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Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Entropy in human societies

“Consciousness is a fundamental concept, like mass and energy, entropy and life." This intriguing quote comes from a recent Scientific American interview with Bernard Baars, a professor of psychology and an expert on consciousness. Actually, I couldn't even remember the meaning of entropy, a concept arguing that "all things trend toward disorder" (FS).

Entropy is a concept from physics, in particular thermodynamics and its Second law of thermodynamics

Nevertheless, entropy appears to be also applicable to human societies.

For instance, increasing polarisation in societies has been causing increasing disorder.

Entropy would explain the direction of the arrows in my diagram.

However, human societies are systems that are not closed or isolated but open and fluid.

In closed or isolated systems, "thermodynamic equilibrium [is] the state with maximum entropy" (Wiki) or chaos or disorder.

In open and fluid systems, the thermodynamic equilibrium finds a different kind of equilibrium, one without "maximum entropy". This is consistent with the Greek root of the word entropy, which translates to “a turning towards transformation” (FS). In open or fluid systems, there is more than only one (1) direction.

Following the above, entropy may also be the fundamental force that drives cycles and waves, like the Kitchin cycle (3-5 years), Juglar cycle (7-11 years), Kuznets swing (15-25 years), Kondratiev wave (45-60 years) and the Strauss–Howe generational theory (80 years). Please see my 2017 blog on Waves. Entropy might even be the force behind Change (my blogs).

In nature, we always find symmetry and balance (my blogs). In that view, entropy and life appear to be balancing forces, similar to mass-energy equivalence. If the mind is a derivative function of a bodily organ called the brain, then consciousness might be its second derivative.

Entropy (2015) by Grimes, Bleachers

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

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