted by incorporating all seven essentialities
that the business will now function without limits. No, real limits
due to spareness will always be present. It rather means that the gain
will now be something unique, something much closer to the spirit of
humanity. What is this gain? The business will gain in learning,
individually and collectively.

This learning dimension has been explored by Peter Senge in his book
"The Fifth Discipline" on Learning Organisations. In appendix 1 he
lists for each of the five disciplines of a LO the "essences" of that
discipline. In total there are eleven "essences". The relationship
between these "essences" and the "essentialities" are discussed in
more detail in
Lectures, learning, leadership, LOs LO19889
< >
Whether we think in terms of "essentialities" or "essences", any
impairing in one or more of them will seriously restrict (limit)
learning as an outcome of creativity.

There is no better way in uncovering any limit and pushing it to its
very edge than in competition. The competition may be in any sport
such as the Olympic games. But we may even have competition in
technology such as building super computers or Formula 1 racing cars.
Whatever the case, the uncovering of a limit leads to bench marking --
the setting up minimum standards (lower limits). In these lower bounds
we acknowledge once again that which we have become aware of in the
actual limits (upper bounds) functioning as attractors.

Why do limits function as attractors? It points to the very nature of
a limit as a "dynamical equilibrium". The origin of it all is the fact
that although entropy has to be produced (lower bound), it has to be
produced minimally (upper bound). The "equilibrium" tells us that the
closer we get to the limit, the less the changes become. At the very
limit there is no change in changes any more. The "dynamical" tells us
that we have not only to think of changes, but especially of changes
in changes. It means that we should not think in a static manner.

For example, when we get into a car and press down its accelerator
pedal, it begins to change its position. The change in position
relative to time is known as velocity. The change in velocity relative
to time is know as acceleration. If we keep the pedal down to the
floor board, the velocity increases, but the acceleration decreases.
Eventually, when the accelerative force of the engine is balanced by
the dragging force of friction, there will be no acceleration. There
is no change in the velocity, although there is a rapid change in
position. The car has reached its limiting (maximum) speed. This is
called a "dynamical equilibrium".

Sometimes the limit is not one single value, but a manifold of values
which are repeated in a cyclic manner. Such dynamical equilibriums are
known as "limiting cycles" or "strange attractors". The more complex
the behaviour of any system, the easier it is for a single limit to
generate into a limiting cycle. Whatever the case (single limit or
limiting cycle), such a limit is manifested by a dynamical
equilibrium. Without the becoming-being of a dynamical equilibrium,
the limit will not be manifested. This shows once again how the
essentialities link together, in this case "becoming-being" (liveness)
and "quantity-limit" (spareness). Trying to understand one
essentiality while excluding one or more of the other six is a fatal
to the understanding of that essentiality.

In order to have a value for a limit, we must be able to measure. The
measurement produces a whole scale of values of which one is the
limiting (record) value discussed above. But the dog is beginning to
bite its own tail because every measurement in any kind of
physico-chemical measurement is itself a dynamical equilibrium and
thus a limit. To understand this, we have to study physico-chemical
measurements in more detail.

Each kind of physico-chemical measurement is known as a quantity with
a unique unit which defines it. A quantity is measured by making use
of a particular measuring instrument. For example, temperature is
measured by a thermometer having a unit like celsius. An actual
measurement on a system is made after making effective contact
(essentiality fruitfulness) between the system and the measuring
instrument. But some time has to lapse after such a contact for a
dynamical equilibrium to set in. For example, we do not read the
temperature on a thermometer immediately after having made contact
with the body. We have to wait for heat to flow from the one to the
other until their temperatures have become equal.

Because a dynamical equilibrium has to set up between the system and
the instrument, the measurement causes a irreversible change in the
values of the quantity for both the system and the instrument. Thus
all measurements are irreversible, unless by pure luck the system and
the instrument had exactly the same values for the quantity before
contact had been made. The principle of measurement is now to have as
much change as possible in the measuring instrument and as little
change as possible in the system. For example, in the case of a
temperature we use a thermometer much smaller (in heat capacity) than
the system.

Once again we have evidence that the seven essentialities cannot be
studied independently or in isolation. The essentiality fruitfulness
requires that effective contact has to be made between the system and
the measuring instrument. This contact results in entropy production
and thus increased chaos. Time has to be allowed for this entropy
production to become zero so that a dynamical equilibrium can result.
Hence the essentiality spareness can be observed.

Even the scale of values obtained by any measuring instrument is
limited. For example, for a mercury filled thermometer, we cannot
measure temperatures lower than the freezing point of mercury or
temperatures higher than the boiling point of mercury. How will
measure temperatures higher than the boiling point of mercury?

One way is to make use of a thermocouple, two pieces of different
metals joined together to form a loop. When the one joint is at a
different temperature than the other one, an electrical current is
generated. Whereas an electrical voltage is the primary cause for the
flow of a current, a temperature difference now induces a voltage
difference and thus a current. (This cross induction is but one of
many possible Onsager reciprocal relationships.) The next step in
using the thermocouple as a measuring instrument, is to gauge the
vlotage/current in terms of thermometer readings in that temperature
interval where the two instruments overlap.

Even when measuring temperature with a mercury thermometer, we already
have made use of an Onsager relationship. We actually measure the
volume of the mercury, assuming that there is a (Onsager) relationship
between volume and temperature. Normally a temperature difference
causes a flow of heat while a flow (change) of volume is caused by a
pressure difference. The same goes for measuring most other
quantities. In other words, the measuring of a particular quantity of
the system is done in terms of another quantity of the measuring
instrument related in a coherent and consistent manner to this
systemic quantity. In other words, the Onsager relationships are at
the base of virtually all measurements. Consequently, extending the
measurement of a quantity amounts to finding another Onsager
relationship between that quantity and a different quantity.

Hundreds of physical quantities are known. A classification of these
quantities is very interesting.

The first classification is that between primary and secondary
quantities. Examples of primary quantities are mass, length, time,
temperature and electrical charge. In a primary quantity an
international unit for comparison and gauge has to be conserved. For
example, the unit for mass is the kilogram. Secondary quantities are
always composed of primary quantities. For example, a newtonian force,
measured in newton, is composed of mass, length and time according to
the second law of Newton. Thus the unit newton may be expressed in
terms of the units of mass, length and time. Specifically, one newton
is equal to one kilogram meter per second per second.

The second classification is that between scalar quantities and vector

The third classification is that between intensive and extensive
quantities. This classification is very important to understand
entropy production. When a system is halved, the intensive quantities
(like temperature) stays the same while the extensive quantities (like
mass) is halved. Differences in an intensive quantity give rise to an
entropic force while changes in an extensive quantity gives rise to an
entropic flow.

The fourth classification is that between explicate and implicate
quantities. An explicate quantity (like temperature) can be measured
directly. An implicate quantity (like energy) has to be calculated in
terms of the measurements of two or more other quantities. Except for
energy and entropy, all other implicate quantities are unitless
(dimensionless). Since they do not have a unit, they cannot be
measured directly. Dimensionless quantities (like the Reynold's or
Raleigh numbers) play an important role in complex systems acting
close to the edge of chaos.

Physico-chemical measurements can also be called hard measurements. In
contrast to this, measurements in the humanities can be called soft
measurements. The soft means that these measurements involve much more
complex systems than in the case of the physical sciences. In a simple
physical system like a gas only a few quantities (pressure, volume,
temperature and mass) need to be known to describe the behaviour of
the gas completely. But in a complex system the change in one type of
behaviour may induce changes in tens of different types of behaviours,
thus making it difficult (impossible up to now) to discover complete

Despite these difficulties, there are some important lessons for soft
measurements which can be learned from hard measurements. Probably the
most important lesson of them all, is that soft measurements also
require a dynamical equilibrium (limit, attractor state) to obtain
values which will characterise the system authentically. An important
requirement for a dynamical equilibrium is an unrestricted interaction
between the system and the measuring instrument. Unfortunately, very
few soft measurements come even close to this requirement. On the
other hand, simple observations made during the free interaction
between two systems (like in dialogue, game-playing, problem-solving,
art-expressing) are often more valuable than elaborate soft

Another important lesson is that all measurements perturb a system
irreversibly. In hard measurements innumerable innovative efforts have
been made to reduce this irreversible perturbation by a measurement.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of soft measurements. Often,
after a soft measurement has been made, the system is left in a much
agitated state. Such a system will then follow a completely different
course than the course it would have taken before the measurement.
Such measurements have little if any, factual value because they refer
to what has become fiction.

A third important lesson is to realise that every measurement consists
of a measured value and a measuring instrument. Changes in the design
of the measuring instrument may lead to the measurement of a
completely different quantity. Once such a change has been made, the
new instrument has to be gauged against the old instrument to make
sure that it still measures the same quantity, even though the scale
or sensitivity may have changed.

Impairing spareness in human creativity is to expect a person to
deliver or receive more than that which the person is capable of. This
leads to behaviours with destructive consequences. In sport, for
example, competitors begin to make use of substances like steroids to
improve on their performances. Spareness can also be impaired when
expecting a person to be satisfied with less than what is needed.

The impairing of spareness is usually noticeable as a disharmony -- a
negligence or an indulgence of something to the detriment of other
related things. This disharmony create extra tensions and flows which
may easily upset the normal course of evolution, thus causing
premature bifurcations and thus immergences.

Humans are limited creatures. Technologies have been invented to
overcome human limitations in all sorts of behaviours like
observation, locomotion, endurance and calculations. What humans
cannot do, they let their technologies do for them. Although it has
led to much improvement in the human condition, it also deteriorated
this condition. Why?

People are also limited in their understanding, production and
management of these technologies. Although technology can extend their
human capabilities, people and not technology have to master these
technologies. In the mastering of these technologies not only
learning, but also creativity are essential. The less creative people
are, the more difficult it becomes for them to interact correctly with
these technologies.

Best wishes

At de Lange <>
Snailmail: A M de Lange
Gold Fields Computer Centre
Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria
Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa


"AM de Lange" <>

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