On extropy, complexity, and Harrison’s Law

Entropy has entered common usage as a sciencey-sounding synonym for “disorder,” “degradation,” even “death.” Promoted by science fiction writers, it has become something of an impersonal arch-villain of the universe. “Fighting entropy” sounds inherently noble.

Indeed the state of maximum entropy – gas at thermal equilibrium – is not too conductive to life, and indeed any living thing needs to continually expulse its entropy outwards in order to continue living. But not all decreases of entropy are good for us humans. The world of zero entropy is no paradise – it is more like Snow Queen’s realm of perfect crystals at absolute zero. If we want to humanize scientific concepts (and who doesn’t?), we better leave entropy alone and look for something else.

Extropy is, etymologically, the opposite of entropy, and it is already used to bundle together everything good that opposes entropy’s bad. However, the definitions quoted in that Wikipedia article are all quite vague. Can we define extropy in a way that actually makes sense?

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Art vs. philosophy

(inspired by Eric Dietrich’s paper and its discussion on Goodreads)

Art is anything evolved in our social species to attract attention. This may be vague, but it’s actually the only definition that is general enough to cover everything we call art, from cave paintings to dadaism to flashmobs. How it manages to attract attention and what side effects it has is what makes all the difference. You may never publish and keep it secret, but it’s still art, even by this definition, just like masturbation is still part of human sexuality. It’s just that something has to first attract attention of its own creator, who then may or may not use it to attract attention of others.

Philosophy is part of art, so defined. An insight or a speculation that comes into your head first needs to attract your attention, to seem sufficiently new and interesting to you. Only then you may share it with others who will assess its interestingness for themselves.

What sets philosophy apart, then? Continue reading



phcover-v2-gc-smallEverday is a world where you can hunt clouds or meet a wizard who will change your life.  Where books grow on the bookshelves and symbols on flags change with seasons. Where evolve is more often a transitive verb.

It is also a book that you can read.