Critique of "The Scientific Worldview": Part 8c The Ten Assumptions of Science: Complementarity

The Second Law of Thermodynamics (divergence) and its complement (convergence), fictitious forces, Prigogine's microcosmic mistakes, and the Nobel Prize.

I am ever so grateful to Bill Westmiller, whose comments are marked "BW: ". The quotes marked TSW are from "The Scientific Worldview[1]" and my comments are marked "[GB: ".

TSW: Sixth Assumption: Complementarity (Part 8c)

TSW:  "Prigogine ... stressed that complex structures can exist only through continuous interaction with their surroundings. Without this interaction, structures tend to 'dissipate.'"

BW: Prigogine just got bit by the dialectic bug, with no supporting evidence. Entropy is a consequence of "continuous interaction" among moving particles. Prigogine just turns that on its head, without reference to some other, unique, "antithesis" form of interaction that produces order. Like other philosophers of science, he "anthropomorphizes" nature to conform with what he perceives as happening in humans. Sure, humans have to interact with their environment, or they die, and "dissipate". But, most material objects "dissipate" *as a consequence* of their interaction with their environment, not the inverse. I agree with your conclusion regarding his "silly producers of order".

[GB: Nonetheless, Prigogine still got the Nobel for his microcosmic pile of self-organization. You are partially correct. The submicrocosms within a microcosm that already is in existence will tend to diverge from that microcosm per the Second Law of Thermodynamics. That is, half of the things in the infinite universe are undergoing divergence (i.e., death), while the other half of the things in the infinite universe are undergoing convergence (i.e., birth). To produce that microcosm in the first place, it must have formed through the convergence of supermicrocosms from the macrocosm (i.e., birth). Dissipation or death is temporarily forestalled via continuous convergence from the macrocosm (e.g., breathing in oxygen). BTW: Here are Prigogine’s "silly producers of order": “fluctuations, distance from equilibrium, and nonlinearity” (TSW, p. 77). None explicitly involve convergence from the macrocosm, which is what produces the order he was looking for.]

TSW:  "An environmentally focused viewpoint would permit the development of a complementary principle, a law about ideal nonisolation."

BW: You can't establish a principle or formulate a law without real, concrete evidence of an interaction that produces it. I don't see that here.

[GB: Support for complementarity exists everywhere. Everything you can observe is a product of convergence. How do you think things form in the first place? That is why the Infinite Universe Theory works so well. Everything is a combination of things from elsewhere. Seems obvious to me. I didn’t think I would have to give examples. Need some help with nebula and the birds and the bees?]

TSW:  "... describes the reality existing between ideal isolation and ideal nonisolation."

BW: You said earlier that there can be no such thing as "ideal isolation". I agree. So, I'm a little surprised to see you proposing the existence of an opposite "ideal nonisolation" ... and then suggesting something in between those exists in nature. I know, it fits the Hegelian "thesis > antithesis > synthesis" paradigm, but nature doesn't need to negotiate with anyone, nor understand what it is doing.

[GB: You do have a serious problem with ideals. I had hoped that, by including the word “ideal” for both concepts, that sort of problem could be eliminated. Like ideal empty space and ideal solid matter, the reality is always in between. We use idealizations like these all the time in doing science. It helps us understand the reality. The trick is to not get caught up in thinking that any of the ideals actually exist (like some folks I know).

Let me explain a bit more on what I mean by “ideal nonisolation.” That is just another way of saying “convergence” or “collision.” Nothing comes into being without it. For instance, try to build something without convergence—can’t be done. That is the complement to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. So sorry that you don’t like dialectics, but the last time I looked, there were only two opposing possibilities with regard to motion in nature: divergence or convergence.]

TSW:  "The obvious answer is that it has moved toward other matter in the universe."

BW: Except, that's not an answer to entropy, which has no problem with particles bouncing apart and going wherever they please. Somewhere, they will bump into another particle and bounce off in a different direction. It will still be entropic action.

[GB: Hold on there. That only works for your ideal solid particle, which does not exist. You cannot be sure that real particles will not form an entirely new entity, as they so often do. Each “bounce” involves one or more of the neomechanical interactions (TSW, Chapter 5). Each bounce is unique per the Seventh Assumption of Science, irreversibility (All processes are irreversible) and each real particle is unique per the Ninth Assumption of Science, relativism (All things have characteristics that make them similar to all other things as well as characteristics that make them dissimilar to all other things).]

TSW:  "In an infinite universe, an increase in entropy in one place results in a simultaneous and equivalent decrease in entropy in another."

BW: There's no harm in surmising that some particles, an infinity away, will someday bounce off local particles. Some particles depart, some arrive, but they all bounce. Absent some observable convergent force, you can't have disentropy ... just alien particles doing the same thing as local particles.

[GB: More idealism… Again, there is no “convergent force." Entropy/disentropy or negentropy merely has to do with the relationship between microcosms. Entropy (or disorder) increases as the distance between two microcosms increases; negentropy (or order) increases as the distance between two microcosms decreases.]

