Forgot to send this reply (to Mark) to the list. Here it is.
On Thu, 26 Jul 2001, Mark Burch wrote:
|Complexity/diversity is exactly the same measure of a system as entropy.
Wrong. Entropy cannot distinguish between different hierarchies or levels
of organisation in a system. Entropy will only measure the material
entropy and the material structure, not the functional relationships
between constituents of a system. Thus, it cannot measure complexity. As
an example, the entropical difference between a human being and the heap
of chemicals it is composed of is only marginal, besides, it is almost
unmeasurable. So how can entropy measure the complexity, if you can't
actually 'measure' it? It is true, a complex dissipative structure will
have a lower entropy than the simple mix of components it is made of, but
as said above, this difference is not a valid measure for its complexity.
|Helmholtz called the different microstates of a system its "complexions."
|Complexity/diversity is good for the biosphere,
Complxity is not 'good' for a biosphere, it is merely a consequence of a
well adapted living system. When the system can evolve without
disturbance, it will naturally evolve into its most complex form under the
given circumstances. A neighbouring system might have the same tendencies,
and thus disturb the first system, initiating a competition for sources of
free energy. The outcome of such a quarrel is dependent on many factors,
but if the outer conditions for both systems don't change drastically,
they will both have to compromise between adaption and dominance. As was
once said, "there is no good or bad, just consequences"
|but it [complexity] is hell for the
|exploiter of resources. The exploiter desires simplicity and complexity
|frustrates attempts at exploitation.
Granted, for a very simplistic view of 'exploiters' this is true. The
magic word is, again, adaption. An exploiter which is not capable of
extracting the resources in a well-adapted manner, as to not destroy too
much of the nourishing systems of the environment, will inevitably suffer.
|That is why entropy is thought to be
|"bad" by physical scientists, because the entropy law poses limits on the
|exploitation of nature.
Hell, no! I don't know what kind of physicists you know, but here you have
one that would never call a physical quantity "bad", or any other name for
that matter. Well, I have cursed entropy once in a while, but only because
I couldn't quite understand the concept when I first learned about it. But
that is a different matter. Apart from that, entropy production measures
irreversibility. Irreversibility is the clue to destruction of complexity,
as well as it is the clue to the creation of complexity. Read any text
book on dissipative and/or evolutionary systems and you will find, that
many physicists actually praise the concept of entropy for its explanatory
|Entropy is neither bad nor good, it just facilitates dispersion of
Not quite, entropy doesn't facilitate anything. It just measures. Does a
meter facilitate the moving of an object? There is a second law of
thermodynamics that describes irreverible processes, like dispersion. But
it only states that dispersion, and thus entropy production, IS happening
and that it can't be avoided. It doesn't say WHY it happens, but it states
how it can be measured.
|This is good for a cell that relies on
|diffusion of nutrients, but it is bad for capitalists who want to accumulate
|capital. For the capitalist, entropy must appear as a communist conspiracy.
|Apply the entropy equation to the distribution of wealth and you will
|understand what I am saying.
No comment. But remember: there are only two things on Earth that only
grow more, when you try to give them away: love and entropy.
Best regards, Stefan Goessling
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