Life Fights Entropy

Folksonomies: life entropy syntropy

Life is "Enclaves" in a Whirlpool of Chaos


The second concept Wiener has to establish is that of entropy. Probability is a mathematical concept, coming from statistics. Entropy comes from physics. It is the assertion-- established logically and experimentally-- that the universe, by its nature, is "running down", moving toward a state of inert uniformity devoid of form, matter, hierarchy or differentiation.

That is, in any given situation, less organization, more chaos, is overwhelmingly more probable than tighter organization or more order.

The tendency for entropy to increase in isolated systems is expressed in the second law of thermodynamics-- perhaps the most pessimistic and amoral formulation in all human thought.

It applies however, to a closed system, to something that is an isolated whole, not just a part. Within such systems there may be parts, which draw their energy from the whole, that are moving at least temporarily, in the opposite direction; in them order is increasing and chaos is diminishing.

The whirlpools that swirl in a direction opposed to the main current are called "enclaves". And one of them is life, especially human life, which in a universe moving inexorably towards chaos moves towards increased order.


Life swirls in the opposite direction of increasing entropy in the Universe.

Folksonomies: life entropy thermodynamics


Living Things Renew Themselves

Renewal of Life by Transmission. The most notable distinction between living and inanimate things is that the former maintain themselves by renewal. A stone when struck resists. If its resistance is greater than the force of the blow struck, it remains outwardly unchanged. Otherwise, it is shattered into smaller bits. Never does the stone attempt to react in such a way that it may maintain itself against the blow, much less so as to render the blow a contributing factor to its own continued action. While the living thing may easily be crushed by superior force, it none the less tries to turn the energies which act upon it into means of its own further existence. If it cannot do so, it does not just split into smaller pieces (at least in the higher forms of life), but loses its identity as a living thing.

As long as it endures, it struggles to use surrounding energies in its own behalf. It uses light, air, moisture, and the material of soil. To say that it uses them is to say that it turns them into means of its own conservation. As long as it is growing, the energy it expends in thus turning the environment to account is more than compensated for by the return it gets: it grows. Understanding the word "control" in this sense, it may be said that a living being is one that subjugates and controls for its own continued activity the energies that would otherwise use it up. Life is a self-renewing process through action upon the environment.


Folksonomies: life entropy syntropy