Ilya PrigogineThis is a featured page

Ilya Prigogine nsIn human thermodynamics, Ilya Prigogine (1917-2003) (CR=309) was a Russian-born Belgian chemist and thermodynamicist known for his "far-from-equilibrium" thermodynamic dissipative structure theory, according to which biological life is argued to have self-assembled from inorganic non-life through the non-equilbrium thermodynamic processes of fluctuations and bifurcations. [11] The gist of what Prigogine seems to have been after in his decades of work seems to be captured in the following 1996 quote:

“My colleague Paul Glansdorff and I have investigated the problem as to if the results of near-equilibrium can be extrapolated to those of far-from-equilibrium situations and have arrived at a surprising conclusion: Contrary to what happens at equilibrium, or near equilibrium, systems far from equilibrium do not conform to any minimum principle that is valid for functions of free energy or entropy production.”

In place of free energy and entropy functions, Prigogine argues that matter acquires new properties when far from equilibrium in that fluctuations and bifurcations are the norm. [15]

Bifurcations and fluctuations
One of Prigogine’s most-cited (219+ timesExternal link icon (c), 2011) papers is his 1976 “Order Through Fluctuations: Self Organization and Social System,” in which he applied his earlier internal entropy theory:

dS= d_e S + d_i S\,

where entropy variation dS of a body or system is split into two different components, one the the sum of the entropy exchanges, deS, the subscript 'e' meaning entropy exchanged at the boundary, and two the entropy inside, diS, the subscript 'i' meaning entropy variation inside or internal to the system, the latter type referring to irreversible processes, to explain social system change in terms of 'order through fluctuations'. [16]

In this paper, which according to some is said to mark the beginning of “social thermodynamics”, Prigogine is said to model a human as an atom or group of atoms, and a family as molecule, along the way giving definitions of social entropy, free energy, among others. [18]

This internal entropy model was first outlined in Prigogine's 1945 Study of the Thermodynamics of Irreversible Phenomenon. [3]

Dissipative structures (1976)
Schematic of Prigogine's 1976 "dissipative structures" model applied to explain social systems. [16]

Prigogine theorized that a system can achieve a new functional and structural order, not only in spite of, but also because of permanent change. In his social model, when changes are small or moderate and actors are able to control them, the system is maintained in a state of ‘stable’ fluctuation (fluctuations below the threshold), but when large fluctuations take place and actors cannot control them, even a small change can drive the system’s actors to change function and structures to perceive that a dramatic transformation has occurred.

The fluctuations, supposedly, are quantified by diS and deS differentials, i.e. intern entropy and external entropy changes, triggered at the actor’s level by human action (micro level). Individual actor’s perceptions, images, and expectations, and other internal attributes of a given society are said to be quantified by the diS term, whereas the physical and social environmental factors affecting the social system are said to be the ‘deS’ source of fluctuation. [17]

Education
Prigogine was born the year of the Russian revolution (1917) was also born into a chemistry-educated family. His father Roman Prigogine was chemical engineer, educated at the Moscow Institute of Technology, who ran a small successful soap factory, and his brother was a chemist, who became successful in the mining industry. In 1921, four years after the start of the revolution, the family left Russia, spending a year in Lithuania, then going to Berlin, and finally settled in Belgium in 1929.

Prigogine, following his parent’s and brother’s advice, began his undergraduate work in chemistry and physics at the Free University of Brussels, also studying philosophy on the side, particularly Henri Bergson. In 1937, at the age of twenty, Prigogine published three articles: “Essay on Physical Philosophy”, “The Problem of Determinism”, and “The Evolution”, on the topics of determinism, quantum mechanics, biological evolution, and time. [13]

Prigogine choose Belgian mathematical physicist Theophile de Donder (a student of Henri Poincare) to be his master’s and doctorate thesis advisor. He completed his dissertation on The Thermodynamics of Irreversible Phenomena in 1941. [14] Prigogine became a professor at the Free University of Brussels in 1950.

