Darwin-L Message Log 1:85 (September 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<1:85>From BLANTON@mcopn.dseg.ti.com  Fri Sep 10 07:51:58 1993

Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1993 7:53:21 -0500 (CDT)
From: BLANTON@mcopn.dseg.ti.com
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: RE: entropy, order and chaos

>To add my own two cents worth to the discussion on entropy as a
>directional force, isn't there a theory that entropy is not a dead-
>end, but a force that eventually leads to new order? The argument,
>as I understand it, goes somewhat like this: orderly matter degrades
>into entropy (chaos), which can build up as heat, for example, until
>there is so much of this entropy/heat that it shoves the system back
>into a higher state, and thus into new order. I believe this idea
>came from Ilya Prigogine's book _Order Out of Chaos_, but my
>understanding of the work may be very flawed. Can someone explain to
>me how close to the mark I am on this? And what effect would this
>concept have on theories of directionality caused by entropy?
>Mark VanderMeulen

Quick response with no research:

Prigogine won the Nobel Prize for demonstrating that the second
law of thermodynamics (that deals with entropy) does not preclude
evolution of species (and all that goes with it).  My most recent
encounter with this subject was a course I took in statistical
physics last spring, but I have never encountered this idea, and
I have not read Prigogine's book.  That sounds like the place to

All that I know of entropy in this regard is that it does lead to
a "dead end."  Also, equating entropy with chaos is playing fast
and loose with some words.  When you talk seriously about these
subjects you need to talk in mathematical language.

John Blanton

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