Prigogine LO16428

Mnr AM de Lange (
Tue, 6 Jan 1998 17:10:46 GMT+2

Replying to LO16369 --

Dear Organlearners,

Ragnar Heil" <> writes

> At de Lange wrote:
> > (when I discovered empirically that
> > entropy production/dissipation also governs the abstract world of mind),
> >
> Dear At, dear list !
> At the moment I am writing on my examination-work about self-organization
> (esp. Autopoiesis [Maturana/Varela/Luhmann]) and its practical relevance
> for teaching and learning. I am going to add a little introduction of the
> theory of dissipative structures by Prigogine.
> It would be great if you could tell me where I can find more informations
> about dissipative structures and living systems like the consciousness or
> the social system.

Ragnar, I have some bad news for you. During the nineties many books and
papars appeared on the self-organising properties of dissipative systems.
However, none of those which I studied had much to say on dissipation
itself. They simply accept the existence of dissipative systems and then
proceed to self-organisation as the consequence.. They do very little to
explain what dissipation itself is and how it can be managed.

The reson is that dissipation, namely the production of entropy, is still
a topic shrouded in the non-linear mathematics of irrversible
thermodynamics. One has to be fairly advanced in mathematics to follow all
the intricacies of entropy production in existing text-books and journals.
But there is a noteable exception: the book "Order out of Chaos" by
Prigogine and Stengers. In this book they try to make dissipation
plausible to a variety of disciplines outside traditional hard-core
physics and chemistry. I think you will find this book most helpful.

In the book which I plan to publish, I try to give an account of
dissipation for the entire academical spectrum, from physics and chemistry
to the soft sciences of the humanities, before moving to self-organisation
or creativity as its result. Unfortunetly, going into the details of
dissipation itself is one of the reasons why publishers find the book too

I admire your drive to connect disspation and self-organisation to
education (teaching and learning). The difficulties are immense, as I have
experienced myself. However, I believe that I have made an effective
connection which will be set out in my book. (Its main title is "Entropy,
Creativity and Learning".) It will form the body of the third and last
part of the book (chapters 7 and 8). If it will mean anything to you, I am
now definitely sure that dissipation as the cause and self-organisation
(creativity) as its result can become the foundation of a sound
educationional theory.

I wish that the publication of my book was at such a stage that it could
be of more help to you.

Best wishes


At de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre for Education University of Pretoria Pretoria, South Africa email:

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