Overview
Progogine's theory is seeded with and influenced by philosophy; as such, his theories are often found in writings on philosophical thermodynamics. [1] He has been described, by Time magazine, as the "poet of thermodynamics". [9] In famous publications, Prigogine's most-referenced book, co-written with Gregoire Nicolis, is the 1977 Self-Organization in Non-Equilibrium Systems: from Dissipative Structures to Order through Fluctuations. [10]

Progogine was awarded the 1977 Nobel Prize in chemistry for this theory. [2] He is associated with the Brussels school of thermodynamics, of which his mentor Belgian mathematician and physicist Théophile de Donder was the founder. Students of Prigogine include Grégoire Nicolis, Dilip Kondepudi, and Dick Hammond, among others.

In 1954, Prigogine, together with Raymond Defay, published Treatise on Thermodynamics: Based on the Methods of Gibbs and De Donder. [5]
Prigogine's most popular work is the 1984 book Order Out of Chaos, in which he presented his dissipative structures theory in an easy to understand language, stiched with a number of philosophical conjectures and anthropomorphic chemical-molecular analogies and phraseologies. Many currently use Progogine's dissipative structure theory as a cornerstone in theories concerning evolution and human life. In 2004, the Prigogine Medal, a prize give to one senior and one junior scientist in the field of systems ecology, was established in his honor.

Sociological thermodynamics
See main: Sociological thermodynamics
In his various works, Progogine has alluded to the idea that his theories apply to sociology and society. In the 1979 article "The Social Thermodynamics of Ilya Prigogine", American chemist and science writer Wil Lepkowski argued that the nonequilibrium thermodynamics of Prigogine could lead to new ways of understanding social processes. [12]

Order out of Chaos
Prigogine's 1984 book Order Out of Chaos, his most popular treatise, in which he presents a layperson's view of his theory.
Classical thermodynamics
See main: Life thermodynamics
Prigogine, curiously, had a dismal view of classical thermodynamics in its applicability to explain the phenomenon of life and evolution? To cite one example, in 1955 Prigogine stated: [6]

“The fact that during growth living organisms actually show a decrease of entropy production during evolution up to the stationary state … also, the fact that their organization generally increases during this evolution [which] corresponds to the decrease of entropy as studied [leads one to puzzle as to why] the behavior of living organisms has always seemed so strange from the point of view of classical thermodynamics; that the applicability of thermodynamics to such systems has often been questioned. One may say that from the point of view of the thermodynamics of open and stationary systems [nonequilibrium thermodynamics] a much better understanding of their principal features is obtained.”

In the opening comments to his 1977 Nobel Lecture “Time, Structure and Fluctuations”, similarly, he again makes a misaligned attempt, i.e. by purposely mentioning Helmholtz free energy which is typically used in isothermal (constant temperature) isochoric (constant volume) experiments such as in explosives research (where explosive reactions by their nature induce pressure changes), verses the Gibbs free energy (common to biological processes), to discredit the validity of standard thermodynamics to explain living order: [2]

“Thermodynamic equilibrium may be characterized by the minimum of the Helmholtz free energy defined usually by: F = E – TS. Are most types of ‘organisations’ around us of this nature? It is enough to ask such a question to see that the answer is negative. Obviously in a town, in a living system, we have a quite different type of functional order. To obtain a thermodynamic theory for this type of structure we have to show that that non-equilibrium may be a source of order. Irreversible processes may lead to a new type of dynamic states of matter which I have called ‘dissipative structures’.”

This view strangely existed, in the mind of Prigogine, in spite of the fact that he was well acquainted with German writer Johann Goethe’s 1809 Elective Affinities (as referenced in the endnotes to his Order Out of Chaos), in which the activities of human life and love were explained via a theory of human chemical reactions quantified by chemical affinities, which, as elaborated on greatly by Prigogine’s mentor de Donder in his 1936 Thermodynamic Theory of Affinity, are described via changes in chemical free energy (Gibbs free energy), a classical thermodynamics conception.

