Entropy production and creativity LO17316

Mnr AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Fri, 6 Mar 1998 15:44:29 GMT+2

Replying to LO17267 --

Dear Organlearners,

Winfried Dressler <winfried.dressler@voith.de> asks

> 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?

Yes. This is the dissipative facet of "entropy production". All tension in
the clock's spring or battery running down until the clock ceases to act
purposefully. A death in chaos like that brought about by fire.

If it were the only facet, then we are wretched because of the bleak
future of dissipation.

But "entropy production" has also a second facet, namely living beyond the
edge of chaos. It happens when enough entropy is produced fast enough. It
leads to either constructions or destructions.

The best way in which I can depict these two possible outcomes, is by the
biblical metaphor of the two roads. The constructive road is narrow,
ragged, scarcely populated and goes upwards to the ultimate highest order,
thus leaving the fire of dissipation behind. The destructive road is
broad, smooth, richly populated and goes downwards to the dungeon where
low orders abounds. The dungeon is surrounded by the fire of chaos.

> 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.

I agree.

But the father sun is becoming more and more eclipsed by the entropy
hungry star NUS (sun spelled backwards). NUS is the sinful side of
humankind. It is throwing darkening shadows all over our mother earth.

Never think of father sun as simplistic. He radiates an incredibly complex
spectrum of electromagnetic waves over her like a smile. He blows a rich
plasma wind over her. He winks with his sunspots so that she can get more
rain. He keeps her on an eliptic course close enough to him. It all
happens because of his "entropy prodution".

The light from him is "white" because it contains all frecuences in the
visible spectrum. It is rich in entropy. Plant creatures "feed" on all
those frequences, except green. It is poor in entropy. Their colourful
flowers (red, yellow, ...) reminds us that it is possible to leave out
other frequencies. These constructions please our eyes.

> 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.

The entropy production in the energy reservoir is caused (contolled) by
the diversity of being and becoming in the reservoir - the present entropy
in the reservoir DUE TO ITS PAST. Diversity is necessary for differences.
Differences in being lead to differences in unscalable (intensive)
properties - the entropic forces. Differences in becoming lead to
differences in scalable (extensive) properties - the entropic fluxes.
Phase out the differences and equilbrium is the only outcome.

Never think of energy without entropy. The relationship between energy and
entropy is like the relationship between content and form. Energy is the
content and entropy is the form. Entropy production concerns the evolution
of energy's form over a period of time.

> 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?

Try to think of "difference partner" rather than control. of energy
reservoir as "content of energy" and temperature gradient as "form of

The "content of energy" is "raw energy" itself, i.e how we view energy
reductionistic. The "form of energy" is "raw entropy" itself, i.e how we
few entropy reductionistic.

> One guess
> would be: Questions form an energy reservoir and the creative tension
> these questions are able to evoke would be the temperature gradient

Your guess is very fine, bearing in mind your own level of edification. I
will try to improve slightly on it in terms of your own mindset.

The unclassified data in the question form the "energy reservoir" (the
content of energy). The categorisation of the data into knowns and
unknowns form the "temperature gradient" (the form of energy). The
difference between knowns and unkwnons forms the "creative tension"
(entropic force).

The reason why people have problems with formulating questions and
answering them, is the tacit dimension of a question. By articulating this
tacit dimension, the question can become a solvable problem. Another way
to see this tacit dimension, is that there are not only known and unknown
data, but also "hidden" (unmentioned) data which upon articulation,
becomes either known or unknown.

Thus there is a golden rule when formulating a question or trying to
answer it. Question that which the question is silent about!! This brings
us immediately to the essentiality "associativity-monadicity"
(wholeness). Remembering that "holism = wholeness + emergence", you will
find that people who think holistically will answer questions with a large
tacit dimension much easier. Albert Einstein and Jan Smuts (the father of
holism) are two superior examples for me in this regard.

> 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.

You have manage to described ontological thinking superbly. Philosophers
from the north-western civilisation have concluded brilliantly that humans
(at least north-western) think ontological. (But nobody seems to read
these philosophical fools any more.) What do they mean by ontology? Their
"humans" think (whether right or wrong) primarily in terms of being
(structure). When they think of becoming (process), it is secondary and in
service to being. They do not think in terms of becoming-beings (equal
emphasis on becoming and being in that order, from cycle to cycle). Some
of them break loose and begin to emphasise becoming to the detriment of
being. In other words, they begin to think ontogenically. They soon get
demarcated as the misfits of society - the reactionaries or

Unfortunately, philosophers never went so far as to question ontology
holistically. Thus they were happy with the ontological status they have
given to mind and hence reality. Consequently, philsophy is now almost

The simple fact is that "external controls" are becoming-being. In other
words, they are not fixed. Did you know that in mathematics the solution
of differential equations have been studied for more than 200 years. To
solve a differential equation, one has to have what is called boundary
conditions. For more than 200 years only fixed boundary conditions
(beings) were studied! Only the past 10 years have mathematicians become
extremely sensitive to nonfixed or dynamic boundary conditions
(becomings). Because of their ontological mindsets, they find the subject
very taxing.

> 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.

Again, I love the creative way in which your mind is now roaming over
possibilities. You are correct. Entropy production is a necessary
condition for creativity, but not a sufficient condition. The sufficient
condition is as complex as entropy production itself. It is nothing else
than the manifold consisting of the seven essentialities of creativity.
When you wrote "A guess here would be changing control variables.", you
have articulated the essentiality "becoming-being" (aliveness). When you
wrote "But this would reduce creativity to a mere reaction" you have
articulated that there are also other essentialities equally important, in
other words, the existence of a manifold (genus) of them (seven species).

> 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?

The place of freedom in this picture lies with "free energy". When JW
Gibbs combined energy and entropy to form a unique quantity, it was most
"fortunate for us" that he selected the name "free energy" for it. The
german Helmholz followed suite. Gibbs is still, for me, the greatest
american borne scientist ever (up to now). Of him the great Maxwell
himself said that what Gibbs seems to articulate with such ease and
elegance, others like him have to struggle with maimed results. Obviously,
our fortune was the genius of Gibbs.

We may think of "free energy" as "potential energy" in a general sense.
Another way to think of it, is as that energy locked up in being or
structure. However, a great danger lies here. We may be blind to the fact
that all beings or structures have internally in their lower orders being
and becoming. For example, if I stop doing anything for a minute or so, my
heart still pumps, my neurons still fire, etc. Free energy incorporates
even that lower order kinetic energies.

To trace the relationship between "free will" and "free energy" has been
one of the most rewarding studies in my own life. I would like that
subject to be discussed on this forum somewhere in future, but not now.
The reason is simple. We cannot tackle the hard bones themselves while we
are still breast feeding.

But we will have to wean ourselves from the breast feeding. The shadow NUS
which I have written about in the beginning, is in essence the destruction
of our sources of free energy. It concerns not only the trees in some far
away forest, but also the "trees in our mind" - the "tree of knowledge".

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

I hope that others will also find the dialogue instructive - if not today,
then some day in future. Winfried has shown us how powerful is mental
self-organisation in terms of self posing and answering questions. It is
the most valuabale lesson which Socrates had for his students 2500 years
ago. It will still be so up to the end of this dispensation.

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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