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I'm writing to introduce myself and the reasons I wanted to join this forum. I'm in the last year (now, that's optimistic) of my PhD research, at the write up stage. Considering the nature of that research, and of this forum, there may be some wry smiles when I say that I am a philosopher, and the field I'm writing about is evolutionary science, Zen, and the environmental (although I call it 'ecological') crisis. The relevant aspect of research for this group is that I am interested in the idea that biodiversity is a system through which energy is dispersed, and the evolution of enriched diversity and complexity within systems has been a result of the pressures on the system to disperse energy and reduce the 'solar gradient'.
This, of course, rather parallels the ideas in Eastern philosophy, most obviously the ideas of Daoism, where according one's actions to the 'flow' allows one to live in a state of greater harmony with the world. Likewise, the ideas of Zen Buddhism indicate that in order to reduce suffering, one need only understand that attachment to desires, or the recreation of rigid patterns of responses, cannot allow the flow of energy to disperse itself so readily, whereas by meditating on the ways in which we become rigidly attached, or create rigid patterns of attachment (think of patterned, predictable reactions to situations that make us angry, scared or even happy, and then think too of the creation of plastics, which cannot then reenter a flow of energy dispersal through natural systems, being locked, for a long time at least, in a set pattern of form, or radioactive wastes created by human activity that decay so slowly as to be locked in patterns of energy redistribution that exclude them from systems for millenia) we can bring them to awareness and open up potential alternative feedback systems (choose to do it differently).
Now, you will have gathered from the language used above that I am well-versed neither in physics nor in maths. I've approached one physicist with this idea and been given a strange look. However, in The Edge (which, as you will know, produces a yearly publication in response to a question) there was, in 2006, a paleontologist, Scott Sampson, who wrote about this idea in response to 'what is your dangerous idea?' (I can quote him in a separate post or you can look him up yourself). I'm not sure how much respect he's going to garner here but he did suggest the idea needed further investigation. I don't need the idea to be proven - theories are only ever theories - but I want to be able to point to a few references that make it clear that the theory that a richer, more biodiverse system of living/non-living relationships on this planet has a) come about through evolutionary (i.e. natural) pressures and b) disperses more energy than a simpler, more impoverished system. Can anyone help? (My leap to Zen is my own problem).