Energy and Entropy LO28531

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 05/17/02

Replying to LO28473 --

Dear Organlearners,

Greetings to all of you.

I have linked this essay to a previous one of mine. It might seem to
be self-refential and thus egoistic, but I do it for three reasons.
 (1) To maintain continuity in the topic.
 (2) Some fellow learner used the phrase "theory entropy" and i
just cannot find out who did it.
 (3) I see another gap for healing the split between the physical and
spiritual worlds and i am going to take it.

In what now follows the "I" in a capital letter is what my word processor
does to the "i" within a sentence. It does not know of the LO-convention
which Jan Lelie explained so beautifully recently.

I myself do not think of entropy as a theory. It is a quantity like
length, time, mass and energy. For example, can I think of length as a

Yet there is something theoretical about both energy and entropy unlike
the quantities length, time and mass. Each of the latter three, like so
many other quantities, can be measured directly by a suitable instrument.
For example, length is measured by a ruler.

Energy cannot be measured by a single instrument. Two different
instruments have to be used. For example, in the case of pneumatical
energy we have to use a pressure meter and a volume meter. Say the
pressure meter register a value P and the volume meter a value V. We then
calculate the product PxV to get the pneumatical energy. In other words,
two different kinds of measurements as well as one calculation is needed
to get the value of pneumatical energy. Herein does the theoretical nature
of energy creeps into our perception of it.

Pneumatical energy is but one of many forms of energy. Like it, each other
form of energy has also to be expressed by the product of two quantities.
For example, in the case of electrical energy, it has to be expressed by
the product of "electrical potential (volt)"and "electrical charge
(ampere-second)". This means that we can speak of the two quantities in
each form of energy as complementary quantities.

Each such two quantities making up a form of energy are complemen- tary to
each other in a most curious manner. When a system is scaled (increased or
decreased in size), the one of the pair gets scaled too while the other
one stays the same! The scaled quantity is called the extensive parameter
while the invariant quantity is called the intensive parameter. In other
words, the value (amount) of each form of energy gets expressed by the
product of an intensive parameter and its complementary extensive

I find it most compelling that of all the dozens of different quantities,
only energy (and similarly entropy production) has such a "complementary
duality" organised within itself. I find it shocking that the far majority
of people who teach physics or chemistry on all levels are not even aware
self of this "inner organisation" of energy. But I dare not judge them and
say it is terrible. The reason is that they are not aware of the vast
paradigm shift from "organisation of systems externally forced and
controlled" to "systems self-organising irreversibly". A paradigm shift
involves a radical change in the outlook on some systems. This particular
paradigm shift involves a radical change in the outlook on ALL systems,
physical and spiritual.

This "fine organisation" of energy goes even further than the product of
an intensive parameter and its complementary extensive parameter for each
form of energy. When we MC (Measure&Calculate) the value of a form of
energy, it is always done outside the system SY somewhere in one of the
systems of its environment. We consider this complexity of systems in its
environment as the surroundings SU. This SU is one very complex system
indeed. When we MC a form of energy, it is possible only in terms of an
"organised flow" of that energy. Think of it as a movie and not as a
picture. Allow me to explain it.

Consider the mechanical form of energy, the first form of energy among all
to be discovered. We MC it as "force"x"length". The "force" stays the
same, but its "grabbing point" moves a certain distance or "length". It is
better known as mechanical work. Consider as another example the
electrical form of energy. Here an "electrical charge" (the extensive
parameter) is flowing along an "electrical potential" (the complementary
intensive parameter). It is better known as electrical work. Consequently
the MC-ing (measuring&calculating) of each form of energy is made possible
by a "becoming-being" pair. The extensive parameter acts as the "becoming"
while the intensive parameter acts as the "being".

This "becoming-being" pair has become an incredibly important conceptual
tool for me. For example, in Einstein's relativity theory the
"becoming-being" pair is "time-space". In a fine art like Andrew
Campbell's it is "painting-pictures". In a daring sport like Alan
Cotterell's it is "racing-motorcycles". For all of us participating
actively in this LO-dialogue it is "exchanging-thoughts". For myself
"exploring-deserts" played a vital role in organising my spirituality.
Therefore I prefer to call such "becoming-being" pairs as Elementary
Organisers (EOs).

Let us get back to the "extensive-intensive" pairs for forms of energy. As
I said before, they get measured outside the system. It happens as a
result of the interaction between the system SY and its surroundings SU.
In the surroundings this interaction is manifested as an "organised flow"
of a form of energy. Since times immemorial this "organised flow of a
energy form" has been better known as WORK. I have discussed above as
examples mechanical work, pneumatical work and electrical work. We have to
bear in mind that there are also other kinds of work.

