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

Halewood, M (2015) 'Death, Entropy, Creativity and Perpetual Perishing: Some Thoughts from Whitehead and Stengers.' Social Sciences, 4 (3). pp. 655-667. ISSN 2076-0760

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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.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: entropy; creativity; Whitehead; Stengers; inevitability; death
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2015 10:29
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 13:28

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