What’s Up With The Name?

The idea for the name SyntroPulse comes from the word “syntropy”.  More people are familiar with it’s opposite, “entropy”.   Entropy, put very simply, is that things tend to break down.  Entropy is the movement from order to disorder.

Syntropy, however, is less talked about.  Syntropy is the movement from disorder to order.  It is the phenomenon of things in the universe becoming more complex, more organized, more integrated.  Life’s process of evolution is a perfect example of this.  Environmental demands cause life forms to continually change & organize in a different way.  Eventually a being more well-adapted to the new environment emerges.

Both entropy and syntropy are always occurring in the universe.  Things are always breaking down, and things are always building up.  I imagine entropy and syntropy as forces always playing upon each other.  What ends up happening all across the universe is effected by the play of these forces.

The human being is one of the most complex expressions of the interaction between syntropy and entropy of which we know.  Things within the human are always breaking down and building up.  The body, emotions, thoughts – every part of a human is always both effecting and being affected by the forces of syntropy and entropy.  Entropy breaks down old ways of being and syntropy forms new ones.

The question is: in your life, what is being broken down and what is being built up?  Is entropy breaking old, outdated parts of you – or is it breaking the very parts you need?  Is syntropy working to build a new & better you, or is it wasting energy constructing something unnecessary?

I believe we can harness both these forces for our own good as well as the good of those around us.  Syntropy needs to be directed toward energizing positive aspects of our humanness, and entropy needs to serve syntropy in its mission by breaking down the parts of ourselves we are better off leaving behind.  A deep understanding of what is both inside and outside ourselves is required to positively utilize these forces.

So there it is, SyntroPulse.  A “pulse” to energize the “formative tendency” in the universe.  An emission of energy towards growth.  I think Carl Rogers expressed the essence of syntropy beautifully in his essay “A Broader View: The Formative Tendency” –

  “My main thesis is this: there appears to be a formative tendency at work in the universe, which can be observed at every level.  This tendency has received much less attention than it deserves.

            Physical scientists up to now have focused primarily on “entropy”, the tendency toward deterioration, or disorder.  They know a great deal about this tendency.  Studying closed systems, they can give it a clear mathematical description.  They know that order tends to deteriorate into randomness, each stage less organized than the last.

            We are also very familiar with deterioration in organic life.  The system – whether plant, animal, or human – eventually deteriorates into a lesser and lesser degree of functioning organization, or order, until decay reaches a stasis.  In one sense, this is what one aspect of medicine is all about – a concern with the malfunctioning or deterioration of an organ or the organism as a whole.  The complex process of the death of the physical organism is increasingly well understood.

            So a great deal is known of the universal tendency of systems at all levels to deteriorate in the direction of less and less orderliness, more and more randomness.  When this system operates, it is a one-way street: the world seems to be a great machine, running down and wearing out.

            But there is far less recognition of, or emphasis on, the even more important formative tendency which can be equally well observed at every level of the universe.  After all, every form that we see or know emerged from a simpler, less complex form.  This is a phenomenon which is at least as significant as entropy.  Examples could be given from every form of inorganic or organic being.  Let me illustrate with just a few.

            It appears that every galaxy, every star, every planet, including our own, was formed from a less organized whirling storm of particles.  Many of these stellar objects are themselves formative.  In the atmosphere of our sun, hydrogen nuclei collide to form molecules of helium, which are more complex in nature.  It is hypothesized that in other stars, even heavier molecules are formed by such interactions.

            I understand that when the simple materials of the earth’s atmosphere which were present before life began – hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, in the form of water and ammonia – are infused by electrical charges or by radiation, heavier molecules begin to form first, followed by the more complex amino acids.  We seem only one step away from the formation of viruses and the even more complex living organisms.  A creative, not a disintegrative, process is at work.

            Another fascinating example is the formation of crystals.  In every case, from less ordered and less symmetrical fluid matter there emerges the startlingly unique, ordered symmetrical and often beautiful crystalline form.  All of us have marveled at the perfection and complexity of the snowflake.  Yet it emerged from formless vapor.

            When we consider the single living cell, we discover that it often forms more complex colonies, as in coral reefs.  Even more order enters the picture as the cell emerges into an organism of many cells with specialized functions.

            I do not need to portray the whole gradual process of organic evolution.  We are all familiar with the steadily increasing complexity of organisms.  They are not always successful in their ability to cope with the changing environment, but the trend toward complexity is always evident.

            Perhaps, for most of us, the process of organic evolution is best recognized as we consider the development of the single fertilized human ovum through the simplest stages of cell division, then the aquatic gill stage, and on to the vastly complex, highly organized human infant.  As Jonas Salk has said, there is a manifest and increasing order in evolution.

            Thus, without ignoring the tendency toward deterioration, we need to recognize fully what Szent-Gyoergyi terms “syntropy” and what Whyte calls the “morphic tendency,” the ever operating trend toward increased order and interrelated complexity evident at both the inorganic and the organic level.  The universe is always building and creating as well as deteriorating.  This process is evident in the human being, too.

            I hypothesize that there is a formative directional tendency in the universe, which can be traced and observed in stellar space, in crystals, in micro-organisms, in more complex organic life, and in human beings.  This is an evolutionary tendency toward greater order, greater complexity, greater interrelatedness.  In humankind, this tendency exhibits itself as the individual moves from a single-cell origin to complex organic functioning, to knowing and sensing below the level of consciousness, to a conscious awareness of the organism and the external world, to a transcendent awareness of the harmony and unity of the cosmic system, including humankind.

Rogers, Carl.  (1980). A Way of Being.  A Broader View: The Formative Tendency.

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