Friday, May 25, 2018


372. A world of entropy?


Could we see the world as one big buzz, on may levels, of loops going around between high and low entropy? Let me try this out, in a list of phenomena of humanity and society. Here I distinguish between the two dimensions of entropy: the number of possible states or alternatives, and diversity, the distinctions between them.


                                             

alternatives     diversity          entropy



life                              many               high                 low      many forms, each unique

death                           many               low                  high     undifferentiated mass

monopoly                    few                  low                  low      few but homogeneous products

competition                 many               low                  high     many of similar products

innovation                   few                 high                 low      unique product

nationalism                 many               high                 low      many different unique nations          

authoritarian               few                 low                  low      no or a single party

democracy                  many               high                 low      different political parties

capitalism                    many/low        high/low          low      uniqueness in entrepreneurial and

monopoly in concentrated capitalism

communism                few                 low                  high     one size fits all

integration                  few                 low                  low      many similar things brought into one

disintegration              many               low                  high     falling apart in autonomous units

dense network            many                                      high     many connections between many nodes

high centrality net.     few                                         high     a few nodes have many connections

war/revolutionn          many               high                 high     breakdown of order into factions

peace                           few                 low                  high     preservation of order

the face (Levinas)       few                 high                 low      the unique other

justice                         few                 low                  high     equality under the law for many

destruction                  many               low                  high     loss of order

excitement                  few                 high                 low      peak

boredom                     many               low                  high     no clear preference, nothing salient

poetry                         few                 high                 low      irregular meaning

bureaucracy                few                 low                  high     equalization

art                               few                 high                 low      unique, diversity of interpretation

spectacle                     many               low                  high     shared entertainment


The assignment depends on the relative weight one puts on the two dimensions of number of alternatives and the distinction between them. In some cases the assignment of values is uncertain. Is boredom due to having too may alternatives or too few of them?


I was inclined to look positively on low entropy, since that is a sign of life, but if my assignment in the table is right, some less attractive things also are assigned low entropy: monopoly, authoritarionism and nationalism.


But instead of assigning approbation to high or to low entropy, the point probably is that most phenomena are combinations of them, alternating in time, cycling between one and the other as in life and death, and between stability and change, in interaction between objects and their environments, as shown in the previous item in this blog.


Perhaps war is needed to appreciate peace, autoritarianism to appreciate democracy, monopoly to appreciate competition, order to appreciate disorder, and vice versa.