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# Conference on the Second Law of Thermodynamics

My proposed talk was rejected, but nevertheless, my university VGTU is sending me on an ERASMUS+ study visit to the 9th European Congress of Analytic Philosophy, August 21-26, 2017 at LMU Munich. It's Europe's largest philosophy conference, as you might imagine from the twelve sections: http://analyticphilosophy.eu/ecap9/ecap-9-program-committee/

LMU Munich includes the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, which I hope to learn more about. Their many workshops (such as last year's on "Foundations of Mathematical Structuralism") are listed here: http://www.mcmp.philosophie.uni-muenchen.de/events/workshops/index.html I might try to stay for the conference on the Second Law of Thermodynamics: http://www.secondlaw2017.philosophie.uni-muenchen.de/index.html

I would like to learn more about the Second Law, although sometimes I suspect that nobody really quite knows it all that well. (I have a B.A. in Physics from the University of Chicago. And I was left with the feeling that the definition of entropy depends on there being some absolute coordinate system.)

In my own philosophy, there's a distinction that arises between grace and justice. Justice implies a closed system (zero-sum game), and grace suggests an open system (fueled by an outside source). The world we live in is ever ambiguous - we can think of it as both open (fueled by some external love) and closed (doomed to decay). I studied prayer as a means for engineering an increase in this ambiguity. If two or three people pray for God to intercede on some matter, basically, to violate the laws of nature, then that gives license to violate social norms, or simply, to act in an unusual manner. It's a shift from a mindset of justice (business as usual) to a mindset of grace (extraordinary circumstances). And it lets a person who was engaged to relax, and a person who was relaxed to get engaged. So just like trying to untangle a knot it makes more sense to alternate between loosening and pulling, rather than simply pulling. I gave a talk on a survey of results from some 40 episodes of prayer in twos and threes. I'm curious to pursue that further. But for climate change I think that ambiguity in people's mindsets is an interesting thing to think about and engineer as regards human behavior. And human behavior is the key driver in climate change.

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Here are two great books on the Second Law:

They're essential for understanding the arrow of time and the Second Law. There's a lot of confusion and misinformation out there!

The Earth is, for the next few billion years, best modeled as an open system, with the Sun providing free energy.

Comment Source:Here are two great books on the Second Law: * H. D. Zeh, _[The Physical Basis of the Direction of Time](http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/time/)_, Springer, Berlin, 2005. * Huw Price, _[Time's Arrow and Archimedes' Point](http://prce.hu/w/TAAP.html)_, Oxford U. Press, Oxford, 1996. They're essential for understanding the arrow of time and the Second Law. There's a lot of confusion and misinformation out there! The Earth is, for the next few billion years, best modeled as an open system, with the Sun providing free energy.
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edited April 25

John, Thank you! That's great. I will read your review of Zeh and the Chapter I online of Price. And quite possibly buy one or both.

The deadline is May 1. But I'm thinking that I should apply. Because I do have a novel perspective. Basically my novel ideas are that:

A) The issue of "deciding" necessitates a framework given by "the division of everything into five perspectives": Every effect has had its cause, but not every cause has had its effects. And the boundary/present is where these two causal directions coincide. This framework, cognitively, has two representations: we imagine it either as time (cause in past, effect in future) or space (cause outside a subsystem, effect inside a subsystem). More about the "divisions of everything" here: http://www.ms.lt/derlius/20170220LevelsOfKnowledge.pdf

B) Cognitively, our emotional lives are driven by expectations, especially the temporal boundary between expecting and learning an outcome, and the spatial boundary between self and world. I write about that here: http://www.ms.lt/sodas/Book/TaxonomyOfMoods

C) Intuitively, think of entropy in terms of "deliberateness" and "nondeliberateness". Googling on "entropy deliberateness" doesn't yield much, so perhaps that's novel.

D) The role of the coordinate system - who decides the particular coordinate system used? - because whoever decides can scramble and unscramble the "phase space" at will.

