Thermodynamics and Cognition: Towards a Lawful Explanation of the Mind


An argument is developed to show that the theoretical methods of description for biological and physical systems can be corroborated by appealing to the second law of thermodynamics. The separation dates back to Modern western philosophy, but we show that the second law’s influence on the evolutionary history of life at the scale of the global Earth system—a system that has demonstrated an exponential increase of entropy production over time— justifies rescinding this separation. From this perspective it appears that the necessity of ever increasing entropy in nature may constrain the organization and behavior of living organisms and cognitive processes. We suggest a new framework for understanding cognition by explaining memory at the scale of the brain-body-environment system with respect to its role in increasing entropy in nature. This framework, if developed further, may lead to a fruitful understanding of cognition by appealing to the necessity of physical laws.

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