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The Thermodynamics of Life

There are subjects present in the scientific world which aim to explain what happens in the world. Taking into account the incomings and outgoings, gains and losses; they calculate and measure the functioning of a chosen aspect.

One such subject is Thermodynamics. It is a fun subject, and when studied in detail it can give you explanations of how certain aspects of a particular event, called 'system' function. Today I thought, let's bring about the laws of Thermodynamics into the philosophy of life, and see if at least axiomatically they hold true.

Talking about thermodynamics, we shall evaluate the three laws of thermodynamics. And the two very important definitions in thermodynamics are of 'energy' and 'entropy'. Energy, in thermodynamic terms, is defined as the capacity to do work, and similarly, entropy is the measure of randomness in a system. Randomness means the unavailable energy of a system.

I figured, let's equate energy to happiness. It makes sense, as every deed is done can be defined by the root cause of its happiness - good deeds stem from a very happy mind (aka system) and poor deeds can be traced back to unhappiness. By that logic, entropy, the 'unavailable energy for conversion' is easily defined as individual pain. Pain that is harboured by individuals and manifests differently, undefined, random.

And thus, the original first law of thermodynamics, stated as "Energy cannot be created, nor be destroyed; but can only be passed from one form to another" is translated to "Happiness cannot be created, not be destroyed, but can only be passed from one form to another." Happiness, I've observed, is passed on by the truly happy in various forms. Kindness, empathy, forgiveness, love - all of these are different forms of happiness. And in some way or the other, happiness is passed on by all of us. Us being every human being, calm scenery, pets, flora and fauna, all have various and different forms of happiness. They can be moved the more we interact with them.

The second law of thermodynamics is an interesting one - it states that "the entropy of an isolated system will always increase over time." Since we equated entropy to pain, not just physical, but also emotional, mental and social; this makes sense too. "The pain of an individual will always increase over time." That sounds very demoralising, but it makes sense. People tend to complain that as they grow older, life has been more and more difficult, and the addition of emotional, social and other varieties of pain also accumulates, in different proportions in different people. Never really does pain vanish - it leaves scars or other memories behind, sometimes in the form of hindsight, nostalgia, regret, or resentment.

The second law poses a question when looked at philosophically. If pain is bound to increase as time progresses, is life not a figure of happiness but of pain? Is life nothing but suffering towards the end? Are Nietzche's claims of nihilism the one true meaning of life? I don't seem to say I have the answer to all of these, but a particular solution or a method to deal with the said problem posed by our translation is offered by the similar translation of the third law of thermodynamics.

The third law is defined as "the entropy of a system reaches a constant value as the system approaches absolute zero. (-273.15 degree Celsius)." Translated in our terms, the law becomes, "the pain of an individual reaches a constant value as the system approaches ____."

Our job, then, is to fill in the blank. The easiest, and perhaps the laziest answer would be death. But that would be the failure of both - scientific and philosophical cognition. It would also mean that the questions we asked above were insurmountable and defeatist. And I refuse to be defeated so easily.

To answer Nietzche's pride in the second law, I'd like to bring about the concept of inner peace, "Nirvana". Loosely speaking, a state of transcendence without any attachments, any fears of losses or any other thing seems the be the answer. A state of no suffering or desire would definitely but a brake to the pain, and thus it would reach a constant value. I know I am inadvertently pitting Nietzche against the Buddha, and that is an interesting matchup.

The thermodynamics of life mirror the thermodynamics of science. And probably, science does have an answer to all our questions.


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