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Soc. Sci. 2015, 4(3), 655-667; doi:10.3390/socsci4030655

Death, Entropy, Creativity and Perpetual Perishing: Some Thoughts from Whitehead and Stengers

Department of Sociology, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ, UK
Academic Editors: Steve Fuller and Emilie Whitaker
Received: 28 June 2015 / Accepted: 18 August 2015 / Published: 28 August 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Beyond the Negativity of Death: Towards a New Necropolitics)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [200 KB, uploaded 28 August 2015]

Abstract

In this paper, I argue that we need to rethink how we conceive of death as “inevitable”. There are two main strands to my analysis. First, I use the work of Stengers to trace the complex and, occasionally, contradictory ways in which the concept of entropy was developed within physics in the 19th and 20th century. I argue that this has led to a general but ill-conceived notion of the universe as wasting away, as dying. This is a form of inevitability which has infected our understanding of what constitutes the death of individual humans. I then turn to the contrast that Whitehead draws between creativity and “perpetual perishing”. I suggest that this contrast might help us to develop a wider, more coherent, approach to thinking about the status of death, and its supposed inevitability. In the final section, I reflect upon my father’s death in 2013 in light of some of the concepts and problems raised throughout the paper. View Full-Text
Keywords: entropy; creativity; Whitehead; Stengers; inevitability; death entropy; creativity; Whitehead; Stengers; inevitability; death
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Halewood, M. Death, Entropy, Creativity and Perpetual Perishing: Some Thoughts from Whitehead and Stengers. Soc. Sci. 2015, 4, 655-667.

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