The principle of global energy flow maximization proposed by LOTKA (see hereafter) implies a more or less hidden condition: the minimization of dissipation rates in the participating systems, which constitute an interconnected net of energy using organisms.
The optimum then corresponds to a situation in which the global system maximizes the energy flow, but inversely minimizes its general dissipation rate. This corresponds to the maximum variety in the global system and to efficiently optimal use of energy.
Accordingly, R.N. ADAMS enounced the principle in quite a different way: "The distinctiveness and stability of the boundaries of a dissipative process vary directly with the tendency of that process to seek a minimum dissipation rate and inversely with its tendency to maximize energy flux" (1988, p.149).
ADAMS applies the principle to social systems and states some interesting points:
"The dissipative process sets its own energetic boundaries" and,
"Similarly, when the amount of energy available to a social assemblage is limited, the dissipation of that energy will lead to more rigid definition of the boundaries of the assemblage, to its evolving increasingly closed self-organization". Consequently: "Thus limiting energy flow is self-organizing. Energetic boundaries become clearly evident when efforts are made to conserve the energy available, because this requires reducing external dissipation" (Ibid).
The principle is clearly related to the construction of complex social organization in ecosystems, animal societies and human systems where the heterogeneous variety is put to the best use. Social complexity in turn, is an emergent process. This connects the whole subject to the far away from equilibrium dissipation processes considered by PRIGOGINE and his collaborators.
It opens very stimulating insights on the present process of planetary economic, social and political integration.
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To cite this page, please use the following information:
Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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