The concept of entropy is one of the central ideas in theoretical physics. It can be seen as a measure of disorder in a system, and the idea has wide applicability in many areas of life. Perhaps the most surprising thing is that disorder, as defined by entropy, would be called order by most people. Imagine a room full of people, all with the same opinions, dress code, habits, behaviour and so on. Some would see this as orderly, in much the same way we might look at a regiment of soldiers all marching together. Not so in entropic terms. This is a very low energy situation. What conversation might these people have? It would be pretty tedious, low energy drivel. Nothing much is going to happen with such a group of individuals, and entropy would say that this is a state of high disorder, with high entropy. So entropy is a measure of disorder, and sameness characterises disorder. The opposite situation would be a room of people from diverse cultures, different mindsets, opinions and so on. A melting pot like this might produce something interesting, and there would certainly be more energy than with the group of drones we mentioned earlier. In fact, the amount of useful energy in a system is inversely proportional to its entropy. Low entropy systems have lots of useful energy. A high entropy, highly disordered system, would have almost no energy.
The natural tendency for any system is to increase in entropy – to become more uniform, more disordered in entropic terms, but more ordered in everyday language. Increasing entropy applies to civilisations, societies, families and of course individuals. At an individual level, increasing entropy means decreasing energy. There is lack of motivation because the internal mental state has been made uniform. There are no conflicting ideas, dominant ideas, drivers, resistances – and so on. Just a quiet background hum caused by inner capitulation.
Families are classic examples of increasing entropy and decreasing energy, and as everyone knows, incest is likely to produce children with physical or mental abnormalities. More generally, however, families often seek to homogenise their members – to impose fixed belief systems, biases and behaviours. The same applies to societies and civilisations – which is why they inevitably degenerate, and new civilisations are born out of chaos.
The important thing for the individual is to realise that low energy means high entropy, which in turn means internal disorder in real terms, but a superficial order in society’s terms. Resisting entropy increase requires conscious work, and an awareness of how societal norms are conditioning mindset. The barometer is activity – not running around like a headless chicken, but the ability to execute useful directed work. It would not be an exaggeration to say that maintaining a low level of entropy and a high level of internal chaos is our primary task.