It might surprise you that the "hard-core sciences" (like physics and
chemistry) took shape as a result of "measuring-works" as their EO
(Elementary Organiser). (Please remember that measuring any work always
involves two different measurings and one calculating to combine them.)
Most people think that the "hard-core sciences" began with the celestial
mechanics of Newton. It did not. It needed both Newton and Leibnitz.

Newton defined in the 17th century the concept force in a measurable
sense. This made him famous. But Leibnitz had the insight to see it as a
"dead force". So, also in the 17th century, he extended it into a "live
force" by calculating it as "dead force"x"length". It was known as "live
force" up to the 19th century. After several "live forces" became known,
the name "energy" for was created to refer to all of them together. The
"dead" was dropped and the names "mechanical energy" or "mechanical work"
were used to refer to "force"x"length". Today we prefer to call it
"mechanical work", the outcome of measuring and calculating "mechanical

How much has "measuring-works", the EO of the "hard-core" sciences, took
hold in the social science, especially managerial science (business
administration) as its EO? I think far, far too much. I personally think
it causes horrible stresses, many not yet told. For me the main EO of
managerial science should have been -- and please watch carefully the
"becoming-being" pair which I will be writing -- "learning-organisations".

Do you fellow learners understand what I am doing here? Peter Senge
formulated the concept "learning organisation" in his seminal work The
Fifth Discipline. He identified five disciplines of which all five have to
operate on those organisations which have transformed into "learning
organisations". Any kind of organisation can become a "learning
organisation". Once a "learning organisation", it is still of the same
kind, but it operates differently. For example, when a military
organisation becomes a "learning organisation", it is still a military
organisation, but it operates differently. The difference is that as a LO
it will manifest clearly all five disciplines in its operations.

What I have been doing above with "learning-organisations" (please notice
the hyphen "-" which makes all the difference) is completely different.
Here I think of the "becoming" learning and the "being" organisation as a
complementary dual just as in the case of "painting-pictures",
"racing-motorcycles", "exploring-deserts", "exchanging-thoughts" or even
"solving-problems". Should we study all the work of Dr Deming, we will see
how immensely rich it is in "learning-organisations" as its EO.

[Rick, apart from the distinction "learning organisation" and
"organisational learning", you might have to cope in future also with
"learning-organisations" as a third case. It is the EO by which the list
which you host has gotten so immense that the number of emails has grown
to close 30 000 !!!]

I think by now all of you fellow learners are thankful that I have not
written a word on entropy, except at the beginning where I hinted at it on
two occasions. The simple reason as that I had been focussing on energy as
the "being" of a most curious EO. Did you not wonder why I have not
written on entropy so far? It is because -- and watch again carefully what
I will be writing -- the "becoming" of this curious EO is "entropy
production". It is "entropy production" (two words, one concept) and not
"entropy" alone.

I firmly believe that this EO is the heart (but not the brains) of all
evolution, phsyical and spiritual.

Physicists (and engineers) had to transform this "entropy production" into
"entropy" to fit with their conception of the world as a "being". We were
all drilled into this conception by what the philosophers called the
"ontogeny of reality", i.e. the universe is a "being". As for me, I am now
pretty sure that the universe acts as a "becoming-being" just like its
Creator. Physicists did this transformation by a technique which they call
the "reversible Carnot rote cycle". I add the unusual "rote" because this
cycle can be repeated over and over again exactly the same like a wheel
("rotus") turning and turning and turning and .......

Yes entropy is a theory with the "reversible Carnot rote cycle" as the
main part of it. But "entropy production" is a much different kind of

To break out of this griphold of "the world is a being" we will have to
break with the "reversible" and with the "rote cycle" We will have to
learn what makes any "becoming" (like processes and acts) "reversible" and
what makes a string of them a "rote cycle" (repeating the same string of
acts over and over again). It will involve Prigogine's "entropic
force-flux pairs" to understand what makes a becoming "reversible" and
Goethe's "Steigerung" to understand what makes a string of becomings a
"rote cycle". And we will have to make very sure of our understanding of
the EO "measuring-work".

I am too tired to continue with this journey and I think you are too.
Should someone of you continue by articulating your own thoughts on this
"reversible" or "cyclic" in our LO-dialogue, I will take it up from there.

I want to thank fellow learner Alfred Rheeder for visiting me yesterday.
We drank far too many cups of coffee while he questioned me on the
subtleties of "measuring-work" as an EO. But it was worth while for
he is beginning to understand what is reality. It is
/_\F(sy) < W(su/sy)
with its irreversible "Steigerung"s. It is a world with a hidden order
or tacit dimension.
Its limiting case is
/_\F(sy) = W(su/sy)
as its limiting case for a reversible, rote world. It is a world without
a hidden order or tacit dimension. Please feel free to question me as
much as Alfred did, even though I will miss the coffee and bacon in

Just before I stop, I want to bash your brains one last time with a
feather. Do you fellow learners perceive how much of all activities in all
languages come from the EO "speaking-words"?

With care and 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

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