TSW:  "The possibility of nearly ideal isolation derives from the possibility of divergence; the possibility of nearly ideal nonisolation derives from the possibility of convergence."

BW: This is a rather disoriented. Divergence only occurs until the objects in isolation reach equilibrium. If they are NOT isolated, entropy just keeps bouncing them toward maximum separation, without constraint. So, entropic divergence doesn't require isolation: nature couldn't care less. IF there is such a thing as a "convergent force", it should work in every case, not merely in isolation or non-isolation. There's no evidence or logic to justify a correlation in the form: isolation = divergence or nonisolation = convergence ... infinite or otherwise.

[GB: Think of it this way: To be isolated at point B means to be separated from the place you once were at (e.g., point A). To get to point B, you would have to diverge from point A. The reverse is true for convergence. Again, there is no such thing as a “convergent force,” just as there is no such thing as a force. Force is a calculation (F=ma) describing the collision (convergence) between two microcosms. The idea that there are mysterious “forces” about should have been left on the Star Wars cutting table.]

TSW:  "The only requirement is for there to be an environment for the parts of a system to move into or to transfer motion to. An infinite universe in which matter and the motion of matter is not everywhere the same is sufficient."

BW: Then, a finite universe, [in which matter and the motion of matter is not everywhere the same] is ALSO sufficient. There's nothing in the nature of an infinite universe that changes the characteristics of entropy.

[GB: That is mostly correct, as demonstrated by the great success of the Second Law of Thermodynamics during this period when scientists still assume finity. The main problem is that it only describes half of the problem. It says nothing about why the things undergoing dissipation, divergence, or death came into existence in the first place. That is the job of complementarity, which clearly states that the complement to the Second Law of Thermodynamics involves convergence from the macrocosm. Pretty simple: the Second Law of Thermodynamics describes things coming apart; complementarity describes things coming together.]

TSW:  "We will continue to study ...

BW: ... until you find a "convergent force" or rational explanation for "negentropy". You haven't found it yet.

[GB: BS. See above.]

TSW:  "The acceptance of complementarity for the Second Law of Thermodynamics requires an acceptance of the other assumptions of science."

BW: I don't think there's any logical coherence, nor "Consupponibility", with the other principles. All you've done is elevate the dialectic learning process to the status of a Law of Nature. It doesn't work.

Does that mean that I reject the idea that "All bodies are subject to divergence [from] and convergence [with] other bodies."? Not at all. Both processes obviously exist in nature. What's missing is the identification of some natural physical process that produces convergence. I think the "existential bonding" of my theory is the answer, but it isn't the topic for discussion.

[GB: You would have to show me the ways in which complementarity is not consupponible with the other nine assumptions of science. For instance, how can there possibly be a contradiction between these two assumptions:

The Sixth Assumption of Science, complementarity (All things are subject to divergence and convergence from other things) and the Eighth Assumption of Science, infinity (The universe is infinite, both in the microcosmic and macrocosmic directions)?

You beg for some imaginary “converging force.” Why don’t you also beg for some imaginary “diverging force”? Surely you must remember that force was defined by Newton’s Second Law of Motion (F=ma), as a description of a collision in which the velocities of the collidee and collider were changed. Without a collision, there is no force. On the other hand, the First Law is simply an observation about the inertia of bodies, which continue forever in a straight line unless [until] they hit something or are hit by something. This observation works the same for both diverging and converging microcosms. Indeterminists, who assume the universe is finite, need to hypothesize a Prime Mover or mysterious force to get Newton’s inertial body moving in the first place. In the infinite universe, of course, that hypothesis is unnecessary—there is always still another body to do that job. That is the beauty of Infinite Universe Theory.

If you don’t think that bodies can move toward each other as well as away from each other via their own inertia, as described by Newton’s Laws of Motion, then you need a lot more help than I am able to give.]

Next: Irreversibility

cotsw 015

[1] Borchardt, Glenn, 2007, The scientific worldview: Beyond Newton and Einstein ( http://www.scientificphilosophy.com/The%20Scientific%20Worldview.html ): Lincoln, NE, iUniverse, 411 p.


Rick Doogie said...

"The trick is to not get caught up in thinking that any of the ideals actually exist (like some folks I know)."
Hardy har! Like 99.999999% of the people on the planet, perhaps? (Give or take a decimal place.) I know some of those folks as well.

Glenn, you seem to be losing patience with Bill's reification of ideal concepts. The earlier parts of this discussion were a bit more cordial. I've been reading it all very carefully. I'm amazed at the patience shown so far, and I could never be that patient.

I also appreciate Bill's critiques. Lots of important points. I'm sure Bill has a higher IQ than this amateur from Michigan. He has given you one of the best critiques so far, I'll bet. Glad to read the back-and-forth. I'm glad you chose to give Bill some detailed answers to his detailed critique.

One complaint I have that is probably rhetorical and not that useful; I get a bad twitch when someone (especially GB) uses the words "nearly" and "ideal" together as in TSW, "The possibility of nearly ideal isolation derives from the possibility of divergence; the possibility of nearly ideal nonisolation derives from the possibility of convergence." I know, I know. We can't change the entire English language, no matter how useful that would be.