Videos
In the first video (8:30), below left, Prigogine discusses his life-long curiosity about time and irreversibility in nature and physics; in the second video (1:15) center, he discusses his view of chaos as a form of complex order; in the third video (2:49), he discusses his views on the relation between science and religion:


Evolution
Underlying much of Prigogine’s work was his aim to explain evolution by a new version of thermodynamics of his own formulation, a mixture of non-equilibrium or convection flow thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and chaos theory mathematics. The seeds of this drive seem to trace to French philosopher Henri Bergson and his 1907 book L'Évolution Créatrice (Creative Evolution). This publication was said to have “inspired” Ilya Prigogine to reconsider the foundations of thermodynamics work for which he later won the 1977 Nobel Prize in chemistry. [2] In his Nobel lecture, Prigogine recalled: “since my adolescence, I have read many philosophical texts. I still remember the spell L'Évolution Créatrice cast on me. More specifically, I felt that some essential message was embedded, still to be made explicit, in Bergson’s remark: ‘the more deeply we study the nature of time, the better we understand that duration means invention, creation of forms, continuous elaboration of absolutely new.’” [7]

In his 1972 article “Thermodynamics of Evolution”, to elaborate a bit, Prigogine and associates state: [8]

“To their credit, there are a few evolutionists (though apparently very few) who recognize the critical nature of the problem [of the second law] and who are trying to solve it.”

In the years to follow, Prigogine attempted to explain evolution in terms of the abstract conceptions of dissipative structures, such as Bénard cells, bifurcations, and fluctuations.

Gladyshev | Hierarchical thermodynamics
A competing classical thermodynamics biological evolution theory is the hierarchical thermodynamics theory, developed in 1977 by Russian physical chemist Georgi Gladyshev. Gladyshev's theory was stimulated into development (the year Prigogine won the Nobel prize) owing to personal convictions that Progogine's theory was illogical when applied to the process of biological evolution. Gladyshev sent Prigogine a copy of his theory but Prigogine rejected it. [4]

Difficulties on theory
The so-called "difficulties on theory" surrounding Prigogine and his overall theory is a rather involved topic of discussion; a large majority of the scientific-illiterate public swallowing the overall premise of his theory, which is rather attractive on first, second, and third, etc., pass, hook-line-and-sinker. A few known dissenters, however, include: Russian physical chemist Georgi Gladyshev (1977):

“Only in a system that is close to equilibrium can the differential of this function of state of the system (entropy) be considered to be a full one, to an acceptable approximation. However, all the aforesaid is usually underestimated; therefore, many works [by Prigogine] on nonequilibrium thermodynamics, especially the thermodynamics of systems that are far from equilibrium, remain a faint ‘future hope.’ Some of these works, I daresay, are mere mathematically trimmed fantasies useless for real life.”
— Georgi Gladyshev (2001), “The Second Law of Thermodynamics and the Evolution of Living Systems” (Ѻ)

French-born American theoretical physicist Pierre Hohenberg (c.1994), quoted below:

“I don’t know of a single phenomenon [Prigogine] has explained.”
— Pierre Hohenberg (c.1994) [20]

along with Romanian mechanical engineer Adrian Bejan (1995), and American physicist Cosma Shalizi (2010), citing (Ѻ) Hohenberg.

To cite a red flag example, without going into detail, Prigogine, in his 1977 Nobel Lecture, uses the loaded term "obviously" as follows:

“Thermodynamic equilibrium may be characterized by the minimum of the Helmholtz free energy defined usually by: F = E – TS. Are most types of ‘organisations’ around us of this nature? It is enough to ask such a question to see that the answer is negative. Obviously in a town, in a living system, we have a quite different type of functional order. To obtain a thermodynamic theory for this type of structure we have to show that that non-equilibrium may be a source of order. Irreversible processes may lead to a new type of dynamic states of matter which I have called ‘dissipative structures’.”
— Ilya Prigogine (1977), Nobel Lecture: “Time, Structure and Fluctuations”

The following argument rule of thumb, given in a 2001 book review by an anon agnostic lawyer, in commentary on Japanese-born American author George Smith’s 1974 Atheism: the Case Against God, gives cogent insight into the nature of the red flag usage of the term “obviously” by Prigogine: [19]

“When I was in law school, I learned that one should not use words like "clearly" to bolster an argument. Use of such words is a dead give-away that the point is anything but clear.”

