information/complexity theory

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Tue Feb 27 13:28:51 MST 2001

>>> schaffer at 02/27/01 02:59PM >>>
An interesting review of a book at the NYTimes today,

interesting take:

"Siegfried posits that science, particularly physics, and by extension the
rational view of the universe, have been driven by a succession of
metaphorical worldviews -- superparadigms.'' In turn, these are motivated by
the dominant machines of the era. The first: The universe as clockwork (the
pendulum of the title) is manifested in Newtonian mechanics. Here force is a
key concept, and energy, kinetic and potential, first appears as a conserved
quantity. The second, some centuries later: The universe as a large heat
engine is manifested in the theory of thermodynamics, motivated by the steam
engine. Energy, the key concept, is conserved, but entropy, or useless heat
energy, increases, so the universe is running down. The third, motivated by
the computer, the dominant machine of today, sees the universe as a large
information processor. Entropy is information. "


CB: Thanks for this Les. Somehow I would have thought of information as order , not
entropy ?

It is well within the Marxist approach to see the focus of scientific research as
significantly influenced by the needs of the ruling class, in this case the early
bourgeoisie wanting workable mechanical principles for their machines and weapons,

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