Social internal energy minimization theory

Kenoun system model
Iranian-born American engineer Robert Kenoun's 2007 systems model, comprised of “serial” connections of systems and subsystems that are part of the same vertical chain; and “parallel” connections of similar systems at the same horizontal or hierarchy level, i.e. ones that do not share subsystems with each other.
In human thermodynamics, social internal energy minimization theory argues that social systems, at a given hierarchy of parallel connected systems, will interact, exchanging matter and energy over time, in a manner dependent upon their respective boundary conditions, such that states of equivalent levels of minimum internal energy, which equates inversely to the stability and welfare of individuals, will result in each system at a given hierarch level. The theory was developed in the early 2000s by Iranian-born American engineer Robert Kenoun. [1]

The minimum state of social internal energy, according to Kenoun’s theory, equates to optimal stability and socioeconomic equality at the human level, which is argued to be a logic embodied in the socialism theories of German economist Karl Marx. Although Kenoun’s theory presents many difficulties, it does seem to be one the first theories to discuss the thermodynamic nature of internal energy in human social systems to some degree.

Kenoun’s view of systems of groups of people is diagramed adjacent. Kenoun uses the term “serial” to define connections of systems and subsystems that are part of the same vertical chain; and uses the term “parallel” to define similar systems at the same horizontal or hierarchy level, i.e. ones that do not share subsystems with each other. In this mode, serial “relational bonds” exist between systems and subsystems, exchanging energy (and matter) and parallel “relational bonds” exist between systems at the same hierarchy, also exchanging energy (and matter). Kenoun argues that the rate of energy exchange between, through these bonds, determines the level of turbulence in the system, where processes become violent when a given system has to absorb or release a large amount of energy in a short time.

On the logic that a body of water molecules can absorb a certain amount of energy and still remain stable before phase change, according to Kenoun, the stability of a human social system, is tied to the nature of the relational bonds of the subsystems. In this manner, any given human social system has a certain tolerance level and threshold for energy release or absorption before any significant transformation can take place in its organization.

Theoretical basis
It is difficult to track down exactly where Kenoun culls his logic from, as his book, the 2006 Theory of History and Social Evolution, in which his theory is presented, uses no references. In commentary on his theory, Kenoun states that his knowledge of thermodynamics is limited to two metallurgical engineering thermodynamics courses, about three general reference books, Erwin Schrödinger’s 1944 book What is Life?, and ideas on cybernetics, systems theory, and the whole society as a global organism, etc., at the Principia Cybernetica Website. [2]

At an estimate, in thermodynamic terms, aside from his views of the first law, i.e. that if energy leaves one system it will have to be absorbed by another system, and the second law, i.e. that ordered systems can form at the expense of the increase in disorder of other surrounding systems, it would seem that Kenoun’s overall theory stems from a combination of:

(a) Newton’s law of cooling: the rate of heat loss of a body is proportional to the difference in temperatures between the body and its surroundings.
(b) Joule’s second law: the internal energy of an ideal gas is independent of its volume and pressure, depending only on its temperature.
(c) the principle of thermalization: the process by which connected bodies reach thermal equilibrium via energy exchange and interaction.
(d) the zeroth law of thermodynamics: when two bodies have equality of temperature with a third body, they have equality of temperature with each other.

In another sense, it could be that Kenoun is using American physicist Herbert Callen’s energy minimum principle, which loosely states that for a closed system, with constant external parameters and entropy, the internal energy will decrease and approach a minimum value at equilibrium. [3]

In short, whatever the orgin, using principles generally from statistical thermodynamics, Kenoun seems to make the unwritten assumption that connected human social systems, such as the economic connections that exist between the United States, Russia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, etc., can be modeled as ideal gas systems, in which, due to these connections, a uniform low level of temperature, which in this case can be considered as a function of internal energy, will be reached among the systems. Kenoun also argues that the lowest state of internal energy for a given living system, such as a human (or society of humans), can be interpreted as the perceived security and survival needs of the system, which includes energy resources and life support systems.

Using the Herbert Spencer / Pierre Teilhard logic of the "global social organism", i.e. the total population of humans considered as one living connected organism, Kenoun reasons that for this “global organism to achieve it optimal stability and lowest state of internal energy, it must force its subsystems [the countries of the world] to reach equality, which in this case would be their level of prosperity.” Moreover, Kenoun reasons that before this end process occurs, a state he calls a “deterministic finality” (similar to Teilhard's noosphere), a great deal of energy has to be exchanged between these societies, from which a great deal will be dissipated in the form of destructive processes, such as in war. When the deterministic finality is reached, according to Kenoun, a utopian world society will be reached in which each person has the same socioeconomic equality. Kenoun argues that this utopian view is embodied in the logic of socialism with a bit of capitalism, such as is found in the economics of communism, which Kenoun reasons is a way of life in hibernation. In his own words:

“When the global social organism approaches its finality (a utopian society), its members will live in harmony, irrespective of their race or cultural background … members would more or less have an equal standing economically [and] would benefit equally from the services of their society.”