In Prigogine's case, we would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would deem it clear or obvious that the equation "F = E – TS" does not describe the functional order of a town?

Quotes
The following are noted quotes:

“The irreversibility of time is the mechanism that brings order out of chaos.”
— Ilya Prigogine (c.1980) (Ѻ)

“The main character of any living system is openness.”
— Ilya Prigogine (c.1980) (Ѻ)

References
1. Earley, Joseph E. (2006). "Philosophy and the Statistical Mechanics of Ilya Prigogine" (PDF), Foundations of Chemistry. 8, 271-283.
2. Prigogine, Ilya. (1977). “Time, Structure and Fluctuations”, Nobel Lecture, Dec. 08.
3. Prigogine, Ilya. (1945). Etude Thermodynamics des Phenomenes Irreversibles (Study of the Thermodynamics of Irreversible Phenomenon). Presented to the science faculty at the Free University of Brussels (1945); Paris: Dunod, 1947.
4. Gladyshev, Georgi, P. (1978). "On the Thermodynamics of Biological Evolution", Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 75, Issue 4, Dec 21, pp. 425-441 (Preprint, Chernogolovka, Institute of Chem. Phys. Academy of Science of USSR, May, 1977, p. 46).
5. Prigogine, Ilya and Defay, Raymond. (1954). Treatise on Thermodynamics: Based on the Methods of Gibbs and De Donder. Longmans, Green.
6. Prigogine, Ilya. (1955). Introduction to Thermodynamics of Irreversible Processes (pg. 92). New York: Interscience Publishers.
7. (a) Prigogine, Ilya. (1977). “Autobiography”, Nobel Prize Orgnaization.
(b) Ilya Prigogine (1917-2003), biographical overview by Josephy E. Early, Department of Chemistry, Georgetown University.
8. (a) Prigogine, Ilya, Nicolis, Gregoire, and Babloyants, Agnes. (1972). "Thermodynamics of Evolution," (part I). Physics Today (pgs. 23-28), Vol. 25, November.
(b) Prigogine, Ilya, Nicolis, Gregoire, and Babloyants, Agnes. (1972). "Thermodynamics of Evolution," (part II). Physics Today (pgs. 38-44), Vol. 25, December.
9. Weil, Martin. (2003). “Ilya Prigogine Dies; Nobel Winner, ‘Poet of Thermodynamics’”, The Washington Post, May 31.
10. Nicolis, Gregoire and Prigogine, Ilya. (1977). Self-Organization in Non-Equilibrium Systems: From Dissipative Structures to Order Through Fluctuations. Wiley.
11. Goldbeter, Albert. (2003). “Ilya Prigogine (1917-2003)” (ref), Journal of Biosciences, Vol. 28, No. 6,pgs 657-59.
12. Lipkowski, Wil. (1979). "The Social Thermodynamics of Ilya Prigogine." Chemical and Engineering News, 56(13): 30-33. April 16.
13. (a) Prigogine, Ilya. (1937). “Essay on Physical Philosophy”, “The Problem of Determinism”, Cahiers du Libre Examen.
(b) Prigogine, Ilya. (1937). “The Problem of Determinism”, Cahiers du Libre Examen.
(c) Prigogine, Ilya and Bolle, Helene. (1937). “The Evolution”, Cahiers du Libre Examen.
14. Rice, Stuart A. (2007). Special Volume in Memory of Ilya Prigogine (ch. 1: Ilya Prigogine: His Life, His Work, pgs. 1-82, by Radu Balescu). John Wiley & Sons.
14. Ilya Prigogine – Mathematics Genealogy Project.
15. Prigogine, Ilya. (1996). The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature (pg. 64). Free Press.
16. Prigogine, Ilya. (1976). “Order through Fluctuations: Self Organization and Social System”, in: Erich Jantsch and Conrad H. Waddington, eds., Evolution and Consciousness: Human Systems in Transition (pg. 94-), Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
17. Adler, Emanuel. (2005). Communitarian International Relationships (section: Non-equilibrium and ‘order through fluctuations’ as applied to international relations theory, pgs. 40-41). Psychology Press.
18. Social thermodynamics (2004) – Yahoo Groups.
19. Anon. (2001). “Okay as Far as it Goes”, Amazon review, Jan 17.
20. (a) Horgan, John. (1995). “From Complexity to Perplexity” (pdf), Scientific American, 272(6):104, Jun.
(b) Pierre Hohenberg – Wikipedia.

