Longer term readers have probably noticed that I only celebrate four ‘holidays’ and one commemoration day throughout the year. Of course I am somewhat alone in this culture for these holidays, so I most often have to go to work on those days. This year is an exception for this holiday.
The four holidays are the two solstices and the two equinoxes, of which today is one. The commemoration day is coincidentally my birthday, but the commemoration is for remembrance of what, in my opinion was a crime against humanity perpetrated by my country against Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan.
I celebrate the solstices and equinoxes because they remind us that all dynamic systems operate in cycles. Some cycles can be seen as spirals (up or down) and some as closed loop (at least over some time scale). The seasons are part of what we should view as a semi-closed cycle. On the scale of human life, even many generations of human lives, it seems as if the cycle of seasons is a closed loop. But through our knowledge of celestial mechanics we know that in the very long run, this is not going to last forever. The point here is that because of science we actually have knowledge about the way the universe works that no other beings on this planet ever had. This is important.
The Autumnal equinox (in the northern hemisphere) represents withdrawal and the eventual senescence of annual living systems. It reminds us of the cycle of life itself. The cycle of life involves birth, growth, maturation and reproduction, and death. The cycle of the seasons remind us of this pattern. In future blogs I will be addressing some issues related to the growth, maturation, and reproduction as they apply to adaptive and evolvable systems. There has been some commentary in past QE blogs regarding concerns such as the application of Howard Odum's Maximum Power Principle to human society. Some comments have suggested to me that we need to explore this principle more carefully to make sure we don't misinterpret or misuse the it. It is easy to derive a very negative implication about humanity and evolution in general if we aren't careful.
The withdrawal phase of a cycle of seasons or of life is often a time for contemplation. As you consider your thoughts about the meaning of life and what is happening to humanity this Fall, consider how large your picture is. And however large you think it, seek an even larger view. A really big picture of the Earth would include its origins, origins of life, evolution of the Ecos (bio-, hydro-, litho-, and atmosphere and now including the etho- and technospheres) and a set of projected scenarios based on what paths of future evolution are possible. Recognizing that evolution is historical in nature, that is, path dependent, what is likely to happen in the future is constrained by what has happened in the past. We need only consider what major events might be likely in the future (say the next million years) and what affect they will have on the co-evolution of the Ecos components. Some of those scenarios might give comfort. In my view, only a few scenarios suggest that perhaps life is really meaningless after all. And, to me, they are the least likely.