Here’s a great response from Noah Kramer to my last post. He said he had some trouble posting it. Has anyone else had trouble? You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org if it won’t come through here.
I much enjoyed your opening thoughts on negentropy. The idea of negative entropy, or syntropy, is really fascinating to me. So okay, the universe is constantly dissipating energy from higher to lower concentrations, ultimately theorized to lead to total heat death. And entropy is increasing faster and faster all the time! As this is happening there are these low entropy bubbles where some processes are moving into more complex and differentiated forms. But complex structures require more energy to be stable.
As I understand it, order and differentiation is actually maintained by creating entropy someplace else. Complex systems, like you and me communicating about entropy using sophisticated technology, can only cohere by dissipating a huge amount of heat energy in the process. The more information and structure we want to create and maintain, the more energy we are going to have to come up with to use (and lose). This at least seems valid in most biological systems, which is why there can only be so many predators on top. And look at us now–dissipating billions of years of stored solar energy in a few centuries by burning hydrocarbons in order to create and sustain this interconnected hyper complex world we’ve made.
So in a way, entropy is the power source making the whole show dance; the faster we create it in order to do stuff, the more stuff happens. I think it’s not that we are reversing entropy, we are basically moving it somewhere else so that our internal order can be maintained. I should say that I’m no expert and could be utterly incorrect, but that’s what I understand to be the case.
Now, I am very intrigued by the connection you are drawing between energetic coherence and negentropy / syntropy, and I would like to understand more. First, what is the relationship between complexity and efficiency? A car is more complex than a bicycle, but a bike is way, way more efficient per pound / calorie. (Expediency certainly seems to come at the cost of efficiency in most cases) So when you suggest that coherence involves using energy in more complex ways, and that complexity translates into more efficiency, I intuitively get it right away, but the language and theoretical aspect hasn’t caught up for me.
“Entropy is inversely proportional to efficiency and harmony within any system.” I’m right with you here, an efficient system produces entropy less quickly than an inefficient one, and can do more with less by reducing heat loss. What is confusing is how complexity and coherence connects to efficiency. Moreover, I don’t quite understand negentropy to be the same as efficiency, more as the capacity to create and maintain order and differentiation by offering up entropy somewhere else, outside of the internal system. So entropy approaching zero would be, in sort of physical terms, like the moment of the big bang–all potential but no differentiation, no stuff, no movement, no change. Is that infinite coherence?
Then time / entropy starts to happen and bang, suddenly there can be work and change and complex structures precisely because potential is being used up and thrown away.
I should add, I’m right there with you about the nonstuff parts of consciousness, the subtle, mental, and beyond aspects on the continuum, of which stuff is the most gross and material. The question is, is that non stuff-stuff bound by the same laws of entropy as the stuff?
How does less become more in coherence?
My sense is that you are basically freeing up energy that has been locked, stuck, or misused in the separating or atomizing parts; and this change is a change in view / attitude and in subtle awareness (energy). Is it possible that a coherent body-mind is more evolved, more developed and present, but actually less riven by the complexities of innumerable parts and isolated systems, confused views and incomplete understandings?
When the body-mind becomes a coherent whole, interconnected and open, is the awareness more expansive but actually less complicated (fractured)? It certainly feels that way in those aha! moments you’ve shown me. Exponentially anyway, moments of genuine presence feel much less complicated than moments of confusion. Once you get above rationality, complexity seems to become inclusivity.
Anyway, thanks for offering up some good fodder for ponder and letting me play along.