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Is destruction possible without creation?

+1 vote
And/or is creation possible without destruction?

I intentionally ask this question as broadly as possible. I hope that answerers will feel free to narrow the context of the question or the definitions of the words as they see fit (or anything else one wishes to add).

I will be glad to provide context and definitions if the answers (or lack of answers) seem to me to need it to expand discussion.
asked May 19, 2014 by bornagainanarchist (9,080 points)

1 Answer

+3 votes
I typically find both concepts, creation and destruction, the nonsensical consequences of a particularly human perspective rooted in breaking space into discrete objects. Because they look and see a world filled with the appearance of things, they mark the comings and goings of these appearances as beginnings and endings, in turn creations and destructions.

However, this is an illusion: a shattered glass has not been destroyed, all of its elements remain, undisturbed. It is merely that we fail to recognize the glass in its shards, just as we do not recognize the silica in a newly blown glass.

Things change, but they are never created or destroyed.

Also, even within the object oriented perspective, there is a notable bias in the use of the terms. For example, when a building is demolished it is common for people to say that the building has been destroyed, rare for them to say that a clearing has been made.
answered May 19, 2014 by StrawDog (1,370 points)
For the most part, I like this answer. The idea that objects and beings (Things) have discrete beginnings and endings is a dualistic conceit, particularly well suited to an anthropocentric (religious or humanist) cosmology, but it's not a very descriptive way of understanding Matter and Energy (especially in a quantum context) independent of human conceptual intrusions (if that's possible).

Another problem with the Create/Destroy polarity is that there are generations of moral baggage attached to them, especially in a bourgeois context (the former being Good, the latter being Bad). Similar to all the other banal binary dualities that encumber Euro-American culture, there are sociological values attached to the binaries, making it difficult to discuss them without falling into a moral argument.
i upvoted this answer because i think it is an awesome (shift in) perspective, but i could also take issue with its excessive everything-is-everything-ness.
a cup, to the extent that a cup is a specific structure, capable of doing specific things, is no longer a cup when it is broken. it is better (once broken) for making tile work, or for making kintsugi but it is not for drinking from.

just sayin.
You are wrong about the glass. The entropy of the system has increased dramatically when the glass is destroyed. The same goes for the destroyed building and everything else that gets destroyed.
I posit that destruction (as it is intuitively understood by humans) is the act of raising entropy, creation is the act of reducing it.

Which would answer the question: Destruction without creation is possible, creation without destruction is not.
It should go without saying that in so far as it is necessary for you to provide a definition of the subject in your argument, you and I may be understood as not talking about the same thing, ie. your counterargument relies on an equivocation.

In any case, your own argument regarding entropy is correct only to the extent which the glass is treated as a system-in-itself, as the Second Law of Thermodynamics allows decreases in entropy in systems which are not isolated, ie. as one system among many systems, that is as one object among many objects. This functions through the displacement of entropy from one system, the silica and other ingredients, into others, like the air, as part of the forging process. However, this all partakes of a human, object-oriented perspective.

When this perspective is discarded, what is left is the relationship between All-Things, eg. the universe, which from the perspective of the Second Law of Thermodynamics is an isolated system, it's own nature being all encompassing. As required by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, such an isolated system can only increase in entropy, meaning that for the purposes of your definition, there is only Destruction without Creation, and the appearance that Creation has occurred is an illusion produced by the particulars of the human cognition.

However, the moment that we understand Creation as illusory, it ceases to be a thing with which Destruction can engage in a material binary relationship, ie. one outside of destruction as the truth of the lie of creation. The entropy of All-Things increases, uninterrupted and unabated, making Destruction simply the name for the movement of All-Things.

At this point, your Destruction becomes just another word for my Change,

"Things change, but they are never created or destroyed."

And the extent to which you can perceive things as contrary to this is the extent to which you engage with the glass as a thing-unto-itself,

"Because they look and see a world filled with the appearance of things, they mark the comings and goings of these appearances as beginnings and endings, in turn creations and destructions."
@Dot - I feel that my statement which replaces the Creation/Destruction binary with Change does an adequate job of addressing that.

"The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name
The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth
The named is the mother of myriad things
Thus, constantly without desire, one observes its essence
Constantly with desire, one observes its manifestations
These two emerge together but differ in name
The unity is said to be the mystery
Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders"
- Tao Te Ching, Chapter 1
If you follow your argumentation you would need to also say that there is no exchange of energy between systems as there is only the whole universe, which is a closed system and so energy is constant either way, which would be an non-statement.
The absence of a canonical partition of the universe into systems does not mean that there are no partitions of the universe into systems at all. There is at least one partition of the universe into systems (the one the reader perceives) and as the reader probably is able to imagine more, there are multiple partitions of the universe with an even greater probability, as it is very likely that the reader is not able to think of any possible partition of the universe into systems.

How and where destruction and creation occurs is subjective. That destruction and creation occurs is not.
"If you follow your argumentation you would need to also say that there is no exchange of energy between systems as there is only the whole universe, which is a closed system and so energy is constant either way, which would be an non-statement."

