Wednesday, 8 October 2008

MAXIMUM ENTROPY...



JONATHAN: “If science is to encompass what is now called metaphysical it will be because the metaphysical ...will stop being hidden and become publically, communicably and verifiably vealed...and therefore physical. I see no reason why this may not happen, but suspect this will require a transfiguration of that consciousness that lies behind and determines the potentiality of the senses.”

Which takes us forward to the totality of things. The state at which the universe is conceived to be devoid of structure, where the degree of randomness is infinite, and where everything that involves expenditure of energy, however slight, has come to a halt. This is the
point at which no further information may be added. And I would certainly accept a considerable amount of intellectual nothing in return for this rather
comprehensive, this rather infinitive, metaphysical condition that I believe we
are striving towards for the next ten-billion years.

This is not an essay in ontology, but the most irritating form of the
tenet that absolute knowledge is essential to metaphysical perfection is that
which asserts that total ignorance must be a form of imperfection. One thing is
certainly beyond conjecture, knowledge, like entropy, does always increase. And
we are talking here about the second law of thermodynamics, a fundamental
feature of which is the total energy distribution in a closed system. Entropy is
a measure of the disorganization of the universe which, due to irreversible
energy transfers, must always increase. To illustrate this, suppose that the
universe is winding down, to use a peculiarly expressive colloquialism, the
eventual outcome being a heat death. Or, as the physicist would put it, a state
in which organization is absent and temperature distribution uniform. There is
no possibility of repeal, the entropy of a closed system can never decrease.

Entropy, of course, is also a property of information theory: average
information transfer per symbol, as defined by a formally related distribution
ratio. As symbol and symptom of a twentyfirst-century phenomenon, it takes on a
more familiar and ominous form in the fragmentation of knowledge. And viewed
from this quantified perspective, not only matter and energy, but knowledge
itself would be fragmentary, bitty and disconnected. Hence, total intellectual
entropy would be a measure of the amount of information that was infinitely
subdivided, examined from every possible angle, and dissolved or refined out of
existence. For all things must end. How can one add further information to all
that one can possibly know. Perfection itself cannot add anything to itself. The
mind of man in its last phase is at the hour of perfect noon. Of course, death
plays a part. If the size of the universe is a measure of human consciousness,
total intellectual entropy equates the death of the universe with a return to
the unconscious. The era of homo sapiens is at an end.

Only when these developments have been accomplished, can we hope to
resolve those doubts about the design and purpose of the universe which the
various natural sciences do not purport to settle. But if we think of the
‘running-down’ or the ‘heat-death’ of the universe as a measure of ultimate
disorder greater than the uniformity of distribution in the conventional concept
of vacuum, the idea of complementary intellectual development may not seem too
great a leap of the imagination. Taken literally, it is of course an
insufficient endowment upon which to ground an empirical evolutionary theory.
Indeed, our knowledge of this development, observational and theoretical, is so
foreshortened that it is not as yet possible, on the other hand, to interpret
past observations in terms of long-term future hypotheses nor, on the other, to
dismiss the assumption altogether according to which, after billions of years,
there will no longer by any relativistic distinction between one individual and
another.

There may be those who find such a proposition nonsensical. Nothing
objectionable about that. Full comprehension of it, paradoxically, can exist
only when the evolution of the intellect has reached a stage of perfection that
is humanly unimaginable. Of course only time will tell, but there is no known
reason why the condition of maximum intellectual entropy, however complex it may
seem, should be materially and cosmologically but not mentally and ideally
applicable.

Dreamy

6 comments:

Bob said...

If it comes to that, you will find me in the Restaurant at the end of the Universe caught in a time-bubble and watching the disintegration of the universe, because I prefer a juicy steak over total intellectual entropy, that sounds unhealthy.

Selena Dreamy said...

Elementary, by dear Bob, elementary. It would be terrible to assume otherwise. The human being completely lacks the detachment such transfiguration requires...

...in other words, pigs don't fly - a circumstance upon which more than one metaphor has pivoted!

Jonathan said...

Not sure I understand.

Are you saying that as the universe becomes ever more disordered and fragmentary, so our knowledge will increase, in parallel with that, as there become ever more isolated bits of the Universe to know?

But might it be the other way round?

You speak of information, and surely this is only one form of knowledge? It is fragmentation in its essence, is it not, and as such the reflection of a fragmented mind that knows it..or even brings such information into existence. There is no knowledge separate from the mind that knows it, since knowledge is always organised into its forms by the mind that knows it....no?

Maybe it is our minds, not the universe, that become ever more shattered, narrowly perspectival, single visioned. This makes us see a Universe that is splitting apart. But is it really? Maybe its just waiting for our minds to entropically breakdown in an implosive (and jubilant)omega moment of heat death, as you say. At which point they will then re-emerge transfigured, exploding into a new unifying holistic grasp -that will lead them to perceive a universe altogether different, even though it was only us who had changed?

If homo sapiens is 'dying', maybe this is the best thing that homo sapiens can do, so that it can then be reborn and healed, and returned to what it would be, undiseased (as we patently are).

The phoenix dies and is reborn. And if the rebirth is good, so also, surely, was the death.

As Thomas Eliot the sage says:

"Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information"

If i quote him aright..I may very well not be, but i think i catch his drift.

Selena Dreamy said...

If homo sapiens is 'dying', maybe this is the best thing that homo sapiens can do

‘Transsubstantiation’ would be a better term than ‘dying’

The phoenix dies and is reborn. And if the rebirth is good, so also, surely, was the death.

Amen!
- from its unconscious status quo ante to matter being knowledge, the Big Bang repeats itself ad infinitum - always returning to the state of maximum entropy.

"Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?”

Knowledge is always circumscribed, relativistic, and hence, always a form of limitation. Which, indeed, is why science can never entirely relinquish its religious metaphors...

mutleythedog said...

One day I will know all about this when I find time to read nice Mr Hawkins book, but today i am a bit busy.... ahem... I have nearly finished crotcheting those panties you ordered Ms D!

Selena Dreamy said...

Nice job, thanks gorgeous...