Entropoietics

Levi Bryant has a post up (I reply below it) on entropy:

The debate, then, is not whether or not there are patterns that reproduce themselves in time, but rather whether or not relations relate positive terms, terms that could be detached, or whether there are only negative or differentially constituted terms. If you take the first route, then the problem of entropy comes into full view and you’re faced with the mystery of how low probabilities of equal-distribution are maintained. If you take the latter route, the problem of entropy doesn’t appear at all as there are no independent terms that could fly apart. As a consequence, the latter route leads you to look for a “supplement”, “event”, “subject”, “act”, etc., because it’s impossible to conceive an immanent entropic dissolution of systems as there are no positive terms for a system to dissolve into. I’m not being unfair to the structuralists here– with whom I’ve worked obsessively for over a decade now in my research –but am taking them at their word with respect to the ontology that they themselves embrace.

It’s clear (as it is in Harman’s writings thus far) that Levi’s notion of time is based on physicalist conceptions of entropy. That’s not a critique, not least because (for most physicists) entropy is the explanation for the arrow of time (if time does, in fact, exist or is not simply epiphenomenal). I’m building in my book on time to a chapter discussing this, but for now I just wanted to flag this point for a later follow-up here.

One comment

  1. I think the issue is more complicated than this. Within my framework, at least, there can’t be one type of time because time doesn’t precede objects but arises out of them. Thus, for example, time as described by Husserl is perfectly appropriate when discussing entities like psychic systems. Even there, however, you get the entropic question of why the psychic system doesn’t fall apart but maintains itself as a unity across time (and in certain disorders it does).

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