Entropy production and creativity LO17267

Winfried Dressler (winfried.dressler@voith.de)
Tue, 3 Mar 1998 18:58:21 +0100

Replying to LO17241 --

Dear At,

>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.

Am I right to think that any system as far from equilibrium it may be,
will tend to evolve (move by itself) towards equilibrium where no changes
occure any more, if no forces from outside the system set conditions
maintaining the non-equilibrium-state? I use to imagine the sun and the
inner warmth of our planet as such conditions allowing the surface where
we are living to evolve (movements not only by itself) the beautiful
diversity which is still a paradise compared to any other known place in
the universe.

This arises the question: What does control entropy production? According
to above example, I expect an energy reservoir as a necessity. Simple
selforganizing systems are controlled by a temperature gradient as far as
I remember. And such a gradient must be fed by an energy reservoir. Also,
for entropy production is associated with energy dissipation, it is quite
clear, that the process will stop without a flow of energy feeding the
process - the system will find its equilibrium in a state of equally
distributed energy.

I would like to understand a bit deeper, how this control works in the
world of mind and creativity. A control outside the creative system sets
limits to the autonomy of the system - it is not creative by itself. What
serves as energy reservoir and what is the temperature gradient? One guess
would be: Questions form an energy reservoir and the creative tension
these questions are able to evoke would be the temperature gradient.
Another guess: A "How it should be" (also as tacit knowledge) forms the
energy reservoir and again the creative tension as a gap between "should"
and "is" would be the temperature gradient. But: We are not used to think
about these controls as something outside of us.

Another question from the "external control" view: In my understanding,
creativity has something to do with transformations, the arising of
something new. This requires the whole system to evolve and for instance
to meet a bifurcation point some time. But with a fixed control variable,
the system far from equilibrium will not change its patterns, although
entropy is being produced constantly. Even the amount of entropy of the
system will not grow, for the produced entropy will flow to the
environment. And complex biological systems show very stable patterns, a
flow-equilibrium far from equilibrium.

May be I can say that entropy production is necessary but not sufficient
for creativity. What is needed additionaly? A guess here would be:
changing control variables. But this would reduce creativity to a mere
reaction. Of course a more complex reaction then plain linearity, but
still reaction. I don't mind to react - but then I have to interpret it as
"to answer". The difference is, that reaction is determined and answers
are freely chosen, developed creatively.

What have I found so far in the creative process of writing this mail?
There is a place for question as a reservoir outside of me, I am confonted
with questions. There is the creative process of generating answers as a
reaction of me. And there is a new (indeed a very old) question: Where is
the place of freedom in this picture?

With this last question, the journey goes on. But it leaves the realms of
this thread and this list.

Yours, Winfried


Winfried Dressler <winfried.dressler@voith.de>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <rkarash@karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>