The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1290  Friday, 10 May 2002

From:           Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 10 May 2002 11:16:17 +0100
Subject: 13.1277 Re: Issues
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1277 Re: Issues

Marcus Dahl writes:

MD> Could you please explain the following passage a bit more:
GIE>> To create "stasis" they'd have to cancel not merely
GIE>> "to some extent", as you assume, but quite precisely.
GIE>> It may be that at a certain level of homosexuality in a
GIE>> population...

It wasn't ideally put, was it? Moreover, I now see an error in it. But
since below you ask for the subject to be dropped, perhaps I should just
repeat the first point and let that stand for all: Philip Tompowski
thought it likely that the forces (genetic and cultural) tending to
promote or inhibit homosexuality "cancel each other out to create a
condition of evolutionary stasis". I hold that stasis is a particularly
interesting position for a system to reach and one might well want to
explore what's maintaining it.

> I always thought the idea of natural law generally evoked
> by scientific explanation was the movement towards least
> resistance ... i.e. it is easier for a cup to fall and smash than
> it is for it to reassemble itself once fallen. The smashed cup
> inhabits a lower energy state. It seems to me that your idea
> of 'local pulls' contradicts this by assuming that evolutionary
> process requires maximised states or areas of maximised
> utility for certain processes rather than simply areas of
> least resistance (to replication).

Yours would be an objection to the entire theory of evolution, since it
obviously requires increasingly orderly systems.  (The human eye is more
complicated that the light-sensitive spots on photophilic bacteria.) But
your objection rests on a misunderstanding of the second law of
thermodynamics and the notion of entropy. Many observable phenomena do
in fact show spontaneous decreases in entropy (that is to say, increases
in orderliness). Snow crystals, for example, are more orderly (have
lower entropy) than the water molecules they used to be. The earth is
not a closed thermal system--a prerequisite for application of the
second law--but rather is constantly irradiated by an external source of
energy, the sun. Entropy can drop locally at the expense of a rise

> Perhaps it is best to leave science to scientists and
> get back to Shakespeare?

Hardly the Renaissance view and one for which literary discussions are
frequently criticized by other disciplines, but I don't wish to bore
anyone and will desist.

Gabriel Egan

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