Symbiosis and deep life in LOs LO11414

Mnr AM de Lange (
Fri, 13 Dec 1996 09:55:53 GMT+2

Sherri Malouf wrote in LO11285

> WOW!!! When I started reading At's listing #lo11262 I was interested and
> as I read through it I found myself sitting straighter in my chair and
> totally enthralled! <-: Thank you At.
> At wrote:
> >In terms of what do we measure the production/consumption? Much of the
> >western world use money (profit) as the ultimate measuring device. It is
> >because of the paradigm 'the engineer and his machine' which they follow.
> >They may be a netto producer of money, but other parts in the world is
> >fast catching up on their paradigm. However, the looming catastrophy for
> >all of them (western eastern, etc) is when they will be forced to
> >acknowledge that their paradigm was after all not a netto producer, but a
> >netto consumer. In other words, there is another measuring device which
> >they should have used to open their eyes, but which they use very little
> >at present. This measuring device is life, not merely human life, but all
> >of reality which exhibits the signs of life (i.e. deep life). The really
> >big problem now is that we have a very minute culture of compensating for
> >life.
> > I am much more concerned about my fellow humans. (It is out of this concern
> >that I have written the book.) An almost unspeakble
> >catastrophy looms in
> >the near future. Those clinging to the pesent paradigm of our civilisation
> >(described by the metaphor 'the engineer and his machine') will not make
> >it. How do I know it.
> Can you disclose more about the catastrophy you see? I have read and
> reread this and what you are saying is that we need to think differently
> than we currently do. To take the risks required to allow emergent
> learning to thrive. I too believe this to be true although I have not
> described it as emergent learning. What you are calling a shift in
> paradigm I have called a shift in consciousness. Same thing. I feel the
> challenge for us is that we do not know how to do it. We have to change
> the way we are thinking and we can't use the way we are thinking to
> change. Good old catch 22.

Dear Sherri and others

Let us first discuss the easy part. Let us find a metaphor to describe the
catastrophy. Think of being on a motorised yacht, 1000 miles from the
nearest land. Suddenly you discover that you have ran out of fuel. You
have no oars or a sail to try and reach land. The radio is broken. Food
and water supplies are limited. And you know very little how to live from
the sea.

Let us now discuss the difficult part. Most of us know something about
energy. For example, we know that energy cannot be created or destroyed,
but only be transformed from one form to another. For example, when a
pendulum swings, its potential energy is transformed into kinetic energy
and vice versa. We may think of kinetic energy forms as 'becoming energy'
and potential energy forms as 'being energy'.

But few of us know that energy and entropy are complementary quantities.
The transfomation of energy is driven by an increase in entropy - entropy
production. Furthermore. few of us know that entropy and time is
intimately connected, that 'entropy is the arrow of time' as Eddington put
it. Entropy production takes time.

Like in the case of energy, we may think of 'becoming entropy' and 'being
entropy'. When entropy is produced, it is first manifested as 'becoming
entropy' or chaos. This happens automatically. The 'becoming entropy' is
globally orientated in the sense that it will be commuted to the rest of
the universe. When the production rate is high enough, it may also be
manifested as 'being entropy' or order. This happens contingently. The
'being entropy is locally orientated in the sense that it becomes locked
up in a bounded structure (being). The emergence of a higher ordered being
out of the becoming chaos of lower ordered beings also takes time.

Our present industrial civilisation, based on the paradigm 'the engineer
and his machine', runs more than 95% on so-called nonrenewable energy and
chemical resources (petroleum and coal). These sources are rich in 'being
entropy' which thus makes it easy to mine them from nature in concentrated
supplies and put them into containers to transport them to specific
destinations. These resources are nonrenewable because it took nature
billions of years through uncountably many emergences to provide them rich
in 'being entropy'.

The renewable energy resources (sun and wind), on the other hand, are poor
in 'being entropy' and rich in 'becoming entropy'. In order to tap this
'becoming entropy', we need objects which are rich in 'being entropy'.
These objects are thus high on the ladder of order emerging from chaos.
They can either be natural like living organisms (plants or birds) or
artificial like technological machines (solar cells, wind trubines, etc.).
These objects cannot come into existence without uncountably many
emergences. In other words, when we need them and they have not yet been
created, we cannot create them instantaneously out of energy recources
poor in 'being entropy'. Their creation depends on energy recources rich
in 'being entropy' - on the arrow of time.

However, since the beginning of the industrial revolution based on the
paradigm 'the engineer and his machine', our civilisation had been
sqaundering our energy recources rich in 'being entropy'. In less than 200
years we have destroyed much of what took nature billions of years to
provide. If we continue to live according to this paradigm, we have less
than 100 years to do so. Unfortunately, when we have found out that we
have squandered our energy resources rich in 'being entropy', we will not
be in a position anymore to tap on the energy resources rich in 'becoming
entropy' and thus low in 'being entropy'.

Our existing paradigm will then have led us to be in a situation very much
like the motorised yacht without any fuel. We will have many memories, but
around us will be an ocean out of which we can tap very little because we
know so little about how to live from the ocean. However, if we have
shifted to the new paradigm of 'the warden of deep life', we would have
known much more about living from the ocean since it is part of deep live.
We would also have acted much more creatively since also creativity is
part of deep life. We would not have bemoaned our situation, but would
have rejoyced, finding in our predicament a wonderful reason to live on
the ocean for a couple of months until we have reached land.

It is clear that we have to shift/emerge our paradigm from 'the engineer
and his machine' to 'the warden of deep life'. This will not happen unless
the rate of entropy production is high enough and thus its first
AUTOMATICAL manifestation as 'becoming entropy' or chaos. This chaos is
already happening in the world and since it happens automatically, there
is little we can do to prevent it. Their is a growing dissatisfaction with
the paradigm 'the engineer and his machine'. However, the second
manifestation as 'being entropy' is CONTINGENT. This means that the
paradigm 'the warden of deep life' will not emerge automatically. Certain
requirements have to be met.

I call these requirements the 'essentialities of creativity'. I view
creativity as 'deep life'. In other words, we will be able to circumvent
the looming catastrophe if we ensure that the 'essentialities of deep
life' are not impaired.

Sherri, I will not answer any questions about these
essentialities necessary to favour emergence, for example, 'How
many essentialities exist?', 'How have the essentialities been
discovered?', 'How are the essentailities related to
learning?' 'How are these essentialities related to entropy
production?', etc. I have two reasons for it.
1 Any reasonable discussion of these essentialities will be
extremely complex, much more than the description of the
looming catastrophy above. In fact, these essentialities
together provides a measure for complexity!
2 They will be discussed in detail and context in my forthcoming
book. My first priority now is to get that book finished and
I will simply stop with my note to Durval: they can together be
summarised by one single concept - commutativity.

Sherri, I hope I have satisfied your request to disclose more about the
looming catastrophy. You and others may wish that I should have done it
without any reference to entropy production. This is impossible. Entropy
production is the primordial cause of 'deep life', i.e. creativity. To try
and remain ignorant of this cause will prevent us to understand 'deep
life'. You are right. We have to think differently. The disclosure above
is but a minute example of how we have to think differently. We have to
stop our nett consumption of 'deep life', i.e. squandering of resources
rich in 'being entropy'. We have to become nett producers of 'deep life',
i.e. we have to enrich the world with creations rich in 'being entropy' in
the correct manner. The concept of a LO with its commutativity is a
wonderful way to do it.

Best wishes


At de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre for Education University of Pretoria Pretoria, South Africa email:

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