Further reading
● Prigogine, Ilya and Dufay, Raymond. (1954). Chemical Thermodynamics. Longmans, Green. (Originally published in French in two volumes, 1944, 1946; revised English translation from second 1950 and 1952 editions).
● Prigogine, Ilya. (1962). Non-equilibrium Statistical Mechanics. New York: Interscience Publishers.
● Glansdorff, P. and Prigogine, Ilya. (1971). Thermodynamic Theory of Structure, Stability and Fluctuations. John Wiley and Sons.
● Prigogine, Ilya and Herman, Robert. (1971). Kinetic Theory of Vehicular Traffic, (100-pages). Elsevier.
● Prigogine, Ilya. (1973). "Can Thermodynamics Explain Biological Order", Impact of Science on Society, Vol. XXIII, No. 3, pg. 169.
● Prigogine, Ilya. (1980). From Being to Becoming – Time and Complexity in the Physical Sciences. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Co.
● Prigogine, Ilya and George, C. (1983). “The Second Law as a Selection Principle: the Microscopic Theory of Dissipative Processes in Quantum Systems” (abs), Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 80: 4590-94. Jul.
● Prigogine, Ilya. (1984). Order Out of Chaos – Man’s New Dialogue with Nature. New York: Bantam Books.
Cousins, Norman. (1985). Nobel Prize Conversations: With Sir John Eccles, Roger Sperry, Ilya Prigogine, Brian Josephson (thermodynamics, 10+ pgs). Saybrook Pub.
● Gregoire, Nicolis and Prigogine, Illya. (1989). Exploring Complexity - an Introduction. New York: Freeman and Co.
● Kondepudi, Dilip and Prigogine, Ilya. (1998). Modern Thermodynamics – from Heat Engines to Dissipative Structures. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
● Hall, Nina. (2000). The New Chemistry: a Showcase for Modern Chemistry and its Applications (ch. 16: Chemistry Far from Equilibrium: Thermodynamics, Order and Chaos, pgs. 440-64, by Guy Dewel, Dilip Kondepudi, and Ilya Prigogine). Cambridge University Press.
● Prigogine, Ilya. (2003). Is the Future Given? World Scientific Publishing Co.
● Anon. (2003). “Obituaries: Ilya Prigogine” (pdf), SIAM News, 36(7), Sept.
● Smith, John A. and Jenks, Chris. (2006). Qualitative Complexity (Ch. 5: Prigogine’s Thermodynamics, Ontology, and Sociology, pgs. 81-). Psychology Press.
● Brebbia, C.A. (2011). Ecodynamics: the Prigogine Legacy. WIT Press.

External links
Ilya Prigogine – Wikipedia.
Prigogine, Ilya – WorldCat Identities.
Ilya Prigogine – Cosma Shalizi, self-organization researcher, Carnegie Mellon University.
Self- organization - Cosma Shalizi, self-organization researcher, Carnegie Mellon University.

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