Mental Models and Change LO29486

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 11/12/02

Replying to LO29480 --

Dear Organlearners,

Jan Lelie <> writes:

>Dear John,

>Thank you for pointing out these links. I've only looked at and i'm already
>convinced. What a fool I've been in not noticing: "The
>world is in the order production business, including the
>business of producing living things and their perception
>and action capacitities, because order produces entropy
>faster than disorder." I've changed that mental model.

Greetings dear Jan,

I can recommend at that site Swenson and Turvey's "Thermodynamic Reasons
for Perception-Action Cycles". [Fellow learner's will remember that i
differ with Swenson on only one issue -- the "entropy maximisation"
principle.] Their article makes a heavy demand on one's cognitive
capacity, but that is how anything complex works.

Before i go any further, i wish to point out that the thermodynamics which
Swenson and Turvey write about, goes far beyond the CT (Classical
Thermodynamics) of physicists. Allow me to explain it as follows. In CT,
every change in the system has to be accompanied by a change in
temperature. It is this change in temperature which allows the physicist
to trace the change in entropy. In "extended thermodynamics", entropy may
change in many different ways even with the temperature remaining
constant. This shows that entropy has to do with far more things than
merely temperature. This means that the "thermo" in "thermodynamics" is a

There might be a misconception among fellow learners when reading "order
produces entropy faster than disorder". They may infer from it that order
produces entropy and likewise disorder produces entropy. The following
phrase ought not lead to this misconception:- "entropy is produced faster
within order than disorder".

Entropy is not produced by order, but by entropic force-flux pairs within
this order. The order is needed to sustain such force-flux pairs. The more
complex the order, the more the different force-flux pairs it can sustain.
Disorder can sustain only one force-flux pair, namely
"concentration-diffusion". The difference in concentration drives the flow
of disordered entities to less populated regions.

Perhaps a quick explanation once again of an entropic force-flux pair will
be in order (rather than disorder ;-) The total energy E of a system has
many forms adding up to it. Every form of energy can be expressed as the
product of two physical quantities, an extensive parameter X and an
intensive parameter Y. The curious property of all natural systems is that
their physical quantities are either intensive or extensive. Scaling the
system, bigger or smaller, leaves the intensive quantities the same while
the extensive ones become scaled too! It is most important to notice that
no form of energy can be measured directly, although its parameters X and
Y can be measured directly. The amount of that form of energy can be known
only by multiplying the values of X and Y.

When energy is transformed from one form, expressed as XxY, to other forms
(which we will not express formally) its X and Y have to decrease. Now, if
the decrease in Y is not the same everywhere in the system, the difference
constitues an entropic force which is expressed as /_\Y. The change of X
along that difference is called the entropic flux and is expressed by
/_\X. The product /_\Xx/_\Y gives the entropy produced when the XxY form
of energy gets transformed.

The fact that a system has many forms of energy making up the total energy
E is nothing else than that the system has an organisation. The entropy S
of a system is the measure of this organisation. Some of the total energy
E is locked up in maintaining this organisation. The rest of the total
energy is known as the free energy F. It is with this F and only with it
which the system can act. No action of whatever kind is possible without
available free energy F.

One collorary is than an over organised system will have little free
energy available so that little action can be expected from it. Another
collary is that a disordered system, having used up most of its free
energy in the disordering, also will have little free energy left over so
that also little action can be expected from it. This brings me to the
following question. When a person's mentality is such that his/her
behaviour changes little, is it because of an over organised mind or a
disordered mind? I leave it up to fellow learners to contemplate the
answer to this question.

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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