In more detail, in a statement that seems to summarize his entire theory:

“Marx, Engels, and Lenin, among others, had an accurate view of historical processes driven by economic forces, which are strongly tied to the survival of the living organisms. In their view, a utopian society could be created through the implementation of socioeconomic justice throughout the world that put an end to exploitation and the struggle of man against man. This view is not for from our theory of systems governed by the laws of nature [thermodynamic laws], which require equality in the state of internal energy of the subsystems to produce optimum stability at the system level, which is a natural course of evolution for any system.”

In short, according to Kenoun’s logic, in the future all of the world’s human social systems will be at an equal internal energy (or temperature as these are functions of another via Joule’s second law for ideal gases) and that each person will be socially and economically equal.
atmospheric cellsEntropy scale

Difficulties on internal energy theory
This idealized and hopeful future view, however it may seem on the surface, is a huge extrapolation using a mismash of theories, but is nevertheless interesting. Because of this, a number of difficulties on theory easily emerge.

For one, a simple diagram of the various “cells” of the earth’s atmosphere pictured adjacent, i.e. polar cells (cold temperatures), temperate cells (moderate temperatures), and tropical cells (warm temperatures), easily exemplify that due to graviation effects the molecules of the atmosphere do not conform to a unified system of temperature or internal energy. As such, it is inconceivable to think that humans (human molecules) will someday achieve uniformity in internal energy or temperature. It is well known, for instance, that intelligence in population increases with latitute. Thus, as economic level generally correlates with intelligence it becomes non-logical to think that an equitorial molecule will every be equivalent economically to a higher latitude molecule.

An obvious second line of difficulty arises in view of the Dunbar number (150), which is the maximum number of humans in a social system that will remain stable if everyone is considered equal socially and economically; beyond which instability results, unless a non-equal hierarchy of organization and rank is established.

Negative entropy difficulties
Another significant difficulty on Kenoun’s theory, which more or less derives from the illogic of Schrödinger, is his interpretation of the second law that “entropy of an isolated system will increase (towards positive values) until that system reaches an equilibrium state”, a state that, based inevitably on the Boltzmann chaos assumption, Kenoun equates to “chaos and disorder”. Here, this second law interpretation equates specifically to only ideal gas phase systems, in which the particles of the system have non-correlation of velocities. Incorrectly, then, on this variation of the second law, Kenoun reasons that as the universe as a whole approaches heat death, actions will occur such that:

“As systems within the universe continue to interact and exchange energy with each other, they form structures that are generally in negation of the second law of thermodynamics. Ordered structures and living organisms are systems that maintain negative entropy. In the case of living organisms, particularly human beings, as we continue to build structures and form larger organizations, the entropy of these entities continues to become even more negative.”

This misconceived logic, based on an unwritten colloquial understanding of the material entropy hypothesis, that lower values of entropy of a structure correlate to order, which is a common view in introductory human thermodynamics, generally traces its origin to mis-extrapolations of the conclusions thermodynamic behaviors of gas phase systems of Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann to evolving substrate-attached earth bound systems in the biosphere.

The difficulties here are that, for one, entropy values of structures, by definition, can only be positive. Second, the concept that a living structure has to “maintain negative entropy” is an incorrect theory of existence contrivance conceived in 1944 by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger who argued, using an weak mathematical proof, that life "feeds on negative entropy". [4]

In any event, Kenoun's idea of the correlation of entropy increases or decreases with disorder or order trends is diagramed adjacent. This is similar, to an extent, to the diagram of human entropy or "relative entropy" of a person, over the extent of their life-span by Danish chemist John Schmitz in the 2007 book The Second Law of Life. [5]

1. Kenoun, Robert. (2006). A Proposition to Theory of History and Social Evolution. Trafford Publishing.
2. (a) Principia Cybernetia Web – Homepage.
(b) Global Brain FAQ – Principia Cybernetica Web.
(c) Email comments sent to Libb Thims from Robert Kenoun, Oct. 03, 2008.
3. Callen, Herbert B. (1985). Thermodynamics and an Introduction to Thermostatistics (pg. 133). New York: John Wiley & Sons.
4. Schrödinger, Erwin. (1944). What is Life? (ch. 6 “Order, Disorder, and Entropy). pgs. 67-75 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
5. Schmitz, John E.J. (2007). The Second Law of Life: Energy, Technology, and the Future of Earth as We Know It, (pg. 119). William Andrew Publishing.

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