Entropy, Said the Devil
(Entropy & its Discontents: From Heat Death to the Eternal Return)
Keywords:Thermodynamics, Nietzsche, Entropy
Appearing to channel the Devil himself, writer Dorion Sagan reports on a deep Earth conference where the former, with technical and philosophical rigor, expands upon Bernard Stiegler’s notion of the Entropocene, the “generalised anthropogenic acceleration in the rate of terrestrial entropization” from which “[m]any of the world’s current politico-ecological crises derive” (White and Moore, 2022). The apparently possessed writer, whose stenography of the deep Earth demon appears to be for self-aggrandizement as part of a suspected Mephistophelean pact, argues that Stiegler’s Entropocene is in fact a specific form of thermodynamic planetary dysfunction. Unlike some other global concerns analyzed by philosophers—e.g., Immanuel Kant’s inquiries into the possibilities of world peace, and speculations, following Fontenelle, on the existence of life on other planets—the analysis of Earth’s planetary condition, is not unique: it is an example of thermodynamic dysfunction in general, which has important and investigable precursors: forest ecosystems exposed to heat and radiation from nuclear runoff, nonliving complex systems (e.g., Bénard cells, Taylor vortices, “multiplying” typhoons, and long-lived autocatalytic Belousov-Zhabotinski chemical reactions) that exhibit physiological malaise, and ultimately “death,” when the temperature, pressure, or electron potential gradients upon which their organization depends become too steep or insufficient. Among the many interwoven themes discussed in one of the Devil’s “outer dens” are senescence, the checkered history and thermodynamic reality of entropy as a measure of the spread of energy, Nietzschean eternal recurrence, life on other planets, and the mythical heat death of the universe.
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