Boundaryless Organization LO23016

AM de Lange (
Tue, 26 Oct 1999 15:40:46 +0200

Replying to LO22982 --

Dear Organlearners,

Nick Heap <> writes:

>I am confused by your use of "Entropy" in relation to creativity.
>I remember entropy being a measure of disorder that entropy
>always increases, except when energy is input. The end of the
>universe would be situation of maximum entropy where everything
>had the same temperature and there would be no more change.
>Life is anti-entropic. Through the energy of sunlight or geothermal
>energy complicated things developed from simple things. Therefore
>order increases. This is surely a creative process associated with
>a decrease of entropy.
>Are you using the word in a different sense? Can you help?

Greetings Nick,

Thank you for the questions. I would certainly love to help you and all
other dear fellow learners.

Firstly, I have written a "Primer on Entropy" which you will
find in the LO archives at
Primer on Entropy - Part I LO19979
Primer on Entropy - Part II A LO19986
Primer on Entropy - Part II B LO19987
Primer on Entropy - Part III A LO20018
Primer on Entropy - Part III B LO20048
Primer on Entropy - Part III C LO20049

I have written this primer for the entire academical spectrum. I have kept
people in mind like you who come from the physical sciences. Your first
reaction would probably be

"What a mess did At make of it. We do it completely
different in science. We carefully delineate the theory of
thermodynamics using practical examples to stress
theoretical points. See our books (by Sears, Lewis, Denbigh,
Atkins or others) on how to do it."

But I also have kept people in mind from different faculties who cannot
read with understanding the books perhaps recommended to me. Since nothing
else is available for them, they will eventually have to make use of these
same books. Thus it is up to me to guide them how to understand these
recommended books.

This Primer is not intended as an Adanced text. It is rather intended as a
"lunsklip". (See my reply to Andrew Campona which I have prepared earlier
today.) You can use it for whatever you want to like sharpening your horns
or rubbing your backside. I really do not care how you use it. But I do
care that you use it because it was created for using -- to allow you to
participate in any dialogue on entropy and not feel unconfortable or even

When you study the Primer in depth, you will find that I have worked a
complexity of themes into it, trying to reflect the complexity of
different civilisations on different continents. But there is one
overrriding theme (Leitmotiv) which binds them all together -- the
evolution of thoughts. When following this leitmotiv, you will became
aware of chaos and order in your own thoughts. It is not for me to decide
where along the leitmotiv I want you to have chaos or order. I merely
provided (hopefully sufficient) forces without fluxes and fluxes without
forces for you to complement with the fluxes (for forces) and forces (for
fluxes) within you.

In other words, although the Primer superficially tells about the history
of "entropy" up to the early fifties, deep down I use much of what I know
of "entropy production" and its ramifications to create the context for
"entropy". Thus, when you have evolved far on the road of "entropy
production" and probably have forgotten the Primer, study it once again to
trace its deeper patterns. You will then understand how that patterns gave
you experiences, how that experience emerged to tacit knowledge and
eventually formal knowledge on "entropy production".

Is evolution merely the jump from a lower to a higher order, or are there
also periods of chaos in it? Where are these periods of chaos to be found?
Are these periods of chaos the result of an increase of entropy? Why
cannnot the increase of entropy also be perceived outside the periods of
chaos? Is it because there is no increase of entropy in the system or is
it because the observer cannot perceive any increase in entropy during
ordering? Have Polanyi's insight that it is difficult and often impossible
to articulate tacit knowledge anything to do with it? What is our tacit
knowledge of energy and of entropy?

When Prigogine perceived that entropy can be interpreted by also order and
not only chaos, the traditional concept of entropy evolved to a "higher
order". So, if we really want to make a difference between the traditional
concept and the richer concept, we could call it "deep entropy".

You are right, from entropy (traditional) we have to conclude that the
universe will eventually become hell. Adding chaos to chaos eternally will
result in hell. But from "deep entropy" (first always chaos, then perhaps
order) we cannot conclude the same. One conclusion is that the universe
will eventually result in heaven and hell. Taken even further it seems
that only those who persist in love will enter the next dispensation in
time, but those who persist with judging will become history.

Dear Nick, my help will be as follows. You are going to help yourself. You
will have to do a lot of reading. Find out how thinkers like the following
interpreted entropy: Carnot, Clausius, Maxwell, Gibbs, Boltzmann, Planck,
Schroedinger, Shannon, Eddington, Landau, Jantsch and Prigogine. Please
inform us about your findings. These people are all milestones along the
evolution of the concept of entropy. Prepare yourself for one very big
surprise. From that surprise you will be able to infer that to think of
entropy in terms of only chaos is a fallacy.

If you have any other question, you are more than welcome
to ask them.

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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