Entropy production and creativity LO17241

Mnr AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Sat, 28 Feb 1998 20:52:01 GMT+2

Replying to LO17213 --

Dear Organlearners,

Mark Michaels <michaels@ipat.com> writes:

> Mnr AM de Lange writes:
>> Bill, first of all, I am very happy that you distinguish between
>> "entropy" as a being (like a noun) and "entropy production" as a
>> becoming (like a verb). You fear that you might mess up the
>> concepts, yet you make such a distinction. It is something to be
>> proud of. "

> The description of what happens relative to entropy in this posting (ie
> that it happens throughout the universe, and the examples given) are all
> good examples. What bothers me are the definitional conclusions.
> First, entropy is not a producer of creativity or anything else. As Ilya
> Prigogine has eloquently written, it is a measure of the evolution of a
> system. Although Prigogine first described this to me personally in an
> interview in 1993, he also explains it in his excellent new book, "The End
> of Certainty" In the interview, he explained to me that entropy was the
> physicist's method for incorporating the concept of evolution (in the
> Darwinian sense) into the physical sciences. In his book he more
> specifically writes: "in Greek, entropy simply means evolution.") (p. 19).
> He goes on to write: "... irreversible processes produce entropy." which
> would mean that irreversible processes cause the system to evolve.

Mark, we again have here a case of confusing "entropy" with "entropy

You are right - "entropy" is not a producer of anything. Entropy is a
quantity which measures the organisational status of a system at any given
instant of time. In other words, "entropy" works like a snapshot. It is
easy to determine by measurements and calculations the entropy of any
system at equilbrium because its entropy stays the same.

It is far more difficult to measure "entropy" (the snapshot) when the
system is far from equilibrium because the entropy changes from instant to
instant. These changes are affected by the "entropy production" (the
movie) of irreversible processes. Processes are irreversible whenever
entropy is produced.

The snapshot "entropy" certainly depicts the evolution of a system at a
given instant of time, both in in its diversity of processes (which,
unfortunately, has been interpreted as chaos) and its diversity of
structures (which has been interpreted as order). The higher the entropy,
the more the system has evolved (chaos and order).

But the snapshot "entropy" does not drive/cause/affect evolution. That is
the job of the movie "entropy production" (irreversibility). The higher
the rate of "entropy production", the further the system move away from
equilbrium. In pp 140 -145 of "Order out of Chaos" Prigogine discusses how
"entropy production" (his quantity P, aee p 131) gives rise to also order
and not merely chaos. In p xiii of "From Being to Becoming" he cannot
write it more clearly than

"Second, irreversible processes play a fundamental
constructive role in the physical world; they are at the
bases of important coherent processes that appear with
particular clarity on the biological level."

The etymology of the word "entropy" refers to the Greek "en-"=inside and
"trope"=turn. It is something inside which make it turn - the Latin for
turn/roll is "volvere". The word "entropy" was created by Clausius roughly
150 years ago to indicate the "transformation" of a system UNDER THE
SECOND LAW. The second law tells that the total entropy of a "welt"
(system and its environment) has to increase. In other words, what
Clausius wanted to indicte, is that "entropy increase" => transformation.

Irreversibility is quantified by "entropy production" and nothing else.

> Since entropy does not produce anything, it cannot produce
> self-organization.

Yes, entropy cannot produce anything, for example, neither entropy, nor
self-organisation and not even creativity.

> Self-organization is not a magical process. It requires
> energy, and is a function of probability, reinforcing (positive) feedback,
> and fitness.

No. Self-organisation requires "entropy production". Entropy production
does many things. Most trivially, it increases entropy. Most
extraordinary, it increases the organisation (porcesses and structures) of
any system.

Entropy is the "tag" (form, quailification) of energy. There is not such a
thing as a tagless energy. When energy changes from one form to another,
its "tag" (entropy) also changes. This change is affected (driven, caused)
by "entropy production".

Probability is a human concept, created in the world of mind. If someone
were to demonstrate empirically that "entropy production" also occurs in
the abstract world of mind, then, because "entropy production" causes the
emergence of new organisations in the material world, it is likely that it
will also cause the emergence of new organisations (such as new concepts)
in the abstract world of mind. (In my firthcoming book I will dicument
such empirical evidence. if I only can get the @#$%&* thing published.)

In my book I show how fitness can be measured by the "free energy" of a
system. The "free energy" of a system is derived from its energy and
entropy, according to Gibbs and Helmholz. The present "free energy" of a
system is a result of its past "entropy production" (irreversibility) -
nothing else.

> Entropy can occur without energy, and becomes dissipation.

Impossible. To fragment energy and entropy from each other is the gravest
mistake in comprehension possible. It is like fragmenting "content" and
"form" from each other, or like fragmenting "semantics" (meaning) and
syntaxis (grammer) from each other.

The increase in entropy ("entropy production") is firstly and
automatically manifested as the dissipation ( dispersion, spreading) of
energy. For 120 years all humankind interpreted this manifestation as an
increase in chaos. For 120 years al most all of humankind belived that it
the only thing possible. But the last 30 years brought a change in that

> In addition to Prigogine's book, I would recommend Stuart Kauffman's "At
> Home in the Universe" and Murray Gell-Mann's "The Quark and the Jaguar" to
> learn more on what really constitutes entropy and self-organization.

These books are definitely important in trying to fathom
self-organisation. But let it be noted that most publications coming forth
from the Santa Fe Instititute has little to say on "entropy" (except to
denigrate it) and virtually nothing on "entropy production". In other
words, is you want to view self-organisation from the viewpoint of
"entropy production", you will have to move away from the Santa Fe

Mark, let us ultimately think about you statement "First, entropy is not a
producer of creativity or anything else" once more. It is fortunate that
you have not said "entropy production is a producer of creativity". Would
you have said that, you would have had to substantiate your claim. And
that would have opened a can of worms which I would have loved to catch
fish with.

What is creativity?
What is this becoming called "entropy production"?
How can we connect these two if we do not know what each means?

Best wishes


At de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre for Education University of Pretoria Pretoria, South Africa email: amdelange@gold.up.ac.za

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