By Ervin Laszlo – This posting will examine the evolutionary views of Ervin Laszlo, a world-class philosopher of science. Additionally Laszlo is also the developer of Systems Philosophy–derived from General Systems Theory. He is a member of the Club of Rome and has taught at Yale and Princeton Universities . The founder of the General Evolution Research group and head of the advisory committee to the United Nations University, he is currently director of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.
Laszlo concentrates on what he considers the “third state” of systems in the world, those non-linear systems that are farthest from thermal and chemical equilibrium. (The other two states being those systems either in or near equilibrium.) We humans are non-linear systems–and like other non-linear systems, we can increase our level of complexity and organization–and become more energetic.
This does not mean that non-linear systems, like ourselves, do not obey the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Rather–third state systems are *open* systems. Energy once expended by these systems is no longer available. But! Third-state systems are able to “import” energy to perform further work. “There can be a transport of free energy-or negative entropy-across the system boundaries.” And the more dynamic and negentropic such a system can be, the greater its potential of freedom in the face of chaos! [Ervin Laszlo, EVOLUTION: THE GRAND SYNTHESIS, New Science Library, 1987, pp. 21-22.]
Laszlo realizes that these special third-state systems, farthest from thermodynamic equilibrium, are always on the borders of chaos. They can only continue to maintain themselves through replication or reproduction. They are *autopoietic,* self-creating. And it is through this special creativity, whether physical or mental, that such a system can leap into new (and higher) plateaus of nonequilibrium. It’s about creating greater order out of chaos!
In general evolutionary terms, this is how new and higher levels of systems organization are attained. (Read the whole long article on BizInt).