E) A particular set of atoms, say, may seem meaninglessly chosen. And yet if we study what happens to those atoms - their flow through the system - then we may nevertheless witness signs of life. So the definition of life - for example - as that which can have ("(self)-interest") - is related to entropy. A frog has "self-interest" directly, and a clock (which has a potential owner) has "(self)-interest" on behalf of its owner. Which is to say, life is that which we can be helped or hurt. (In Lithuanian, we have a word "nauda" ("what is useful to us"), which suggest that something can be done on our behalf. And I'm thinking, you can't do anything on behalf of something that's not alive, but only for that which is alive - to whatever degree.)

F) Entropy, as I wrote above, is important in discussing the ambiguity of open systems (based on grace) and closed systems (based on justice). Yes, locally, at a certain level, we're fueled by the Sun, and yet again, at bigger and smaller levels things are crumbling all the same. So the ambiguity seems very important.

G) Prayer is (if it is anything) a way of engineering, of increasing the likelihoods of miracles. I think it does this by increasing the ambiguity required for (God or external forces) to intervene (without breaking any laws too badly). So explaining this dynamics would be my main idea.

These are not the usual ideas. But maybe that's what they are possibly looking for. It's certainly helpful for me to think about.

I appreciate any links to the above ideas (supporting or rejecting) with perspectives in math and physics. Thank you!

Comment Source:John, Thank you! That's great. I will read your review of Zeh and the Chapter I online of Price. And quite possibly buy one or both. The deadline is May 1. But I'm thinking that I should apply. Because I do have a novel perspective. Basically my novel ideas are that: A) The issue of "deciding" necessitates a framework given by "the division of everything into five perspectives": Every effect has had its cause, but not every cause has had its effects. And the boundary/present is where these two causal directions coincide. This framework, cognitively, has two representations: we imagine it either as time (cause in past, effect in future) or space (cause outside a subsystem, effect inside a subsystem). More about the "divisions of everything" here: http://www.ms.lt/derlius/20170220LevelsOfKnowledge.pdf B) Cognitively, our emotional lives are driven by expectations, especially the temporal boundary between expecting and learning an outcome, and the spatial boundary between self and world. I write about that here: http://www.ms.lt/sodas/Book/TaxonomyOfMoods C) Intuitively, think of entropy in terms of "deliberateness" and "nondeliberateness". Googling on "entropy deliberateness" doesn't yield much, so perhaps that's novel. D) The role of the coordinate system - who decides the particular coordinate system used? - because whoever decides can scramble and unscramble the "phase space" at will. E) A particular set of atoms, say, may seem meaninglessly chosen. And yet if we study what happens to those atoms - their flow through the system - then we may nevertheless witness signs of life. So the definition of life - for example - as that which can have ("(self)-interest") - is related to entropy. A frog has "self-interest" directly, and a clock (which has a potential owner) has "(self)-interest" on behalf of its owner. Which is to say, life is that which we can be helped or hurt. (In Lithuanian, we have a word "nauda" ("what is useful to us"), which suggest that something can be done on our behalf. And I'm thinking, you can't do anything on behalf of something that's not alive, but only for that which is alive - to whatever degree.) F) Entropy, as I wrote above, is important in discussing the ambiguity of open systems (based on grace) and closed systems (based on justice). Yes, locally, at a certain level, we're fueled by the Sun, and yet again, at bigger and smaller levels things are crumbling all the same. So the ambiguity seems very important. G) Prayer is (if it is anything) a way of engineering, of increasing the likelihoods of miracles. I think it does this by increasing the ambiguity required for (God or external forces) to intervene (without breaking any laws too badly). So explaining this dynamics would be my main idea. These are not the usual ideas. But maybe that's what they are possibly looking for. It's certainly helpful for me to think about. I appreciate any links to the above ideas (supporting or rejecting) with perspectives in math and physics. Thank you!