The Theory and Philosophy of Contropy
The Theory and Philosophy of Contropy

Contropy and the Laws of Thermodynamics

"If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in

disagreement with Maxwell's equations--then so much the worse for Maxwell's

equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation--well, these

experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be

against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is

nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation." (Sir Arthur Eddington:

The Nature of the Physical World, 1928.)

 

Having first heard the above quotation as part of my introductory chemical engineering thermodynamics course, and having made my living in the subsequent 40 years by using (and often being disabused) by the laws of thermodynamics, I have been very careful to consider those laws in the formulation and development of the theory of contropy. It is my contention that there is no irreconcilable contradiction between those laws and what might be called my "pet" theory.

But explaining how contropy and entropy both can be generally increasing in the same universe at the same time naturally involves some fairly deep considerations. There are detailed definitions, philosophical hair-splitting, epistomological difficulties, and other factors that must be taken into account.

My arguments attempting to reconcile the apparent differences take up most of the General Case paper that is posted online at www.contropy.net .  This paper and a Special Case are included as appendixes in my book that presents the full theory: The Theory and Philosophy of Contropy  (Willis 1997). 

Even though the need for spatiotemporal language and complex mathematical operations has been avoided by moving the discussion to a simpler (theoretical) level of subquantum existence, the argumentation is still quite technical. I expected that only professional thermodynamicists having also some expertise in the philosophy of science would consider themselves to be qualified critics of the theory itself.  However, I didn’t expect them simply to reject any consideration whatsoever beyond their first notice that the theory seems to violate the 2nd Law. 

But I also hoped that, pending such qualified opinion, the generally literate reader would be able to appreciate that the theory conforms quite well to the coarser reality of his/her experience.  If so, he or she might see that it affords a different perspective, one that exposes that experience in a much more positive light. I expected that general readers would tend to question my philosophical, economic, and political interpretations rather than the scientific foundations of the theory.

Instead, it seems that even the general reader--and/or his scientific consultants--sees the apparent conflicts with the laws of thermodynamics, and feels relieved of any need to seriously consider the deeper argumentation before passing judgment. Some friends and associates seem puzzled that I have not (yet) "collapsed in deepest humility". Even the literary agent I paid for literary criticism of the draft instead gave me (garbled) advice about thermodynamics.

It is clear that serious consideration of the theory depends upon convincing the prospective reader that its apparent conflict with thermodynamic laws can be rationally and legitimately resolved.  Yet such consideration is necessary to see that contropy does not violate any of the laws of thermodynamics, but instead it limits their applicability within carefully defined aspects of physical reality. 

Here it is hoped to escape that “Catch 22” situation with this attempt to boil down to their bare bones the arguments that the contropic theory coherently accommodates the laws of thermodynamics.  Even though this amounts to leaving out the technical details in a technical argument, it is hoped that even the skim-reader will see that, fleshed out with their full detail, they might be so formidable as to make the theory at least feasible.  If so, those readers could anticipate that reading the book and consideration of the theory that is formally argued in its Appendixes might not be a complete waste of time after all.  Perhaps this summary might help to escape that “Catch 22” situation.

Reasons that the contropic theory coherently accommodates

the laws of thermodynamics

1. The theory is based on the existence of an extra physical parameter--in addition to mass, length, and time--called "Contropy". The laws of thermodynamics continue to have unlimited applicability within closed, three parameter statistical systems.

 

2. It is claimed that, in the open, four parameter universe, interactions can

occur between specific, open individuals or systems wherein all participants profit in terms of "enhanced survival potential".

 

3. Such potential includes, but is not limited to, the thermodynamic effects of all three-parameter closed systems involved. That overall potential also includes factors such as the availability and usefulness (in terms of enhancing survival) of potential arising from new external properties of supersystems created by internal interactions of simpler systems. Other extrathermodynamic components of enhanced survival potential that can be increased by positive-sum interactions include available time, available energy, focus, organization, wealth, knowledge, wisdom, maturity, and so on.

 

4. Such new properties are not predictable from thermodynamics. One example from the book (pg 234): "It is statistically unexpected that, by arrangement and organization in a certain way, a grouping of atoms [DNA] should acquire the means to reproduce itself."

 

5. Systems become more "open" as their potential for external interactions

increases. Also, mathematical interrelation of all component factors such as those listed above is much more difficult--and becomes more subjective--at each higher level of complexification. Thus, the laws of thermodynamics become harder to relate and less directly controlling at each higher level of contropy, although, of course, they must always be taken into account in any analysis so complete as to include effects of interactions at the level of, say, molecules (C12) or lower.

 

6. It is submitted that the theory of contropy does not conflict with the laws of thermodynamics, but rather it contains them within a larger world view.

 

 

 

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© H. Earl Willis