Most people often look for similarities, even between very different things, and even when it it is unhelpful or harmful to do so. Instead, a thing should be considered on its own terms: we should avoid the tendency to compare it to something else.
In the age of accelerating changes, the eagerness to understand things in an effective and equally efficient way is more than ever. Although all kinds of complex techniques, skills and equipments helpful for understanding and studying the objects are easily accessible to people, the basic strategies stay the same as before: one is starting from similarities and the other from distinction. From my personal point of view, only by using the two in proper proportion and order can one achieve his/her goal to understand a thing.
Looking for similarities is a proper starting point. When we first meet something new,we need to clarify its basic attributes, finding similarites with other familiar things and classify it according to those attributes. Classification according to similaties is of great assistance to provide us with an outline, basic knowledge which we can base further investigation upon. Although things in contemporary age represent themselves in various forms and styles, similarities exist in any pair as long as certain perspective can be found. For instance, Bookcase and window are so different that at first glance, one may not be able to find the similarities, or even such an effort seems to be meaningless. Yet, they are both part of a house, something that must be taken into consideration when decorating or refurnishing the house. Such a comparison would be helpful for us to realize that “buy” and “sell” are two basic operation we can have upon window even though we have no idea what window is made of, how it is produced or what its function is.What’s more, looking for similarities not only refer to the object itself, but the relationship with others. Similar relationships helps people understand things in groups or pairs using the strategy: analogy. Analogy is especially useful when the charactertistics of a relationship rather than the objects themselves are the focus of understanding and when similar relationships are known and objects unknown. For example, if told that the relationship between window and ASVE is similar to that between book and read, one can safely guess that ASVE is the operation people can take on window although ASVE stays an unknown action.
Definitely, mere similarity usually exclude the distinctive characteristics of a thing. We need to investigate its own terms for deeper understanding. Within the rough outline sketched by similarity, a more detailed and well-articulated picture can be drawn by grasping own terms of a thing. Still take window as an example. From careful observation, we know that it is transparent, it consists of different chemical materials, it performs the function as to protect privacy, to preserve desirable temperature indoor, and sometimes to prevent rains and snows from going inside. Deeper and further understanding of window can only be gained when we take its own terms besides those it shares with bookcase into consideration.
In the newly development software engineering model named Object-oriented model,the strategy “similarity first and differences later” functions as the core and focus of the whole model. Objects sharing common points are put into same “classes” and common points are processed together, later they are defined, discussed and processed respectively according to their own characteristics. This method greatly reduces the repetive time and energy spent over and over again on similar, if not utterly same, terms. Translated into daily life, starting from similarites for a quick outline and transferring to grasp distinctive characteristics for deeper understanding isthe approach we should always bear in mind when hoping to understand a thing with effectiveness and efficiency.