THE MYSTERIOUS NOTION OF 'QUALITY'

By William Markiewicz

In our daily reality we're submitted to: 1, cause-effect (logic), 2, quantity (measure), 3, quality. The chain of logic and the notion of measure are taken for granted, the notion of 'quality' however, remains a mysterious flower from wonderland's domain. Is there any other notion that we can link to existence? Logic is usually linked to quantity, meaning to objective information, because everything we can transfer can be quantified. The notion of quality however involves subjective judgement, which can't be as clearly transmitted as the notion of quantity.

Transcending dimensions means to 'transcend the cosmos,' using the term of Nicolas of Susa. All that doesn't fit the notion of quantity must be 'quality.' Usually in daily life quality and quantity are inseparable; we "like this better than that." Is all quality subject to measurement? Quality by itself may be an impossible notion, meaning, do we discuss something that cannot exist? Must quality and quantity always cling to each other? Not for the spiritualists -- God is Absolute for them. Even for the Buddhists who don't consider the notion of God, the absolute exists; 'awakening' for them is a form of absolute which can be reached. 'Awakening,' not being measurable, cannot be communicated; it must remain an individual experience. Perhaps certain symptoms of 'awakening' can be measured, but this remains a matter of interpretation. Researchers may not agree about its significance.

Samsara: sensorial enjoyment of the measurable. 'Awakening': seeking ultimate happiness through the un-measurable and incommunicable. Those who lock themselves in monasteries escape the measurable in order to approach their un-measurable goal --'essence.' They need some belief to support them on their path: God or resurrection. Others, like the 'skeptic' in Anatole France's 'Thais,' remain mostly in solitude and in subdued sorrow, because without hope, they struggle between 'essence' and 'matter.'

Altruism, empathy, may belong to the qualitative domain, mainly by being indifferent to the rational reward ("what am I getting out of this?"). Is this an example of non-quantitative quality? It's hard to define because it's linked to the social (material) entity. Is the love of nature, love of art, a non-quantitative quality? Again, it's hard to judge, as 'material' and 'spiritual' are here intricately linked. One Kurdish or Iranian Sufi, I don't remember who, took the position, mysterious for me, that: "at one stage we are in love with the sight of a beautiful village. But, when we reach a higher stage, we realise that the beauty of this village is no longer important."

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