This article is about the normal meaning of change (things varying).
Change, the quality of impermanence and flux, has had a chequered history as a concept. In ancient Greek philosophy, while Heraclitus saw change as ever-present and all-encompassing, Parmenides virtually denied its existence.
Ptolemaic astronomy envisioned a largely static universe, with erratic change confined to less worthy spheres.
With the rise of industrialisation and capitalism, the importance attached to innovation grew, and social and political upheavals and pressures often forced change by violent revolution (as in North America in the late 18th century and in later imitators). By the late 20th century much business and New Age thought focussed enthusiastically on transformation in management, in function and in mental attitudes, while ignoring or deploring changes in society or in geopolitics. And Madison Avenue receives payment to repeat the litany of the fad for change: In the fast-changing world of today, you need ... productX.
Cultural attitudes to change itself may fall into one of at least two categories:
- the view that change is random, lacking determinism or teleology.
- the view that change is cyclical, whereby one expects circumstances to recur. This concept, often seen as related to Eastern world views such as Hinduism or Buddhism, nevertheless had great popularity in Europe in the Middle ages, and often appears in depictions of the wheel of fortune.
- the view that change is a reflection or shadow of a higher-dimensional topology (topology being possibly a non-sequitur, a simplification of the truth of that-which-is-unthinkable to 4d life forms, similar (but perhaps more meta or abstracted) to the way in which a flatlander cannot conceptualise 3d) which may appear to be random or cyclical, depending upon the shape of the higher-dimensional topology. This is an evolving concept that is coming to light in recent years.
Depending on context, the term 'change' may in particular refer to: