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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gathering Storms/Macro Trends 6--Entropy

Students of Humanity have often noted the 'drive' in us not merely to survive, but to thrive.

Augustine, in a neo-Platonic language system, called this tendency a divine spark trying to return to its source.  Thomas saw this inclination it as an attraction to the final cause and neo-Thomists took up the case for intelligence as the capax infiniti or the unlimited desire to know.  Bergson discovered the "elan vital."  Heideggar identified this predisposition as temporality--the tension between past and future.  Phenomenologists uncovered intentionality-- the propensity out to the environment and onward in time.  Merleau-Ponty revealed transcendence in the very human act of encountering others in the world through symbols.  Teilard de Chardin described our human drive as evolution become conscious of itself and so to further itself.

What is this mysterious penchant of humans to reinvent themselves, to idealize the future, to act to make ourselves and our world better wshich seems to be the fundmental principle of moral behavior and the standard of any universal ethics?

Like Bergson, Chardin, and evolutionary psychologists, we might attribute this dynamism in human nature to evolution.   Natural selection has produced a brain that is genetically constructed to be fruitful and multiply like all self-organizing, i.e. living, beings, but also, through the ability for creative imagination, to consciously and deliberately project ourselves into everything everywhere.  But the question is how and why natural selection did this (unless you simply stop inquiry by attributing some divine purpose to natural selection.)

So what is this transcending drive in us, the experience we encounter in peak moments, the eureka experience of the scientist, the sacred experience of the arist, the experience at the root of every authentic religious founder and tradition, and the experience of ourselves in connection to the all in all?

Then I discovered the writings of Rod Swenson and the "law of maximum entropy product,"   the link between physics and biology, and how human evolution is indeed the universe gong its way.

Next time:  Entropy and the capacity for the infinite:  why the human mind is a manifestation of universal entropy.  And what all that means.

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