Can't we say something like "extreme convergence" or "extreme isolation" instead? It makes me think you're gonna turn around and say "nearly infinite" or "nearly perfect". That perfection exists only on paper and we can't remind ourselves of that often enough. I'm getting a cognitive dissonance headache. I need a drink of Holiday Cheer.

Rick Doogie said...


Anticipating your reply, I started putting up my defenses. I have to add more to my first comment.

I don’t see much difference in my persnickety problem with the phrase “nearly ideal” and your re-wording of the First Law, substituting “until” for “unless”, i.e., “bodies continue forever in a straight line UNTIL they hit something or are hit by something.” Both wording problems stem from the need to express the full meaning of Infinite Universe Theory. I know that popular language, even scientific terminology, lags behind newly emerging paradigms.

We could even get picky about the phrasing of “bodies can move toward each other as well as away from each other via their own inertia”. By saying “their own inertia” we allow indeterminists to presume that there is some mysterious “energy” called “inertia” and the bodies hold that energy as if in a container. When, in reality, the “inertia” cannot be "owned" by that one body except as a descriptive term of conversation. For that inertia in question is an infinitely complex pattern of moving particles, diverging and converging with the microcosmic (inner) and macrocosmic (outer) environments.
I feel like I'm painting myself into a corner. And really, I'm not smoking anything.
I’d love to hear what you have to say, even though I know I’m forcing you to repeat yourself.
Thanks so much.

Glenn Borchardt said...

Thanks so much Rick. It seems like you may have gotten a break while all those relatives were buying you presents. Sorry you found the “possibility of nearly ideal isolation” to be so awkward. Good thing I didn’t write the “possibility of ideal isolation”. Obviously, that would be completely wrong, since there is no such possibility. I still think that things can appear to be “nearly” isolated, just as we would be “nearly” isolated all alone in the middle of the wilderness even though there still would be an infinite number of things all around us. I was attempting to use a little visualization to get the convergence-divergence idea of complementarity across.

Rick Doogie said...

Thanks for the quick reply. I realize I'm just nitpicking semantics. I guess I wanted to tease out a few more comments from you.

I found a pretty good answer to all this in another recent reply from you, "The infinite universe always has a good deal of passing of the buck, necessarily circular reasoning, and the requirement that the correct assumptions are necessary for understanding it".

I guess we have to fix the indeterministic thinking first, and further down the road we'll get some better words that describe our neomechanical way of thinking.

I think it's time for me to re-read Universal Cycle Theory, then perhaps I'll come up with something better than this blather.

Cheers, and Happy 2014!

Glenn Borchardt said...

Good catch. You are right. I am always amazed at how well you know neomechanics—and language. I need to rewrite: “bodies can move toward each other as well as away from each other via their own inertia”. It could be: “their inertial motion forces bodies to move toward each other as well as away from each other”. Unfortunately, in that revision I don’t like use of the word “forces" either. Fortunately, as usual Rick, you really know how to get to the heart of things. Words make a big difference in our lives. We can’t think great thoughts without knowing great words.

You had a hunch that indeterminists might grasp my unintended teleology as a sign of microcosms having something inside them that would give them the intention to converge or diverge. I should have known better. The word “own”, like the word “self”, should have tipped me off. Those words are common to systems philosophy and its microcosmic thinking. Inertia is not a microcosmic property, but a univironmental one. Your hunch is right. I vaguely recall one author at an NPA meeting who claimed that inertia was produced by the object in motion. Of course, the inertial motion of a microcosm is always produced by the microcosm that previously collided with it. This is no problem for Infinite Universe Theory, because there is always yet another microcosm to furnish that collision. As an indeterminist, however, the author was simply exploring the implications of his belief in finity. I didn’t question him, but I imagine he was a cosmogonist and might have been at the wrong meeting.

Another try. This: “bodies can move toward each other as well as away from each other via their own inertia” should be: “under inertial motion, bodies may move toward each other as well as away from each other”.

Rick Doogie said...

I like all those alternatives better than what you first wrote.

You say I know neomechanics, but I'm cloudy in several areas. (That's why I'm going to re-read Universal Cycle Theory.)

Most of all, I am well-versed in the apologetics of indeterminism, from being raise by "deep" thinking Catholics who had theological books lying around for me to look at. I tried to force myself to believe all the logical, not to mention moral, inconsistencies.

I got out of the cramped box of religion because I took concepts seriously, most of all the concept of infinity.

When I recited group prayers in church as a teenager, and it came to "world without end, Amen", I would look around the pews to see if everyone was simply mouthing those words, or if anyone like me was awed by the implications of an infinite reality. I would be thinking, "if only these people grasped what they were saying when they parrot, 'world without end'".

So, truth be told, maybe it's not that I "know neomechanics". Maybe it's just that I know how indeterminists think, so I know what to watch out for. I took indeterminism to its logical conclusion, and came out on the other side. Funny enough!

Sadly, we both know that no matter how carefully we use words and concepts, most indeterminists will remain stuck in the paradigm that was etched into their brains during childhood.