Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Joe CorbettJoe Corbett has been living in Shanghai and Beijing since 2001. He has taught at American and Chinese universities using the AQAL model as an analytical tool in Western Literature, Sociology and Anthropology, Environmental Science, and Communications. He has a BA in Philosophy and Religion as well as an MA in Interdisciplinary Social Science, and did his PhD work on modern and postmodern discourses of self-development, all at public universities in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at [email protected].


Entropy, the AQAL, and the Kosmic Hologram

Joe Corbett

Anything less would be too one-dimensional and flat to deserve the name of an integral spirit-in-action.

Entropy has varied meanings in the history of science. Commonly known as the 2nd law of thermodynamics that says things tend to go from order to disorder or that things simply tend to fall apart, entropy was a concept that emerged in the 19th century in an attempt to understand the relation of heat and energy to the efficiency of industrial steam engines.

There are several kinds or ways in which entropy is understood, but most common is the statistical definition of entropy, which says that entropy is a measure of the most likely number of configurations a system (such as a heated gas or liquid) can take over time. Thus a system (of gas or liquid molecules, for instance) will tend to spread-out over time into a random equilibrium because such a distribution has the maximum number of possible configurations (between the molecules), and therefore it is the statistically most likely end-state or direction in which the system will take form. As the molecules spread-out, heat (and/or form and order) is lost and less energy is available to do work. As heat/form/order is lost as things spread-out or fall apart, they wind-down and die. No more work can be performed.

Entropy so conceived has a correlate in how the wave function operates as described in my previous essay. There I described the wave function as an oscillation between the future possible states of a system and its past probable states, where the flow of time both forward and backward are essentially equivalent and necessary for manifestation of physical reality. As described here, entropy is simply a one-way flow of this dynamic into the future possible states of things from moment to moment, but without the recursive loop of memory that accumulates the information of the system in space-time and allows for more complex developments of the system in a continuous loop of informational updating.

In this sense, entropy is a severing of the wave function, the entanglement of the future with the past, that allows the state of the system to be maintained. With only a one way flow into future possible states, toward the maximum number of possible configurations of the system, the system will eventually wind-down instead of being maintained based on past states that factor-in as probabilities (habits and regularities) needed for the system to maintain itself.

The space-time memory field of the Lower-Left Quadrant, the karmic deep-soul-memory of the akashic field, allows for the universe, for species, and for cultures and societies to persist over time and not fall apart, at least not immediately, as they accumulate past memories and experiences that allow them to build quite complex and developed forms of themselves. In this sense, the LLQ acts as a kind of negentropy, using the past state of things to hold off a runaway demise of the system into the chaos of infinite possibilities. However the way the LLQ is able to do so involves another kind of entropy, Shannon entropy, or informational entropy.

Shannon entropy is the amount of information missing from a system that is necessary to describe it. Thus the amount of noise, chaotic and random signals, in a system would describe its level of entropy. This would be equivalent to having many possible sounds without any referents to establish the probable meaning of those sounds, or an Upper-Left Quadrant of possibilities without its Lower-Left Quadrant of probabilities. In order for a system to be known it must have a certain level of information storage and retrieval to avoid the chaos of incomprehensible noise. And indeed this is what the universe itself does as a condition of its existence according to the holographic principle.

The holographic principle was developed in physics and cosmology to describe how the information of what is inside a black hole is actually inscribed on its surface area. This mathematical formula of how information about matter can be stored on the 2-dimensional surface of space-time has been extrapolated to the universe at large, conjecturing that the 3-dimensional bulk of the universe could actually be the projection of information contained in matter that is stored on the 2-dimensional surface of space-time at the boundary, somewhere in the distant surrounds at the planck scale in the fabric of space-time itself.

I have conjectured that this 2-D surface area of space-time is none other than the deep-soul-memory of the akashic field (perhaps dark matter) in the Lower-Left Quadrant, whereby the wave function is completed in its loop between the future and the past, and hence entropy is (temporarily) negated. Physical existence (and gravity) in the Upper-Right Quadrant is the emergent process by which the information in the 2-D space-fabric is translated into 3-D form as it oscillates between its future possible states and its past probable states within the environment of all possible interactions, in the Lower-Right Quadrant. In AQAL terms, Body-Matter is the emergent process of translation by which the information of Soul-Memory oscillates with the possibilities of Mind within the totality of Spirit.

One word of caution we can take from this is that the Pure Mind or Mind Only approach (idealism) is a detour into entropy, into possibility without stable referents of probability, of participatory relations and karmic traces of being, and thus it invites excursions into untethered fantasy and the chaos of madness. On the other hand holding-on too strongly to the past, to traditions and to the memories of soul and eternal union with the other, invites stagnation without the possibility of diversity and growth, condemning one to repeat the patterns of karmic habits that one can never get free of.

I would like to propose instead of the Entropic Way or the Karmic Samsara Way a mode of being and way of life that more closely mimics how the wave function operates, and which David Bohm conceptualized as the mode of dialogue he sought to promote. Real life, like real dialogue according to Bohm, is when the alternative possibilities are allowed to surface alongside the probable certainties. Only then is there something open, living, and dynamic, like the universe itself as it emerges from moment to moment as an oscillation between quantum field possibilities in the UL and their particle-form probabilities in the space-time akashic field of karmic habits in the LL.

Anything less would be too one-dimensional and flat to deserve the name of an integral spirit-in-action.

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