You have described the First Law of Thermodynamics, ie. a variation on the Law of Conservation of Energy. You are correct that in an isolated system, including the All-Things, the energy of that system remains constant over time. However, that the total energy among All-Things is constant does not negate that the total entropy among All-Things, per the Second Law of Thermodynamics, cannot decrease. In fact, it is exactly because the total energy is constant that entropy cannot decrease in an isolated system as decreasing entropy, ie. your Creation, requires an increase in the energy of that system. In non-isolated systems, ie. the human object-oriented perspective, this decrease in entropy (your Creation) in one system, eg. the silica in the forging process into glass, requires an infusion of energy from a linked system (object), eg. the heat source for the forge, which increases the entropy (your Destruction) of that linked system. Due to the vagaries of system inefficiency, such an entropic exchange between two linked systems (objects) always increases entropy in one system (object) more than it is decreased in the other. In a non-object oriented perspective, all linked-systems (objects with any causal relationship to each other of any sort) are always part of a single isolated system (All-Things). This means that any perceived decrease in entropy (your Creation) as part of an object-oriented perspective is always the misperception, through limited frame of reference, to an increase in entropy (your Destruction) in All-Things.

The rest of your response partakes of the object-oriented perspective, and as a consequence is adequately addressed by my original post and previous comments.
[Edit: Why does no discussion site recognize Unicode? :( ]

To give you an idea what I understood:
1. You explain the second law of thermodynamics to me, which I already know.

2. You conclude that in the universe there can only be rising entropy. This is as far as I get before it gets wonky.

3. Now you conclude that it is not meaningful to speak of creation or destruction because with rising entropy there only would be destruction either way, completely ignoring that most words and concepts are not used to characterize the universe as a whole but only parts of it. So calling the sun warming the earth an exchange of energy is stupid (by your line of reasoning) as the global amount of energy stayed the same either way.

4. You seem to get to 3 on the grounds that considering parts of the universe separately is stupid in itself, because the universe is one thing and any attempt to consider only parts of it are arbitrary. At this point I don't see why you are still bothering with talking or thinking about anything at all, as the acts in themselves are wholly futile either way. I mean, the concept of this discussion between us rests on the assumption that we are different individuals that are clearly distinct from each other *and* part of a common universe (or "all-things").

5. My explanation that the arbitrariness of any distinction is completely irrelevant as almost any distinction leads you to the same conclusion either way is completely ignored because... well, I don't know why you choose to ignore that part. Maybe I didn't explain it very well, so here it is again:
When the universe is considered as a system U
and we have an operator u between systems S and T so that SuT is the system that contains exactly everything that is part of the systems S and T
and now we find a set of systems |S so that |U(|S)=U (with the assumption that u is associative and commutative, which we can assume as anything else would miss the point of what we want to do with u, the meaning of |U should be obvious)
then we can find a multitude of sets |S so that there are systems in |S where entropy is falling.
Lets call a set |S with |U(|S)=U a view of U (note that |S doesn't need to be the system-equivalent of a partition).
All those views describe the universe fully, no matter whether my definition of creation and destruction is useful in them or not.
Choosing a view where the words don't make any sense when the same words are the center of the question is not helpful and makes an arbitrary distinction between views that contain the distinction between destruction and creation and those that don't. Not only is it an arbitrary distinction, but a judgmental one on top of that, as you are clearly labeling any view that contains the distinction as invalid, while the ones that don't are valid.
This is not an object-oriented perspective, this is a subsystem-oriented perspective. Learn to use it. Also learn to use the object oriented perspective (and learn what "object-oriented" means). Language is a tool and so is your mind. Learning how to use those tools in different ways opens new options for you.

"object-oriented" has nothing to do with systems and even less with what I and you were talking about.
Object orientation has several meanings:
a) The original notion is that of objects (understood as agents) that exchange messages, where the interpretation of a message is up to the receiving object. At least that is what I understood about SmallTalks object orientation.
b) Then we have the whole stuff with classes. Here objects are instances of classes, which describe a common interface. The more popular notion in this direction is that classes know what attributes they have and what they can do.
c) The less popular notion is that classes know their attributes and then there are generic functions that know what to do depending on which classes the objects they operate on belong to.
Conceptualizing an object as something distinct from its environment is *not* object orientation. If I am wrong about that I would like a source.
The bulk of your response is addressed to, and around, things I did not write, and to the extent is does address things I said, those things already contain my answers to you.

As to "object-oriented", as this is a 101 site I've avoided the use of specialist jargon outside of those terms needed to address ideas brought in by others, like your use of entropy. For this reason I am not using object-oriented in any sort of field specific sense but rather each in combination using their common definitions. For the sake of completeness, I've included the results of a brief search.

Object -
1. anything that is visible or tangible and is relatively stable in form.
2. a thing, person, or matter to which thought or action is directed: an object of medical investigation.
3. the end toward which effort or action is directed; goal; purpose: Profit is the object of business.

Orient -
1.
align or position (something) relative to the points of a compass or other specified positions.
"the fires are oriented in direct line with the midsummer sunset"
synonyms:    align, place, position, dispose More
adjust or tailor (something) to specified circumstances or needs.
"magazines oriented to the business community"
synonyms:    aim, direct, pitch, design, intend More
guide (someone) physically in a specified direction.
2.
find one's position in relation to new and strange surroundings.
"there are no street names that would enable her to orient herself"
synonyms:    get/find one's bearings, establish one's location

For purposes of my meaning, every combination of one of the three meanings for Object with either of the meanings for Orient will satisfactorily convey the idea.
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