Saturday, 19 November 2011

Living and the process of Creative Destruction

                          Erwin Schrodinger, the famous Physicist wrote a book called"What is Life?"This book was published in 1944 , and was related to the physical aspect of the living cell. It had an unusual cross disciplinary sweep including  Biology,Mathematics,Quantum Mechanics and Philosophy.At the end of Preface , he quoted from Spinoza's Ethics,"There is nothing over which a free man ponders less than death:his wisdom is,to meditate not on death but on life"
"What constitutes living ?" is  a question entirely different from the one raised and answered by Schrodinger in his book .It becomes more subjective but useful when we seek to find answer to the question:"What constitutes  quality of life?
Robert N. Butler,M.D. , in his book "The Longevity Revolution"-'The benefits and challenges of living a long life' has given the following Quality-of-Life Indicators:
1.Physical Well-Being:Energy and Function ,Sexuality, Quality Health Care and Health, Freedom from Pain,Preservation of Senses(e.g. vision and hearing), Adequate Rest and Sleep and Mobility.
2.Financial and Material Well-Being :Financial Security and Independence, Income from a variety of Sources, Property , Employment, Social Mobility.
3.Personal Well-Being:Mental Health and Happiness, Self-esteem/Dignity, Identity, Continuing Growth/Reinvention of the self through life. Body Image/Appearance, Memory , Control Over One's Life/Independence, Morale, Freedom from Excessive Stress, Adaptiveness, Choice/Opportunity,Education, Love.
4.Social Well-Being:Having Family , Friendship,Neighborhood,Social Network, and Support System,Internet Access, Environmental Well-Being, Clean Air and Water, Public Order and Safety(Crime-Free)
5.Purposeful Well-Being:Contribution to others/Altruism,Philanthropy,Productive Aging or Engagement,Knowledge(Truth)
6Aesthetic Well-Being:Exposure to Theatre,Music,Arts, Humanities(Beauty),Leisure time,Learning
7.Joyfulness:Pleasures-Big and Small,Merriment-Exhilaration,Food-Recreation-Travel,Adventure-Excitement
8.Moral Well-Being: Clear Conscience(Goodness)
9.Spirituality:Beyond Self,Personal Beliefs,Serenity-Tranquility,Meditation
10.Enjoyment of One's Lifetime:Feeling that"it has been good to be alive"
11.Life Satisfaction:Reminiscence  and Life Review, Accomplishments,Full Life, Creativity,Serenity
12.Present-ness:Elementality,Simplicity, Freedom from Preoccupation with Past and Future
13.End of Life:Quality of Dying , Sense of Control , Quality of Care(Control of Pain and Suffering).
The above creates a very exhaustive list of Quality of Life indicators.How do we relate these to the real living, even in a general way?
In Indian Philosophy , Living gets manifested in three forms: Creation , Preservation , and Destruction .These are represented by Gods :Brahma , Vishnu and Mahesh (Shiva).All the activities which constitute living, fall in one of the following classes.Creative activities , preservation activities , and destruction activities .All these are important .But in our day to day life , we often give more time and resources to the activities related to preservation .We give fewer resuorces and less time to creative and destruction activities.There is a need to restore the balance between Brahma , Vishnu and Shiva .
While Creation is regarded as a positive and desirable activity , destruction is perceived as negative and undesirable .This is a mis-conception .Destruction of evil , wasteful , dysfunctional , redundant , discouraging and inefficient is an extremely positive and essential part of life.Certain things  must be destroyed so that the new can take its place.
Joseph A. Schumpeter in his book "Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy" has included a full chapter(Chapter VII) entitled"The Process of Creative Destruction".I quote him:"The opening up of new markets,foreign or domestic,and the organizational development from the craft shop and factory to such concerns as U.S. Steel illustrate the same process of industrial mutation-if I may use that biological term-that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one,incessantly creating the new one.This process of Creative Destruction is essential fact about capitalism.It is what capitalism consists in and what every capitalist concern has got to live in".Schumpeter also says that those revolutions are not strictly incessant;they occur in discrete rushes which are separated from each other by spans of comparative quiet.The process as a whole works incessantly however, in the sense that there always is either revolution or absorption of the results of revolution, both together forming  what are known as business cycles.
This raise questions about our appraisal /judgment of the performance of a system as well as a business strategy .  All performance appraisals as well as strategies have to be seen , analyzed and adopted in  the light of this perennial process of creative destruction.
I find the process of living inextricably related to this wider process of Creative Destruction , which Schumpeter has so beautifully pointed out .